Why I Don’t Shop On Black Friday – The Issue With The Sales Culture

It is the time of the year again when shops are filling with sales signs, people have made lists in anticipation of what is going to be on sale and hoping to find the best bargains for Christmas presents or in clothes and technology. In the USA people are going crazy and hurting themselves when pushing into the shops to be the first one to get the long-awaited bargain and in the UK people are browsing through the Amazon deals finding what they think are treasures. Mostly this is just the start of the stressful time before Christmas and we could argue whether sales and high expectations for Christmas are making the time ‘less wonderful’. I have to agree that every year I do check the Black Friday deals, but somehow none of the sales have so far enticed me enough to buy something, or I am just too late and the deals are already gone.

Lately, been more involved with small businesses I have come to see sales and especially Black Friday as the villain of the retail and quality products. There are numerous articles on why Black Friday is not really benefitting the retail industry, but of course not quite as many as ‘find the best bargains on Black Friday’, unfortunately. Black Friday, however, is not a problem only for retailers but for the consumers and for our environment as well!

Why I Don't Shop On Black Friday - The Issue With The Sales Culture - byLiiL

The Sale Is An Illusion

It is widely known that retailers either raise the prices during a previous month to make their sales look good, or inflate the “original price” on the add or the tag for the product making it look like a bargain. Actually, this tactic is used outside of Black Friday all the time. Have you noticed how prices on your favourite products at Asda jump up and down weekly and sometimes the sale price isn’t actually lower than the products price on a month before?

What is less widely known is that brands manufacture items specifically for Black Friday items with a far poorer quality to make up for the sale tag, especially within the technology sector. It generates additional waste and requires more cheap labour. This phenomenon is also seen in discount retailers such as TK Maxx to which brands manufacture a specific lower quality product.

Of course, there are some genuine discounts during Black Friday as well, however, in the mids of all the other falsified discounts they might be hard to find.

Why I Don't Shop On Black Friday - The Issue With The Sales Culture - byLiiL

Small Business’ Suffer

We can already see that small business’ have trouble competing with big brands pricing. I’ve heard numerous times how small business product prices seem too high for the conventional consumer. So when the big brands lower their prices it provides an uncomfortable pressure for the small brands to lower their prices as well to be able to compete.

Although Black Friday is meant to be only one day many brands and retailers, have extended their sales for a weekend or even a week. Now Amazon made it for the whole month!

Small brands generally don’t make the same profit as big brands from the items sold, as production costs are much higher for locally made items or those made in small batches, so discounting any items will probably end up in them losing on profit altogether.

If small brands do not discount their prices they are likely to miss on any product sales as customers pass them on their way to the sales shelves and racks.

Our culture seems to think it is always appropriate to have a sale. For example, Etsy, which is known to be a marketplace for small brands and which should support them, sends emails before Christmas or sales period advising sellers to discount their items.

 

Why I Don't Shop On Black Friday - The Issue With The Sales Culture - byLiiL

It Is Not Necessarily Better For The Economy

People often have “sales goggles” on when shopping during Black Friday which results in a lot of returns afterwards, where products have either been faulty or suddenly people realise they don’t need the products that they thought they were craving for.

Although big brands might sell a lot during Black Friday and other sales events advertising and returns might not make this event any more profitable than any other day.

In preparation for sales seasons, some brands keep their prices originally higher so that they won’t make a loss during the sales periods, therefore, raising the product prices. Could this be avoided if we didn’t have sales periods and rather have slightly lower priced items all year round?

Why I Don't Shop On Black Friday - The Issue With The Sales Culture - byLiiL

What We Could Do To Support A More Sustainable And Economical Trade

Instead of trying to get the best bargain we could just keep supporting the small brands with their fair prices. This will support the brand and the local economy.

The modern understanding for Black Friday is that it is the start of the shopping period for Christmas and is a completely commercial marketing tactic, so to not be swept in the craziness you could just not shop on those days.

While reading the Ethical Unicorn blog I came upon brand Very Kerry who instead of discounting their items during Black Friday gives a portion of their sales to charity, what a great idea!

