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It’s Taken Me Over 3 Years to Become a Conscious Consumer | My Ethical Journey

By December 16, 2017 Ethical

In early 2016, I was still buying fast-fashion, even knowing that my purchase wouldn’t benefit anything other than my itch for wanting something new…

How Long Does It Take to Become a Conscious Consumer?Circa April 2013, I was sat in my living room, rocking back and forth in my chair as I read the news of the Rana Plaza disaster. This was the very first time I considered that the industry I loved might have scary and dangerous consequences. I was thirteen but go ahead and call me uneducated or close-minded if you so wish.

The little I did know was extremely simple (and rather inaccurate) and barely scratched the surface on the real issues at hand – the clothes I bought were inexpensive because they were made cheaply and the more expensive they were, the higher quality they would be.

What literal schooling and the school-of-life hadn’t taught me was that cheaply really meant, unfairly. There’s always a reason why products are priced lowly or highly, after all. But for child and pre-teen me, it was exciting to shop, no matter how things were made.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Conscious Consumer?

It was an experience, one which I mostly shared with my mum and my sister. We’d go out on the weekends and we’d browse the latest offerings, piling up clothes to take to the changing rooms where we’d laugh and giggle when things didn’t fit right and joyously celebrate when a dress was ‘perfect’ and ‘so you’ (and also didn’t break the bank).

My sister moved out before I ever reached my tenth birthday so those shopping trips lessened. However, they only became more cherished when she’d come back to see me and we’d do what we hadn’t been able to do for however long it had been.

I’d go on days out with my mum too because that was what we did to treat ourselves, with Southampton’s West Quay being the destination of our choice.

To avoid being stereotypical and saying that only the women in my life were shopping-til-they-dropped, I also used to plan days out with my dad where we’d spend one-on-one time dressing each other up and treating ourselves to a KFC afterwards (it was a treat, thank you very much; their baked beans are second-to-none.)

How Long Does It Take to Become a Conscious Consumer?

This was all ordinary behaviour and to this day in western culture, still is. We go into town with our friends and we make a full day of it. You can make memories in high-street changing rooms.

Thankfully for me, I was never brought up to avoid charity shops or vintage stores despite the stigma that surrounds them, so, without even knowing it I often balanced out my new purchases with more sustainable ones.

I’d say the closest I got to a proper formal education on the negative aspect to our clothes and the fashion industry, would have been a school trip to a local landfill where we saw the piles of rubbish which included perfectly usable textiles.

Other than that, it took the collapse of a garment factory home to the products of Primark, for me to finally embark upon my ethical fashion journey.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Conscious Consumer?

It took me until summer 2016 to properly bid farewell to those sorts of purchases (excluding underwear – you can read why that is here), even though I was well aware that there were better alternatives and reasons to consume more consciously.

A lot of it had to do with my shopping habits rather than the actual clothes I was buying, though. It’s almost as if you experience withdrawal symptoms and every now and then you have to fall back into fast-fashions grasp and use the good ol’ excuse of ‘treating yourself’ but since when did treating yourself mean buying something which was made without people and the planet in mind?

Technically, your dopamine levels are the only part of the equation that is being treated, or, maybe the water used to make the fabric of your new dress, just with toxic chemicals, dyes and plastic micro-fibres.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Conscious Consumer?

I am by no means perfect, currently. For instance, I shop second-hand but I pay no attention to the fabrics I’m buying and now that I’m more educated, I know more about the impacts of other aspects of my life, yet I haven’t made many changes in those other problem areas.

It takes time to become more conscious individually and the rest of the industry following will also take time. It’s one of the reasons we need to shout about it loudly and proudly because the quicker it happens, the better!

The more you educate yourself and allow yourself to question what you’re used to, the easier it will become to make the right choices for you. It will also make it a lot easier for other people who haven’t even considered other ways of shopping and experiencing fashion, to educate themselves too.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Conscious Consumer?

My consumption habits and patterns in 2016 were tremendously better than those I had in 2013 and the ones I have now make me feel content and comfortable, however, there will always be room for improvement. If you feel hopeless or perhaps even a little guilty, take a breather and put things into perspective.

Take a trip down memory lane and take a look at the changes you’ve made so far. Is there anything more you can be doing now?

Do you have any ethical goals you’d like to achieve? Is there anything you want to learn more about? If my thirteen-year-old self had asked herself those questions, I’m sure I would have reached the stage I’m at now, far sooner.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Conscious Consumer?


Here are some Q&As to break-down my ethical journey…


When did I first become aware of the issues of fast-fashion?

Around 2013 – early 2014. The main chunk of my education came from the documentary, The True Cost, which was released around the same time. You can watch it on Netflix.

What was my first ethical purchase?

Other than the dozens and dozens of second-hand items I’ve consumed in my life, I believe it was an ASOS Africa blouse. Although ASOS may not be the most ethical or sustainable brand and I don’t know too much about how it was manufactured, I think it was a good starting place and allowed me to slowly transition from shopping there frequently to making more considered choices.

When was my last fast-fashion purchase?

I can’t remember the exact time or date or which purchase was officially the last but the four items I do remember buying last year (in the early months and possibly towards the end of 2015) were a pair of Motivi floral trousers, a Pull & Bear jumper and a pair of jeans, and an embroidered white shirt from Stradivarius (the latter two brands of which are owned by Inditex).

Although these purchases weren’t ethical, they are all still in my wardrobe. I’ve worn the floral trousers so much that the zip is now broken (and will soon be fixed, I promise!) and I probably won’t be buying any other jeans for a fair few years.

I don’t condone boycotting on a mass scale but if you can shop with alternative brands – which I believe most of you reading this will be able to do, even if it means not shopping at all for a while -, then avoiding fast-fashion is what I highly advise.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Conscious Consumer?

What has been one of the biggest struggles so far?

Not being able to buy anything overly elaborate or ‘out there’. By that I mean, not browsing through ASOS’s new-in and buying a ruffled midi-dress which is half-floral and half-sequin (that’s the first item that caught my eye on a very brief look at their latest offerings).

