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ZOLA M AV E N W OA BM E N rand That Fi g h t s Fo r Wo m e n

SUSTAINABLE HOLIDAYS E T H I C A L FA S H I O N, M I N I M A L I S M, G I V I N G B A C K, A N D A H E A LT H Y L I F E S T Y L E.

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LETTER FROM THE EDITOR Hello, Readers! Thank you so much for visiting the first issue of Zola Magazine. My name is Kali Koller, Editor-in-Chief of Style Conscious Blog and Zola Magazine. This magazine was created as a publication medium to bring awareness to the minimalism and conscious lifestyle. Those who aim toward minimalism also possess passion for issues within our environment, ethics of business, and living naturally. Zola is here to show that these values are possible to live out. We believe more people should possess these values. Zola will focus on the following topics: Fashion, Beauty, Home, Lifestyle, Sustainability, and Food. You can apply minimalist principles to each of these aspects of your life. We are aiming to show you the whole package. I cannot stress how much I believe in what we do here. Minimalism is more than owning less things. Its about a conscious lifestyle, taking care of your soul, and global health.

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Yes, consuming less is one of the most discussed topics, but by doing this, you are on your way to freedom. Freedom from guilt, stress, and overwhelm. If we focus less on what we have, you can focus more on our goals, visions, and growth. Our first issue is dedicated to the Holidays. We wanted to showcase living minimally is possible, even during the season of giving. From sustainable fashion to ethical discussions and opinions. I hope you enjoy our debuting issue! You can always reach me via email: kali.styleconscious@gmail. I thank you again for taking the time to read my letter and also any article you read in Zola Magazine. Take care and see you in February.


READ CONSCIOUSLY

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CONTENTS 10 16 Annaborgia Making Wedding Fashion Sustainable and Glamorous

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Ethics on Being Ethical Should we be eating meat?

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Giving Back Learn about Feed my Starving Children

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Sustainable Shopping Shopping Habits for Millenials


KIDSWEAR WITH A HEART

DRIVEN BY GIVING SUSTAINABLY DESIGNED WWW.BELLASOPHIACLOTHING.COM

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THE ZOLA TEAM

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Ethical fashion supporter and minimalist enthusiast. Creator and artist.

JEN LEZAN

LORI STARLING

Ethical small business owner, fashion instructor, and Editor-in-Chief of Halfstack Mag.

Mom. Writer. Gardener. Living Local and Loving it. Compassionate Living for People, Animals, and the Planet

STACEY KIRKBY

DANIELA DEGRASSI

Writer, lover of Japanese flavor, Sustainable Fashion Realist.

Former Wedding Photographer now Founder of Annaborgia, Ethical Fashion Made in USA. Minimalist yet glamorous bridal styles you can easily re-wear!

STAFF WRITER & GRAPHIC DESIGNER

STAFF WRITER

@tastylacystacey

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KALI KOLLER

STAFF WRITER

STAFF WRITER


Conscious Conversations WATCH NOW 7


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FASHION & BEAUTY LEFT: Annaborgia Stella Bridal Dress, $700.00

Annaborgia

Makes Wedding Fashion Sustainable and Glamorous 10


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mericans spend an average of $26,444.00 for their weddings according to the Cost of Wedding. In the USA alone, 8 million bridesmaids gowns are sold every year. After the wedding, those bridesmaids gowns typically take their place in the back of a closet where they languish for years untouched and forgotten.

Traditions are things that we should cherish and hand down to future generations, but the ongoing threat of continued climate change must make us take pause, reflect, and adapt our needs to be more sustainable, even when it comes to weddings. And it’s not just to help our planet - it will please our pockets too! What if we could re-wear our wedding or bridesmaid gowns? Well, now you can! Annaborgia, a smart San Francisco-based start-up fashion brand has been focusing their efforts to make your wedding attire easy to transition into daily wear!

With a minimalist style, Annaborgia looks are timeless, simple, and glamorous. The Stella Dress is a flowing halter maxi dress designed with elegant cords that cascade down the open back. In white, it is a joyous wedding gown ideal for beach weddings. In black and red, the dress is a versatile bridesmaid dress. Both dresses are intended to have extensive post-wedding wear. The Kats Pants is a pant that was designed as an homage to one of Annaborgia’s favorite fashion icons and no-nonsense/practical women, the inimitable Katharine Hepburn. The Kats Pants are palazzo pants with a silky hand. In white, the pants are ideal for the unconventional urban bride that will re-wear the Kats Pants every time she wants to be glamorous yet comfortable. The colored version of the pants will please the unruly bridesmaid both during and after the wedding day.

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LEFT: Nina Skirt // $90 Transitional, classic pencil skirt embellished by two side lace inserts.