 

What do you think about Black Friday and other sales events?

With love,

Lii

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What’s All The Fuss About Plastic?

Have you noticed how plastic is everywhere? It’s on the news, in various articles, advertisements say “BPA free”, that we shouldn’t use plastic and sometimes that plastic might be a better option. Well I, at least, was confused about all this and to understand the fuss about plastic I decided to research it. There is a lot of information and there is definitely room for more research under each sub-topic, but to keep you (and myself) interested I will share just the main issues with plastic.

What's All The Fuss About Plastic? - byLiiL

Non-biodegradable

Yes, you’ve heard it before, it is filling the landfills and littering the ocean. Firstly it clogs our waste facilities and storm drains. Plastic photo-degrades; it brakes into smaller and smaller pieces perhaps resulting in the microplastics. You also might’ve heard about the recent boycott on oxo-degradable plastics: the lightweight plastic that was supposed to be the solution for plastic pollution as it degrades faster than other more durable plastics. However, the problem is that there are no results to support that it degrades harmlessly, but rather now researchers believe that it might be the leading problem of microplastic pollution. Microplastics can also be found in our synthetic sports clothes which get into the waterways when we wash them, to which there is no great solution yet.

Our second problem with plastic pollution is harming our wildlife. The bigger pieces of plastic get tangled into wildlife (you’ve all seen the horrible pictures of turtles with straws in their noses) and the smaller pieces, as well as microplastics, get eaten by the wildlife when they mistake them for food. Animals either choke on the plastic or fill themselves on it, which means they eat less nutritious food, therefore producing less and weaker offspring. At the moment it affects the food chain. When an animal eats another one that is half-full of plastic, the plastic is then stuck in the predator, which might then be eaten by another predator… and you get the drift. It disrupts the ecosystem drastically, but it is hard to tell what the repercussions are. The microplastics are already found in our tap water and in the fish we eat.

What's All The Fuss About Plastic? - byLiiL

It might contain toxic chemicals

Plastics and the chemicals they’ve been made out of are not well researched. Our governments used to believe the small amounts of the toxic chemicals that are in the out everyday plastics are harmless, but who can say how much of it really is safe when plastics are everywhere; household appliances, technology, textiles, interiors, toys. Recently we learned that phthalates are very toxic and we have almost completely gotten rid of them from the production of items, but we will never completely be rid of them because they’ve washed out into the oceans where they keep degrading and being eaten by the marine life.

Now we also know that BPA is toxic and that is why there are so many water bottles and food boxes being marketed as BPA-free. But why is BPA still allowed in any products? And how do we know that the chemicals they replace the BPA with are safe for our use?

Many toxic plastics have been found to be able to imitate hormone such as estrogen, but as most plastics aren’t researched well enough it is still hard to tell which ones are really harmful to us.

……………

There is a lot of research on the plastic bottles and food packaging and how it affects our bodies. Yes, the chemicals do leak into our food and drink slowly. The chemicals affect the hormone balance and they are linked to nearly all health problems people have today; deformations in genitals, premature puberty, decreased sperm quality, increase in cancer, infertility, type 2 diabetes, allergies, neurological problems and ADHD to mention a few.

Recycling

The one good thing about plastic is that it is very durable and therefore it is used in many different items and can last for a long time. However, the problem is that as plastic is not designed originally for recycling it can’t be upcycled into new and better use, but rather has to be downcycled. It is often mixed with different chemicals which are difficult to extract from each other. After it’s use, to make plastic usable again some more chemicals need be added again. The other chemicals are added either for the durability or to make the plastic cheaper to produce and are often unnecessary. Many plastics are still not recyclable and burning them produces toxic dioxide. If these plastics were made without toxic chemicals with ingredients which would be easily upcycled then plastics could be a great option for some products.

What's All The Fuss About Plastic? - byLiiL

Plastic is considered maybe even more dangerous problem to our planet than the climate change. It has taken over our world; it can be found in places where people can’t even go. Writing this article also made me think about all the products where plastics can be found and I couldn’t think of an item where it couldn’t be found. Can you?

