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Divest “The simple expression of complex thought”


Welcome Editor’s note I am delighted to introduce you to the first issue of Divest Magazine. In this day and age where overconsumption and overpopulation seem to be the new normal, we want to explore and promote living with less. Living with less objects, and less people. This issue talks about solitude, climate change, circular fashion practices, and privilege. We believe that minimalism and sustainability are interconnected, therefore we want to expose creatives that take the environment into account, and to show you fashion and art that were created by reusing, recycling, borrowing, and repurposing fabrics and objects. Donald Judd, an American artist, considered the pioneer of minimalism, explained this concept as: the simple expression of complex thought. As you might have noticed that is our motto. The purpose of Divest Magazine is to inform and raise awareness on pressing issues such as the climate crisis, in a simple and beautiful format, but at the same time to inspire our readers to be mindful and to consume less. These being said I hope you are going to enjoy Divest’s pages and that we will meet again in the second issue.

Calina Muresan


Di

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Table of contents

POINT OF VIEW

EXPLORING FASHION

The privilege of being a minimalist

The cloth & the body in harmony

page 6

page 24

ZERO WASTE TIPS

LIFESTYLE

Declutter in sync with the environment, not against it

Dead to society. Choosing solitude over everything else

page 12

page 36

EMERGING CREATIVES

ADVENTURE

Meet Laura Jasiunate, the designer who sees art in piles of waste page 17

Lifeless destinations page 48


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ENVIRONMENT MATTERS

Circular fashion should become mainstream

Collective action: the limits of panic and the need for hope in the fight against climate change

page 52

page 68

ENVIRONMENT MATTERS

WELLNESS

Circular shoes

Sensory deprivation

page 56

page 76

ARTISTIC EXPRESSION

ARTISTIC EXPRESSION

Looking for the self

Body Lines

page 60

page 81


The privilege of being a minimalist

It has been debated in many articles and talks, “Is being a minimalist a privilege?” Most of them concluded that “Yes, it is”. But could minimalist thinking, the privilege that it is, benefit both the poor and the rich?

I am writing this sitting at a public table in Westfield (a huge mall in London). In front of me is Zara Home and on their big window it says, Join life. Explained beneath that the decorative bottles you see exposed are made from 100% recycled glass. Also, it states that the manufacturing techniques used required less energy than the usual ones. Therefore, Zara is boasting about how they are helping the planet. At the same time the Amazon rainforest is burning because of both natural causes and human impact. Sustainability, minimalism, eco-friendly, recycled, zero waste. These are all terms that became massive trends in the past few years. It is argued that the consumer is more and more interested in the

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sustainable aspect of a brand. But is there a difference between spending a day at Westfield buying recycled labelled items or the usual ones besides the price? For my conscience it would be, but for the rest of the planet I don’t know if paying more for a recycled bottle from a huge brand like Zara will actually help. How about ditching the trip to Westfield for a trip to the farmers market or the charity shop on your street? Well, I am sitting here in the heart of consumption telling you not to come join me. In my defence, I am not here to shop. I am here to write. And what better place to write about consuming less and the privilege of living with less than a mall? I don’t consider myself a minimalist, I would say I am still working out what minimalism is


point of view

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for me because it is not a set of rules that all of us must follow. I still own lots of things, but I try to be a mindful consumer. The most important value of a minimalist lifestyle is to reduce our consumption which potentially will lead us to a simpler, happier life. In terms of aesthetic, minimalism is definitely a trend these days. In the last seasons we’ve seen several designers taking a minimalist approach in their collections. From Rick Owen’s brutal aesthetic that we are already so familiar with, to the Valentino’s fluid black dresses or Balmain’s white structured outfits, to the pioneers of minimalist aesthetic such as Celine, Victoria Beckham or Yoji Yamamoto. Now, how long is the road from a minimalist aesthetic to a minimalist lifestyle? As explained in Harriet Walker’s book, Less is more, the term minimalism was first coined in

1960 when a group of artists in New York rejected traditional representation in painting and sculpture and chose to pursue a new mode that owed as little as possible to the physical existence of an object (see for instance the work of Donald Judd). Funnily enough, around 1965 the term was used as an insult by Richard Whollhein, a British philosopher, in an essay for Arts Magazine. He referred to the work of some artists as “minimal art content”, which actually meant lack of art. Eventually, minimalism became a recognized arthistorical movement, but the term slightly changed its meaning through the years. At first, it was a way for artists to shock the viewers, but then it became a style enjoyed and consumed by the large masses. These days minimalism is also closely linked to the idea of self-improvement. In an article for the New York Times, Kyle Chayka wrote:

“It takes a lot to be minimalist: social capital, a safety net and access to the internet. The technology we call minimalist might fit in our pockets, but it depends on a vast infrastructure of grim, air-conditioned server farms and even grimmer Chinese factories. The fetishized austerity and performative asceticism of minimalism is a kind of ongoing cultural sickness. We misinterpret material renunciation, austere aesthetics and blank, emptied spaces as symbols of capitalist absolution, when these trends really just provide us with further ways to serve our impulse to consume more, not less.” -Klye Chayka, The Gospel of ‘Minimalism’ (2016), NYT

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point of view

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From the start we’ve established that being a minimalist requires some kind of privilege. Being a consumer of minimalist trends, as blank and austere as they are, you are still consuming and buying, which is anyway the purpose of a trend, even if it tries to spread a beneficial message for the environment. So, yes, as Kyle said minimalism may pursue you to buy more, but I would add that you would especially do that if you are a trend hunter. If we take a look beyond the trend and dive into minimalist thinking, we might find some benefits that you can apply regardless of your capital (but yes you need some capital). Thinking that both a poor man and a rich one have a similar degree of unhappiness, which is possible according to the hedonic treadmill, we can find a common root for their unhappiness which is having. Having too little or having too much and still feeling like crap. The hedonic treadmill, or the hedonic adaptation is a theory developed by Brickman and Campbell in 1971 and it says that humans tend to return to a relatively stable level of

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happiness despite major negative or positive events in their life. Therefore, whatever happens we get back to a neutral state, that I don’t think we really identify as happiness, nor do we attribute it to unhappiness. Since birth, we learn that we must own things to be happy. We don’t learn as much about how we feel whilst pursuing these goals of having money, a house, a car or a huge tv. Therefore, we either keep buying and disposing or wish we could do that. By becoming mindful of what we already have, how we consume, how little we need to be comfortable, regardless the social status we have, our way of perceiving happiness might change along with creating positive change for the environment. So, yes, minimalism implies privilege, but it also implies that you are responsible for what and how you consume, that you know what’s behind a brand you choose, that you don’t become attached to material goods, that you minimize your waste, that you look inside yourself for happiness and not in the shops’ windows.


point of view

THIS SHOULD BE AN AD. INSTEAD, WE ASK YOU:

Do you really need that jumper that’s on sale?

