Often referred to as “the greatest runner you’ve never heard of”, Fiona holds four World Records, including being the fastest woman to run a marathon on every continent. Fiona co-founded Vegan Runners in 2004 and her attempt at the 2017 Marathon des Sables was documented in the film, Running for Good.
We spoke to Fiona about her incredible career, what inspires her and found out more about her work at the Tower Hill Animal Sanctuary.
You have been Vegan since you were 6 – was this entirely your decision and what promoted it? Were there other Vegans and Vegetarians in the family?
I always say that me becoming vegan at such a young age was not really a decision, more of a reaction against something which I couldn't comprehend i.e., the cruelty, consumption and exploitation of innocent creatures. I didn't actually know the word vegan at the time but I did understand the principle and that is what really matters. As for other family members who were vegan or vegetarian - not one, I am afraid. However, I was so lucky as my Mum had a friend, an ex music teacher of hers, who was vegan and she managed to articulate to my Mum in adult rhetoric exactly what it meant to be vegan and how to go about living vegan back in a small town in Derbyshire in the 1970's.
How do you balance the nutrition levels required for the life of an elite athlete and what dietary advice would you give to other very active Vegans?
I find it really easy to manage my diet in a way which not only supports my really physical and hectic life running the Sanctuary as well as training up to 100 miles a week for events. I am not a big 'foodie' person and don't get too stressed about the miniscule details of my diet. In fact, I always joke and say that with this big family of animals to care for and feed, my own needs are always at the bottom of the list. I think the most important thing to remember with any diet is that balance is key and learning to listen to your own body and what it is telling you at any given time. I don't buy any of the processed vegan foods which have flooded the supermarkets recently and tend to stick to locally sourced, seasonal, basic foods cooked from raw ingredients.
My Mum actually does all the cooking as she has always done and she uses lots of pulses, rice, pasta, nuts, seeds, fresh vegetables and fruits. She likes to prepare a colourful platter and tries very hard to have 10 different vegetables in each meal - can be a challenge at times but she does her best. If I am training really hard for an event I will just up the carbohydrate intake if I feel I am lacking energy but my diet actually stays pretty much the same all year round. People do find it quite strange that I only eat one meal a day - just something which I found suits my lifestyle and physical and mental needs.
One thing I think is very important about my diet is that I do feel very blessed that I have enough food on my plate for each meal and that I don't have to worry where the next meal is coming from - a luxury which many of us take for granted. Also, my meal does not just literally consist of 'peace on my plate' but I am so lucky to have peace in my heart and my surroundings too - that is very important to me.
"I have to say running the ‘toughest footrace on the planet’, Marathon des Sables,
in 2012 with 2 fractured toes was a challenge which nearly did get the better of me."
You hold an incredible four world records for marathon running, what have been some of the highlights of your incredible career so far?
My running career has never been carefully constructed or engineered and if I am truthful it came about accidentally. I started running about 2 decades ago because I was so frustrated at the lack of positivity surrounding a vegan diet. Very rarely did you hear the word vegan in the mainstream media or press and, when you did, it almost always was a story with negative connotations implying lack of energy, wellbeing, physical strength and illness. I just wanted to prove that whole agenda wrong and picked the Marathon as it was, at the time, considered the toughest athletic event in the calendar requiring enormous physical and mental endurance, resilience, recovery and strength. I started out with the idea of competing in and completing a Marathon and things just went on from there. One of the highlights for me is always remembering how blessed I am to be able to have the strength and health to even consider competing in these events and to continue doing so. Having co-founded Vegan Runners back in 2004 in order to showcase the word Vegan on the Elite Start Lines of some of the World's Major Marathon events is also a massive honour. Honestly, just being able to wear the Vegan Runner vest and stand on the top of Podiums for the animals has been amazing, the privilege of running across Deserts, up mountains and just about everywhere else on the planet for almost 2 decades and sharing the beauty, peace, viability and sustainability of veganism is all I have ever wanted to achieve through my running.
You have displayed amazing resilience. Despite losing a kneecap at the age of 17 due to a tumour, you have kept running. Where do you find your strength and determination?
It's easy, it comes from the animals and trying to help them through being out there and speaking for them through my running in a positive way. They are my motivation and inspiration to train - the better and harder I run, the more credibility I give to the reason I am out there. This year I have 2 qualifications to represent England in both the 10km and half Marathon, I have qualified for the Elite Start of the London Marathon and am tipped to do well in Marathon des Sables. It's all about being driven, determined and dedicated because I want to show the world the validity, versatility and viability of veganism in a nonconfrontational and non-deniable way, through my results and continued commitment.
You have run in some of the most extreme locations on the planet, from deserts to the North Pole. What have been some of the biggest challenges?
It has been really hard to fit in all the extensive training, week in week out, to be fit enough to take on these challenges. Honestly, when you get to the races the hard work has already been done. Especially I find in road running. If you have managed to sustain a long block - say 12 weeks - of really hard training, a successful taper and remain fit, well and healthy on the day - combined with the luck of the weather being in your favour - the race can almost be 'enjoyable' (but don't quote me on that at 20 miles into a sub 2.40 Marathon!) I train in a pretty unusual way in that I don't have a Coach (I tried to get one in the early days but no-one was willing to help me because they all said my veganism was counterproductive!), train alone, have to do all my speed work on a treadmill as my knee is so temperamental - it won't allow me to run repetitive bends on a track, don't use any 'devices' such as Garmin, pulse monitor, Strava etc. I quite literally just rely on myself but I do have the absolute will to achieve because I want, so badly, to do well for the animals.
I know my own pace and capabilities very, very well and this makes it easy for me to adjust to external factors such as running in temperatures ranging from minus 40 degrees in the Arctic to plus 50 degrees in Deserts. I have to say running the 'toughest footrace on the planet’, Marathon des Sables, in 2012 with 2 fractured toes was a challenge which nearly did get the better of me. The event is tough enough itself being a week of total self-sufficiency, with a huge backpack to carry, - made even heavier by the then lack of any lightweight vegan nutrition or accessories such as sleeping bags and clothing - 250km to run, scorching heat of over 50 degrees to cope with as well as all other manner of problems and challenges to overcome -I actually laugh and say that with so much going on, if it hadn't been for the excruciating pain, having the fractured toes was just one problem diluted by the countless others to contend with!
You are an ambassador for the Vegan Society, what does that involve?
Being an Ambassador of the Vegan Society is basically being an Ambassador for Veganism in itself drawing attention to the positivity and benefits of veganism, not only through the diet but also through the ethical and environmental benefits of this lifestyle.
You founded the ultra-marathon Running For Good Ultra. Can you tell us about this and why you set it up?
I wanted to do something positive for people during the pandemic and give them a chance to experience some of the monumental experiences I had through my athletics so I decided to try and create my own event - Running for Good Ultra - along with Mohamad Ahansal, multi Marathon des Sables Champion.
Held over one week and covering 365km in the deep Moroccan Sahara it attempts to highlight many issues and problems facing present and future generations such as global warming, desertification, our need to be frugal and prudent with all the world's diminishing resources and how we must not only recycle but reduce intake globally by learning to consider the impact of our actions on others and their environments as well as that of our own. It also aims to illustrate how much extra personal potential, momentum and fulfilment can be engendered when an individual's actions and energies are directed towards helping others rather than just focussing on self-gratification.
How has the Covid 19 pandemic affected your life as an athlete?
The day before the first lockdown in March 2020 I was due to represent England in a half Marathon and then go onto the Marathon des Sables the following month. It was a blow to have both these events cancelled and I actually chose to run the entire distance of the Marathon des Sables on the week it should have been held as I had been focussing on it for so long I just felt I needed to get the distance done and out of my system. It was surreal as, although it was April, the weather was glorious, the trails and roads were deserted, not a chemtrail in the sky and a single person to be seen. It was pretty much all I had been seeking in actually going to MdS itself.
From then on I just decided to train and use my time out running for contemplation and self-acquaintance. I am incredibly lucky in that I live very rurally and have the sea wall to run on which is usually very peaceful and deserted - just the lapping waves, wildlife, nature and my thoughts with me for company. It has proven very therapeutic and beneficial both physically and mentally and, although we still don't know what races will or won't go ahead, the benefits of these efforts are still rewarded.
What advice would you give to a young person wanting to pursue a career in athletics?
With determination, dedication, discipline, denial and self-belief you can achieve your goals but be prepared for it to be a very tough but challenging path.