I’ve perfectly adapted to this change and I believe it’s made me make much more versatile style choices meaning my wardrobe is far more wearable than it ever was before, but I can understand why it’s easy to succumb to pieces that are totally out there and not easily accessible elsewhere (unless you’re making it yourself).

What is my next goal as a conscious consumer?

In terms of fashion purchases, I want to consider the fabrics I’m buying, whether that’s new or second-hand. I want to avoid bringing more polyester and man-made materials into my life to avoid the unwanted breakdown of fibres when washing, as well as wanting to consider the affects fabrics have on my body – who knows what chemicals are in what we wear?


Are you a conscious consumer? How far along are you on your ethical journey? What are your ethical goals? Share them in the comments!

  Lots of Love… Tolly Dolly Posh xx

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What I Learned During #MAKESMTHNG Week

By December 10, 2017 DIY & Lifestyle

#MAKESMTHNG Week has now concluded but that doesn’t we should stop making things here. In fact, I’ve learned a thing or two taking part in this new celebration of crafting and I hope that I can inspire you to take on a project for yourself, whether it’s today or tomorrow or any day of the year…

MAKESMTHNG Week with Greenpeace & Fashion Revolution: DIY Outfit

MAKESMTHNG Week with Greenpeace & Fashion Revolution: DIY Outfit

MAKESMTHNG Week with Greenpeace & Fashion Revolution: DIY Outfit


WHAT I WORE: Embroidered Denim Shirt (DIY) // Pink Cashmere Beret (DIY) // Striped Trousers (Jumble Sale) // Dr Martens (Jumble Sale) // Recycled Rubber Handbag (Paguro Upcycle)*


Making something yourself is extremely satisfying…

I’m going to toot my own horn here and say I’m quite chuffed with my new embroidered shirt and my two rather dashing homemade berets. I may not have sewn together a wedding dress or cut a new pair of jeans from scratch but I’ve updated my wardrobe without technically adding anything new and there’s a special feeling that comes with that.

You’re always going to treasure a piece which you made with your own bare hands because you know how much hard work and time went into it.

That doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily end up wearing it more than you would wear something you’d buy but it means you won’t mindlessly throw it out or let it wear down into a bad condition – why would you? You made it! You should treasure it! It’s completely unique and only you will be able to style it up; patchy stitches, flaws and all.

Also, it’s a lot of fun to have this conversation – “Where did you get that beret?” “Oh, I made it.”

MAKESMTHNG Week with Greenpeace & Fashion Revolution: DIY Outfit

MAKESMTHNG Week with Greenpeace & Fashion Revolution: DIY Outfit

Starting small will build up your confidence…

As with anything, practice makes perfect. You don’t even have to embroider free-hand or buy a sewing machine if you don’t want to. Start from a place you feel comfortable at, even if that means getting out the iron and adding on a patch from one of your favourite artists to an old jacket.

There are some really simple ways to make something new or make something feel new, if you put your mind to it. Knowing I can turn a cashmere jumper into a beret in a couple of hours definitely makes me believe more in my abilities.

MAKESMTHNG Week with Greenpeace & Fashion Revolution: DIY Outfit

You’ll realise how much work goes into how your clothes are made…

The fact that it took me a day to upcycle one piece really put things into perspective in terms of garment workers. Fast-fashion is fast for a reason and the pressures put on manufacturers can lead to workers having to play a role in creating hundreds of garments per day, maybe even up to 900, according to the book, To Die for By by Lucy Siegle, which explains the production of t-shirts and how a group of university students in the UK using the same machines and style of production line, could only manage to produce 95 within the space of 7 hours.

I had the luxury of no time restraints, working from home with food and drink in-between, yet I still felt tired after sitting and concentrating on the sewing machine for half-an-hour and pinning fabric together.

Doing things yourself adds to the level of empathy you can have for those who are battling with our cultural demands and can make you think before you go to buy new next time.

MAKESMTHNG Week with Greenpeace & Fashion Revolution: DIY Outfit

MAKESMTHNG Week with Greenpeace & Fashion Revolution: DIY Outfit

You’ll get addicted…

Okay, maybe not actually addicted but I’ve definitely come away from this week itching to make more! I want to embroider all of the clothes I own and I already want to advance my sewing machine knowledge, in fact, I’ve taken a look at the old clothes I have stored under my bed to re-evaluate the fabric I could use. Speaking of which – does anybody have any ideas for scuba material?


GET INVOLVED WITH #MAKESMNTHNG:
Getting crafty? Tag @makesmthng + @fash_rev in your social media posts with the hashtag #MAKESMNTHNG


What did you make this week? Have my posts inspired you to make something in the future? Let me know in the comments!

  Lots of Love… Tolly Dolly Posh xx

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How to Make a Beret Using Old Clothes | #MAKESMTHNG Week

By December 5, 2017 DIY & Lifestyle

If you haven’t been following along, this week is #MAKESMTHNG Week, created by Greenpeace and supported by Fashion Revolution to inspire us all to put down the shopping bags and make something ourselves to take a break from the cycle of endless consumption. After I scratched my itch for some embroidery, I decided to attempt the rather on-trend beret…

MAKESMTHNG Week with Greenpeace & Fashion Revolution: DIY Beret

MAKESMTHNG Week with Greenpeace & Fashion Revolution: DIY Beret


WHAT I USED: Zebra Top & Pink Cashmere Jumper (Originally Secondhand) // Sewing Machine // Pins // 2 x Different Sized Circles // Measuring Tape // Scissors // Felt Tip


Making something that is currently in trend is not only a great way to treasure it for longer due to all of the hard work you put in, it’s also a great way to truly work out whether you’re going to enjoy wearing something for a long period of time, or not, without having to splash much cash or shop from a non-ethical brand.

The idea of making a beret from scratch was mainly born out of my need for a nice-looking winter hat that kept me that little bit warmer but I’m sure subconsciously the fact that they’re popping up everywhere currently was a selling point too.

Recently, my pink cashmere turtle-neck shrunk in the wash – Don’t! Wash! Your! Clothes! Irresponsibly! Kids! – so, once my grieving period was over, I decided it deserved to live on, no matter how badly I wanted it to shrink back to its original state.

