Sustainable Fashion and Beauty Pop-Up Event: Southampton, 17th April

Purest.PR is a virtual PR agency with the aim of supporting ethical and sustainably minded fashion and beauty brands. The idea of the agency has been developed by Anna Macken for her BA(Hons) final major project in Fashion Promotion and Communication at Southampton Solent University (my old Uni!).

Under the Purest.PR name, Anna is hosting an ethical fashion and beauty event at Mettricks, Southampton on 17th April 2018 – open to all those with an interest in environmentally and socially responsible shopping. The event, which I shall be attending, will showcase four fantastic brands:

Deborah Campbell Atelier: One of my absolute favourite ethical fashion designers, Deborah designs stunning painterly prints and charity tees.

Maison de Choup: “The fashion brand with a mental health cause at its heart”.

Know the Origin: Wearable and affordable, responsibly-sourced garments from a LCF graduate determined to do fashion the right (ethical) way.

Willow Beauty: Organic bath and beauty products.

The event aims to have a relaxed and friendly vibe, with plenty of opportunities to ask questions to the brand representatives. Products will be available to touch and buy.

I’m pleased to see such a variety of brands attending the event with no fair trade jute bags in sight. These brands represent the future of ethical fashion and beauty, encapsulating everyday basics, beautiful classics, and activist slogan tees. With brands of such integrity, Purest.PR is just the kind of PR and marketing agency we need. One that will be just as thoughtful in their approach and careful in their messaging as the brands they wish to represent.

The event kicks off at 5pm on Tuesday 17th.
Follow Purest.PR @purest.pr

Post to Twitter

In ode to the whiteboard; and why Sundeala is the eco-friendly option

What a genius! She’s not even 2 😉

I can’t be the only grown adult who still finds an odd satisfaction from writing on a whiteboard? There’s an innate feeling of power that comes with scribing words two inches tall on a wall for all to see. Perhaps it’s because we first see this practice at school that we look up to the pen-holder as an authority figure; a position that people then try to replicate in boardrooms everywhere. When I first started teaching, the whiteboard was the place I played out my new teacher identity. I may have not felt much older or wiser than the undergrads I was ‘teaching’ but I had control of the whiteboard pen, so I was in charge. The only thing I dislike about the whiteboard is there’s no spellchecker. And whenever I’m forced to write without a keyboard (I say forced, it can be fun), I realise I’ve forgotten how to spell. The combination of the above factors makes the humble whiteboard quite an intimidating thing don’t you think? I’m sure there are two types of people in the world; those who jump at the chance to wield a whiteboard pen and those who pass it over to someone else.

With this in mind, and because I couldn’t think of anything interesting to draw, when Sundeala sent me a shiny new whiteboard I decided to hand it over to my eight year old niece. My niece proceeded to not only draw, but also adopt her own teacher identity by schooling me in maths. So once again the whiteboard reminded me of life pre-smartphone when I had to add three digit numbers in my head. I was quite interested that my niece didn’t mind when her younger sister started wielding a pen, and rather than write on the clean, white board, scribbled all over her older sister’s work. I wondered if this was because my niece knew any marks she made on the board were temporary. They would get rubbed out anyway, so where was the harm? That’s the joy of a whiteboard – total freedom to do as you please.


Sundeala, whose slogan is ‘Display your conscience’, make environmentally sustainable boards from 100% recycled waste. The only company in the UK that currently manufacture in this way, they sell a wide range of notice boards, whiteboards, and writing walls for home and professional use. Unlike a lot of brands that sell themselves on their eco-credentials, Sundeala has been around for well over 100 years. They have a factory in Cam, Gloucestershire and use water from the Cam River in their eco-friendly production process. I’m pleased to say the whiteboard I have from them works like a dream; it’s smooth to write on and wipes clean with ease.

I can see how Sundeala’s boards are a great option for organisations looking to be green. Maybe a person brandishing a whiteboard pen will be the next person to come up with a ‘green’ invention to change the world.