You are in the Guinness Book of Records for being the fastest woman to run a half-marathon in an animal costume. Can you tell us a bit about that?
I actually decided to do this as I wanted to highlight the plight of the often 'forgotten' and concealed misery of the dairy industry. There are so many misconceptions surrounding this, in that people often believe it not to be cruel as they don't fully understand what it entails. In fact, when filming Running for Good, Keegan Kuhn shared with me his experiences of making Cowspiracy. He said that going to the dairy unit was the most disturbing and upsetting thing he experienced as the abject misery, despondency and hopelessness of the cows and their calves was absolutely incomprehensible.
I had some downtime and thought it would be good to go and try to do something through my running to get people talking about this issue and make them more aware that dairy, quite literally, is scary, so I donned my cow suit and went off and broke a World Record!
Talking of animals, you founded the Tower Hill Stables animal sanctuary. Can you tell us about your work there and why it is so important to you?
I founded the Sanctuary in 1996 as a place to give Sanctuary to the animals I had already rescued - smaller animals and horses - and it has just grown and grown since then. It wasn't possible to give sanctuary to ex farm animals up until that point as I had nowhere to keep them but it had always been my dream to be able to take animals such as pigs, cows and sheep out of the cruel and exploitative situations they were born into and give them a life of hope, love, peace and dignity among their own kind.
This is very important to me, the idea that the animals can live as natural a life as is possible with me there to supervise and provide for them on their terms with as much freedom as I can feasibly and possibly afford them. It is wonderful to see the way the old and young interact with each other and very important for their stability and mental well-being that they are surrounded by not only their own kind but different generations too as it would be for herd animals in the wild. The older animals offer knowledge and stability to the younger ones and the younger ones, quite literally offering stimulation and vigour to the older members of the group.
What’s for supper tonight?
I do believe I have homemade soup, fresh baked bread and mushroom risotto according to Chef Mum - with the possibility of some date cake to round off if I am not fit to burst by the time it comes to pudding!
In the first of our sport and arts series, we meet Jai Sheffield. Jai is a professional Latin Dancer from the Gold Coast Australia. He is a multi-Australian champion in Salsa, Bachata and Cha Cha and a finalist at the World Latin Dance Cup. Jai placed 3rd in Cha Cha at the World Salsa Summit and won the El Sol Warsaw Stargate soloist competition.
Aside from dancing Jai is certified by the World Salsa Summit to judge Latin competitions as well as being a Salsanama trainer. The passion for his art, has provided many opportunities. In recent years, he has traveled and taught in over 35 different countries including the Pacific Islands, Asia, Africa, Europe, the UK, Mexico, and Russia.
Jai was trained in Australia by Csaba Szirmai and later by Fernando Sosa and the Antonio and Jasmina Berardi in Italy, where he still spend a lot of his time.
Jai is also a passionate vegan and in this episode we talk about how he found dance and how veganism has impacted his life and his career.
We’ve been mutual fans of each other for a while now, but can you tell everyone how your career started and how you became a dancer?
I started dancing 9 years ago while I was at university. I went professional in 2017 and started working as a dancer full time.
What is about Salsa that you love?
I love everything about Salsa! Initially I was drawn to how addictive dancing was. It wasn’t until later that I started to learn more about the music, history and cultural significance of salsa and Latin dancing that I really fell in love with it. I feel a very deep connection to the music and when I dance it with someone it's magical.
How long have you been vegan and what made you switch?
I’ve been vegan for 5 years. I was made aware of the impact eating animal products had on the environment and I wanted to reduce my impact and going vegan was a viable option. The moral implications associated with procuring animal products was also something that I didn’t want to be supporting.
Do you think a plant-based diet has helped you in your professional life?
Absolutely! I definitely noticed a boost in energy and endurance by going plant based. I can dance for hours over many days and still function and not feel fatigue. I don’t feel heavy or lethargic like I used to from eating a diet high in meat and dairy.
A dancer’s physical life is tough – describe your typical daily regime (workout/ training)
A typical day for me involves a coffee and going to the beach in the morning. I live next to the beach and try to get in the water every day. After that I train and stretch in the gym before I start private lessons and then I teach classes in the evening. Typically I teach for 5-8 hours a day and socially dance in the evening either after classes or at socials.
And how do you relax?
For me it's being in the water. There is something special about the ocean, I have been obsessed with it since I was a teenager. I find it one of the most relaxing things in my life and it is the best way to start the day. I go to the beach and drink my coffee, sit in the sun, and then surf or swim.
What is the highlight of your career so far?
There are definitely a few stand out moments for me, like placing 3rd in the world in Professional Cha Cha, or the solo competition I won in Europe, but honestly the highlight so far is being able to do what I love every day. I get to teach dance and create amazing dancers, it's the best job I’ve ever had.
How popular is veganism in the world of dance?
It's not as uncommon as you might think, but I’m definitely a minority. There are a few influential dancers in the world that are vegan or vegetarian. When organisers or other dancers learn that I am plant based it's not a surprise.
If you could dance with anyone (dead or alive), who would it be?
If I could dance with anyone….I would dance with my friend Gessica in Italy. We only get to dance together when I’m in Europe and we have a beautiful dance connection.
Do you think talent shows such as Strictly Come Dancing have had a positive effect in terms of changing people’s perception of ballroom dance?
Sure, anything media related is great if it is spreading a positive message about dance. I dance street Latin styles, which are primarily social and not competition focused. If people knew about the social aspect of partner dancing, I think it would be even better!
The pandemic has affected all industries and the arts, how have you kept yourself motivated?
Fortunately, in Australia we have escaped relatively unscathed, my city in particular was not affected very much at all by Covid-19, the biggest downside is that I can’t travel Internationally at the moment, so I have been throwing myself into teaching which is hugely rewarding and a great way to learn.
What’s next for you this year?
This year I’m part of a couple of big showcases in my city, my team and I have multiple student teams and choreographs which will be put on stage and performed, I’m really looking forward to giving dancers new and exciting opportunities and helping them become the best dancer that they can be.
You can find out more and get involved in local social dance classes and social meets by checking out your local Salsa school online. They will be able to provide you with information on classes local to you and details of how you can get involved.
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What is stopping you?
Most of us carry a wallet or purse every day and whether it is in a pocket or a bag we are all guilty of collecting cards and receipts that end up bulking it out. If we are honest with ourselves, much of what we carry is needless and it usually prevents us from changing the style of wallet we use and opting for a more minimalist wallet instead.
We live in an age where cash is used less often, therefore having many compartments in your wallet may no longer be a necessity.
Are minimalist wallets better?
Minimalist wallets and card holders are great if you are adapting to societal changes and carrying less cash. Minimalist wallets and card cases are intentionally designed to be slim, sleek, and compact, whilst also giving you the space you need for essential cards and cash.
What is good about a minimalist card holder?
A minimalist wallet or card holder keeps things light and compact, and in addition to freeing up pocket space they can save unnecessary wear and tear on your trouser or jacket pockets. Believe it or not, carrying a bulky wallet or card holder will take its toll on your clothing, prematurely thinning the lining of trouser and coat pockets. Living with a less cluttered wallet in your pocket can be cathartic, it lets you carry only what is important whilst retaining your desire for something which is comfortable to carry and nice to look at and use.
If you would like to slim down your wallet in favour of a more minimalist card holder, then you may be wondering what the options are.
Our collection of minimalist card holders and wallets show our dedication and experience in designing slim, minimalist pieces which look and feel great. Our materials are all cruelty free and vegan, but more importantly, they are lightweight and durable. Using next generation materials which are thinner than conventional leather means our wallets and card holders are super light and minimal even after you have filled them with cards and cash.
Super slim and with one central pocket the minimalist Nano card case is perhaps the slimmest of all and can carry around 8 cards as well as folded notes. The compact design makes this card wallet a very versatile carry. Top pocket, front pocket or back pocket, you shouldn’t feel any bulk at all. These card cases all have RFID protection and are designed and constructed with impeccable attention to detail, including top locking stitches where your card holder will experience the most wear and tear.
If you want prefer a designated space for folded notes, then a central pocket is an option. Perfectly positioned between the 5 card pockets, the lined central pocket allows you to carry a considerable amount of folded notes and bills. The compact design makes this minimalist wallet ideal for top pocket, and front or back trouser pockets. Complete with RFID protection the sleek lines and lightweight design keep this card holder nice and slim.