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Declutter in sync with the environment, not against it

Taking a minimalist approach to life implies that we are going to get rid of things that we don’t actually need. But it’s not just about reducing the number of our possessions, it’s about being able to emotionally detach from objects. This however doesn’t mean you can’t value them or take care of them so that they last for as long as possible. On top of that, once you start making those piles of useless objects, the way you dispose of them is highly important. Just throwing them in the bin, won’t do it. By doing that, you don’t really reduce anything, you just move your clutter from your apartment to a landfill. The whole point is to minimalize your possessions in a sustainable way, and here are some ways to do that: 12 Divest


zero waste tips

1. Selling something that is really easy these days, from creating an Instagram page with the stuff you are selling to joining websites such as The Real Real (for luxury pre-owned items) or the Depop app (social shopping platform, especially chosen by teens). If selling online is not your thing, try going to a second-hand market. Booking a table is usually not expensive and if you get together with some friends you can have the coolest boutique and sell all your stuff whilst having fun meeting new people and negotiating prices.

2. Swapping clothes and objects with your friends is also fun and you get to refresh your wardrobe and house without spending any money and without creating any waste.

3. donations are a bit tricky because if you go to some random charities your clothes might still end up in the landfill, while when you sell them you know they go to somebody who really wants that item. Not to worry, donations are still a sustainable way to get rid of clothes, all it takes is a bit of research. And we’ve already done some for you: Did you ever buy or get a bra that was too large or too tight? Or even underwear that you never wore because you realized you don’t like it, or you picked the wrong size. If you own new underwear and gently worn bras you can send them to Smalls for All. Smalls for All is a Scottish charity which collects and distributes underwear to help women and children in Africa and in the United Kingdom. Have a look on their website, smallsforall.org. How about suits? Both female and male office outfits can be donated to Suited for Success. Every suit and item of smart clothing will dress someone ready to face an interview with confidence and make that great first impression. Check out suitedforsuccess.co.uk.

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If you are interested in giving away more general items and accessories, FARA Charity accepts all kind of clothes and house object and you can receive an e-mail of how much money they raised from selling your stuff. FARA Charity was founded in 1991 and they are helping abandoned children in Romania. There are loads of charities out there, these are just a few that will actually need and use your items. Check your local area, there might be a local charity shop that can make use of your things. Ask them about how they are processing donations, whom they are helping and what kind of items they would need most.

4. renting is another cool way of saving money, whilst dressing in a killer designer outfit for a special event. Indeed, there are some environmental costs to clothing rental sites such as dry cleaning and transportation, but it definitely beats buying pieces that you are going to wear for one or two events in your life. Here are some clothing rental sites to consider:

letote.com (USA) frontrow.uk.com (UK) hurrcollective.com (UK) gamcorner.com.au (AU) find-rent-wear.com (UK)

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zero waste tips

Sell x Swap x Donate x rent the best formula to get rid of anything in your house

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emerging creatives

Meet Laura Jasiunate, the designer who sees art in piles of waste How do you express the amount of waste we are producing through clothes? Through stories, paintings or films it’s quite obvious, but when a designer uses overconsumption as a starting point for a collection it may be a bit difficult to visualize the final result. Laura Jasiunate used layers, deconstruction and functionality for her collection in order to portray a mountain of waste in a beautiful way. She was inspired by the Smokey Mountain, a large landfill in the Philippines, consisting of over two million metric tons of waste. I met with Laura Jasiunate for a cup of tea in a cosy café in Shoreditch, London in order to find out more on how she transitioned from an avid shopper to a designer concerned about overconsumption. Laura is Lithuanian, but she was born and raised in a small city near Barcelona, called Tarragona. Growing up in her town, she usually felt a bit judged because the way she enjoyed dressing was not exactly as the norms dictated. “I was just uncomfortable for a very long time in which I was not able to express who I was in the way of dressing” she explains. Laura moved to the UK 7 years ago when she started high school. This year she graduated from London College of Fashion, where she studied a BA in Fashion Cutting Patterns. The Smokey Mountain inspired collection was her graduate collection, and everything started with a simple vacation to the Philippines: “I went to the Philippines, Manila with my flatmate and I found out that there is a place that was like a mountain of waste. I said that I have to go see it because this is important research for me as a designer trying to live a zero-waste life. That location really inspired me. I went there with a guide and there were kids picking up garbage for which they would get a small amount of money. It was rough to see all of this.” After this experience, Laura wanted to represent the visuals from her mind through her clothes but in a more aesthetically pleasing way in order to raise awareness. Her collection is made out of natural and biodegradable fibres or recycled materials such as pineapple leather, recycled wool, beeswax fabric, cotton and linen.

“People are saying that being sustainable is a limitation, but for me is inspiring. It made me think differently”