Post to Twitter

My values: Starting autoethnography

What would you think of yourself if you met yourself? That’s what I’ve been thinking about this week. I am taking a module called ‘Moving into Academic Leadership’ for my MA in Higher Education. It’s a highly reflective module that gives us space to explore our experiences, cultural perspectives, traits and values. The assignment for the module is an autoethnographic narrative. Ethnography is the in-depth study of a particular culture or phenomenon, usually over an extended period of time, and using what we call qualitative research methods of observation and interviews. Autoethnography then, is simply a study of oneself. The difference between autoethnography and autobiography is that a biography is more descriptive, whereas an ethnography tries to understand something (in this case myself) through a process of analysis. I’m really looking forward to this and think it comes at a great time for me as I move forward in my career to take on more responsibility and need to think about what kind of ‘leader’ I wish to be.

We’ve been doing a range of exercises over the last fortnight to begin to explore our own biography and cultural influences. One of those exercises was to pick five values that are most important to us as individuals. I thought I’d share mine:

My values

Kindness: small acts of kind really do make a difference to daily life. Big acts of kindness can change the world.
Mindfulness: yes it’s a buzz word but it’s also a trait I try to live by, and by this I mean both being mindful to a task and therefore trying to do it diligently as well as giving myself the head space to recharge mentally and meditate.
Integrity: I see this as trying to stay true to my word and appreciating when others do the same. It’s difficult. I’ve largely successfully boycotted Amazon for years (it’s not so hard) but then my boyfriend bought me a kindle for my birthday 😉
Courage: acts of courage are the only way society progresses and on an individual level I really value the opportunity to keep learning and gaining from new experiences, even if they are frightening.
Fairness/equality: Not only is inequality unfair and unkind but the evidence points to greater equality being better for everyone.

Post to Twitter

Retail Exhibition from Design for Ageing Project

shopping-cart-2523838_640 copy

From June 2014 to November 2015 I was a Research Fellow on the ESRC-funded ‘Silver Shoppers’ project based at Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton. The project explored the grocery shopping practices of older consumers (65+) in the UK and China (you can read about my trip to China here). Next week, some of the key findings and design ideas are to be displayed in an exhibition as part of London Design Festival. The event runs from 22nd to 24th September at 22 Calvert Avenue London, and is free to enter.

As part of the project I conducted ethnographic research in three regions of the UK with 30 participants. Participants were asked to keep a diary for 6-weeks and complete weekly shopping inspection cards. In addition, myself and the team visited each participant 2-3 times for filmed observation (mobile ethnography) and interviews. Findings were presented to Sainsbury’s and are currently being written up for journal publications. The designs on display include innovative trolley concepts, smart shelves and interactive shopping assistants.

The project and exhibition is lead by Dr Yuanyuan Yin, Lecturer in Design Management. Check the webpage for more info.

Post to Twitter

Can minimalism make you happy?

girl-minimalism happiness

Oliver James, in his book, ‘Affluenza: How to be successful and stay sane’ argues that mass consumption is leading to mass depression across the Global North. This is the exact opposite of course, of what brands want us to believe as they try to sell us our dreams in the shape of a flashy new car or designer perfume.

With many western households now at a point of ‘material saturation’ (Arnold, Graesch et al. 2012) a growing movement of minimalists or voluntary simplifiers are seeking to destabilise the capitalist economy in pursuit of the good life. Extreme minimalists strive to get-by with minimal belongings, living in small, simple homes or even as nomads. Rather than derive status from what they own, they gain status from what they can live without; like Dave Bruno who set himself the challenge to limit his possessions to 100 things and then wrote a book about it, ‘The 100 Thing Challenge: How I Got Rid of Almost Everything, Remade My Life, and Regained My Soul’. In this manner minimalism becomes a cleansing ritual, a way to take control of both the self, and, the external political economy. Similarly, 35 year-old Fumio Sasaki describes the familiar tale of ‘keeping up with the Jones’ and the impact this had on his happiness. Freeing himself of most of his things freed himself of the idea that life’s milestones should be marked with yet more things – the car, the house, the designer pram. He now lives ‘each day with a happier spirit’.