For a card holder which keeps your cards hidden there is the bifold card case. You still get the versatility of a lightweight design with multiple pockets for cards, but this sleek and minimalist card wallet has more of wallet feel than the two mentioned above. Doubling up on cards in each pocket is possible, as is slipping in folded notes, but minimalist styles are rarely designed for overbulking, so do bear this in mind. If you want to slim down, make sure you only carry what you need.
For the ultimate minimalist style which has the feel of wallet, but all the storage you need and RFID protection, the bifold card wallet with a full length notes pocket is a popular choice. With 6 card pockets there is no need to add bulk with folded notes, because along the back, you have a dedicated pocket for folded notes. This design takes away bulk whilst the materials and design, keep the card holder lightweight and slim. This one also has a seventh card pocket on the back for a travel card which sits outside of the RFID protection. Perfect for the tube swipe!
If you are gifting a card holder or treating yourself, then why not consider adding personalised initials. We design with personalisation in mind, so three of the four styles showcased here can have custom initials or a message added to the inside.
As we walk boldly into April, with the hope that lockdowns will ease, we are clinging to all the positive things which are happening around the globe. And there are many!
Despite varying restrictions, people and organisations are still inspiring us, and pushing ahead with long terms plans for conservation and to help combat the climate crisis.
There are also a couple of stories here that prove we can all make a difference when we set our minds to it, and of course there is strength in numbers too. Nothing is impossible.
So without further ado, let's dive in to the top environmental news stories for March.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]
Climate activist Edgar McGregor spent more than a year picking up litter every day at Eaton Canyon in Los Angeles.
The 20-year-old visited Eaton Canyon, his local park, for at least an hour every day to clean up municipal waste. He persisted during the pandemic and through extreme weather, including hail, 65 MPH winds and ashy rain from nearby wildfires.
On March 5, the last day of his marathon clean-up, he proudly announced, "After **589** days of picking up trash every single day, I can say with confidence that Eaton Canyon, one of Los Angeles's most popular hiking trail, is now free of municipal waste!" That single tweet has been liked on Twitter's platform more than 107,600 times.
The UK is launching the world's first network of underwater camera rigs to monitor and protect ocean wildlife.
It is set to be extended across 10 British Overseas Territories to collect biological information and safeguard the marine environment.
The expansion follows concerns that the health of the ocean is declining and will allow scientists to improve their understanding of the marine environment and help to restore ocean life.
A community in Scotland has completed one of the country’s largest ever grassroots land buyouts – and is now turning the estate into a nature reserve. The community raised £3.8m to buy 5,200 acres of land from the Duke of Buccleuch. The sale, agreed in October, was completed on Friday. It followed a six-month crowdfunding campaign that reached its target two days before the deadline.
The National Trust has planted 60,000 saplings in the first part of its drive to plant 20 million trees by 2030.
The rate of planting will also now be able to accelerate after an initial planning phase thanks to nearly £500,000 in public donations with the charity’s ‘Plant a Tree’ campaign, and the conservation charity has identified sites for a further 1.5 million trees to be planted over the next couple of years.
The number of bald eagles in the lower 48 U.S. states — a population once on the brink of extinction — has quadrupled in the last dozen years to more than 316,000, federal wildlife officials say, despite steep declines in other American bird populations.
The success story, wildlife officials said, is a dramatic reminder of the power of conservation efforts. Bald eagles were hunted, poisoned and extirpated from their habitat across the contiguous U.S. for more than a century.
If you have a local positive environment story which needs more recognition, please let us know. You can email us details to: Info@watsonwolfe.com
Crocodiles are aquatic reptiles, and because of their size, big powerful jaws, and aggressiveness, remain one of the most feared carnivores on Earth. Crocodiles, in the form we recognize them today, have roamed the earth for 80 million years, they are successful predators and once lived alongside the dinosaurs. After the Chicxulub impact, which happened around 66 million years ago, the non-avian dinosaurs were gone but crocodiles managed to survive. (1)
Where can Crocodiles be found?
There are 13 species of crocodile and the average lifespan varies. The large reptiles reside in the tropical regions of Asia, Africa, America, and Australia. Their different lifestyles mean that each of the species grows and lives differently from each other.
The largest of the croc species, the saltwater crocodile has an average lifespan of 70 years, living as long as the modern-day human. Its cousin, the Nile crocodile, can live anywhere from 70 years to 100 years of age and the American crocodile lives to a maximum of 70 years old.
However, smaller croc species are not so lucky. Their average lifespan is around 30-40 years. (2)
Crocodiles are powerless against environmental change, hunting and poaching, and there is much debate about the supply of eggs from these wild populations to crocodile farms. Those in favour claim that eggs taken from wild nests provide landowners with a valuable source of income and control the local populations, reducing human injuries and the number of cattle killed. On the other hand, conservationists and critics say only a few crocodiles reach maturity in the wild and removing eggs could have a devastating impact.
What is a crocodile farm?
A crocodile or alligator farm is an establishment for breeding and raising animals to produce crocodile and alligator meat, leather from crocodile and alligator skin, and other goods. Many species of both alligators and crocodiles are farmed internationally. In Louisiana, USA, alligator farming is a $60 to $70 million industry. (3) In Australia, crocodile farming contributes an estimated $100 million to the Northern Territory economy.
What is crocodile leather used for?
The skins of crocodiles and other reptiles are widely used for the manufacturing of leather goods such as bags, wallets, and belts etc. The pattern of crocodile leather makes a product unique because it is impossible to find an identical pattern.
Why are crocodiles used for leather?
Many in favour of exotic skins would say 'why not?'. Animals have long been used as materials for fashion and clothing, and there does not seem to be a boundary which humans are not willing to cross. Almost any animal you can think of could and would be used for fashion if there were brands willing to put a price tag on it.
Why is Crocodile Leather So Expensive?
Crocodile skin is considered one of the world's finest leathers and features in collections by some of the world's most elite luxury brands. Brands such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Versace use crocodile skins in their highest priced items.
Materials that are rare or difficult to make usually demand a high price tag. The limited number of crocodiles and their small size is a
factor, as is the lack of dependable farms and tanning facilities that can process and prepare the product for market.
Can crocodile skins be responsibly sourced?
One could argue that some exotic skin farms are managed and operated better than others, but when Chanel announced their decision to ban exotic skins back in 2018, a factor in their decision was the difficulty obtaining responsibly sourced skins.
Responsibly sourced or not, there can be no denying that behind every crocodile, alligator, snake or lizard handbag is a violent death.
Are crocodiles humanly killed?
Although various methods are used to stun and kill crocodiles before their skin is taken, none of the methods we have seen can be described as 'humane'. Some involve the severing of the spinal cord and others include skinning the animals whilst they are visibly still alive. Many of the videos which show these methods are far too graphic and upsetting to show in this article but can been seen online if you want to see more.
The following video was recorded by a crocodile farm to attract business from luxury brands and shows the conditions and processes in taking a crocodile or alligator skin. It comes with a graphic content warning and some scenes which viewers may find upsetting.
Major Luxury Brands Say Goodbye to Exotic Skins
Over the last five years many brands have been turning their back on exotic skins. In February 2019 Victoria Beckham announced her intention to ban exotic skins from future collections. Their statement read “We are happy to confirm that we will cease using exotic skins in all future collections as of our main autumn/winter 2019 ready-to-wear presentation. This decision reflects the wishes of not only the brand, but also that of our customers.” (4)
Later the same year, Jil Sander confirmed it had stopped using exotic skins, and joined luxury brands Vivienne Westwood, Diane von Furstenberg, Chanel, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, and many others on the right side of history.
As we move into 2021, more brands are making the same pledge. Alexandre Birman, will stop sourcing exotic skins beginning January 1st. The shoe brand’s ethical decision will send a strong message to the fashion industry about the dangers of raising and killing exotic animals for “luxury” fashion items—including the increased risk of outbreaks such as COVID-19. (5)
But it's not all good news. The high price of crocodile skins may be the reason why in November 2020, Luxury fashion brand Hermès invested $7.25 million to purchase a lagoon in Australia with plans to build Australia's largest crocodile farm. The announcement caused a stir on Twitter, as animal activists labelled the move 'revolting' and 'unnecessary', citing how other luxury brands have moved away from using fur and leather in recent years.
Neither Hermès nor Louis Vuitton has any mention of their involvement in the crocodile farming industry on their websites.
Hermès' highly coveted Birkin crocodile handbag can retail for over £50,000, while Louis Vuitton meanwhile sells exotic handbags for up to £30,000. (6)
In recent times, the fashion industry has faced increased scrunity over the level of environmental damage it causes and the cost to animal lives. New bio-tech companies are innovating next-generation materials which removes the need for toxic chemical processes and animals to produce alternatives to animal derived leather.