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Laura Jasiunate working photo: personal archive “The main outfit that I’ve made was a white shirt. That was the representation of the mountain, all the clothes piled up,” she points out. The centre piece of the collection, the shirt, can be worn in different ways. Laura is aware that in a way by producing clothes she contributes to the consumption loop, which is why she focuses on making a piece that can be deconstructed and used in multi-purpose ways. She also saves as much fabric as possible and buys fabrics that might end up in the landfill otherwise because they are part of an overstock. All the garments she chooses are made out of natural fibres or recycled materials. As a teenager Laura loved shopping and she referred to herself as a shopaholic while reflecting how her behaviour changed along the years. Laura’s interest in sustainability strongly manifested 2 years ago when she 20 Divest


noticed and understood how much useless plastic was around her. That was the trigger and she slowly became a mindful consumer. She explains that she started by eliminating: “I started with food packaging. Then, I started to go to alternative shops, to support smaller shops, that are not owned by a corporation. I stopped buying high street clothes. I invest in pieces of designer that I like such as Margiela or Yoji Yamamoto. I invest in these garments because I want to support that art.” Starting to make these changes in her life led her to incorporating sustainable practices in her design as well: “When we move to the creation process, there are so many resources we end up using. For my graduate collection photoshoot, Laura’s book recommendations: the background is made from sample clothes that I’ve used in the Sparking Joy by Marie Kondo beginning. You don’t need those anymore after you did them, so that’s already waste. And I wanted to show that, so I put them as a Norwegian Wood by H. Murakami background because that’s the starting point of all the collection, Stitched Up by Tansy Hoskins and I got to reuse them,” she explains. When I asked if she feels limited in her creation because she wants to reduce the waste as much as possible Laura reply was: “People are saying that being sustainable is a limitation, but for me it’s inspiring. It made me think differently.” Therefore, being sustainable can also be a creative incentive for some people. Laura’s aesthetic can be described as minimal, deconstructed and avant-garde at the same time. She found her way to this specific aesthetic when she started studying her BA in London, the city where she can express as she wants. 22 Divest


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Laura’s graduate collection @laurajasiunaite, Photosgrapher: Ruben Gonzalez @rvbengonzales Models: Marina Thomas @marina_thomas and Franziska Pullman @iatemilk Make-up: Claudia @claudia.c.mua

“I was inspired by Margiela, Yoji Yamamoto, Rick Owens after coming to London. And this is the kind of fashion aesthetic that I’m pursuing.” “Margiela really inspired me because he takes a minimal approach, he dissects what clothing is down to the thread. He is like a doctor saying: this is how the lining inside of the jacket looks like. Why should we not bring it outside?” As a business Laura is not focused on rapid grow. She hopes she will be able to sew most of the clothes by herself for the next few years and she doesn’t want to follow the 6 months process of showcasing a collection as most of the big designers do.

“I want to continue to challenge people with the idea of clothing and why clothing should be in a certain way. My clothes are still within the norm, they are classic items, that are simple, minimal and wearable, but with a twist,” says Laura at the end of our conversation.

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The cloth & the body in harmony

Exploring the relationship between grace, movement, cloth and functionality. We believe a single piece of clothing should be used in as many ways as possible, therefore we played with three main looks by making slight changes to the outfits in order to experiment how the anatomy of the visual changes. It’s not a shoot about fashion, it’s a shoot about the self and the cloth merging together.

Photographer: Vivi Suthathip Saepung @viewsfinder / Designer: Tora Jackson @tora_jackson1 (she focuses on up-cycling old garments through her work Model: Charles Planeta @charlesplaneta / Styling: Calina Muresan @calinamuresan


exploring fashion

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exploring fashion

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exploring fashion

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Dead to society. Choosing solitude over everything else Being a young adult and living on your own just from your paycheck is a less common scenario these days. But there is an affordable type of solitude out there if you are completely sick of people. I am talking about going all the way and renouncing your current life. Not exactly the solution you expected? Well, it’s not even a solution, it’s a way of life that only some people can enjoy.

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lifestyle

According to the Office for National Statistics in the UK the number of people living on their own went up by 16% to 7.7 million between 1997 and 2017. However, the number of people aged 25 to 44 living alone has fallen by 16% in the same period of time, while the number of 45 to 64-year-olds living on their own has increased by 53%. So, is living alone really the ultimate unattainable luxury for young people? There are rational reasons for this increase in the older age group such as the increased rate of divorce and a better paid jobs that allow them to afford their own place. But is there a way that young adults can live on their own without selling one of their kidneys? This is not a story about economics. This is a story about the choice of living in solitude no matter the age. When I said renouncing your life earlier, I was referring to letting go of everything that you have now and go away to live alone as a hermit. Hermits or eremites are found in different religions such as Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sufism and Taoism and they are characterized as individuals who choose to live in seclusion from society for religious reasons. Today a hermit may refer to anyone who isolated themselves from society for any reason.

Amongst the first drop outs of society If we were to go back and look at the first ever hermits, it’s worth mentioning Anthony the Great who moved to the desert in AD 270–271 and became known as both the father and founder of desert monasticism. He was part of the Desert Fathers, along with Desert Mothers, which represented early Christian hermits, ascetics, and monks who lived mainly in the desert of Egypt. The solitude, austerity, and sacrifice of the desert was seen by Anthony as an alternative to martyrdom, which was formerly seen by many Christians as the highest form of sacrifice. There is a book with the wisdom of some of the early desert monks and nuns, called Sayings of the Desert Fathers, which is actually available on Amazon if you feel like seeing what the early hermits thought about all day.

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Later on, people still don’t like people Of course, a list of historical religious hermits could take all the pages in this magazine, but I say we should move towards another popular hermit, less religious, but closer to our century. You may have heard about Christopher Knight, who at 20 years old, in 1986 drove into a forest in rural Maine in the United States. He abandoned his car, took some very basic camping supplies and simply walked into the woods. According to the BBC, he didn’t come out again for 27 years. Knight wandered aimlessly into the woods for a while and he found a small clearing near a lake. There he installed a nylon tent and even though he was only a few minutes away from the summer cabins in the area, he was completely hidden from the world. He survived by stealing supplies from this community. He only took what he needed - food, cooking fuel, clothes, boots, batteries for torches and a lot of books. Knight tried to cause as little damage as possible, but the sheer number of break-ins, more than 1,000 over the years, caused a lot of anxiety for some of the cabin owners. Eventually the police set a trap and managed to catch him, but bear in mind this way of living lasted for 27 years without people being able to find him. While he was in prison, he corresponded with the writer Mike Finkel, who also visited him and wrote about him in his book, The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit. Whilst trying to find out why Knight chose this lifestyle, he discovered that the answer was that the guy was uncomfortable around other people. No other hidden reason. It was as simple as that. He also said that in the 27 years he was never bored.

How about having a ‘village for yourself’? Our contributor, Mihaela Samsodan, talked with Nicolae, a villager from Coada Lacului Lesu, Romania. Coada Lacului Lesu is a small village, in North-West Romania, in the county of Bihor. The village is almost deserted during the winter season. Even though there are cabins around, no one lives in them. They are just for the tourists, who want a break from the city during the summer. You can barely find any information about the village online. It’s so isolated that not even the mail is delivered here. However, a family is living there permanently. Nicolae and his wife have the village for themselves most of the year.