At the less extreme end of the scale there is evidence to suggest we are already becoming less materialistic, being instead more focused on experiences. This suggests that we are constructing and expressing identities and building relationships by doing rather than having. These consumers are called ‘experientialists’ and share many of the same values and beliefs as minimalists. That said, there has been much criticism about the instagram generation and how we curate our lives on social media simply as an extension of the social status traditionally attached to other stuff.

minimalism happiness wellbeing

So minimalism: could you do it?
And would you want to?

Material objects are critical to wellbeing, even if we just consider the basic needs of warmth and shelter. The question is, what are the tipping points between happiness and depression in relation to material possessions? Psychological studies on materialism to date consistently state that those who pursue materialistic values report lower emotional wellbeing (Von Boven and Gilovich 2003). According to James Wallman (2013, p.7): “Instead of feeling enriched by the things we own, [we] are feeling stifled by them.” Yet, this sentiment is in contrast to a growing body of social and cultural studies literature that cites material culture as a fundamental feature of everyday life, source of comfort and a way that we ‘manage’ our lives.

The contrast between extreme minimalism and the everyday clutter that fills many of our homes is stark, but the notion of counting (a minimalists’ obsession) and getting on in the 21st Century without the conveniences contemporary life dictates could be considered stressful in itself. More manageable for most of us is a bit of de-cluttering, made popular by Marie Kondo, the Japanese organizational consultant. Having fewer things means less to clean, less to sort, and potentially more cash to spend on other things (or alternatively, less debt). Here are a few tips to get started:

• Make the most of moving. Moving house can be stressful but rather than pack up everything and ship it to the new place, take the time to go through things and work out what you really need. You can hire a company specialising in house clearances to clear out a room and alleviate some of the stress.

• Put your things into boxes/clothes in a suitcase and every time you need something go get it out. With anything still sitting in the box after 3-6 months ask yourself, do you need it in your house? Or can you borrow/hire things for special occasions instead?

• Talking of hiring, familiarise yourself with different ways to loan goods rather than owning them. Girl Meets Dress can fulfil your shopping desires, tools can be hired for that occasional DIY, and parties can be catered for by tableware hire rather than holding onto twenty wine glasses.

• Give away one item each day. That’s what Colleen Madsen did in 2010 with her 365 day resolution to donate, sell or bin one item from her home every day for twelve months.

• Set yourself a challenge. There are a few to help minimise your wardrobe in particular, like Labour Behind the Label’s six item challenge. The idea is to pick six items form your wardrobe and wear only those for six weeks. Sounds extreme? I agree it’s not easy but it’s a good way to get creative with your look and learn to enjoy the ease of not having to rummage through your wardrobe each day. You can have unlimited access to underwear, shoes and accessories, as well as a separate gym kit.

For more inspiration I thoroughly recommend the documentary ‘Minimalism’, available on Netflix.

References/Further Reading

Arnold, J. E., A. Graesch, E. Ragazzini, and E. Ochs. (2012) Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century: 32 Families
Open Their Doors. Cotsen Institute Press: Los Angeles.
James, O. (2007) Affluenza. London: Vermilion
Wallman, J. (2013) Stuffocation: Living more with less. London: Penguin Random House.
Van Boven, L. and Gilovich, T. (2003) To do or to have? That is the question. Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology, 85(6)

Post to Twitter

5 ways to help your workplace go green

Clementine writes for Bulb – the renewable provider making energy simpler, cheaper and greener. Bulb came to my attention because they are a B-Corp (watch out for a blog on that later) – a company that operates by strict ethical standards accredited under the B-Corp certification. They’re on a mission to make green energy a mass movement – you can find out more here. Clementine has provided this guest post on 5 ways to help your workplace go green. With September marking a return to work mentality for many, why not make some ‘new year’ resolutions? Over to Clem –

