26 In Style/ Substance/ Travel

How to Shop Greener

Krakau Austria

The fashion industry is finally acknowledging its problem of being the second most environmentally unfriendly industry on the planet.  Isn’t it ironic that a business primarily concerned with beauty causes such environmental destruction, particularly when nearly every designer claims to be inspired by nature?

As much as I adore fashion and style, I make an extra effort to choose well-made clothes with longevity, and avoid overly short-lived trendy items.  This DEFINITELY doesn’t mean I wear only ‘classic’ items.  Quite the contrary!  I simply buy items I truly love (mostly bold statement pieces with a few basics thrown in) that can be styled and worn various ways for many years.

Having a truly ‘green’ or sustainable wardrobe can be very complicated;  it isn’t feasible for consumers to investigate international supply chains and examine carbon footprints for every purchase.  There are new companies, like Positive Luxury, who make this easier and do all the investigative legwork for us.  There are also apps, like Good On You, which rate companies based on their commitment to ethical manufacturing.  I expect many more of these to emerge as consumers start to ask “Who made my clothes?” and “How can this garment be so cheap?”

So, what can we do now? How do we start?  Here is what I do:

1. Wear natural fibres. That alone cuts out almost all of fast fashion.  Synthetic fibres release harmful micro plastics into the waterways when they are washed, they take much longer to break down in landfills, and they emit harmful substances as they break down. Natural fibres don’t just feel better, they are better for the planet, long term.

2. Buy Organic. This is harder to find, but organic natural fibres are better for the earth.  Organic cotton uses less water  and no harmful pesticides, unlike conventional cotton.  GOTS-certified cotton ensures that the labourers are paid a living wage, as nearly all cotton is grown in the developing world where regulations are scarce.  British woman-owned brand Loskey is my go-to brand for cotton (the classic V is my favourite style).

3. Buy Less. Wear and re-wear good clothes.  Always choose quality over quantity.

4. Buy Must Haves. Not someone else’s must haves, your must haves. If the look and fit are amazing on you, and you feel great in it, you will get loads of wear out of it.  Only buy what thrills you.

5. Buy Vintage and Donate. Whether it is from Ebay or a local charity shop, buying vintage gives clothes a second life. Also, always give your own unloved or unworn items to a charity shop; just because you don’t love it doesn’t mean someone else won’t. I’m shocked at the recent statistics: in the UK, 300,000 tonnes or £12.5 billion of wearable clothes are discarded and end up in our landfills.

6.  Don’t buy cheap clothes.  If it seems too good to be true, it is. Someone (or everyone) in the supply chain is not being paid a fair wage so that multinational brands can profit from mispriced clothing.  Vote with your wallet for brands whose business ethics you value.


Austrian house


When we went skiing in the Austrian Alps a few weeks ago (how did February go by so quickly?), I wanted a VERY warm new sweater/jumper, because temperatures go way below freezing at night. The family house we stay in is very rustic (see above), so the knit needed to be extremely hard-wearing. I hate synthetic fibres, so that ruled out most of the colourful acrylic Topshop stuff that was dangling in my Inbox. It also ruled out cashmere, because I didn’t want to ruin any of my favourite pieces on the rough timber furniture. I also don’t like wearing ANYTHING that falls into the ‘sporty’ or ‘activewear’ category in cold weather; wearing a zippered fleece or a windbreaker makes me instantly feel like I must be doing something very wrong in my life (!) so I avoid them completely.

I was inspired by my dear eco warrior friend, Michelle Tyler, to give vintage items a shot.  Quite honestly, I usually find most vintage pieces I really want are either insanely expensive or not in my size. I don’t possess the sort of patience required to unearth vintage truffles from among all the rubbish. However, once I started looking on Ebay (I have been crazy about Ebay since it first launched… I mean, you don’t just buy things, you WIN auctions!) I was spoiled for choice.  I specifically wanted a (by keyword): Vintage Men’s Nordic Wool Ski Sweater/Jumper. I already had one in cream, but I wanted a very oversized one to wear over leggings and multiple layers. I found exactly the sweater I wanted– huge, vintage, warm, colourful, and machine-washable on the wool cycle.

vintage-wool-nordic-jumperThe slouchy fit I was after


nordic-vintage-men's-jumperThe cream one I already owned

cream-vintage-men's-ski-jumperTrying hard not to squint while facing a wall of snow in front of me.  Lighting is everything!