Things NOT to do with plastic:

  1. Don’t through it into nature
  2. Don’t through it into general waste where it will end up in the landfill
  3. Don’t burn it, as most plastic emits dioxide

What To Do:

  1. Reduce the amount of plastic and cans you are using or at least become aware of what type of plastics you are using. Prefer glass and ceramic products. There is a great explanation on this here.
  2. Opt out for natural with everything: clothes, homeware, toys. Or at least research it well.
  3. Use Guppyfriend washing bag. It is designed to reduce the number of microfibers leaking into our waterways.

 

What do you think about plastic?

With love,

Lii

Sustainable News Of The Month – October 2017

Could Kelp Be The Future Of Sustainable Fashion – A group of scientists and textile designers have been developing a substitute for oil-based textiles (polyester and acrylic e.g.) using kelp. An absolutely amazing idea if it can be used in a similar way and if it is as durable!

Easyjet Could Soon Be Flying Fuel-Free – It is about time airlines start to think about changing their fuel-engines on something more eco-efficient. Although this doesn’t fix all the problems that aviation has on our planet, it is a start!

Sustainable New Of The Month - October 2017 - byLiiL

Chocolate Production Linked To Increased Deforestation in Poor Nations – Although, previously it was thought that the production of chocolate is not as damaging to the environment, the growing demand for chocolate with a reduced price has demanded change in the cultivation strategies, which are less sustainable for the environment.

Warming Sees Could Lead To 70 Percent Increase In Hurricane-Related Financial Loss – According to the researchers sponsored by the United Nations have issued a periodic report that believes the financial losses due to hurricanes will increase exponentially.

New Conservation Method Empowers Indigenous People – This very fascinating article discusses how we do not need to change the way indigenous people live, as “Indigenous communities have not only established a high quality of life, but have found ways to manage their natural resources sustainably through traditional hunting, fishing, and small-scale agriculture.”

What Soot-Covered, Hundred-Year-Old Birds Can Tell Us About Saving The Environment – Researchers have been investigating Horned Larks and their colouring to tell how much black carbon is still in the air.

Sustainable New Of The Month - October 2017 - byLiiL

Olive Mill Wastewater Transformed: From Pollutant To BioFertilizer, Biofuel – Making waste into something useful!!

HSBC Pledges $100 Billion To Tackle Climate Change – HSBC unveiled 5 point plan; from financing available sustainability projects, discontinuing financing of thermal-coal and planning to source all it’s electricity from renewable sources.

150 Companies, NGOs Call For Global Ban On Oxo-Degradable Plastic Packaging – Recent research has pinpointed that it is the oxo-degradable plastic that is contributing to the growing microplastic problem. Oxo-degradable plastic was previously believed to be the solution to the plastic waste problem.

Canopy Releases Viscose Producer Progress On Deforestation-Free Supply Chains – Canopy has been the go-to NGO to turn to when companies want to access information on viscose and rayon producers and their pledge to reduce deforestation.

Sustainable New Of The Month - October 2017 - byLiiL

Digitizing Leftover Garment Data Could Unlock Billions For Fashion Industry – Brands are spilling on average 25 percent of its resources when producing fashion because of the lack of adequate data input.

Can Upcycling Really Help The Oceans? – Although upcycling helps with the current plastic waste in the oceans, it is not the best solution and there is a need for saving the oceans in other ways. Excellent article explaining what actually happens to plastics when they enter waterways or how they can be upcycled.

Marimekko To Help Commercialise Spinnova’s Wood-Based Textiles – Finnish based textile company has developed new wood-based textile which doesn’t use chemicals processing the fibre and Marimekko is pledged to help the company to commercialise the fibre whilst acting on their pledge to produce their fashion more sustainably.

Recycling Mysteries: Brick – What is brick made off, why should it be recycled and how to recycle it.

What Happens To Airplanes No Longer Fit To Fly? – This article is excellent to understand what happens to airplanes after their useful life.

Sustainable New Of The Month - October 2017 - byLiiL

 

If you have read any other interesting articles on sustainability share them in the comment box below!