MAKESMTHNG Week with Greenpeace & Fashion Revolution: DIY Beret

I also had an old zebra top folded up in my drawer which 13-year-old Tolly loved almost as much, so I took the two of them to my dining table and got to work!

I started with my zebra top to get a feel for what I was doing just in case I didn’t like the outcome and decided to leave the high-quality cashmere for another day. I can’t take credit for the pattern of this beret; I used a guide I found on Instructables which was really simply laid out.

TLDR for the basic hat itself – cut two relatively large circles with one of them cut like a doughnut before sewing them together on your sewing machine, and turning them inside out.

MAKESMTHNG Week with Greenpeace & Fashion Revolution: DIY Beret

MAKESMTHNG Week with Greenpeace & Fashion Revolution: DIY Beret


Just like I did with my first attempt at embroidery, I’m going to list some tips and tricks I worked out along the way, below:


As berets are usually made out of felt, woollen fabrics work best…

I do love the outcome of my zebra beret (it has a different sort of fit and will work with more monochromatic outfits), however, my cashmere jumper definitely worked better fabric wise. Not only does it look more like a traditional beret, it also has a better shape and sits more roundly on my head.

Of course you can experiment with other materials, but if you have an old jumper or sweater lying around, that might be your best bet.

Use lots of pins!

I found my pink beret so much easier to put through the machine because I used far more pins than I had with my zebra beret which was a big rookie error. I’m still not perfectly confident with a machine and have to use it on a relatively slow setting but I could speed things up when I knew my fabric wasn’t going to move about or bunch up under the machine’s foot.

When using an old item of clothing, use your scraps…

For my zebra beret, I used the tight but stretchy high-neck as my headband. This reduced the number of scraps I had left-over and allowed me to skip over the step of creating a new band (like I did with my pink beret).

Although it did involve a bit of skill (gathering was needed), it’s funny and satisfying to think the band which usually stretched over my head, now sits on top of it perfectly.

You can create a faux beret bobble…

Or… nipple/tassel/whatever you’d like to call it. I took a small cutting of my pink cashmere, folded it over and very carefully squeezed it under my machine and went back and forth once or twice to stitch it together and give it some structure.

I then took a needle and my pink thread and hand-sewed it to the centre of my beret. If you do it neatly and discreetly enough, it will stand loud and proud and look like the real thing!


GET INVOLVED WITH #MAKESMNTHNG:
Getting crafty? Tag @makesmthng + @fash_rev in your social media posts with the hashtag #MAKESMNTHNG during the week of December 2nd – December 10th!


Have you been working on any DIYs this week? Share your crafty stories in the comments below… Lots of Love… Tolly Dolly Posh xx

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Updating Your Wardrobe with Embroidery | #MAKESMTHNG Week

By December 2, 2017 DIY & Lifestyle

This week marks the inaugural #MAKESMTHNG (Make Something) Week by Greenpeace. The holiday season, especially with sales and promotions such as Black Friday and the Boxing Day sales, is one of the busiest shopping periods of the year and although that may be all well and good – especially for gift-giving and saving money on essentials – it’s a time when we often tend to forget other alternatives like making things…

MAKESMTHNG Week with Greenpeace & Fashion Revolution: DIY Embroidery

MAKESMTHNG Week with Greenpeace & Fashion Revolution: DIY Embroidery


WHAT I USED: Denim Shirt (Originally Johnnie B) // Embroidery Hoops // Embroidery Thread // Embroidery Needles


Instead of shopping, Greenpeace alongside Fashion Revolution, are aiming to inspire us all to make something of our own, whether it be big or small, our first project or one of many, in order to take a break from our culture of over-consumption and take a leaf from someone else’s book to understand the true value of how our clothes are made.

I was asked to take part and I have to say, it’s done the trick. I started off small myself as admittedly, I’m still on a journey when it comes to the actual creation of clothes and accessories.

There’s a lot to it and it can feel awfully daunting if you’ve never put needle-to-fabric or iron-to-iron-on-patch, before! The inspiration behind my first project came mainly from the wonderfully woven artwork I’ve been following along on Instagram lately.

MAKESMTHNG Week with Greenpeace & Fashion Revolution: DIY Embroidery

Embroidery may be a trend which flows in-and-out of the fashion cycle every other season but it’s actually a craft which originates from even as early as 300 AD (according to Stitches in Time). Now you can find examples of embroidery by designers such as Valentino – it’s one of the reasons I admire their haute-couture collections so much.

As I said, I’m still an amateur in certain areas and although I’ve dabbled in cross-stitch work in the past, I’ve never properly attempted embroidery.

Fuelled by #MAKESMTHNG motivation, I picked up an embroidery hoop, some threads in primary colours and a pack of needles and got stitching some #MAKESMTHNG imagery on to a denim shirt-dress I owned double-of.

MAKESMTHNG Week with Greenpeace & Fashion Revolution: DIY Embroidery

MAKESMTHNG Week with Greenpeace & Fashion Revolution: DIY Embroidery

Later on, I also went on to chop down and hem the shirt-dress into a blouse – using a sewing machine – and added a new popper, which was the reason I hadn’t been wearing it in the first place, therefore bringing new life to something that was shoved in a bin-bag.


Here is my advice for helping any fellow embroidery novices:


Having a basic sewing knowledge will help…

Although I definitely had to head to YouTube for some tips on how to achieve different stitches, actually putting them into practice was far easier than I thought because it’s not too far removed from ordinary sewing.

I would recommend having a practice on a scrap piece of fabric (or maybe a t-shirt you could easily unpick on) so that you feel more confident when you start off. Straight stitch is as simple as going in and out of the fabric and back stitch is as simple as going in, well, backwards. Speaking of which…

MAKESMTHNG Week with Greenpeace & Fashion Revolution: DIY Embroidery

Don’t feel like you have to use a strict stitching pattern…

Of course, sticking to the same style of stitch is essential in certain scenarios but don’t feel like you have to only use one style to complete something. I used a mix of straight, back, satin and split stitches to achieve all of the shapes I was working on.