What I like about these sweaters is that no one in Austria wears them since they are Norwegian, but they still look right at home in the Alpine snow.  They are made for the extreme cold.  I hope between now and next winter I might be able to find a red one to add to my men’s 1970’s Norwegian ski jumper collection.  I’ll look for one with reindeer on it, so I can sew a tiny red sequin on the nose of one of the reindeer!


linking to: notdressedaslambstylesplash

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  • Reply
    March 5, 2019 at 3:57 PM

    Nordic wool sweaters are definitely warm and comfortable to wear. I had one way back in the 1970’s when we went skiing and it was ideal for the purpose. Love – Jill x

    • Reply
      March 6, 2019 at 8:29 PM

      I was honestly shocked at how warm they were! I didn’t need a coat most days as long as I had a layer underneath. The new ones by these same Norwegian brands are quite expensive (as they should be, for the quality) but vintage ones are just as good and much much cheaper. xxx

  • Reply
    Mary Katherine
    March 5, 2019 at 4:00 PM

    The sweaters (both new and the one you had) are EXQUISITE! I love the rationale for exactly what you wanted, AND that you found the exact thing! Are you familiar with children’s books by Jan Brett? They are full of gorgeous Nordic style – I would like to live in one. And the tips for being sustainable with our fashion choices were really good – thanks so much! The ski trip photos were wonderful without being TOO envy-inspiring (tricky to pull of with fab travel posts…) I really enjoy your blog.

    • Reply
      March 5, 2019 at 4:57 PM

      Thank you, Mary Katherine! I really love these sweaters too. I don’t know those children’s books, but I am going to look them up. I’m so pleased you enjoy the blog; it always makes me very happy to hear that.

      I agree about travel posts. This particular one is perhaps less envy-inducing when you realize that I am sharing a small bathroom with my in laws, my son and my husband, hahaha! Last year, it was three children and six adults… one bathroom. I’m sparing the reader that part. 🙂 xx

  • Reply
    March 5, 2019 at 5:11 PM

    YES, BUY VINTAGE that is the way FORWARD!If it’s still hanging around means it was MADE WELL!
    I Love that HOUSE you stay in………could you possibly send me a few photos of the inside???ALL I need is a PEEK!
    YOU will be happy to know my closet is 99% linen or cotton or cashmere.We can almost wear LINEN year round here in CALIFORNIA!THE heavier LINEN that I buy from BRYN WALKER.MY closet is turning into A SHOP of almost ALL their clothing!IT fits me perfectly and is LONG ENOUGH………..TRA LA!NOT outrageously expensive and the SALES are FANTASTIC! 70% off right Now on last seasons…………however, I have learned to BUY at full price so I get the complete OUTFIT!IT’s worth it!
    YOU are looking RADIANT as ALWAYS!
    Did you ever get to THE HIRST COLLECTION?

    • Reply
      March 5, 2019 at 5:49 PM

      Thank you, Elizabeth! They DEFINITELY do not make things the way they used to; it is a pleasure finding vintage jewellery, now I’m extending that to clothes, when I can find them. Like you, being tall doesn’t help in the vintage clothing world, unfortunately.

      Of course I’ll send you some photos! I put some on Instagram stories when I was there. There is some beautiful hand painted furniture that has been in the family for generations and also those amazing ceramic tile stoves to heat the house. It is VERY rustic, but very charming as well.

      Your Bryn Walker pieces are always SO perfect on you. I need to explore more!

      I’m hoping to go to the Hirst Collection on Thursday when I have another appointment nearby. xx

  • Reply
    March 5, 2019 at 5:27 PM

    Lisa, You are singing my song! Natural fibers, nothing cheap, and I must be in love with it! I still fantasize about a beaded jacket I didn’t buy in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, 20 years ago. You would have loved it. Unfortunately the things I fall in love with often add up to being WAY MORE than I can afford. Last week I saw a stunning outfit I covet… Brunello Cucinelli… Of course! All total it was something like $6,000. I’ve splurged on things I’ve loved in the past, but this would give me a stroke. I can either come to London this fall or buy the BC outfit… Easy choice but I will remember it always. Like you, I love sequins and bling and have to caution myself not to buy too many, mainly because I don’t go out like I used to. What if we get together when I’m in London in September, and you take me shopping for something smashing, natural and that I’ll fall in love with? xoxox, Brenda

    • Reply
      March 5, 2019 at 5:43 PM

      I’m so glad we sing from the same hymn sheet, Brenda! I still fantasise about a 1960s Dior swing coat that Mithra and I found when she was in London. I’ve kicked myself for taking a moment to think about it because it went quickly (sob).

      Definitely when you come to London, I will take you to some good places to find smashing and natural things (London beats Bruno Cuccinelli in the rock paper scissors of life). xx

  • Reply
    March 5, 2019 at 6:24 PM

    I see you have two my friend, sharing is caring ? Such a gorgeous knit style like this never goes out of fashion right? You did extremely well to find these and smart to look at the men’s category, that’s an awesome tip!
    Thank you for your kind mention Sparkles, makes me miss you even more xx

    • Reply
      March 5, 2019 at 8:56 PM

      I’d happily share with you, love bug! I love the style of these jumpers; they really are unique and BEYOND functional. You don’t even need a coat with them most days. You’re so welcome, and you inspire me to think even harder about my choices than I already do. xx

  • Reply
    March 5, 2019 at 6:46 PM

    I just discovered that I love pre owned clothing since a few months! The quality is often so much better then the stuff I used to buy. I bid for the first time last week on eBay, but I I forgot about the time difference…… Someone outbid me by one dollar on a DvF wrap dress!!!! Oh horror.