Annaborgia recently won the Best Sustainable Collection at the 2016 San Francisco Fashion Community Week. Steering away from seasonal collections, Annaborgia launched in 2015 with a timeless capsule collection of the highest quality. Annaborgia will continue to add classic pieces to the collection so that the Annaborgia woman can eventually have a lasting sustainable collection of clothing that will never go out of style.

The Ariel Top is a perfect match for the Kats Pants. Its minimalist front is balanced by stunning open lace panels. After the wedding, the Ariel top will have a second life as a favorite ‘business by day/party by night’ camisole. The Nina Skirt is Annaborgia’s version of the classic pencil skirt. The skirt is embellished by two side lace inserts that match the back lace panels of the Ariel Top. The Nina Skirt is another must-have of the Annaborgia collection because it was designed to be easy to style from summer to winter. When matched with the Ariel Top, the Nina Skirt is an ideal summer-time outfit. In winter, the skirt can add some excitement (and sex appeal) to an over-sized sweater and boots.

With the highest ethical standards, Annaborgia is conscious about the environment and all of the animals that must thrive there. To minimize fashion waste, most of the Annaborgia products are made to order, with high quality Japanese fabrics that are 100% cruelty-free and manufactured without any dyes or chemicals that are toxic to the environment. You can discover all Annaborgia’s versatile designs at w w w. a n n a b o r g i a . c o m / s h o p . 15


Sustainable Shopping for Millennials

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Sustainable in theory, means something can be kept going or maintained as a process. Sustainability the noun is the quality of providing long lasting ecological balance by creating harmless practice and minimal environmental impact. The ability to manage resources without depletion or exploitation for the prolonged future. This is the factual definition of sustainability but we as consumers have the power to take that meaning and define it as our own. What resonates with your heart and how can you make ethical choices when shopping? Creating a shopping criteria or checklist before tapping that card can help to reduce your impulse spending and re-asses your choices when online or 16

in a retail store. The idea being to slow down the turnover of clothing in your wardrobe. Adopting a quality over quantity approach can help keep you realistic about what you need now and what could just be a passing trend you don’t need to invest in. Fashion cycles used to last seasonally, four times a year a designer would release a new collection to the public. This has increased to 10 times a year in the fast fashion industry due to supply and demand. The consumer has the power to slow this down by slow-


this down by slowing down their purchases and demanding a higher quality product. Globalization has had a significant impact on the production and manufacturing processes of the T&CI and although the economy has benefited here in Australia the environmental impact has hit harder then we could have imagined. ‘The world now consumes about 80 billion new pieces of clothing every year. This is 400% more than the amount we consumed just two decades ago.’ - Extract from The True Cost Movie on environmental impact. The concept of sustainable shopping starts from understanding the impact each garment purchase has on our local and global community. No longer is that beautiful cape jacket just a stunning piece of art it has also used over 3,000L of water to produce, tonnes of cotton, hours of underpaid labour, petrol to ship and transport as well as plastic, paper and silk for packaging. If at each stage of production, the workers are being paid fairly, the resources are sustainable and care is given to the environmental impact this item is an ethical choice if you can either wear this for multiple seasons or keep it in a good condition to sell. There are several ways to identify a sustainable product or company. Words or phrases to look out for include:

Organic usually in regards to cotton production and whilst not necessarily reducing water consumption the production of this cotton doesn’t use harmful pesticides and fertilizers. Throughout the production, care is taken to revitalize the soil fertility ensuring a balanced environment for future crops. Organic cotton products can also be produced through certified fair trade supply chains labeled with the World Fairtrade Organization (WFTO) logo. These products are deemed compliant against strict guidelines determining the ethical practice of the company’s wholesalers, employees and producers across all checkpoints of their supply chain. Standards are non-negotiable across the world and cover labour conditions, transparency and the company’s ethical mission. Although organic cotton can be expensive the ethics supporting its production are worth the investment. Wearable technology is becoming mainstream and affordable in many forms. This type of fashion can be sustainable throughout the innovative production and subsequent reduced impact on water, chemical and landfill. 3D printing technology has been the biggest manufacturing milestone since the introduction of production line machinery. The Met Gala 2016 Fashion in the Age of Technology theme embodied wearable tech and provided us a stunning look 17