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If living into the forest sounds a bit too much, you should try forest bathing, also known as shinrin-yoku. The idea is simple: if a person simply visits a natural area and walks in a relaxed way there are calming, rejuvenating and restorative benefits to be achieved.


Coada Lacului Lesu Village, Romania. All these houses are the vacation houses, where tourists come during the summer. photographer: Mihaela Samsodan

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lifestyle

Nicolae was born there, and when he was young, he was offered a job at a Water Company located nearby. The job made him stay in his village, not leaving to live in the city. He had brothers and sisters, but as time went by, some of them died and the rest of them moved to an urban area. He lost connection with them. As time went by, Nicolae thought briefly about moving somewhere else, but he decided against it. He met his wife through one of his friends from another village. His friend met a girl who had a sister, he told Nicolae about her and that he should marry her. And that was it, they were married. She accepted living with him in Lesu even if there were no jobs or social life for her there. She admits that she is happy there, taking care of her cows, singing and talking to them every day, so that they know they are loved. They are her friends. Nicolae and his wife provide almost everything for themselves. There is a single store in the village and it’s only open during the summer when the tourists are there, and the next closest one is 10 km away. Nicolae and his wife have two children, a boy and a girl, who live in a nearby city. The kids are both married and have kids of their own. Interestingly, recently the boy decided to move back to Lesu, together with his family. The reason the boy wants to move back is because he doesn’t like the city life. Nicolae didn’t ask his boy to come back home, he says that:

“There’s nothing to do here, you have no friends or people to talk to, except for the tourists who are here in the summer. If I were young again, in these times we are living I would move away. This is not a life a youngster should live, it is a life for us, the elders.” Even so, it seems this isolated lifestyle is also appealing to the youngsters.

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Your own suite with a church view Travelling a bit back in time again, we briefly mentioned at the beginning the Desert Mothers, as a version of female hermits. But when it comes to women who chose to retreat from society, the life of the anchoresses is really fascinating. The word anchorite or anchoress comes from the Greek, anachoreo, meaning to withdraw.

“An anchoress was a woman who was walled into a cell to live a life of prayer and contemplation. (The male equivalent was an ‘anchorite’.) Anchoresses were enclosed in their cells and had no way to get out. Despite how extreme this may seem to us today, the anchoritic way of life seems to have been remarkably popular in the medieval period.” -Mary Wellesley, The life of the anchoress, British Library (2018) 42 Divest


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In order to become an anchoress, a woman would have to apply to her local bishop, and she had to provide evidence that she had the financial means to support herself while she was enclosed. That shouldn’t cost too much, right? Usually, there were more women who chose this lifestyle than men. The anchoress would have two servants to look after her, mainly to bring her food and to take out the waste. Her small cell would have 3 windows, one of them would open onto a hallway for the servants, another one to the outside world and the third one onto the church, permitting the anchoress to observe the Mass. Anchorites and anchoresses are different from hermits, because they used to be attached to a church and thus in a way, they were at the centre of community life.

They were allowed to have some visitors, usually people looking for spiritual guidance, so they were not living in complete solitude, but the social interactions were limited. When a woman was enclosed in her cell, she became dead to the world. A priest would recite the office of the dead, which was the set of prayers said at a person’s funeral. She was no longer considered part of the real world. The main purpose for giving up a normal life was to better contemplate God and to go beyond the physical life as we know it. A day in an anchoress life was mostly filled with contemplation and prayer, aside when she would receive visitors. Also, it seems that they were allowed to do some manual work such as making lace. These days, it would seem insane to choose such a restrictive lifestyle, even though if we were to consider the costs, we could probably afford our own cell as young adults. What is even more interesting is that a great number of women were becoming anchoress, even though they were born to a good family. Were they just ‘uncomfortable around other people’ as Knight claimed? Or was there something grimmer that pushed them in that direction? We can fantasize about the reasons, but there is no evidence in regard to this, other than the need to seek God.

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As close as it gets to a 21st-century anchoress While finding an anchoress these days is not really an option, Rachel Denton’s story gets quite close to this lifestyle. She is more of a hermit, since she doesn’t live in a cell attached to the church, but she does live at St Cuthbert’s House, which is primarily a house of prayer, part of The Diocese of Nottingham. According to the St Cuthbert website, where you can find some of Rachel’s thoughts, in 2006 she vowed in front of a bishop, family and friends to be a hermit for the rest of her life. Rachel explains on the website that:

“to live as hermit these days seems a strange and outlandish thing – but the reality is surprisingly ordinary. Before I could begin my life here as a hermit of the diocese of Nottingham, I presented the Bishop with a Rule of Life which describes how I would live in the hermitage – it states (amongst other things) a commitment to live in simplicity, solitude and silence, staying and returning there insofar as duties permit so I come back to solitude and silence in the same way most people come back to a family.”

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The formal enclosure of an anchoress in her cell by a bishop, from a pontifical produced for Bishop Mona of St David’s, 15th century. (Courtesy of the Master and Fellows of Corpus Christie College, Cambridge, historytoday.com)

Rachel earns her income from a small calligraphy workshop set up at St Cuthbert’s House. On the website visitors were able to order cards made by Rachel, but unfortunately right now it seems that because of an illness that started in 2017 she is not able to practice calligraphy and no cards are available. Her desire for solitude may have roots in her early days in this world. She was deaf as a child, but her hearing was restored after an operation and suddenly noise came into her life. Rachel’s story was covered along the years by different media outlets, and she explains to the BBC that while she was in university she had “boyfriends and all of that”, and then she entered a convent for a year as a Carmelite nun, a Roman Catholic religious order. Her father, who was a university lecturer, thought that this decision was a waste of her academic potential, but she did it anyway. While she was there, she enjoyed the silence and solitude, but realized that she couldn’t bear the communal living, which led her to a solitary life.