I sort of winged-it in a sense, using what stitch felt best on each area. Satin stitch – stitching as close together as possible – will of course always be easiest for filling in blocks of colour.

MAKESMTHNG Week with Greenpeace & Fashion Revolution: DIY Embroidery


WHAT I WORE: Many Questions T-Shirt £20.00 (Lost Shapes x Tolly Dolly Posh) // Black Trousers (Charity Shop) // Watch (Casio)* 


Be as even as possible…

You can actually see the difference in me implementing this rather obvious piece of advice just by looking at the hand shape versus the eye shape which I embroidered. The white of the eye is a lot less patchy as I took more time to make my satin stitch as smooth as I could.

Satin stitch works best with smaller areas (see my little yellow stars and the pink circle) but you can definitely achieve a similar effect if you put your mind to it. I’m wondering if this was a little trickier as I was working on a denim fabric – if you’re an embroidery expert, please do let me know!

Use interfacing to avoid fraying…

If you’re going to be embroidering on to an item of clothing, use some iron-on interfacing on the backside of your embroidery work. This will help you avoid it coming undone or lessen the chances of it fraying when you wear it. Seeing as it won’t be visible, you don’t have to be too neat with this.


GET INVOLVED WITH #MAKESMNTHNG:
Getting crafty? Tag @makesmthng + @fash_rev in your social media posts with the hashtag #MAKESMNTHNG during the week of December 2nd – December 10th!


I’ll be back soon with another project but for now, let me know what you’ll be making in the comments…

  Lots of Love… Tolly Dolly Posh xx

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Why Wish Lists Aren’t Just for Christmas

By November 20, 2017 Ethical, Wishlist

A while ago, I made the conscious decision to rid my blog of any content using product images, in the hopes to make my site more organic and a place where I only featured items I owned and loved. Most of that content came in the form of wish lists. After reading a piece at around the same time by my Twitter buddy and fellow teen blogger, Eleanor Claudie, I’ve been mulling over why maybe we should all start to rethink wish lists and why they’re fit for purpose for more than just your Christmas or birthday lists as a child…

How Wish Lists Can Make You a More Conscious Consumer

Although it’s a lot easier to see something of a higher price as an investment, I personally like to see everything we obtain and buy as an investment in itself especially when it comes to our clothes.

It’s easy to walk into a high-street store and take the low prices for granted; if you don’t like something after a few weeks or months of buying it, it doesn’t have to break the bank to pass it on or throw it away without much thought.

I know I’ve come across plenty of still-new and still-labelled items in charity shops which shows the short amount of time it can take for something to come in and out of our wardrobes (it even makes me think people have forgotten returning items for a refund is a viable option).

This throw-away culture has become easier for me to avoid and understand over the past couple of years not only due to my knowledge of consumerism but also due to the fact that as I near adulthood (6 months!), I know that what I buy is mine and will be with me when I leave home and create my own haven for collecting and storing what I own.

How Wish Lists Can Make You a More Conscious Consumer

This even crosses over into other parts of my life, like home décor – I’ve curated a style I like and I have posters and prints that I one day want to have framed and hung on the wall. They may not be of use to me now but I know they’ll be of use to me in the future.

What we buy now should last us for years. There’s really no excuse for buying something now and not liking it after 30 days (the usual time allowed for returns and refunds for most stores); it’s a mindless way of buying, whichever way you look at it.

I take this to the extent of properly considering what I buy second-hand, too. Due to the fact that second-hand shopping doesn’t have many consequences or cons to it, it’s easy to want to buy everything you set your eyes on but the same principle still stands. Do you really need what you’re buying?

I’ve previously discussed ways to know whether you’ll actually end up wearing what you buy and one of the tips I suggested was ‘sleeping on it’. Here’s a quote directly from that post which a fair few of you found helpful…

“If you walk away from something you catch your eye on, you’ll know for definite if it’s really worth buying if you sleep on it and wake up still thinking about it.”

How Wish Lists Can Make You a More Conscious Consumer

Perhaps as a child, we never took this too seriously. We might not have written down what Bratz doll we wanted after sleeping on it for weeks and weeks – yes, I played with Bratz, Barbies and the odd Action Man – but we wrote it down and waited and if we were lucky and fortunate enough, it would show up under our tree on Christmas morning or wrapped up on our birthday, and we would go on to treasure the gift because it hadn’t been bought for us on impulse.

Not only do wish lists make us think through our purchases more considerately, they also give us time to think about our budgets which can be helpful especially with items which are priced a little higher. You’ll be more certain about how worthwhile the purchase is and you’ll be more certain you can afford it, too.

So, what’s on your wish list currently? What do you really love but are willing to wait for? Here’s a list of items that I’d quite like to add to my wardrobe…


~ MY WISHLIST ~

Tulsa Hexagon Ring (Tribe of Lambs)
Rashmi Ring (Tribe of Lambs)
Ida Black Lace Bra (Luva Huva)
Ninette Ruby Bra (Luva Huva)
Corduroy Trousers (People Tree)

V-10 Extra White Nautico Pekin Trainers (VEJA)
Eliza Dress (Reformation)
Iris Sunglasses (Peep Eyewear)
Hotel Sweatshirt (Paloma Wool)


Of course, everything is better in moderation and I would recommend you limit the number of wishlists you compile because otherwise, it defeats the whole purpose of more considerate choices. If you want some easy ways to create a wishlist without putting pen to paper, you can use a notepad on your laptop or create a bookmark folder on your browser.

Make sure to subscribe to my newsletter if you want to see more of what I’m loving, from time-to-time.