With love,

Lii

 

Inspiration of the Month – Cradle to Cradle

This post is coming to you quite late, not because I didn’t know what I wanted to write about, I actually have been inspired by this book for a while now, but I found it quite hard to summarise everything that I found interesting in the book!

Inspiration of the Month - Cradle to Cradle - byLiiL

Cradle to Cradle is a design philosophy as well as a book which I am basing my inspiration on. The book was written by William McDonough and Michael Braungart. It is a small book, only 186 pages, but it offers an immense amount of inspiration especially for design practitioners as well as consumers who want to be more sustainable and mindful of their lifestyle. It helps you understand what are the problems in the current design methods, what is being done about them and offers ideas what could be the better way to design.

In this book, I found that the main principle that McDonough and Braungart were saying is that almost all our products have been designed wrong as they end up being a waste and littering our planet and that we should learn from nature. In product design the common thing to think about is what is the product the consumers want or need, how can it be produced as economically as possible, so that the company can win the big profits from the product sales. It is completely ignoring the afterlife of the product or its ingredients where valuable ingredients often end up to the landfills or being downcycled, as the ingredients were not designed to be retrieved at the end of the products useful life. For example, we think that recycling is an amazing way of being sustainable. We might not realise that actually it is just being a bit less bad and trying to find an alternative to the landfills. Big amount of the waste is incinerated which can cause toxic dioxides. The rest are recycled, but as our products haven’t been designed so that the ingredients with which the products were made with could be retrieved, but they rather are mixed with chemicals or other ingredients that reduce the value and usability of the ingredient.

Inspiration of the Month - Cradle to Cradle - byLiiL

Instead companies could be taking example out of nature of how to make their products profitable, good for the environment and the human beings, that could improve human life, be economical not only with making the product but potentially for the human who uses it, for the government or for the same company once again when they receive their ingredients and can build more products out of it again. The products could be designed with the whole lifecycle in mind rather than just the most useful one.

 

“We need to see the world as what we can learn from it, not as what we can take from it”

 

Many times while reading the book I felt that the whole humankind is doomed as it has designed everything wrong and how companies are still using toxic ingredients in various products that can be harmful to humans, how companies are eroding soil and destroying ecosystems only to find new materials for their products and get their profits. But the solutions the book offers are clever and doable if only enough people would go the extra mile. It offers various long-haul plans that would end up being economical to the company, the economy and the people as well if companies thought about their products as more than profit.

Inspiration of the Month - Cradle to Cradle - byLiiL

Another important point raised in the book was how everything is designed for everybody without understanding that everybody and every place has different needs. I read several lovely and maybe slightly disgusting stories about how people in rural areas used to get rid of their waste or use various things to their advantage whilst keeping their ecosystems thriving until the modern technology and infrastructure was introduced and their ecosystems paid for it. Whilst upgrading and improving areas we should think about ways how it can be done to support humans as well as the ecosystem in which it is done. So there wasn’t bare pieces of land where nothing grows anymore because of pesticides or a wrong way of doing agriculture for that area. Companies should be more respectful of the knowledge local people have of their ecosystems!

 

“What would have happened, we sometimes wonder, if the industrial revolution had taken place in societies that emphasize the community over the individual, and where people believed not in cradle-to-grave life cycle but in reincarnation?”

 

We often forget what effect our actions can do, but on this planet, every action can affect multiple things from other people to other organisms, to the ecosystems, so we should strive to make better choices and be less selfish about them. I got really inspired by this book and still while reading it started to be more mindful about the products that I am using or buying and what I should be looking at instead. Sometimes there is no best option and we just have to work with the “least bad” whilst letting our actions speak for themselves. I do hope there will be more designers who are adopting this design philosophy. I can see how the world could be a much more beautiful and healthy place.

 

“Insanity has been defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome. Negligence is described as doing the same thing over and over again even though you know it is dangerous or wrong.”

 

Inspiration of the Month - Cradle to Cradle - byLiiL

Here you can see just how much I was inspired by the book. All the folded pages are something that I want to keep coming back to!