Rachel makes use of technology in order to earn a living and give updates to her family. She has a Twitter account, @hermitrachel, where her status says: “Hermit, scribe, printer - tweets are rare, but precious!” Her last tweet this year was on August 26, sharing a link to something she wrote for the Sunday Bulletin about coping with change. She seems to be posting something every few months and usually it’s something she wrote for this bulletin. You would expect for a hermit to completely give up on technology, but it seems that Rachel is using it not to get retweets, likes or to talk with people, but just for the purpose of exposing her work, without caring how the internet reacts. When I say exposing her work, I don’t mean in order to get famous, but in order to inform others about what a hermit’s life is like. Could this be how a hermit-internaut would behave in an online environment? Could this become a thing these days when everyone talks about digital detox? Divest 45


Modern-day hermits Living in isolation can go as far as renouncing all the technology, using it from time to time or using it all the time. Hikikomori are the modern-day hermits from Japan. The term refers to people who withdraw from all social contact and often don’t leave their houses for years at a time. A government survey found that half a million people live like this in Japan, but it is believed that the number might be even higher since not all of them seek help or talk about how they live. Cases of hikikomori can be found anywhere in the world really, but it seems that all of them started in Japan. The word was coined by the Japanese psychologist Tamaki Saito in his 1998 book Social Withdrawal, Adolescence Without End. A usual stigma about these people is that they are lazy, young people with social anxiety who play video games all day in their room. While modern technology is believed to have an influence on those who become hikikomori, it’s still unclear how deeply those two are related. They are using the technology, some of them even reporting that they feel internet addicted, but what makes them withdraw is usually an event that made them stray off their path, not laziness or the need to stay in front of a PC. While hikikomori are called the modern hermits, we have to 46 Divest


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acknowledge that those who don’t want to leave their house anymore, might also have mental health problems such as depression and in their modern hermitage they are not seeking any enlightenment or trying to live a simpler, meaningful life. It’s a condition that seems to affect more and more people and not a conscious lifestyle choice. Therefore, hermits and technology can coexist, as far as being a hermit isn’t meant as an excuse to not leave your room. Talking about hermits and technology, you might want to check a website called Hermitary (hermitary.com), where you can find news, sites, and pages of interest about hermits and solitude.

Solitude, a luxury? Seems funny that even though these people try to escape from society and from us, we can’t get enough of them and journalists, academics and writers keep tracking them down in order to find out about this surreal lifestyle. It might be that deep down most of us are tempted to try this, but afraid to admit it? Afterall, it’s kind of a luxury not to be disturbed by anyone, ever.

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Lifeless destinations. Not your usual travel guide

Most of us crave moments of solitude, but it’s less likely that we will ever decide to go into hermitage. Nevertheless, there are places where humans can experience a whole new level of solitude and emptiness. It may not sound like the ultimate travel experience, but if you are seeking to know yourself better and to get out of your comfort zone, one trip to a place where life seems to have stopped might be what you need. Of course, no place is completely lifeless, since bacteria can live in the most hostile environments. But, microscopic organisms aside, these are the places where life is not possible as we know it.

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adventure

Atacama Desert

Atacama Desert, South America With 1mm of precipitation per year, the Atacama Desert is the driest place on the planet. Parts of the 1000 km long arid expanse are uninhabitable, even to bacteria. The landscape is mirroring that of the moon and it’s extremely beautiful. There are such harsh conditions in Atacama that it’s being used as a training ground for upcoming missions to Mars to search for life. Kind of ironic, isn’t it? Even so, it’s not every day that you come across something lifeless, but nevertheless stunning. Divest 49


Don Juan Pond

Don Juan Pond, Antarctica Antarctica hides a magnificent body of water, no more than a foot deep, called the Don Juan Pond. Despite the low temperatures (-30C) the water never freezes thanks to its hyper-salinity. Don Juan’s salinity is 40%, that’s 18 times more than the ocean. To give you an idea, the Dead Sea’s salinity is 33%, and this is the saltiest sea in the world. Scientists suspect there is some sort of bacterial presence in the shallow waters of the pond, but they have not been able to verify this. Researchers state that Don Juan has similar characteristics with Mars and the place is often used for studies that might lead to finding life on Mars. Like Atacama Desert, Don Juan Pond might be lifeless, but it seems that these places might lead us to find life somewhere else than the earth, or at least to understand the life conditions from other planets. A trip to a place that resembles Mars can be the only chance to ever get close to this mysterious, yet beautiful planet.

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Poas Crater Lake, Costa Rica Poas Crater Lake was formed by volcanic activity. The Poas Volcano has erupted 40 times since 1828, including April 2017 when visitors and residents were evacuated. Poas volcano is a powerful symbol of the geothermal forces that formed Costa Rica. The lake, which is known as the Laguna Caliente (hot lagoon) has a pH of 0 while the bottom of the lake is covered in a layer of liquid sulphur, making it uninhabitable. When the mist and clouds part you can see the sulfuric, bubbling, green rain fed lake at the bottom, surrounded by smoke and steam rising from fumaroles. It’s like a scene from a postapocalyptic movie so if you would like to experience a barren world as if humanity were eradicated this is the place.


adventure

Psychedelic Mines

Psychedelic Salt Mines, Russia Hundreds of feet below the Russian city of Yekaterinburg is an abandoned salt mine which might as well be the inside of a rave party. The cave resembles a surrealistically painted temple from an ancient civilization. The psychedelic pattern is a naturally occurring phenomenon, caused by layers of a mineral, called carnallite. The carnallite can appear in different colours, so the hypotonic lines on the walls will go from red to yellow, to white or even blue. The mine dates back millions of years to when a salty sea dried up, leaving behind the mineral deposits. Although a small part of the mine is still in use, miles of abandoned tunnels only accessible with a special government permit. Poas Crater Lake Divest 51


Circular fashion should become mainstream

We take, make and dispose. We like everything to be out of the box, quality still being associated with newness. A stain on a shirt means a new shirt, the old one being tossed in the bin. We keep going in a straight line. But until when? If we look at the living world, we will see that we are the only ones who adopted a linear approach to life. In nature everything flows, one’s waste is another’s food, one’s death means nutrients for the soil and it keeps going like this in a big circle and everyone is just fine.