  Lots of Love… Tolly Dolly Posh xx

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Goodness and Gold | Little by Little Jewellery*

By November 13, 2017 Ethical, My Style

With age, my style has evolved over the years, drawing me closer to items and elements that I never used to appreciate when I was younger. Part of this evolution involved discovering the joy of high-quality jewellery and saying goodbye to costume necklaces and rings which turn my fingers green. They’re sustainable investments and certain pieces have now simply become part of me…

Little by Little Ethical Jewellery for Action Against Hunger

Little by Little Ethical Jewellery for Action Against Hunger

Little by Little Ethical Jewellery for Action Against Hunger


WHAT I WORE: Floaty Cover-Up (Jumble Sale) // Geometric Slip Dress £47.00 (Mayamiko)* // Recycled Denim Choker (Yours Again)* // Watch (Timex)* // Silver Rings (Old & Gemporia*) // Gold Wedge Fan Ring £45.00 (Little by Little)*


My love of rings started when my mum sorted through her jewellery collection a couple of years ago, discovering a silver ring which no longer fit her but was in perfect condition. Fortunately, I was handed it down and you can now see it gracing my finger in almost every picture I post. It’s simple and the stone isn’t anything too spectacular but it’s definitely been and will continue to be sustained by an emotional attachment to it.

It took a few weeks of taking it on and off before I realised I could simply wear it all around the clock because it wasn’t going to wear away or turn a different colour like all of the other jewels I owned previously.

Peculiarly, I get a sense of satisfaction from the idea that just anybody I pass in the street will never know how long it’s been there with me and that yes, I carry it with me all day and every day; it isn’t just a decoration to match what I’m wearing.

For someone in their teens who most definitely isn’t nearing marriage anytime soon, it gives me a similar sense of pride as to wearing a wedding ring (okay, maybe not quite in terms of the meaning behind it but I now get a sense of what it can feel like). It’s the one thing which makes me feel complete even if I’m having a bit of drab day, sartorially.

I added my next ring to my right hand not too long after and although it may seem even simpler, the sparkle to it is what’s missing from my first original addition. And now here I am, donning my third; a gold number – because I’m not against mixing metals – which can fit almost all my fingers (I have tiny ones so it was nice not to have to get a ring measurer out) and has a rather special inspiration behind it…

Little by Little Ethical Jewellery for Action Against Hunger

Little by Little Ethical Jewellery for Action Against Hunger

Little by Little was set up in 2015 by Annabel, a jewellery designer, and Georgina, a cookery author. Combining their two passions, not only do the duo create beautifully designed jewellery to last a lifetime but they also put their energy into supporting the charity Action Against Hunger; the global organisation combating world hunger and providing healthy livelihoods for those in need.

It’s the reason as to why my ring might remind you of a fresh slice of lemon, which is rather fitting for me as not only do I love lemons but where I’m staying in Italy, is dotted with lemon trees around the garden.


Our main aim in establishing Little by Little in 2015, was to make a difference in a sustainable manner. That is why we partnered with Action Against Hunger.

Action Against Hunger’s teams work in nearly 50 countries worldwide to carry out innovative, lifesaving programmes in nutrition, food security, water, sanitation and hygiene. The money that we have raised has generated enough funds to build a latrine and feed 100 malnourished children for a day.


I have to be honest and say that there are plenty of brands out there that label themselves as ‘ethical’ or ‘sustainable’ simply for the work they’re doing with what they generate from their revenue. I’m of course in no way against companies which do this but it can make you feel sceptical of what their end goal is all around.

A lot of the time when people ask me how to know if a brand is truly ethical, I tell them to trust their gut instinct and work out whether the brand is truly passionate about spreading awareness for the issues that affect the industry.

Speaking to Annabel about her core values made me understand and appreciate that it isn’t all about donating money once the item is purchased – it’s about being transparent and responsible from stage one. Although I’m able to let myself and others off for purchasing unethical jewellery and watches due to how long they last, it feels refreshing and satisfactory when you know your jewellery has been made with care.


The intricate jewellery is lovingly created by a well-established jewellery producer in Lima, Peru. The factory has been running for 25 years. It now employs 350 people.

From its inception, its aim was always to bring opportunity and employment. It does this by giving jobs to people with no prior technical experience, training them in the art of jewellery. Having visited I can verify that it is a well equipped, safe and spacious place to work.

Whereabouts are Little by Little items manufactured?

Little by Little Ethical Jewellery for Action Against Hunger

Little by Little Ethical Jewellery for Action Against Hunger

Little by Little Ethical Jewellery for Action Against Hunger
whomademyclothes~ WHO MADE MY RING? ~
There are a number of different individuals that put together the different elements of Little by Little jewellery. Everything is made from scratch. The team are well-skilled jewellers who make and manufacture the jewellery. This is led by Sandra Romero and Piero Reinoso.

Fashion with a cause is often easier to get behind morally within the realm of ethical fashion because we know for certain that our money will be reinvested into something we support and believe in. Although this is the case the whole year round and I don’t need to sell anybody on it, I think as we near gifting season, it’s something to pay attention to. Little by Little combine charity and ethics; a double whammy!

Not only can you gift somebody with a piece to treasure for years and years to come, you can also gift them with a story and a positive message that they’ll be reminded of whenever they wear their new jewels or when, like me, they look down at their new ring every day.


Do you see jewellery as a sustainable investment? How would you style up my ring? Let me know in the comments!

(This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Little by Little. Read my full disclaimer here.)

  Lots of Love… Tolly Dolly Posh xx

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Is Ethical Fashion Expensive? | A Discussion

By November 8, 2017 Ethical

For the past week or so I’ve been trying my hardest to put this piece together and have it make actual, logical sense. I wanted to start straight off the bat by saying that ethical fashion isn’t expensive and explain from that point onwards. However, upon writing and re-writing (three times!) and discussing it with others, I’ve come to the conclusion that this topic just isn’t that simple, even if I can see it that way myself.

Why Is Ethical Fashion Expensive

At first, I believed that my own experience of consuming ethical and sustainable fashion was a prime example of debunking the myth of a fair wardrobe being completely inaccessible but even I have to admit that I have certain privileges which make it a whole easier to fathom. I’m all about honesty around here; there’s no such thing as being overly transparent.

If I were to say that I don’t add new items to my wardrobe regularly, that wouldn’t be the whole truth. From time to time, I do fill up the gaps in my wardrobe but often I don’t have to pay the expense because I write this blog and am trusted to receive samples and gifted items in order to promote brands which are doing good work.

This isn’t often, which makes the ‘regularly’ part of the statement correct but it still happens; I can’t deny that and nor would I want to – I love fashion. I would expect you do too if you’re reading this.