With more of these next-generation materials coming to market, one must ask why it is necessary to continue using animals such as crocodiles for their skin.
Main image by Robert Zunikoff
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is a thermoplastic that is odourless, solid, brittle, and generally white in colour. It is currently ranked as the third most widely used plastic in the world (behind polyethylene and polypropylene) (1) and is one of the most controversially debated materials regarding its hazardous impacts on the environment and human health.
When was PVC first invented?
PVC was discovered in 1838 by Henri Regnault, but was not commercialized until 1926, when chemist Waldo Semon, discovered a method to plasticize PVC into a soft rubbery material.
How is PVC made?
PVC is made by reacting chlorine, carbon, and ethylene (a petrol product). The raw materials are essentially, salt and oil. Electrolysis of saltwater produces the chlorine, which is combined with ethylene (obtained from oil) to form vinyl chloride monomer (VCM).
Vinyl Chloride Monomer (VCM) is a colourless compound, and it is estimated that approximately 13 billion kilograms are produced annually. (1) VCM then undergoes a process called polymerisation, which results in a base PVC, to which additives are incorporated to make a customised PVC compound.
Is PVC a plastic?
Yes, PVC is a plastic and an exceptionally durable and long lasting one.
Plastics such as PVC are cheap and widely used for applications which require durable, long lasting, waterproof, and weather resistant materials.
What are the uses for PVC?
PVC is the predominant material of choice in the home construction industry. Its characteristics make it an ideal replacement or alternative for metal pipes and other applications where corrosion can compromise functionality and longevity.
Other sectors to use PVC include transport, packaging, electrical, electronic, healthcare and of course the fashion industry.
Not all PVC is hard like the piping used in your bathroom or the downpipe on your building. The addition of other chemicals to the base PVC changes its form and the flexible PVC materials you might see used for interiors and fashion are obtained with the addition of phthalates during production.
What are phthalates?
Phthalates are endocrine disruptors, which change the way hormones are made and disturbed throughout the body. Phthalates can be absorbed through the skin or inhaled.
Phthalates are not a single chemical, there is a whole family of them, and not all of them behave the same way. Three of them, BBP, DBP, and DEHP, are permanently banned from toys and products intended to help children under 3 sleep, eat, teethe, or suck. (2)
DEHP is the most used phthalate for PVC fashion textiles and although it is unclear how much, it is likely that a little DEHP is transferred by skin contact with plastic clothing or other articles that contain DEHP. (3)
Is PVC harmful to people?
Vinyl chloride which is used to make PVC is a gas with a sweet odour. The gas is highly toxic, flammable, and a known carcinogen.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), "vinyl chloride emissions from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), ethylene dichloride (EDC), and vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) production plants cause or contribute to air pollution that may reasonably be anticipated to result in an increase in mortality, an increase in serious irreversible illness or incapacitating reversible illnesses.
One reason why PVC is so toxic is that it is often mixed with softening chemicals called plasticizers, the most well-known variety being DEHP. DEHP can leech from the materials, and you can be exposed to it by touching a PVC product, inhaling fumes from a PVC manufacturing plant or landfill, or accidentally swallowing PVC from food packaging or contaminated water (4)
Vinyl chloride exposure is associated with an increased risk of a rare form of liver cancer (hepatic angiosarcoma), as well as brain and lung cancers, lymphoma, and leukemia. (5)
Is PVC harmful to the environment?
During the process of manufacturing, recycling and disposure, PVC releases pollutants, including dioxins, which are released into the air, land, and water supply.
Dioxins are a group of chemically related compounds that are persistent environmental pollutants (POPs). They are found throughout the world in the environment and accumulate in the food chain, mainly in the fatty tissue of animals. (6)
One of the greatest concerns with PVC is the additives such as plasticizers and metal-based stabilizers which will leach into the soil and irrevocably impact the environment.
Is PVC Biodegradable?
PVC is not biodegradable, but it can be recycled. That said, PVC is exceedingly difficult to recycle, and as a result little of it is collected and processed in recycling facilities. Made from many different formulations composed of various additives, PVC products cannot easily be separated for recycling, which makes breaking vinyl products down into their original components nearly impossible. (7)
A study by the European Council of Vinyl Manufacturers (ECVM) demonstrated that PVC can last up to 70 years for some applications. This presents great value for money for the consumer, but once the PVC reaches its end-of-life stage, it does not readily degrade and when it does it gives off toxic materials.
How is PVC used in Fashion?
Plastics have long been used in clothing, particularly in raincoats. It became most popular in clothing during the fashion trends of the 1960s and early 1970s.
Today, PVC still exists in fashion and although most reputable Brands have completely eradicated it from their supply chains, it is still available and can be very well hidden.
You may find PVC being used in clothing, bags, and shoes, which considering all you have read about the possible effect of PVC on human health, we must ask ourselves, why are fashion brands still using this material at all?
PVC is a cheap material, that is mass produced at scale. It is essentially a thin layer of plastic with a fabric covering, and is a popular choice for brands looking to develop attractive and cheap items. According to the Center for Environmental Health accessories such as PVC handbags contain chemicals such as lead and mercury, chemicals which are hazardous to human health.
Is PVC Vegan?
Absolutely, but it is not a viable alternative to leather items you already own. There is little value in swapping one toxic material for one which is much worse.
If you want to swap out your animal leather items, take your time and do your research first. PVC can be manufactured to have different textures, such as pebbling, ostrich and alligator, it is no longer just the shiny Vinyl you might see. In fact, PVC can resemble and feel like high quality faux leather.
Unsure if something you like has PVC in it?
Email the brand and ask. Delay your purchase by a few days and wait for a reply. Then you can make an informed decision. Good brands should disclose this information on their product page or honestly in a reply to you. It is worth noting that Brands who have an ethical and sustainable approach to their design and manufacturing are not likely to be using PVC, but if it does not say, ASK.
For all the reasons you read above, here at Watson & Wolfe we are committed to never using PVC in any of our collections.
In this episode Helen talks with Anant Joshi from Plant CEO about how a large part of her career was spent in the world of accessories when working for luxury leather brands. Helen speaks more about how she learnt about the leather industry and the impact it has on the environment, water pollution, worker health and animal exploitation. Listen to find out why Helen decided to create a vegan accessory brand which initially focused on men's accessories which two years ago was an under-served market. Helen and Anant also talk about how material innovation for non animal based leather is ripe for disruption.
Learn more about the product range, the companies growth plans and the launch of a new women's collection.
Over the past 12 months the importance of taking care of ourselves and our planet has become even more apparent. With an increasing spotlight on sustainability, we can all take steps to help our Earth and ourselves by using cruelty free and vegan skin care. Making just small changes to your skin care routine can have a big effect!
What does cruelty free and vegan skincare mean?
A product from a vegan skin care range does not contain any ingredients that come from an animal. For a product to be branded cruelty free, it must not have been through any form of animal testing throughout the process of creation and production.
Why is vegan skincare so popular?
Vegan skin care has rocketed in the past two years, and when we look at the facts it is easy to see why. Vegan skin care products are chemical free which is great for sensitive skin as the shorter ingredient list minimises the chances of any of the ingredients causing an irritant. Not only that, but vegan ingredients such as aloe, garlic, mint and lavender are known for their healing and cosmetic properties. Using vegan skin care products can help us understand exactly what we are putting onto our skin, and the same vitamins that have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and minerals that are found in plants will help in repairing and maintaining your skin.
Top vegan skin care brands for women
Whilst our routines and day to day lives have changed and been turned upside down, for most women our skin care routine remains constant. It may change, advance and upgrade, but it will never stop. And that is why it is important to ensure that our skin care products are meeting our needs in a cruelty free way.
If you are looking to review your skin care regime, look at some of our favourite brands. These companies all share our values for clean, vegan ingredients and will have you looking and feeling great about your skin.
Facetheory believes that beauty should be cruelty free and are proud to be Leaping Bunny approved. They are on a mission to make the absolute best clean skin care products they can, at an affordable price. All of their products are made in the UK and not only vegan and cruelty free, they are also single use plastic free. They use amber glass jars and aluminium lids which are 100% recyclable. Their best-selling cream cleanser Clarifying Cleanser C2 is specially formulated for oily and congested skin and doubles as a glycolic face peel. It has a powerful triple blend of alpha and beta hydroxy acids purifies pores and minimises redness while gently resurfacing skin.