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environment matters

We are driven by consumerism and ignorance because it is convenient. Why bother learning how to repair a shirt or repurpose it when it is so cheap to buy a new one? That’s the thinking lots of us grew up with. I remember clearing my wardrobe and throwing away bags of clothes just because they weren’t my style anymore or they didn’t fit. I had no regrets, all I could think about was that I’ll get new, extremly cool clothes that will fill my heart with joy. Thinking back, I see that I had no knowledge about my impact and on how a circular way of living would improve my wardrobe and my economies. Environmental impact from waste in the fashion and textile industry continues to grow. The UK consumes around 1.7 million tonnes per annum of textiles (clothing and non-clothing excluding carpets and mattresses). Of this, 1.1 million tonnes are clothing, according to Wrap Textiles Market Situation (2016). Slowly, the fashion industry shows some interest in adopting a circular economy, but for some of us this is still a fuzzy concept. It seems like a bad business model for brands to encourage us to mend our clothes, to recycle them and to keep them as long as possible in our wardrobes. But actually, there are new opportunities in this for brands as well. From offering products made out of recycled fabrics to services that help you repair your clothes. A brand that applies this circular strategy is Finisterre. Finisterre was born in 2003 in a flat, selling fleeces. The brand grew slowly and steadily and now it designs functional and sustainable clothes for the people in love with the sea. The product director of Finisterre, Deborah Luffman, talked during the Pure London event, about her journey to sustainable sourcing and circular design. For almost 10 years she worked in the high street fashion industry. “It was very much looking at catwalk designs and quickly ripping them off with zero textile integrity,” she explained. One day, she realized this world of cheap fabrics wasn’t for her, so she dropped out. After this, Deborah started travelling. She literally joined the circus and went to Brazil. Next, she ended up on an organic cotton farm, where she fell in love with a surfer. After such an adventure, she decided to get back home to Brighton, with her surfer husband. This is when she joined the Finisterre team. “I ran into a friend from university, Tom Podkolinski, who was working at a really cool surf brand. He sold me the dream of how amazing this brand was,” she enthusiastically recalls.

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Back then Finisterre just won the Observer Ethical Award which was a plus when it came for Deborah to decide if she should join them. With her passion for fabrics and environmentalism she was the perfect add on to the brand’s team. When she joined Finisterre, they were a team of 3 people, and now it’s 50. They evolved steadily and organically, from a brand that started as a fun and passionate idea to a business which is committed to the earth’s welfare. One way in which the brand respects its commitment is by working with Econyl. Econyl developed a technology to convert ocean plastics and especially fishing nets into high performance fibers, which Finisterre uses in their products. Currently, the oceans of the world are the home to around 640,000 tons of discarded nylon fishing nets, which are nonbiodegradable. Through their collaboration with Econyl, Finisterre tries to close the loop and transform this problem into a solution. Since they started the brand they are also known for using recycled polyester. As Debroah pointed out, recycling isn’t going to save the universe on its own, but it’s a step in that direction and it’s better than, for instance using virgin polyester because it reduces the amount of energy, water consumption and air pollution. Part of Finisterre’s values is also encouraging their customers to come back with the products and engage with their repair service. This also allows the brand to improve their products because based on the problem the customers had with the clothes, they may come up with a different and more durable design. Deborah explained how people are actually proud to have their clothes repaired and that they often ask for a patch that doesn’t match with the color of the product. They paid for a quality product, and they want to keep it alive, but also fun for as long as possible. The brand is also committed to the single use, no use policy, which for them means that any leftover products from the end of the production run must be repurposed. Fabrics that are not enough for a piece of clothing are usually turned into accessories. Finisterre is just one example of applied circular economy that works and helps reducing the pollution at the same time. Looking at current climate change events, but also at customer demand, hopefully we will see this strategy applied more and more, maybe until it’s not news anymore, but the given method to evolve as a brand.

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environment matters

Tears of the Ocean by David PD Hyde Raising awarness trough photography

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The circular cool shoes you might consider investing when the current ones can’t be used anymore You can give your old sport shoes (no matter the brand) to Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe programme. The programme recycles athletic shoes at the end of their life, giving them a new life through Nike Grind. Nike Grind materials are created from recycled athletic footwear and surplus manufacturing scraps to make performance products, ranging from new footwear and apparel to sports surfaces.

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Adidas Futurecraft Loop Futurecraft Loop is the first performance running shoe made entirely from one single material and 100% recyclabe. Usually, it takes up to 12 different materials to design a pair of Adidas shoes. The Futurecraft Loop project is aimed at tackling the problem of plastic waste. They want to create a ‘closed loop’ where the raw materials can be repurposed again and again. The idea is not just to repurpose the fabrics into a water bottle or a tote bag, but into another pair of high-performance running shoes.

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Converse Renew Converse joined the movement for circularity by designing the Renew shoes. Converse Renew is a series of Chucks produced using recycled PET from plastic bottles, up-cycled denim and off-cuts from its own manufacturing process. According to the company this is just the beginning when it comes to manufacturing sustainable Converse shoes.

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environment matters

Finisterre X Vans Finisterre partnered with Vans to create a limited-edition collection for adventurous surfers and people in love with the sea. The final result was the most sustainable footwear from the Vans range. They used eco synthetic leather, with recycled polyester ripstop panels and laces to obtain a waterproof shoe for surf travel, inspired by hiking boots.

P.S. It’s great to see all these big companies taking steps into a circular economy and behaviour, but we know they still have a long way to go. While these shoes are a great initiative and a good option instead of the usual ones, the greenwashing effect might lead us to consume more than necessary from these brands. Therefore, don’t forget to be a mindful consumer, regardless of the company you choose to buy from.

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artistic expression

Looking for the self We take a look in the mirror everyday, but most of the time we don’t see ourselves. While we’ve talked about living by yourself earlier, now we explore the idea of trying to find yourself, to get in touch with yourself and to get to know yourself.

Photographer: Iasmina Panduru @p_ias Model: Yiqi Jiang @yiqijiang Styling: Calina Muresan and Yiqi Jiang

*No high street itmes were used for this photo shoot, everything was bought second-hand or borrowed and all of the clothes and props are being reused already.