If I were to also say that the prices of the brands I promote are realistic for people my age or even just the average person who might come across my blog, that wouldn’t be the whole truth either because without the privileges I receive from writing and working my socks off around here, I can hands down say I wouldn’t be wearing a People Tree jumpsuit or a recycled denim choker that costs almost £30 (although, that People Tree jumpsuit has definitely made me realise how worthy their clothes are of an investment).

Why Is Ethical Fashion Expensive

It goes back to the good work they’re doing – I want to show that it’s being done instead of clinging on to the brand names I no longer appreciate. (Bear in mind, I recently turned down an ethical directory feature request because I deemed the brand to be too expensive for my readers. I’m happy with the balance I’ve found.)

If I were to say that second-hand shopping is the best way around any price-based or moral dilemma, that once again wouldn’t be the whole truth because I’m a slim 17-year-old and I’m fortunate most charity shops are filled with viable options for me.

I can’t confirm nor deny whether people of different sizes do genuinely struggle when on the hunt in these scenarios (I often find many more larger sizes, especially in UK stores) but I’m happy to admit I’ve probably been lucky on more than one occasion.

I’m excluding looking for workwear, children’s wear or necessary purchases within this and the rest of my discussion – I’m not about to start saying we should be buying bras and underwear from our local Oxfam (although, good on you if you do) or that a young family of four should all of a sudden stop buying new clothes for their fast-growing kids (my nephews wear mostly second-hand clothes but there’s no way they could go without new shoes or re-purchases here and there).

Why Is Ethical Fashion Expensive

So, what can I say that for the most part, strips away privilege, anything to do about the way we look at ethical options as an ‘investment’ and the idea of conscious consumerism and changing our shopping habits?

Well, it goes back to what a lot of my past blog posts used to revolve around – the facts and figures that show what we’re paying, isn’t what we should be paying if we want to acknowledge that the industry of fashion and the clothes we wear need to change.

The concept of fast-fashion (aka. the opposite of ethical, sustainable or slow fashion) originated in the 90s when the industry in the west discovered the opportunity to manufacturer clothing at a cheaper price and at a faster rate, allowing customers the chance to update and add to their wardrobe with fresh and new styles whilst saving money at the same time, and in-turn, producing more profit (it makes business sense, right?).

Why Is Ethical Fashion Expensive

The majority of fashion manufacturing moved overseas, allowing brands to find cheap labour in developing countries. Quite simply, the demand grew, being supported by catwalks, the advertising industry and the new consumer expectation that we could have it all, whenever we wanted and for an amount, our purses would be happy with. This lead to more and more pressure being put upon the factories by the brands we grew to know and love. It’s why we saw the Rana Plaza disaster and the Tazreen factory fire.

Factories in developing countries aren’t built for the consumption of fast-fashion and nor is the supply chain. The cost of production means underpaid workers, poor working conditions, human rights violations and even child or forced labour that nobody would allow elsewhere.

Why Is Ethical Fashion Expensive

All of these are consequences of the cheap, low prices that can be found on high-streets or online, and that’s not even including the affects this type of production puts on the planet and earth itself. It’s unsustainable and it’s unethical and there’s a reason why it’s cheap and why I don’t use the term very fondly around here.

Even if we’re not used to it and even if it will take years to change – we should be paying more which means ethical fashion, quite frankly, isn’t expensive in theory. It’s expensive in terms of price tag comparison (an ethical t-shirt could cost you £20-30 versus a fast-fashion alternative at £10) but the reason behind it is just and fair. It ensures that workers are paid fairly and that they work in safe environments, as well as often ensuring the use of sustainable and organic materials.

“But in the meantime, Tolly, how can I afford to buy new clothes at the same time as caring about where they come from? It seems impossible.”

Why Is Ethical Fashion Expensive

This is where my favourite friend, Mindset, comes into play. Over-consumption goes hand-in-hand with the actual manufacturing of clothes and it isn’t helped by how we now see it being portrayed in front of our very own eyes. I know one YouTuber who has done eight different ‘haul’ videos in the past month.

I’m by no means accusing any of you of over-consuming but I think a lot of us can almost experience a sense of ‘FOMO’ (fear of missing out) by not owning a beret or a pair of heeled boots right now. I know I have!

We live in a society that thrives off of a culture of consuming the latest new “thing” (due to how #capitalism and the world of advertising works, as already mentioned) which is especially the case with fashion, with trends dipping in and out that not only affect our clothes but go on to change everything else around us.

Why Is Ethical Fashion Expensive

The more we understand that this behaviour and way of consuming isn’t necessary, the less money we’ll end up spending in shorter periods of time, allowing more room for those so-say more pricey purchases which will end up being more of an investment anyway. Cost-effectiveness is sustainable and beneficial especially if you’re on a tighter budget (again – parents or anyone with strict workwear policies, I’m not pointing at you).

For example, if you know a pair of unethically produced shoes which are currently in the fashionable charts, won’t last you as long as a more investable and ethically produced pair would; think about which is more worthwhile, not only for your wallet that may have to repurchase once the cheaper option has worn down but also for the planet and the people who are making them. For me, I don’t even question it anymore.

And if you can and you’re willing to try? Look in Oxfam or Goodwill or on Depop or eBay. Even if it takes you three times as long as looking on ASOS or scrolling through what Topshop has to offer – I promise you it will feel so much more satisfying when you’ve prolonged a perfectly wearable item’s lifespan. I recently welcomed in an old pair of cherry red Dr Martens and a suede coat most definitely not in my size but there’s nothing a new pair of innersoles and wearing something oversized can’t do!


As this title suggests, I want this to be a discussion so go forth and leave your thoughts in the comments!

Lots of Love… Tolly Dolly Posh xx

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If You Don’t Watch The True Cost, Read This – A Harvest of Thorns by Corban Addison

By October 24, 2017 Ethical

I’ve covered quite a few books on my blog over the past year or two, all of them being related to ethical fashion on varying levels, however, I’ve never read or reviewed a fictional book until I discovered A Harvest of Thorns and realised that fiction could be another way to help people understand and come to terms with fast-fashion. (Please be aware that this book and my review covers topics such as rape and may give away mild spoilers.)