Have you read Cradle to cradle?

With love,

Lii

Sustainability Causes And How To Support Sustainability

I got recently asked to share and write about what causes I care about and why, and I thought it was an interesting idea which I don’t know why I haven’t written about before. I hope it is obvious from my blog that I care deeply about sustainability, how to make my lifestyle more ethically sustainable and how to inspire others along the road.

Sustainability in itself incorporates a broad spectrum of different causes; there is no one cause that could handle all that is happening around the globe from climate change, to ocean pollution, animal abuse and inhumane working conditions. I do think all of this is part of the sustainable framework. Causes that fall under sustainability are so numerous it can be difficult to pinpoint which is a good place to start. According to “Before the Flood” documentary the biggest polluters on our planet that are driving the climate change are burning fossil fuels, deforestation and agriculture, on the other end numerous reports are sharing that ocean pollution is killing the marine ecosystems.

Before The Flood Documentary And Review - byLiiL

DOCUMENTARIES TO UNDERSTAND SUSTAINABILITY

To help understand what needs help there are several documentaries that also spread awareness and if you haven’t seen them then I definitely recommend them!

  • Before the Flood – Climate change, how it is affecting our planet and what can be done to prevent further temperature rise.
  • Racing Extinction – Animal extinction, what is affecting it and a little bit about how it can be reversed.
  • Chasing Coral – Although this concentrates mainly on coral reefs it addresses how climate change is affecting our oceans and what will happen if it continues at the current rate.
  • Plastic Ocean – (I haven’t seen this yet, but it is on my watchlist) About the plastic pollution and how it affects our oceans.
  • The True Cost – How fashion industry has an effect on climate change, environmental erosion and inhumane labour conditions.

Sustainability Causes And How To Support Sustainability - byLiiL

CHARITIES AND CAUSES TO SUPPORT SUSTAINABILITY

Here are some of the causes that I am inclined to support, spread a word around and follow.

  • Marine Conservation Society – A UK based marine conservation society that concentrates working towards healthy, pollution free and sustainable seas.
  • Conservation International – Is a US-based international conservation programme: “Our long-term goal is to safeguard the world’s essential ocean and coastal biodiversity and most productive ecosystems in order to maximize the long-term ecological, social and economic benefits for people and nature.”
  • Oceana – In an international advocacy organisation that is focused on ocean conservation. Their vision is to win over policy victories with countries that are leaders in marine life governing.
  • RSPB – Bird and other wildlife conservation, mostly based in the UK.
  • Soil Association – Soil Association is a charity and an organic certification based in the UK. It works towards providing sustainability by providing a good framework for organic farming in food, textiles and beauty items, and providing those small businesses with support towards making their organic business work.
  • Labour Behind the Label – An organisation concentrated on changing the way garment industry workers are treated across the globe, especially in areas that make most of our clothing. They campaign for change, spread the message to customers who in return can push further, lobby with legislation makers and put pressure the companies that still allow this. Making employees working spaces safer can transfer the number of toxic chemicals used in making garments.
  • Rainforest Action Network – Is a US-based but internationally working organisation working on preserving forests around the globe, protecting the climate and uphold human rights.
  • Trees For Cities – Is a UK-based charity working on planting trees in the UK and internationally into urban areas to clean the air, revitalising areas and improving people’s lives.

There are many other charities and projects that could use help and these were just a few that I felt I wanted to mention.

Sustainability Causes And How To Support Sustainability - byLiiL

In addition, I really want to mention two businesses that I am very impressed about. Ecosia is a search engine, which in reality is an extension to google, but it generates ads money to the company which they use to plant trees around the world! And Done Good is a browser extension, which can be used while googling or browsing websites. If there is an ethical alternative to the items you are looking at it will provide a pop-up alert on the side of the browser to let you know about it. In addition, it alerts you if the company supports the current US president or sells any of his products. Both of these extensions are free to download and use, but the Done Good is currently only available in the US and Canada.