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at how technology is weaving its way into ready to wear. The availability of 3D printed products has not yet reached its full potential the possibility is an exciting reality. Other forms of wearable tech include laser cutting, hidden payment devices, activity trackers, fitness and health trackers as well as safety devices that display coded light messages and UV ray monitors. Transparent Supply Chains are a camouflage free way for companies to prove their ethical practice to their consumers. A company making their supply chain public suggests the company is ethical in their choices throughout their sourcing, production, manufacturing and retail. Keeping this information confidential raises a red flag either indicating they don’t want this information known or they aren’t themselves addressing this issue and are far behind addressing the needs of their customers. Apps like Good on You do the background research for you and put it all on display, positive and negative points so you can decide whether to purchase a brand with all the facts in your hand. Pre-loved, Vintage or Second-hand are self-explanatory and easy to find either in your local area or online. The online pre-loved market is growing rapidly and Facebook Marketplace manager Bowen Pan says “There are more than 450 million people who visit buy-and-sell groups [on Facebook] each month. That’s a quarter of people who visit Facebook.” This is in response to the introduction of Marketplace on Facebook. The recent upgrade allows for the mobile app to display a Buy and Sell tab for users to upload their products for sale, competing with mega-brand Ebay.

Shedd, a free downloadable app offer a fun quirky angle to pre-loved designer fashion. Creating a community of friendly consumers allowing open dialogue between buyers and sellers. Their guidelines state all items must be original, not replicas or ‘inspirations of’ and strictly women’s fashion and accessories. Shedd is a global marketplace offering an up to date smartphone app making buying and selling pre-loved designer garments super easy. Designer dress hire is also widely popular for special occasions offering on trend and classic silhouettes all with accessories to match. You can dress the same as celebs on the red carpet for a fraction of the cost. Social media has played a big part in the perception of wearing a ‘borrowed’ dress. Sustainable and cost effective is now celebrated. Making ethical choices is easy if you understand the importance behind them. Buying brand new should be a last resort in today’s creative marketplace. Starting with an open mind there are plenty of ways to ‘fill the void’ or find something specific for a wedding or party. Ask yourself where the need to purchase is coming from. Is it boredom, circumstantial, desire or impulsiveness? Addressing this question can be the first step to shifting your focus to a sustainable wardrobe. Practicing mindfulness when you enter a retail store or catch yourself scrolling online. Take a deep breath, release and repeat 4 times. Put down the hanger, close the browser and double check your sustainability criteria. Written By: Stacey Kirkby

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Maven Women

A Fight for Fair Trade – Empowering Women Through Economic Development and Sustainable Business Practices Written By: Jennifer Lezan-Veguilla

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he term fast fashion has been thrown about quite a bit over the last few years in the fashion industry. Many consumers have participated in the fast fashion industry without truly understanding the impact that their purchases make. Consumers enjoy purchasing cheap products and the industry has commoditized clothing and the people who make the clothing. The term “fast fashion” refers to the rapid turn-over of low-cost garments in the global clothing industry. Today, many stores like Zara, Forever 21 and H&M are receiving new merchandise every week. Essentially these brands have gone against the typical “fashion retail” model that releases collections 2 times a year or seasonally to continual releases every 4-6 weeks. In her book Overdressed, Elizabeth Cline explains that: “In 1930, the average American woman owned an average of nine outfits. Today, we each buy more than 60 pieces of new clothing on average per year.”

The Rana Plaza catastrophe, which is one of the main focuses of the film, truly highlights the worker’s plight in many developing countries. Manufacturers and suppliers outsource labor to developing countries to take advantage of the low costs and unregulated terms of doing business. Activists are now connecting the dots between fashion, consumerism, capitalism and its effects on structural poverty and oppression. Fair trade is one way organizations are ensuring the workers in developing countries are being treated fairly through healthy working conditions and a living wage. Fair Trade is about better prices, decent working conditions and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers around the world. It’s about supporting the development of thriving farming and worker communities that have more control over their futures and protecting the environment in which they live and work. Fair Trade is one of the leading sustainable development programs that we as consumers can participate in.

Retailers in the fast fashion industry want consumers to feel drawn to novelty, to shop recreationally and often – and it seems to be working. Yet, as more and more consumers become aware of the realities behind fast fashion, they’re making a stance. The documentary, “The True Cost of Fashion” brought light to the atrocities and stark realities workers face in developing nations, often brought about due to the supply chain of fast fashion. The movie showcased the idea that all that glitters isn’t gold. From wreaking havoc on our environment to building multi-billion dollar businesses on the back of slave labor, the fast fashion industry has a lot to answer for and we as consumers have to stop turning a blind eye in return for cheap clothes.

Fair Trade practices make an immense impact on environmental and human capital. According to Fair Trade USA, “Around the world, farmers who struggle to make a living are often forced to engage in agricultural practices that compromise their land and surrounding ecosystems, such as deforestation and erosion, use of harmful toxins, and disposal of pollutants into the water supply. Fair Trade Certified environmental standards are some of the strictest in the industry. Fair Trade Certified ensures that farmers follow internationally monitored environmental standards, while empowering farmers and farm workers with financial incentives and resources for organic conversion, reforestation, water conservation and environmental education.”