All Evolve Beauty products are vegan, cruelty free and eco-friendly. Handmade in a studio in Hertfordshire, UK, they work to ensure that their products are fresh when the bottle is opened. Evolve Beauty are the UK’s first plastic negative beauty brand meaning they are contributing to the removal of twice as much plastic from the environment as they use in their packaging and shipping. All their natural skincare products use the power of plants over synthetic alternatives.
Nourish London is an award-winning, clinically tested certified organic, vegan and cruelty-free skincare range that is powered by plant-based ingredients, designed to enhance skin health. Founded and created by Dr Pauline Hili, one of the UK’s top organic skincare experts and Fellow of Royal Society of Chemistry, Nourish London is a culmination of all her knowledge of the skin functions and expertise in developing high-tech natural and organic formulations that deliver visible results and nurture skin in the most natural way possible. Fuelled by a passion for innovation, Nourish London combines the highest quality natural ingredients with advanced scientific bio-actives that work alongside your skin's natural processes to reveal beautiful, radiant and healthy skin.
Tropic Skincare ingredients are sustainably sourced from the Amazon rainforest, Polynesia, Australia and many more exotic regions brimming with powerful botanical actives. They stand with Cruelty Free International, The Vegan Society and PETA as a 100% cruelty-free brand. All Tropic Skincare’s face and skincare products are tailor-made using the latest green science and natural plants, fruits and flowers which work in harmony to feed, protect and nourish skin. Their multi award winning smoothing cleanser uses jojoba oil to fight free radicals, and aloe vera juice that provides a rush of moisture, leaving he complexion soft and springy.
Founded in 1981, Neal’s Yard was the UK’s first certified organic health and beauty brand. They are passionate advocates of organic living and want to help people to live happier, healthier lives.
Set in acres of organic gardens, fields and meadows in Dorset, a team of gardeners grow organic calendula, St. John’s wort, verbena and lemon balm. Handcrafted in their eco-factory, these ingredients help to make their vegan skincare collection. Neal’s Yard use natural, organic and ethically sourced herbs, botanicals and essential oils free from harmful chemicals. They have never used plastic micro-beads and have a Bee Lovely range which raises money to support bee-friendly organisations.
Independently accredited by the Vegan Society, and certified under the cruelty free International Leaping Bunny, Pai’s mission is to do the right thing for us and our skin by creating products that are natural, ethical and sustainable. With a strict policy on their ingredients, they ensure that sensitive skin is handled with care. Pai have an extensive range of products, their best-selling Rosehip Seed and Fruit Universal Facial Oil is highly regenerative and improves the appearance of dullness, pigmentation and fine lines too. The plant’s elixirs are extracted using Supercritical CO2 Extraction to get everything they can from the rosehip’s seeds and fruits.
If you’re looking for skin care products to cater for any skin type look no further than Plant Apothecary. Based in Brooklyn, USA, they really set the standard in certified organic, eco-friendly self-care. They use the highest quality ingredients to make highly effective, plant-based skincare for the ultimate in clean, vegan, cruelty free beauty and grooming. Their Matcha antioxidant face mask gets five star reviews and combines the purifying properties of white clay with the powerful antioxidants of organic, fair trade matcha (powdered green) tea.
There is a huge choice in the market right now for cruelty free, vegan skin care products. Our advice is to pick a brand and dive right in! Think about what you want to improve, is it the appearance of acne or improving complexion? After a few weeks you will know if the formulation is right for your skin or not.
At Watson & Wolfe, sustainability is one of our core values. We care about sustainability and know that as a business we generate more CO₂ than the average person. Our environmental footprint is a primary consideration when designing our collection and we take full responsibility for the impact it has. This is why, from January 1st 2021, we will be partners of One Tree Planted, to offset our carbon footprint by supporting tree planting projects.
Why are trees important?
Trees help clean the air we breathe, filter the water we drink, and provide habitat to over 80% of the world's terrestrial biodiversity. Forests provide jobs to over 1.6 billion people, absorb harmful carbon from the atmosphere, and are key ingredients in 25% of all medicines. Have you ever taken an Aspirin? It comes from the bark of a tree! Simply put, without trees humans would not be able to survive – they produce most of the oxygen that humans and wildlife breathe.
What is the rate of deforestation?
Trees and plants are being burned, degraded, and logged at astonishing rates. 46% of the world’s forests are already destroyed. Every 1.2 seconds man destroys an area of forest the size of a football field. 80,000 acres of forests disappear from the Earth every day. 28,000 species are expected to become extinct by the next 25 years due to deforestation. In fact, the world’s rainforests could completely disappear in a hundred years at the current rate of deforestation – that’s a concerning thought isn’t it?
How can planting just one tree help?
It is estimated that just one tree can provide a day’s oxygen for up to four people and can also absorb nearly 10 pounds of polluted air like nitrogen oxides, ammonia, sulfur dioxide and ozone each year.
Who are One Tree Planted?
One Tree Planted are a non-profit based organisation and have a mission – to make it simple for anyone to help the environment by planting trees. They are dedicated to making it easier for individuals and businesses to give back to the environment, create a healthier climate, protect biodiversity, and help reforestation efforts around the world, all by planting trees!
How many trees have One Tree Planted put in the ground?
One Tree Planted have planted an astounding 11 million trees into the ground since they started in 2014. They partner with carefully selected reforestation organisations around the world, enabling us to choose where we would like to plant our trees. $1 dollar or 0.75p plants one tree.
Where will we be planting trees?
We have chosen to focus on the world’s largest tropical rainforest, the Amazon. The Amazon spans 9 countries and is home to almost 30% of plant and animal species on Earth. The Amazon River Basin has 1.9 billion acres of rainforest and plays a critical role in the fight against climate change. Unfortunately, it is also a high-risk zone for deforestation. Planting trees in the Amazon Rainforest will help conserve habitat for its’ iconic wildlife species, provide sustainable livelihoods to local people, and stabilize the climate.
Are you ready to help us make a difference?
Planting trees makes a difference and we are excited to be part of that difference.
And this is where you can make a difference too. Every time you place an order, we will donate 0.75p or $1 to One Tree Planted to plant 1 tree. Together, our efforts will ensure that our impact on Earth is reduced.
You can also donate more trees by adding an extra tree to your order.
Upcycling is no doubt an inspiration, with designers, artists, furniture makers and zero wasters all taking items, which would end up in landfill, and giving them a second life.
Art is one of our passions, and we believe that recycled art as a form of environmental activism can be thought-provoking on many levels. So, we have done some delving to understand what upcycled and recycled art is and why it is important to our cultural experience and education and we showcase three artists who's work we find truly brilliant.
What is upcycled art?
Upcycling, also known as creative reuse, is the process of transforming by-products, waste materials, useless, or unwanted products into new materials or products perceived to be of greater quality, such as artistic value or environmental value. - wikipedia
Why is recycled art important?
There are a number of benefits to recycled art, perhaps the most important being, extending the life of materials which are difficult, expensive or impossible to recycle. Creating worthwhile, beautiful pieces of art which will be cared for and admired is important too, after all, what would be the use of creating something from waste, only for it to be thrown away after a short time. This understanding, is perhaps why there are artists who create recycled art with a great degree of skill and imagination.
Art has the power to inspire action. Artworks, sculptures and installations, made from waste materials which are damaging to the environment, such as plastic, can help to highlight the problem and open conversations to bring about change.
Below, we showcase a few standout artists who have taken their talent, skill and imagination to another level. We hope you enjoy these as much as we have.
Sculptor, Brian Mock from Oregan, USA, has been creating art from 100% reclaimed materials, such as nuts, bolts, screws and cutlery since 1997. His work is intricate with thousands of pieces all hand welded to create unique pieces.
Brian is a self-taught artist who began exploring art at an early age with drawing, painting, and woodcarving, and developed a passion for upcycling back in the 1990s. He taught himself to weld, and has incredible skills that turn discarded everyday metal items into the most breath-taking sculptures of animals, people, musical instruments and more.
We are huge fans of his small Octopus (main image) as well as the life-size cats and dogs which all feature in his collection.
Egyptian artist Caroline Berzi made an impressive move to being a full-time artist, after seven years as a financial analyst. Her works are impressive, with a focus on painting, serigraph, and installation pieces.
We particularly love her first solo exhibition called GENESIS, which focused on upcycling and in particular the use of waste plastic bottles.