A Harvest of Thorns by Corban Addison Book Review


A Harvest of Thorns by Corban Addison


Although I had the idea that the book covered the tale of a single garment worker, A Harvest of Thorns actually covers the tale of not only garment workers, but a journalist and the general counsel of the fictional retailer, ‘Presto‘ (you could compare it to the likes of Amazon).

Based on what the author Corban Addison discovered and experienced himself after the Tazreen Fashions factory fire in 2012, the story covers a similar tale and how it affects a major corporation, consumers and the future of the fashion industry.

It’s film-like, in the way the book is written; it’s descriptive and immersive and allows you to understand all of the different perspectives that you’re reading, whether that be from the perspective of a garment worker who is forced to work without pay; Joshua Griswold – the journalist battling with his struggling relationship, his cancer-ridden daughter and his career – or Cameron Alexander; the general counsel (chief lawyer) who recently lost his wife in a tragic car accident and is facing the possibility of his mother’s death.

A Harvest of Thorns by Corban Addison Book Review

As you can probably tell, this isn’t an uplifting story but it isn’t supposed to be. Although all of the stories and characters are fictional, it all comes from reality – these stories and characters exist, whether we want them to or not.

The reason I suggest this book as an alternative to The True Cost in the title, is because I believe it’s just as hard-hitting, even if it’s not factual and can’t show you the honest and costly reality of the industry through video footage.

It also explores more than just the Rana Plaza – the only true story included within the main plot – and the realities of factory conditions. The fictional aspect allows you to understand and interpret each story in a way which you can empathise with yourself.

Although I judged Cameron at first for his corporate position, I came to understand that he emphasised easily with what was going on in front of him. There’s no excuse for not being able to take a step back and really understand what is going on from an emotional level but the parallels between his personal life and what he was finding out about the industry, reminded me of my post after my experiences with the Italian earthquakes in 2016 (you can’t prevent an earthquake but you can prevent people from getting hurt).

A Harvest of Thorns by Corban Addison Book Review

Cameron was struggling with guilt over the death of his wife Olivia, which he believed could have been prevented by him taking a break from driving when he was tired.

The factory fire described in the book could have been prevented if Presto relieved some of its pressure off of suppliers (even when as the book explains, Presto’s customers wouldn’t notice the difference if they did) – therefore, he was able to really grasp the issue at hand as he was dealing with a similar personal issue.

You may notice that the two main characters are both men, but to me, this actually supports the book as a whole and adds something really important to certain stories. For example, the character Alya experiences sexual assault and rape from a factory supervisor and ends up pregnant, alone and unable to go back home when she’s made to leave her factory.

Sexual assault has been highlighted in the news recently and thankfully, a lot of good is coming from the bad, with more women and victims coming forward to show that this really is a pressing issue. However, Alya’s story in the book is one which is hardly ever spoken about due to the fact that women like her, aren’t able to speak out. It could jeopardise their whole life and risk worsening their position.

Cameron and Joshua are two men who are in positions of power and privilege (which they could easily abuse) and are able to help Alya out of her situation and begin the process of making sure it doesn’t happen again.

A Harvest of Thorns by Corban Addison Book Review

If I’m to point out one major takeaway from the book, it’s that facing up to ignorance is a huge challenge in the fight for change within the fashion industry (and many other industries, too). Whether that’s from a government perspective, a company, an investor or more specifically, consumers.

In the book, it takes a video of one of the garment workers speaking out their story for somebody high up in Presto to really open their eyes, even when they’ve been faced by the press, activists and their own employees with stacks upon stacks of evidence as to why change needs to happen.

A lot of the time, we don’t want to hear it. We don’t want to watch films and documentaries like The True Cost because then we have to finally admit that we could be doing so much better. That’s why, once again, this book is a great alternative – you can read it as you wish, knowing it’s fictional, and take it into your own hands to apply your thoughts and feelings to how it affects you and your own shopping habits.

A Harvest of Thorns by Corban Addison Book Review

My rough sketches of Cameron, Madison, Josh and Alya based upon my imagination.

What books have you read recently? Share your recommendations in the comments!

  Lots of Love… Tolly Dolly Posh xx

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The Answers to Your Many Questions | Survey Response

By October 19, 2017 Ethical, Shop

Not too long ago, I popped up a quick survey for you guys to answer and submit your burning questions and queries about ethical fashion. The survey is still open and I would love if you would continue to fill it in, as it’s always good to know what you’re interested in learning more about. In the meantime, I have some answers for those of you have already asked away, inspired by my ‘Many Questions’ t-shirt from the Lost Shapes x Tolly Dolly Posh collection…

Common Ethical Fashion Questions | Lost Shapes x Tolly Dolly Posh


WHAT I WORE: Many Questions T-Shirt £20.00 (Lost Shapes x Tolly Dolly Posh) // Ripped Jeans (New Look – old)* // Vagabond Dioon Platforms (Mastershoe-MyShu – old) // Red Leather Jacket £6.00 (Charity Shop)


Is there such a thing as cheap or high-street ethical fashion?

It’s understandable that this question became a reoccurring theme in my survey responses, especially as most of you reading this are of a student age where funds are limited whilst you still want to enjoy fashion and updating your wardrobe.

I really want to say yes to this question. I don’t want to let people down and leave you all feeling hopeless that shopping ethically just isn’t a viable option, but especially when it comes to the high-street, it’s a real tricky one (and I will be writing about it in more depth in the near future).

I’m quite open with how I stand on high-street and ‘cheap’ brands launching sustainable and more ethically-conscious lines and collections; I’m a bit of a sceptic, honestly. For me, the negatives of how these brands and businesses are run will always out-way the smaller, positive steps they’re taking, until major shifts start to take place. I can’t happily tell you to go and shop with H&M and their Conscious collection when I’m being told they burn unwanted items.

The thing is, there’s always going to be a better option, even when you’re buying from a brand which is Fair Trade certified or is using recycled fibres – there’s always going to be a brand or designer out there who is doing the next best thing (which is great, don’t get me wrong). The better option to buying on the high-street is buying second-hand; the better option to buying second-hand is not buying at all. You see the dilemma?