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Collective action: the limits of panic and the need for hope in the fight against climate change words: Iulia Alexandra Pop

On September 10, The Intercept held a special event called The right to a Future, with Naomi Klein and Greta Thunberg. It was live on YouTube and, while it aired at 2 am in my country on a weekday, I watched from beginning to end. I was excited to see Naomi Klein, a woman whose writing has had a huge impact on my life, and Greta, perhaps the most famous climate activist of recent times, in conversation. I was surprised to discover that the most meaningful part of the event for me was the beginning where youth activists Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, Xiye Bastida, and Vic Barrett dared to imagine sustainable futures. While Naomi has so eloquently explained the crisis to me in her writing and Greta sounded the alarm for the world, I found these other voices offering me something I didn’t know the climate action lacked — hope.

“It’s the year 2029 and everything is changed. [..] No longer do I have the dread of the day my people are pushed from their land by rising seas. [..] Today, I can imagine bringing kids into this world to carry on the culture of our people.” -Vic Barett

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From a Message From the Future with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — a video daring to imagine a fair and sustainable economy to Naomi Klein’s latest books as of now*, No is not enough, I started to realize how important is it to be able to imagine a positive outcome. Our house is on fire. How do we put it out? And then, how do we rebuild? My own journey as an aspiring climate activist has been impacted by the feeling of uselessness of my actions. Worrying about the climate while the rest of the world seems careless has often felt like a huge burden. My failure to persuade others, even those closest to me to take action was draining. I couldn’t see the end results and I grew quiet. I did the work for myself, moving to more sustainable practices such as cycling and cutting down meat consumption and stopped trying to bring about large-scale change. Now, I try to make sense of my own failed attempt at bringing about awareness through my studies in social psychology. And maybe, just maybe, see where I went wrong and try again. In the summer of 2017, for my birthday, my university friends got me a bunch of books. They got me Twenty love poems and a song of despair by Pablo Neruda because I had mentioned I wanted it,

The history of love by Nicole Krauss because it was a friend’s favorite, Matilda by Roald Dahl so I’d always keep a bit of childhood with me and This changes everything by Naomi Klein. The last one was a wild card. A Penguin paperback, the kind that has an orange back cover, nobody had any idea what it was about, least of all me. When I opened it, the inscription inside said: “We got you this one by using the simple rule ‘A smart book written by a smart woman’.” It turned out to be about climate change and it ended up changing my view on the world. Although being a scout for half of my life and priding myself on taking care of the environment, up until the age of 21 I had little idea about what climate change actually meant. I wasn’t aware that it was going to happen during my lifetime and the profound effects it would have on the environment. I hadn’t known that I might miss out on my chance to ever see corals (and so many other species). It took me the whole summer to get through it. It was a difficult book, complex — demanded my full attention. It also gave me mixed feelings. I felt anxiety, sadness, anger, but also I felt inspired by resistance movements against fossil fuel projects such as Blockadia. I decided to do something.

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I wasn’t sure what, but something it was. As the fall set in, I had two new projects — to convince my friends to take action & to find a subject for my undergraduate thesis in social psychology. I soon found out both were much more difficult than I had thought. I didn’t know what I wanted to study so I spent most of my first semester browsing through Google Scholar. Slowly, article to article, I found myself reading more and more on environmental psychology. And then, one day, I found the article that had done exactly what I wanted to do before I even knew I wanted it. Bamberg, Rees, and Seebauer (2015) wrote about the determinants of pro-environmental actions from a collective action perspective.


environment matters

“Collective action refers to actions taken by individuals as representatives of a group and is aimed at improving the state of the whole group . It can take non-violent forms such as signing petitions demonstrations or escalate to radical forms such as civil disobedience and violence.� (Bamberg, Rees & Seebauer, 2015)

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I soon grew fascinated by the idea of collective actions. What Naomi Klein described in the last chapters of This changes everything, the need for a complete system change so that we could stop climate change, could be achieved exactly through such actions. Collective action is the foundation of grassroots movements that have proven effective & inspiring. But there is a catch: Whereas everybody may profit from the benefits of successful collective action (e.g.,lower tuition fees in the case of student protest movements), the costs of participation have to be borne by individuals. A strictly rational actor would hence do nothing and wait for others to take care of the collective action (“free-riding”) (p. 156, Bamberg, Rees & Seebauer, 2015). Such actions are costly for individuals. Sorting out your trash can sometimes be inconvenient, especially in a city where the appropriate infrastructure is not in place. Taking the bus to get to work instead of a car takes longer and can be a nuisance if you have to change several lines. And you don’t see an immediate impact, the reward, in the environmental context. My friends, although sympathetic to my efforts to do something ‘whatever that may be’, were reluctant to get involved. They didn’t have the time, the resources or what’s worse, they didn’t think it would help. No matter how much I brought it up, I couldn’t persuade them of a small change such as sorting the trash. At that time, our city hadn’t yet implemented mandatory household waste sorting and they felt that their efforts would be in vain. Three people sorting the trash in a community of 300 thousand won’t make much of a difference. You see, collective action actually has a series of predictors that determine the likeliness of individuals to engage. Even if costly, certain collective behaviours do succeed. Two of these predictors are collective efficacy and participative efficacy.

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“Collective efficacy refers to the belief one has that their group is capable of achieving change through the enactment of collective action. Participative efficacy refers to the belief that one’s own actions actually have an impact on the outcome of the action.” (Bamberg, Rees & Seebauer, 2015)

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Looking back, I realize my group had no sense of collective efficacy. I could not articulate to my friends a vision of the impact of our possible actions. I wasn’t even clear on what those actions were. Furthermore, my own participative efficacy started to falter. I wrote an article on climate change that got a little bit of traction on my social media, but it didn’t lead to any concrete new projects. I tried starting a podcast with some acquaintances on the environment that would document the immediate impact on our community, but the project never took off. I started to feel that none of my actions would ever matter. It was a huge, worldwide problem and here I was trying to fix it by thinking of community campaigns to educate people on sorting trash. I felt like an army of one fighting a Don Quixote war with something nobody else seemed to be really interested in. If this would have been a TedTalk, this is where it would get inspirational. I would tell you that I surpassed all the challenges in my way and managed to inspire real change. We’d all walk away satisfied. Except that I didn’t. I got caught up in my own life — writing a thesis, getting a job and the like, and limited myself to individual actions. Which is by no means wrong. Individual action is the building block of system change. But on its own, it’s not effective. We need collective action. What I learned from this whole journey is that we also need hope to drive such action. We need people dreaming up futures in which our actions matter. We need Greta Thunberg (feat. The 1975) telling us that while we have been failing, while our house is on fire, we still have time to turn things around.