"The story behind the start of the upcycled artworks began after my return from Italy and I noticed that there was no policies governing the production and sale of plastic materials in Egypt (includes plastic shopping bags, grocery packaging, plastic bottles and many more), and is a highlighted problem worldwide and causing a major setback in marine life. I decided to be part of the initiative to raise awareness in my surrounding and educate new behaviors which I learned while in Italy that help curve environmental issues."
Caroline's work is undulating, colourful and eye-catching. Inspired by Ancient Egyptian heritage, the sacred flowers Caroline creates with the bottles are symbolic across the artworks to represent nature’s fragility and beauty.
You can see more of Caroline's work on her Instagram page
Originally from the south of France, SEATY has become an emblematic Contemporary Artist of the 21st century and has exhibited all over the world.
We love the Art from SEATY, not just for it's raw urban feel and the vivid colours, but that often his pieces are created on reclaimed signs, wood and even cardboard, which came about during the Covid-19 lockdown.
"The idea came to me during the first lockdown when I ran out of materials and found myself unable to order any canvas boards. Nearby there was a pile of cardboard in my studio. Because I want to keep an urban spirit in my creations, this meant cardboard was the perfect solution as a stand-in canvas. Before I started painting there was a little bit of cutting, assembling and painting needed, to get the aged style that I was looking for. It's true that I wanted to promote recycling and to give a second life to a small piece of cardboard - and even a personal challenge to sublimate or embellish what we usually consider to be waste."
Did you know that China has made a pledge to be carbon neutral by 2060? That may seem a long way away, but it stands to reason that the biggest economy in the world may need a little more time than smaller nations. That said, China has already lowered its carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by over 48 percent from the 2005 level by the end of 2019, and has already met and exceeded the 2020 climate action target. (1)
The commitments to climate neutrality made by China's leader Xi Jinping, are practical, based on past experiences and within China's capabilities. "Humankind can no longer afford to ignore the repeated warnings of nature,” Mr. Xi said. (2)
The great news is, there are already businesses working in China that are trailblazing this new ideal. Take Jewels and Aces, an ethical and sustainable fine jewellery brand, working only with recycled gold and silver and lab grown stones. The processes they use in Shenzhen are environmentally conscious with waste water treatment facilities and traceability.
Hemp Fortex, a textiles manufacturer producing sustainable fabrics such as hemp, Tencel and organic cotton. Hemp Fortex implemented clean renewable energy across all of their facilities and produce 70%-100% of their electricity on site through solar panels. They are conscious of water usage and use only EU approved dyes and chemicals.
Sustainability is also important to the evolution of luxury accessories, and this is where Veshin comes in. A ground-breaking, progressive thinking, factory in Guangzhou, China. Veshin is a one of a kind factory that is trail-blazing and setting new standards in the world of ethical, cruelty-free and plant-based production.
Founder and co-owner Joey Pringle, originally from Hertfordshire in England, has a vision to transform the current leather goods factory into a 100% plant-based operation within three years, phasing out all animal leather based activity and replacing it with innovative and ethical new future materials.
Not only this, but Joey is on a mission to become the greenest factory in the world, working with complete transparency and exclusively with brands who share Veshin’s values.
Based in Guangzhou in the Baiyun District of China, the factory produces luxury leather items for big name brands including Lulu Guinness, Parisa Wang, Cult Gaia and Apede Mod, but under Joey’s direction they are looking to the future and focused on the green and ethical needs of the fashion industry, providing far more than just a tick-box approach to sustainability and social compliance.
Instead, the team at Veshin will go above and beyond to help their partners produce the most eco-friendly and sustainable products. Their approach includes access to and development of the most ecological raw materials such as organic cotton canvas, hemp, cork, and recycled polyesters and nylons. As well as embracing future fabrics such as pineapple-derived Pinatex, apple leather made from – you guessed it – apples, bloom foam, a padding derived from pond algae and cactus leather.
As well as sourcing, the factory also works with its partners in design and development and production, and their highly skilled workforce is a happy one too, with wellness and meditation embedded in the factory culture, along with planted vegetable gardens, ping pong tables and basketball hoops!
Veshin will be giving back too, supporting aligned charities, foundations and NGOS, and engaging in community and environmental activities such as beach clean-ups and tree-planting.
At Watson & Wolfe we feel it is incredibly important that vegan brands support initiatives like this one, and even more so on a continent which is traditionally associated with unethical and damaging mass production. There is currently nothing comparable with what the Veshin factory is looking to achieve. The plan for Veshin is to expand into other continents too, reducing the carbon footprint for brands like ours using the factory from the west.
We have already begun to introduce Veshin to our small group of factories, so we can be part of growing a successful Vegan factory in China, opening up the conversation, and raising awareness that this type of approach to manufacturing is the future.
Collectively we are more powerful, and taking China from being the one of the most polluting continents on the planet, to the most sustainable, is an incredible opportunity for us all.
Already this year we have trialed the process of working with a factory so far away and the impact it would have on our supply chain. And more exciting that than... we got to use Cactus leather for the first time.
(1) Global Times
There can be no denying that your choice of shoe can make or break an outfit, and a great pair of shoes will also determine how people see you. Fair? perhaps not, but first impressions matter, and if you dislike wearing animal skin, but want to wear truly superior, good looking shoes, then read on.
This is not a big list and it's intentional. We believe you should not have to compromise on the quality or style of your shoes. So, we have kept this list short and selected just three, high quality shoemakers, who provide the very best vegan men's shoes.
We are huge fans of Vyom London and their cruelty-free shoes that are so quintessentially classic, that you will never have to worry about how or what to wear them with. Each pair is crafted with low impact vegan leather made from grapes and handmade in Italy. These really are the ultimate in vegan men's shoes.
Slow fashion is about buying less and buying well, so investing a good pair of shoes for work or occasions, is a wise choice. Vyom have established a design philosophy centred on creating timeless and elegant classics with a fresh contemporary twist.
Vyom also embrace the slow fashion ethos by offering pre-loved Vyom shoes as part of their sustainable collection, which can also be purchased online.
Nemanti Milano have the elegance and the aesthetic workmanship typical of Made in Italy products and their materials are respectful of the environment and of animals.
The collection is made with plant based vegan leathers such as apple leather and corn leather and their shoes are destined to last over the years and to accompany the wearer every day.
Our list would not be complete without the inclusion of Brave Gentleman. This award-winning brand was launched in 2010 by Joshua Katcher, with a fundamental belief that animals are not an acceptable material in fashion. Alongside the extensive range of stunning vegan shoes, you will find a comprehensive collection of menswear.
They embrace a slow-fashion production model, resisting industry-induced “seasons” in favour of sustainable innovation, superior vegan materials, ethical labour and classic styles made with quality.
We hope you agree that quality is far better than quantity. Each of the brands we have chosen, share our belief in buying less and buying well.
We work hard to advocate a slow fashion approach to design and manufacturing. Fast-fashion and over consumption are a global issue and Black Friday feeds the obsession to over buy.
How much do people spend on Black Friday weekend in the UK?
In 2019 the UK population spent £8.6 billion over the Black Friday weekend. 2020 saw a drop in spend of 12.4% to £7.5 Billion. Can you remember what you purchased on Black Friday last year?
If you can, and you still have it, fantastic! But many people don't, and as fast-fashion retailer's cash in on heavy discounts, we must ask ourselves, who pays the ultimate price.
The impact of fast-fashion discounts on Black Friday
Last year we saw some of the biggest fast-fashion brands selling clothing for as little as 1p. 1p! When you consider the material cost, the labour, the shipping, the business overheads, and staff wages, how can they justify these discounts?
The answer is simple. The buying power these brands have is huge. So much so, they can barter and push garment factories to a tiny cost price per item. In turn, the impact falls to the prominently female population of garment workers, who are paid a wage so low, that it leaves them unable to provide even the basic needs of their families.
Changing the behaviour
Instead, we would much rather you made more sustainable choices when making purchases over the Black Friday weekend. After all, there are some worthy deals to be had if you genuinely need to buy something.
If you are swept up by 'too good to true' offers or buy clothes for £1 for example, then you are contributing to the huge negative impact that Black Friday has on our planet. To change the broken system of fashion we have to honest about how much something costs to make and how that price is a reflection of how long it will last.
Our Black Friday offers
We cannot and will not discount our entire collection. We plan our material purchases and production based on what we know demand to be, we do not over buy to exploit sale opportunities. We also want to make sure that everyone in our supply chain is paid a fair wage, so we set our prices accordingly.