At Bulb, we’re always on the lookout for ways to go green at work. We won’t bore you with what you already know but here are our top tips for being a climate change hero at work:

Get everyone a KeepCup

5-ways-to-help-your-workplace-go-green-1 copy

Coffee: however you like it, there’s a good chance your day starts with a cup of the good stuff. There’s also a good chance you get it from a coffee shop in a disposable cup. Most paper cups are coated with a plastic resin, such as polyethylene. This helps to make the cup more sturdy and convenient to hold. But, it also makes composting or recycling the cup pretty much impossible. Most end up in landfill.

At Bulb, we found a way to kerb our paper cup addiction: we got every member of the team a Keepcup. They’re the best reusable cups out there and we promise they don’t compromise the quality of your coffee. They even have fancy glass ones for true coffee snobs. And for the bean counters among you (see what we did there?), you could even save some cash. Bring yours to your coffee shop – they might just give you a discount.

Go green with digital tools

We all know we can reduce our paper consumption by printing less, but the greenest paper is no paper at all. At Bulb, digital tools help us to be as paperless as possible. We use Google to go green. We don’t do filing cabinets; we use Google Drive to store our files. We don’t print files when we’re working on something together; we use Google Docs to share and collaborate.
But it’s not just Google who make it easy for companies to go green. There are tons of great apps which help avoid a trip to the printer. Here are a couple of our favourites:

Trello – this is great for working with people who aren’t in the building with you. It saves them from journeying in all the time. And you can invite people to join on a large scale with open Trello boards.
Typeform – this is brilliant for surveying your team or getting information ahead of an event

Green up your office space

5-ways-to-help-your-workplace-go-green-3 copy

When we said we wanted to help your workplace go green, we meant it. Literally. In our building, there are over 3000 plants. It’s a veritable forest in here.

Plants have multiple superpowers. They purify the air around them by getting rid of toxins from fuels, furnishings and clothes. They also improve your concentration, memory and productivity. Just looking at them makes hospital patients heal faster. You are basically a better version of you with plants around. Unsurprising really, when you think where we came from.

We recommend Patch – they know all about what plants will thrive in your work space. Even if it’s a tiny box with little light.

Set up a ‘cycle to work’ scheme

5-ways-to-help-your-workplace-go-green-4 copy

The Department for Transport did something quite cool in 1999. They made it possible for you to get a bike completely tax-free and pay for it over time. If you purchase a bike through the ‘cycle to work’ scheme, you can save up to 42% on its high street price. And, it’s free to join for both you and your employer.

This wasn’t just a present they fancied giving us – it is better for you and the planet if more of us get around by bike. At Bulb, we went for the Evans cycle scheme because they have an en-cyclo-pedic (sorry!) choice and do lots of discounts. The scheme is open to any employer, big or small, in the private or public sector. You can get set up in a day – send your boss here to sign up.

Switch to renewable energy!

Switching to renewable energy is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. In fact, it has a big impact. Every year, the average Bulb member saves 1.9 tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. That’s like taking 1.3 cars off the road! Imagine what impact you could have if your workplace switched. After all, the business sector is the largest consumer of power in the country. It purchases over half of all the UK’s electricity.

Take inspiration from giant multinational Unilever who went green across the UK this year. In their Marmite factory, thousands of tonnes of Marmite waste is even converted into methane. This generates 50% of the onsite gas usage – you’ve gotta love it now!

There’s plenty of good suppliers out there who can supply green energy to your business. But just so you know, Bulb is about 20% cheaper than the Big Six so could help your company save money too! You can get a quote here.

As ever, we’d love to know your thoughts on our tips. Reach us at hello@bulb.co.uk or drop in on the Bulb Community.

Post to Twitter