    • Reply
      March 5, 2019 at 8:54 PM

      Nancy, you’re so right. The quality of things made before fast fashion took over the world is far superior. These jumpers are both at least 30 or 40 years old, but they look brand new, honestly. Oh NOOOOO about the wrap dress. You’ve gotta be quick sharp on Ebay; if it is something I really want I set an alarm on my phone, hahaha! xx

  • Reply
    March 5, 2019 at 7:21 PM

    Lisa, this is such a feast for both the eyes and the soul. I love these sweaters on you. It’s a different look and you suit it. The scenery is exquisite and of course, your words are wise ones. Much love darling xxx

    • Reply
      March 5, 2019 at 8:51 PM

      That is so lovely of you to say, Liz, thank you. It really is a different look for me, but sequins don’t do as well as I’d like near open flame fires, snow, and bloody rough wood!! 😀 Love right back to you xxx

  • Reply
    March 6, 2019 at 5:38 AM

    I am all about thrifting! I have been more fashion consious the older I get and love finding out about companies that care about the environment!


    • Reply
      March 6, 2019 at 5:23 PM

      I also really like to use my money to support brands that are in line with my ethics– who don’t test on animals, who don’t harm the environment, and who don’t have unfair labour practices. Thrifting is kind of new to me, but I’m learning! xx

  • Reply
    passion fruit, paws and peonies
    March 6, 2019 at 7:58 AM

    Your advise and tips are so clear and precise Lisa – thank you! It all makes so much sense to me. Your trip looked divine as do you in your vintage Nordic jumpers – clever, stylish and unique shopping!! xx Maria

    • Reply
      March 6, 2019 at 5:27 PM

      Thank you Maria! I hope the tips are helpful, they’re what I do anyway. The due diligence is so tricky, but we have to do SOMETHING to make a dent in this consumer driven plastic crisis! xx

  • Reply
    No Fear of Fashion
    March 6, 2019 at 7:58 PM

    This sweater must feel right at home. Indeed I forgot that they are Norwegian and you are in Austria. So you are unique wearing them. Clever.
    I was “guided” by your site to your light blue squishy sweater of 2015. That is nice too, but probably too delicate to wear in the rustique house?

    • Reply
      March 6, 2019 at 8:13 PM

      Yes! I so wanted to pack that one, as it is so warm and it has a matching scarf, but it would be picked and pulled to pieces in that house. xx

  • Reply
    Catherine, Not Dressed As Lamb
    March 7, 2019 at 11:49 AM

    So much to say here: Firstly, bravo for highlighting the fact that fast fashion is so heinous and we need to be a thousand times more thoughtful about how our fashion habits are impacting the environment. I’ve bought secondhand (mostly vintage) from eBay for years – and yes, it’s addictive!!

    Secondly, the sweater is stunning – my dad worked in Norway when I was a kid so I had those style of sweaters and miss them. They’ll NEVER date, and I love that you’re wanting to start a Nordic sweater collection 😉

    Finally: the photos of Austria are simply stunning. How wonderful to wake each morning and see that view…!!

    Catherine x

    • Reply
      March 10, 2019 at 6:25 PM

      You are SO GOOD at vintage fashion, Catherine. I honestly don’t see how you have the patience for it, but sakes alive you sure come up with some serious gems on Etsy and Ebay.

      Thank you on the sweaters; they really are so unusual and so freaking warm!

      Love to you, xx

  • Reply
    March 7, 2019 at 1:36 PM

    I couldn’t agree more with you Lisa! Buying less+buying things that last has been my mantra for a long time. I love your Norwegian sweaters, so classy! And the views, I totally envy you right now! Hugs xx Abby

    • Reply
      March 10, 2019 at 6:23 PM

      Thank you so much, beautiful. Yes, if only everyone shared our buying less and buying better mindset, the world would genuinely be a better place. xx

  • Reply
    Emma Peach
    March 10, 2019 at 11:31 AM

    I love those jumpers, and you’re in the perfect setting for them. Beautiful photos. Talking of very cheap clothes, I saw metallic ankle boots in the Next outlet near where I work for £2! I was so shocked I took a photo. I started thinking about who had made them and what sort of life they have just so we can have ridiculously cheap fashion. You can’t beat finding a great bargain on eBay or in a charity shop… better for the environment and better for the bank balance!

    Emma xxx

    • Reply
      March 10, 2019 at 6:22 PM

      HOW is it possible. HOW IS IT EVEN possible to make shoes, even high street ones, for £2. How can any ethical brand compete with that?

      Thank you, gorgeous. xx

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