On Black Friday weekend we must limit the number of items available, and limited the discount we can offer, otherwise, our business couldn't survive.
Are you looking for vegan gift ideas for this holiday season? We have sourced some of the best gifts on the internet so you can put a smile on your loved ones face this Christmas.
Take a look at the Watson & Wolfe top 10 Christmas gifts for him!
Which product will you buy?
Total Cost £120
This beautifully made classic style watch from Votch is made with a vegan leather strap and PETA approved. The time piece uses a Japanese GL20 movement and the watch face measures 3.8cm in diameter making it suitable for everyone to wear.
The watch is made in a factory in China, vetted by Votch and meets their high ethical standards, offering a fair wage, promotion opportunities and good facilities for employees.
3ATM water resistant, suitable for every day. Not suitable for swimming, showering, bathing etc.
Votch support a new, like-minded charity every three months, donating 10% of profits from every watch sold.
Total Cost £39.90
Stylish Vegan and Eco-friendly Spa for him, ideal for a post-workout chill out or a relaxing time after a stressful day.
This wonderful pampering set includes: 1 Vegan Soap Aphrodite & Ares, 1 Organic Cotton Muslin, 1 Vegan Solid Shampoo Bar, 1 Lava Pumice Stone, 1 Jute Mitten, 1 Vegan Candle hand-poured. All in a keepsake tin perfect to be used and reused.
Eco-friendly and cruelty-free is a fantastic option for a loved ones or to treat yourself. Ideal for Birthday, Christmas, Anniversary or Valentine's and why not, just because gift.
You can purchase this from Aphrodite & Ares.
Total Cost £25.60
You cannot beat a shower set and this pack includes 4 Signature Shower Products for Men from Man Cave.
You can purchase this product from Man Cave.
Total Cost £34.99
A premium selection of the best vegan organic beard grooming products from . This Gift Set offers everything today's sophisticated man needs to achieve a well-groomed beard whilst also keeping his skin nourished.
1 x 30ml vegan & organic beard oil
1 x 30ml vegan & organic beard balm
1 x 100g vegan & organic beard shampoo soap
1 x wooden comb
1 x Kent saw-cut comb (perfect to carry around with you all day as it comes with a nifty pen-like clip)
You can purchase this product from their shop on Etsy.
Total Cost £50
Personalised bangle made in England using eco silver, personalise the inside or outside for a unique gift or keep sake.
You can choose up to 35 characters, which can be coordinates, dates, names, or a favourite phrase. The bangle has a 22cm circumference and fits most wrist sizes.
Made using recycled 925 sterling silver. Product Packaging is 100% recycled cardboard.
You can purchase this product from Wearth London.
Total Cost £18.95
Fantastic assortment by Tyne “Chease”. The nations favourite at Christmas time and more!
No longer will you have to go through the agony of choosing between the Yumbles chease flavours – you can now get them all at once, wrapped up in one cute box. This selection box provides the perfect variety of flavours for a unique chease board to gift or share.
In each Selection Box you will receive ten perfectly formed mini (20g) cheases, including all the best-selling Tyne Chease flavours:
Shelf life: Up to 1 month in the refrigerator or up to 3 months in the freezer. Made to order.
You can purchase this product from Yumbles.
Total Cost £47.50
This indulgent hamper holds a selection of all things delicious. It's presented in a Luxury style gift box and contains two half bottles (37.5cl) of Fine Organic Wines and a lovely selection sweet and savoury delights.
An ideal gift for food and wine lovers, all the items are vegan-friendly.
The Wine choice for this hamper is an award-winning crisp Pinot Grigio from Northern Italy and the Fruity Domaine Bousquet Malbec from Argentina.
Personalise the hamper for just an extra £3.50. You can make purchases from The Goodness Project.
Total Cost £18
You can’t go wrong with chocolate. Gift your loved one something sweet this Christmas.
Contains alcohol and nuts. Made with Raisetrade chocolate. Dairy free and vegan. Delivered in plastic-free packaging.
A box of 16 vegan-friendly seasonal festive flavours to enjoy straight away!
You can purchase this product from Chococo.
Total Cost £89
If you struggle to find a high quality washbag to hold everything, then we have the answer. A roomy centre compartment, a full-length zipped compartment, two smaller pockets, plus one on the outside, means there is enough space for all your essentials and more.
Made with premium quality microfiber vegan leather and carefully crafted using traditional techniques.
100% cruelty free and vegan. No PVC.
You can purchase this product from Watson & Wolfe.
Total Cost £85 - Save £15 (RRP £100)
Personalise for just an extra £15 for the perfect gift this Christmas.
This set from Watson & Wolfe includes their best-selling 8 card bifold wallet, crafted with innovative corn leather, and a lining made from 100% recycled plastic bottles. Plus, a classic belt in black which has a three-layer construction for extra durability. The belt is available in two sizes and has an antique silver Italian buckle.
You can personalise the wallet with up to 4 initials and it will be delivered in their signature gift packaging, which is made entirely from recycled materials.
You can purchase this gift from Watson & Wolfe.
We hope this guide helped you choose the perfect gift this Christmas.
Hosted by Lifestyle Editor, Peter Brooker, the Menswear Style podcast is an apparel industry focused podcast. Through this medium, Peter speaks to some of the most innovative brands and truly inspiring entrepreneurs from within the fashion world, to get a detailed insight into their startup stories and touch upon important topics such as sustainability.
In this, episode 92, Peter speaks to Helen about her journey and what the future holds for sustainability in fashion.
We all look forward to Christmas morning, the opening of presents, the copious amount of food on the dining room table and overflowing snacks in the kitchen, but have you really thought about how much waste this all produces every year?
According to Biffa, the UK creates 30 per cent more waste than usual over the festive period, throwing away more than 277,000 miles of wrapping paper – that’s enough to stretch to the moon!
Households will use more than 300,000 tonnes of card and send over 100 million bags of rubbish to landfill. That’s a huge amount!
The good news is more people are beginning to wise up and are starting to become greener as both the media and recent documentaries have shone a spotlight on recycling issues.
Did you know that 41% of us will feel guilty about the waste we will be producing at Christmas? And one in four households is expecting to create 5 or more bags of rubbish.
A huge amount of people are unsure whether or not their gift wrap is recyclable so more often than not they just throw it away. The shiny kind of gift wrap are often plastic based with glitter or foil in them and frequently covered in tape and non-recyclable gift tags. Instead of reaching for the fancy paper, opt for traditional brown paper and make it look fancy by using some recyclable ribbon. You could even try reusing gift bags as an alternative option.
2. Purchase green gifts
Browse your local charity shops for gifts such as books and games. They have special sections for Christmas related items. You could even re-purpose a gift you haven’t used (as long as it’s in date and good condition)
If you prefer to purchase new, always check if a product is environmentally friendly by looking out for established logos such as Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance.
Making Christmas decorations can be fun. A personal touch is lovely to receive so why not make your own items from recyclable materials. Use spare craft textiles and make a wreath or a tree decoration for your family members. Go forage in the garden or your local woodland, a family walk could be both good for you and the environment.
One of the easiest ways to reduce your food wastage is to plan your meals. Buy food loose that doesn’t have any plastic packaging. Did you know, nearly two million turkeys are thrown away every Christmas? It is often used in sandwiches for a few days afterwards, but have you thought about using it in a curry on Boxing day? By planning your meals, you should be able to use up what you buy and save on any waste from buying extra food. If you can, freeze your leftovers and anything you can’t freeze, put on a compost heap. Don’t forget your recycle bags too, carrier bags take around 1,000 years to degrade!
Traditional bulbs use a lot of energy. By switching to LED lights, they will last much longer and use less energy than the traditional bulb does. Be sure to only turn them on when you need to by using a timer so they only come on when it gets dark.
Opt for electronic Christmas cards. There are plenty of ways online in which to do this. Think of all the trees we could save if everyone did this! If you preferred to have the real thing, buy some recycled cards. These can be put in your recycling bin or you can take them to your local recycling centre yourself. Some stores like M&S have collection points for Christmas cards. The Woodland Trust then plants new trees in return for the recycled cards. If you visit their website and tell them you’re going to recycle, you can even have a say on where the new trees are planted.
After Christmas, you can take these to a local recycling centre where it will be shredded or composted and spread over local parks and other green spaces.
Once you’ve finished your pickled onions and cranberry sauce, recycle the jars or reuse them and turn them into homemade jam jars or create something special. With your bottles, you can take these to your local recycling centre or take the labels off and pop some lights in for a cosy look. There are plenty of ideas online!