So – really, no, there’s no such thing as ethical high-street fashion, yet. That’s just because that’s how the industry works and that’s what we’re all on the path to changing. Is there such thing as cheap ethical fashion? Yes. Second-hand and thrift shops are full of it. Your mum’s wardrobe is. XYZ Insert Ethical Brand name’s seasonal sale is. The £30 t-shirt which will last five times longer than an £8 option is also doing the trick.

Common Ethical Fashion Questions | Lost Shapes x Tolly Dolly Posh

How do I get my friends on board?

Luckily for you, I’ve touched on this question several times in the past. Click here, here and here for some of my old blog posts to browse through. I know from my own personal experience that it isn’t easy to suddenly transform your friends and family into conscious consumers.

It won’t click for everyone immediately, especially those who are only receiving information and education through you and you only. Honestly, if you really want to do it – try and get them to sit down and watch the True Cost, which you can easily stream via Netflix. Maybe even do a screening at home! Tell them that it’s important to you and you think it could be interesting and valuable for them to watch.

Where do I find trend-specific pieces?

Once again, you’re in luck. I recently wrote about my experience with trends and ethical fashion and how my priorities have now changed. That’s the blog post to answer your question.

Common Ethical Fashion Questions | Lost Shapes x Tolly Dolly Posh

What books and resources should I use to learn more?

Third times the charm, isn’t it? I’ve got you covered with my 2016 list of books and resources. I’ll be sure to do one for 2017 too, as I’ve definitely learned and discovered since then, including the book A Harvest of Thorns by Corban Addison which looks at the fast-fashion industry from a fictional perspective.

Are there any sustainable technologies helping advance the industry?

This is a really interesting question which I wished I had a blog post to direct you to for my answer but alas, technology is part of the industry I have limited knowledge in (alongside the intricacies of Fair Trade, the ethical beauty world and vegan materials) but will bear in mind to research so that I can share my findings with you.

Any examples that do come to mind, are mainly fabric oriented, like Pinatex, which takes pineapple leaf fibres and creates a leather alternative which you’ll see being used by the likes of Po-Zu (the ethical and sustainable footwear brand now headed up by Safia Minney).

Have any other burning questions? Leave them in the comments or click here to submit to my survey!


Do you feel inspired? If so, perhaps you might be interested in nominating Tolly Dolly Posh for an Observer Ethical Award. If you believe my commitment to ethical fashion is award-winning, click this link and leave my name, link and a few words in the Young Green Leaders category. Nominations now close on October 22nd 2017. 

  Lots of Love… Tolly Dolly Posh xx

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Dealing with a Lack of Confidence in My Real Life Artwork

By October 2, 2017 DIY & Lifestyle

If you’ve been reading my blog for long enough then you’ll know that I used to fairly regularly post updates of my personal art scrapbook. I used to really enjoy my “Scrap Social” series and I know a lot of you did too…

How to Deal with Lacking Confidence in Your Art Work - shenanginanz organic patch

I didn’t always update you on new pages due to my blog schedule not necessarily allowing for it but after a while, that wasn’t the reason for my lack of posting. Like a lot of art, there comes a point where you usually grow out of certain styles and practices. For me, ‘scrapbooking’ (in the way that I was) hasn’t been enough and since recognising that, I haven’t felt I’ve had anything worthy of sharing, either.

However, sharing isn’t my reason for writing, in fact, I’d have to say it has more to do with consuming. I believe my consumption and intake of other art is what stops me at that first hurdle and which perhaps maybe stopping you and other people from doing the same.

It almost reminds me of the pressures of school and seeing everybody’s pieces lined up and feeling put down and de-motivated when there was something significantly different to the rest in my work.  There are so many artists and creators out there who all have such distinctive styles, it’s incredibly difficult to step back and work on your own work without comparing the two. This, of course, applies to more than just art, so much so, that I used to struggle with this on my blog.

How to Deal with Lacking Confidence in Your Art Work - shenanginanz organic patch

Going back to how scrapbooking didn’t feel enough to me… I think part of that reason was due to the fact it allowed me to fall back onto other mediums and references which would automatically start the ideas flowing without my real creative thought. I was creating but I wasn’t creating anything new or fresh for myself.

Combining that with the pressure of influence and trying hard not to be over-influenced, you can see how I might have lost track a little. I reached a dead-end in pushing myself forward and now all I know and seek out are my comfort zones.

I wish I was here to spew out advice and list down ways I’ve managed to overcome this challenge but I’m afraid I’m still in this limbo. I’m stuck in a creative sandpit where I can only manage to build sandcastles made of everybody else’s sand. (I’m also terrible at analogies, it seems).

I understand using references and inspiration is a huge part of all art – it’s why fashion takes from past decades and why music often doesn’t necessarily fall into one genre with how it sounds and feels – but in becoming your own artist, there comes a time when you need to stop relying upon it, in my opinion, even if it’s only temporarily.

How to Deal with Lacking Confidence in Your Art Work - shenanginanz organic patch


Organic Cotton “Art is My Distraction” Patch £4.99 (Shenaniganz)*


I feel extremely confident in who I am as an artist online. I’m proud of the content I publish and produce and I feel sure that my style is distinct enough to shine among the rest, I’m just not sure how to achieve that same level of confidence with the art I create and produce with my hands.

In fact, that’s a whole other topic in itself. With online content creation, we can add filter after filter and delete picture after picture but there are only so many pages we can tear out of a sketchbook and throw in the bin before the book is empty and well, the Amazon Rainforest is no more.

Have you dealt with similar when it comes to the creative process? How have you managed to get back on your feet? Let’s discuss in the comments! I need inspiration!


Before you go! I want to know what you want to learn about ethical fashion! Fill in my survey here, if you want answers to any burning questions you have in mind. There are also instructions on how to nominate me as a Young Green Leader in the Observer Ethical Awards, which nomination deadline has been extended to October 22nd, 2017.

  Lots of Love… Tolly Dolly Posh xx

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