“It is this imaginative capacity, the ability to envision a world radically different from the present, that has been largely missing since the cry of ‘No’ first began echoing around the world in 2008.” -Naomi Klein, No is not enough (p.220)


environment matters

This is exactly what Naomi Klein also talks about in her latest book* No is not enough. When presented with severe trauma such as climate change, communities can become vulnerable to exploitation, but they can also come together and act. Simply saying no to the current state of affairs is never going to be enough. We need to find things to say yes to such as — renewable energy, free and sustainable public transport, natural climate solutions and then start saying it at the top of our lungs. We need to sell those around us on a vision of a future, so that we may one day create it! I didn’t start a climate group in Cluj, my local community. But a few weeks ago somebody else did and I am grateful. It only takes one individual to inspire others and build self and collective efficacy. Greta has been doing that ever since she started the Climate Strike. Millions of people around the world joined because they feel like they can contribute and that their voices are heard. For Climate Week there was a strike organized in Cluj as well, alongside workshops, volunteers going into schools to talk about the environment, planting actions and even a dedicated music show. It’s a small community, but it’s vibrant with young people getting involved and parents bringing their kids along. It’s a platform for action. I no longer feel alone or isolated. I may have failed in my first attempt to drive change, but such is the way of progress. Try and fail, then try better. What I’m going to do differently this time is that I’m going to ask people to say Yes to a sustainable future, Yes to a global community.

Would you like to join? *a new book was published on September 17th by Naomi Klein, On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal Divest 75


Sensory deprivation. What you might need to feel like yourself again Completely naked, I entered into an egg shaped spaceship, that somehow was really welcoming me inside. I pulled the lid down and some soothing music stared as I was lying on the water. That’s right, on it because the water is so salty, 500 kilograms of Epsom salt to be accurate, that it doesn’t let you touch the bottom of the pod. It’s like a water bed, and surprisingly you have enough support for your neck, no pillow needed, though you can take a special neck pillow with you inside if you wish. I tuned off the blue light and I waited. I was focusing on my breathing, as I learnt during my not so successful mediation attempts. I wanted to let go of everything, to be nothing, to feel nothing. Well, there were brief moments when I was one with my breathing, but there were all the other moments where my head was rambling. But I let it do it without reacting to my thoughts. I observed them and I observed how I felt during the day without judgment. The water didn’t feel like water, but more like a super soft silk that was embracing my body. My skin was as soft as the water. I was touching my arms and my belly from time to time realizing that I haven’t been so connected with my body in a while or maybe even never. I felt grateful for my healthy body and I appreciated it, something that I don’t usually do. I moved slowly from right to left with my whole body and started to feel like a mermaid. I love mermaids and their under-water world. For a few moments I was in a story where I was a creature of the ocean. Then, at some point I wondered how much time I had felt, I felt kind of bored, but I didn’t really want the session to end. When you spend time in connection with yourself, claiming that you are bored helps with avoiding your thoughts. I realised that I don’t want to be sensory deprived, and I should feel everything as it comes.

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Hackney float pod

Towards the end of the hour the calming music starts up again letting you know that it’s time to get back into the real world. As I was climbing out of this high-tech womb I was wondering if I am more relaxed or not. Then, I realizsed that I feel like I do after a day at the beach, my favourite kind of day. My hair was salty, my skin soft and my muscles were not tense anymore. Before heading home, I was offered a cup of tea which gave me the chance to find out more about this niche wellness treatment, called flotation. My first flotation experience happened at Hackney Float Club, in London. The float pods are crafted into refurbished cargo containers at The Gossamer City Project. Located in the heart of Hackney, Gossamer Gardens is a small, sociable community of creative studios and wellness practitioners. You could actually feel the slow pace and positive vibe as you walk through the garden. Flotation tank/pod, isolation tank or sensory deprivation tank is a light-proof (if you choose to turn off the light) and sound proof environment where the temperature is the same as the temperature of your skin.

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The tank is filled with 10 inches of water which is concentrated in Epsom salt (magnesium sulphate) to enable you to float effortlessly. The primary function of the isolation tank is to eliminate as many of the external senses as possible, but as my mentor explains, every person goes in there with a different purpose. Beginners mostly want to shut their mind and to not think, but if you keep going you will see you can use it in different ways. She tells me that a lot of business people come there because they want an entire hour just to think about their next project and their creativity sparks in that environment. Others enter a deep meditative state and others fall asleep. At the end of the session everyone feels better, no matter the purpose. I was walking back home, and I didn’t turn on my music, again something that happens rarely. I was feeling good, and I couldn’t explain why, I didn’t try to force myself to leave with positive thoughts, not at all, I was sceptic even after the session ended. I was surprised to feel like that because in the past few weeks my mood was usually very low. Because of my low mood the conversations with my family and friends were brief and dry. But that evening I called my mum and we chatted for around 40 minutes and I laughed so hard that I had tears in my eyes. It was a good talk, the kind that should happen more often. I also slept like a baby, and when I woke up I finally went for a run, something that I’ve been meaning to do for a long time. A single, 60 minutes float is around 50£ at any flotation club in London. Not something that lots of people can afford to do every week, but if you’re interested to try it, I would say giving up a new bag for a floatation is totally worth it.

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artistic expression

Body Lines by David PD Hyde Seeing the body as an abstract canvas

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see you soon

Special thanks to our contributors: Charles Planeta David PD Hyde Iasmina Panduru Iulia Alexandra Pop Mihaela Samsodan Tora Jackson Yiqi Jiang Vivi Suthathip Saepung

Special thanks for guidance to: Angela Buttolph Andrew Tucker Alex Burgess

Keep in touch. Send us your thoughts and ideas: IG: @divestmag Mail: divestmagazine@outlook.com

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Profile for Călina Mureșan

Divest Magazine  

I am delighted to introduce you to the first issue of Divest Magazine. In this day and age where overconsumption and overpopulation seem to...

Divest Magazine  

I am delighted to introduce you to the first issue of Divest Magazine. In this day and age where overconsumption and overpopulation seem to...

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