Always recycle as much as you can. Reusing items is a great way of reducing waste. When having your pre-Christmas clear out, donate any unwanted items to charity and re-gift where possible. Don’t forget to put your rubbish out when it’s due to be collected so it doesn’t pile up.
If we are honest with ourselves, right now, it is hard to focus on positives. We are surrounded by constant negativity as news of restrictions caused by the ongoing pandemic situation, serve only to make us feel more detached from our lives.
The hustle and bustle in the City and the busy streets of central London have been replaced by tumble weed moments and as more businesses look to survive, we may see job losses continue to rise.
All this news is bad enough, and with World Mental Health Day on 10th October, we got to thinking about how we can give ourselves a little boost in a sustainable way, without spending a penny.
Using fashion for good
It's one of the most polluting industries on the planet, but we know that sustainable fashion doesn't have to cost a thing, because the most sustainable fashion on the planet, is the fashion that you already own.
So how can you move from Summer to Winter with only the clothes you own right now? Well, without further ado, here is our top tip for moving to the next season, without spending a penny.
Our Top Tip - Clear out Summer
Sounds simple enough, but our top tip, is to remove all your Summer clothes from your wardrobe and drawers and neatly pack them away in a suitcase. Now, you can organise the remaining items and see more clearly everything at your disposal.
Put to one side any item which needs to be repaired, you can come back to those later.
DO NOT pack away the bright funky pieces from Summer, such as bright t-shirts and shirts with slogans, these still have a place in your Winter wardrobe if you use them wisely.
We took to the streets (well Instagram and our little black book actually!), and asked a host of fashion stylists and online bloggers for their top tip for sustainably moving from Summer to Winter and here's what they had to say.
Chief Stylist and founder at Eco-Stylist.com, said "My two style tips for men to sustainably transition to winter are layer up and accessorize."
Many summer pieces can be repurposed for winter simply by layering. For example, your summer chinos and tee can be paired with a sweater or blazer for a quick winter outfit. Alternatively, your jeans and button-up can be worn under a sweater, with an overcoat on top for chillier days.
Accessories are a great way to elevate and add interest to your outfits. Do you wear the same things often? Try adding a necklace, watch, or bow tie, and suddenly it is a new look. Accessories can make you look sharper without having to add new clothes to your closet. Try it!
Emma is a vegan writer, artist, creative director, and model and Emma suggested...
You can follow Emma on Instagram.
Gianna is a designer and the author of mangiano! the vegan Italian cookbook. Gianna gave the following advice.
You can follow Gianna on Instagram.
The fashion, beauty and wellness magazine MABBH, is helping vegans navigate the world consumer products. When we asked them for a tip on moving from Summer to Winter, here's what they had to say.
Why not set yourself the challenge of seeing how many new combinations you can make from everything you own already.
And remember accessorising can change your whole outfit. If you want to invest in any new pieces, choose classic, timeless and high-quality items which will last. Buying less and buying well is always a better option over shopping fast-fashion pieces, that will not be in your wardrobe very long.
After your garment has lived a long and productive life, it inevitably comes time to say goodbye. Instead of sending it to landfill, why not give it a second use? Recycle it, upcycle it, give it away, sell it — the possibilities are endless.
Visit Fashion for Good to find out more and to find resources to help divert your old clothes from landfill.
We love what we do, and we hope that you will love what we do too.
Our ethos and values are not just important to us, they are important for the future of fashion. It is our belief that moving from a wasteful, polluting industry to one which is cleaner and more considerate should not mean compromising on quality or style.
It is not just our materials that matter
Our commitment to being a responsible brand runs deeper than our materials, it extends to the people who supply them and the people in our supply chain, who use their skill and expertise to craft each of the finished pieces.
Our environmental footprint is a primary consideration when designing our collection and we take full responsibility for the impact it has. Wherever possible, we try to source materials close to our factories to avoid unnecessary transportation and we are working with One Tree Planted, to offset a proportion of the carbon we generate.
For every order we receive, we plant 1 tree. Read more about our partnership with One tree planted.
Piña was a traditional Philippine fiber made from pineapple leaves. Pineapples were widely cultivated in the
Philippines from the 17th century and Piña was woven into lustrous lace-like nipis fabrics usually decorated with intricate floral embroidery known
as calado and sombrado. Piña fabric is characterised by it's lightweight and breezy quality, which was ideal in the hot tropical climate of the islands.
It was the introduction of cotton which saw the popularity of pineapple fibre diminish. For the last 20 years, it has slowly begun to have it's revival, as brands seek natural fibres and eco-conscious designers look to move away from high impact materials.
The pineapple industry globally produces 40,000 tonnes of waste pineapple leaves each year, which would otherwise be left to rot or be burned. Pineapple trees are grown primarily for their fruit, so using the other parts of the plant makes commercial sense and results in much less waste.
The name is derived from Spanish piña, meaning "pineapple".
A quick google search for ‘Pineapple Leather’ will tell you that Ananas Anam makes Piñatex®, the innovative textile made from Pineapple leaf fibre. Piñatex® was developed by Dr Carmen Hijosa and first presented at the PhD graduate exhibition at the Royal College of Art, London. It is a leather alternative made from cellulose fibres extracted from pineapple leaves, PLA (Polylactic Acid), and petroleum-based resin.
Piñatex® is created by felting the long fibres from pineapple leaves together to create a non-woven substrate.
The fibres that make Piñatex® come from pineapple leaves from the Philippines. The fibres are extracted from the leaves during a process called decortication, which is done at the plantation by the farming community. Furthermore, the by-product of decortication is biomass, which can be further converted into organic fertilizer or bio-gas. Both the extraction of the fibers and the consequent biomass will bring added revenue stream to the farming communities.
The extracted fibres get washed and dried. After the fibres have dried, they are de-gummed (pectin gets released from the fibre). Pectin is the molecule that makes the leaves stiff. Once the pectin has been removed, the pineapple fiber becomes soft and flexible, similar to a cotton-like material.
Thereafter, the fibers become a non-woven mesh by stinging thousands of needles into the fibers in an industrial, mechanical process to produce a felt-like structure. This process creates the base of Piñatex® leather.
Then the raw Piñatex® gets shipped to Spain where it is further processed into a leather like material, using a special process. It gives Piñatex® the surface and durability of leather. This is the final step before the material, which is packed in rolls, gets despatched directly to designers and brands.
Pineapple leather will not naturally biodegradable. However, the substrate and base material of Piñatex® is made from 72% pineapple leaf fibre and 18% PLA (Polylactic Acid), and is biodegradable under controlled industry conditions.
Under these industrial composting conditions, PLA, which is a thermoplastic polyester can be biologically degraded anywhere between a few days or up to a few months.
Pineapple leather is strong, durable, flexible, light and breathable. It can do the majority of things that regular leather can do, but it has only been around for a short period of time, so the longevity of the material is yet to be proven.
It is currently being used by a variety of fashion design companies as the fashion industry looks to find and use materials which have a lower environment impact.
You are now able to purchase footwear, bags, watch straps, furnishings and various fashion items all made with Piñatex®. We are interested to see what other products are produced using pineapple in the future and we believe the textile is being further developed for use in clothing.
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This month on our blog we are featuring our Top 10 Smoothie Bowl ideas. Smoothie bowls can be a good source of fibre, protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats and are a sure-fire way to kick start a busy day in the office or to refuel after a trip to the gym.
We are also huge fans of the smoothie bowl so we have selected 10 of our favourites to tease your taste buds.
To make any of these delicious recipes, click on the photo and head to the source for the full recipe. While you're there, why not give them a follow to show your support.
And don't forget to follow us for regular updates @watsonandwolfe.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="grid" oblique_section="no" text_align="left" padding_top="40" padding_bottom="30"][vc_column][vc_column_text]
[/vc_column_text][vc_row_inner row_type="row" type="full_width" use_row_as_full_screen_section_slide="no" text_align="left" css_animation=""][vc_column_inner width="1/2"][vc_single_image image="8626" img_size="full" onclick="custom_link" img_link_target="_blank" qode_css_animation="" link="https://www.instagram.com/p/CC1EX74JFHC/"][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width="1/2"][vc_column_text]@smaakt puffed wheat, @quaker granola, pumpkin seeds, banana 🍌 , cinnamon, apple 🍎 and pecans.
Makes for a delicious and filling breakfast!
Recipe from @mealsbysusan