Sustainability Causes And How To Support Sustainability - byLiiL

HOW YOU CAN HELP

I think when it comes to sustainability and protecting our planet we should start with our own actions; stop using single-use plastic, stop littering, using more renewable energy, recycling. That is already a great start and many people don’t need to do more. But if you are passionate and want to commit to making our planet better not only for us but for the next generations to come there are additional things that you can do:

  • Spread the word about the issues and how to overcome them.
  • Support causes that you find important in fighting the climate change and other global or local problems.
  • Donate money to a charity or organisation that is working on these issues.
  • Donate your time by organising fundraising events, documentary viewings, information sessions or even just gather within your local area to discuss how you can make a difference there. Eventbrite is offering a discount to non-profit and fundraising groups who organise their ticketing and registration through their website. It is a great resource to have!

 

Just writing this post got me excited to help out with ocean conservation and thinking about whether I should organise an event as well to spread the word or even have a documentary screening in my local area!

What causes do you support? Share them in the comment box below, I would love to hear about them!

With love,

Lii

 

Disclaimer: I did not receive compensation for this post. All the opinions are my own.

Sustainable News Of The Month – September 2017

What’s The Annual Value of Trees? $500 Million Per Megacity, Study Says – Research conducted by international researchers in 10 of the biggest cities in the world, where 7.5 billion people on the planet live, found that trees bring big value to people and the cities they live. It is not a surprise, but now there is research to back it up.

Sustainable News Of The Month - September 2017 - byLiiL

How 139 Countries Could Be Powered By 100 Percent Wind, Water, and Solar Energy By 2050 – A resent most comprehensive research into energy services and clean energy tells how it is possible and what are the benefits of it.

More ‘Human’ Companies Outperform Business-As-Usual Competitors – More research has emerged showing that customer’s respond to purpose rather than profit. Which could potentially be good news for small independent brands that do things differently.

Sustainable News Of The Month - September 2017 - byLiiL

Organic On The Agenda in Parliament – Taking an example from what Denmark is doing, organic produce a topic in the UK parliament. I hope they make a good decision!

New Climate Risk Classification Created To Account For Potential ‘Existential’ Threats – Researchers identified that potentially dangerous threats could hit our planet no later than 2015 due to climate change.

 

If you have read any other interesting news about sustainability I would love to hear about them!

With love,

Lii

Inspiration of the Month – Have the courage to change things

A couple of days ago I went to the New Lanark to check out the historic mills that made famous by Robert Owen and his revolutionary way to conduct his business. I thought I was excited to just see the textile mills and especially the ones that are currently working. However, I was quite surprised to learn about how Robert Owen lead the way to revolutionise the industrial working and living environment of his workforse.

Inspiration of the Month - Have the courage to change things - byLiiL

At a time when business men and company owners wanted to be profitable rather than have healthy and happy employees, Robert Owen saw the benefits the happy community of worker would provide to the profits of his business. Since buying New Lanark mills from his father-in-law, Owen starts his “Great Experiment” in 1800. He reduced the daily working hours for all his employees, banished work from children under 10 years of age, introduced healthcare for all his employees, and a sickness fund alongside it, he build co-operative store so his employees could buy quality goods for fair prices, he build a school for children, introduced childcare and evening classes for working people. He and his philosophy were ahead of its time by over a century. He was world renown for his content and healthy employees with healthy and well-mannered village children and a profitable business model. He was a philantrophist, early day social entrepreneur and although currently his model of small communities of workforse might be connencted to colonies, the basic prinsiple of how to treat employees is still something every company should strive for. Listening and reading about his business model made me think how the world would be a different place if all the other textile factories worked in a similar way!

In addition to the exemplar way to treat the workforse, New Lanark was a great example of how to be nearly self-sufficient. It was built on a riverbank on a side of Fall’s of Clyde, where they produced their own hydro electricity that powered the whole mill. Robert Owen’s philosophy and work was the model for current working conditions, health care, co-operative movement and education that we currently have.

Inspiration of the Month - Have the courage to change things - byLiiL

I am extremely inspired by Robert Owen’s thinking and if you were inspired as well go check more about New Lanark and Robert Owen’s work here.

 

With love,

Lii