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According to Fair Trade USA, “Fair Trade aims to help individuals, specifically at the most labor intensive points in the supply chain, retain more value and improve their lives. In addition to regional wage and price requirements, as covered in the Fair Trade standards, farmers and workers earn an additional Fair Trade financial premium to invest in their communities. This is typically around 5 percent of the manufactured price of a garment. “ This is one way to create opportunities for those people in the most at risk communities. Protecting and creating new opportunities for women is also critical within Fair Trade practices. With equal pay and equal rights at the forefront, Fair Trade mandates specific standards covering maternity leave, healthcare and freedom from harassment (sexual and otherwise). These ideals play into the goals behind economic empowerment. Many women use additional premiums to invest in new business opportunities, like starting a small store, to further support their families.

When it comes to workers, Fair Trade addresses the injustices of conventional trade, which traditionally discriminates against the poorest, weakest producers. The apparel industry has a long and infamous history of labor abuse and unhealthy environments – most notably in factory settings. One of the most ostentatious abuses is abysmally low pay. This low pay is seen across the board from workers to suppliers and resulting in a situation where workers and cotton farmers receive only a tiny fraction of the final cost of a garment, further exacerbating conditions of extreme poverty. This feeds into the cyclical and suffocating poverty that many factory workers fall into. The fashion industry accounts for 2 percent of the world’s GDP, nearly 3 TRILLION dollars. Many of these retailers are PROFITING and yet, they can’t find a way to pay their workers a living wage.

Economic empowerment focuses on the capacity of women and men to participate in, contribute to and benefit from growth processes in ways that recognize the value of their contributions, respect their dignity and make it possible to negotiate a fairer distribution of the benefits of growth. Economic empowerment has a much broader impact beyond fair wages and treatment, but it also helps to deter human and sex trafficking. Human trafficking is a worldwide problem with incredibly adverse effects on its victims, families and countries. Most of the victims who are lured into leaving their homes and countries to improve their lives fall prey to exploitation as sex and slave labor. Women and Children are the most at risk. Empowering women from within their own societies is just one among the many solutions to this issue and many Fair Trade programs offers an opportunity to create a solution. Many of the poorest and most unstable countries have the highest incidences of human trafficking. Extreme poverty is

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a common thread among trafficking victims. In places where economic alternatives do not exist, women and girls are more vulnerable to being tricked and coerced into sexual servitude. Increased unemployment and the loss of job security have undermined women’s incomes and economic position. A consistently stalled gender wage gap, as well as an increase in women’s part-time and informal sector work, push women into poorly-paid jobs and long-term hidden unemployment, which leaves women vulnerable to sex traffickers. One brand who is putting sustainability and women workers rights at the forefront of its mission is Maven Women. Launched by Rebecca Ballard. After working on human and labor rights issues around the globe, she witnessed how complex and harmful the global garment industry can be. The collapse of Rana Plaza incident propelled her to truly look at the best way to integrate her love of great style and passion for human rights. As an activist, she was never one to accept that something can’t be done. Rebecca refused to believe the status quo has to be the future. When she voiced her desire for more socially conscious apparel options, she found she was not alone. All of her friends wanted to build a socially conscious wardrobe, they just didn’t know how. These conversations also shared another common theme: limited options for well-fitting, flattering, and stylish clothing at an affordable price. Rebecca believes that the market hasn’t caught up to consumers desire for something better. It is still far too hard to make clothing purchases that value the people who work in within the supply chain and their communities. Inspired to take sustainable fashion mainstream, Maven Women was born. Maven Women is a sustainable line of womenswear, focused on transparency within their global supply chain. By committing to protect worker rights with the 10 Fair Trade Principles, they work with supply chain partners who respect their workers rights, voices and communities. As a brand

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dedicated to global women’s empowerment, Maven Women only work with supply chain partners who share their commitment to the inherent dignity of all people and demonstrate it by promoting gender equity and women’s empowerment. They also focus on incorporating the ideals of restorative justice within their company vision. Restorative justice focuses on providing rehabilitation and reconciliation between victims, offenders, and the community. It is a central value in their work to remedy the market failure and exploitation that has become the industry norm. South Asia in particular has suffered at the hands of irresponsible practices in the garment industry, and for this reason as a company, they prioritize sourcing from socially conscious partners in this region when appropriate materials are available. Overall, Maven Women is a brand that is working to create change. Change is never easy, but in an industry ripe with indiscretions, the Fashion Industry is ready for change. The negative aspects of consumerism are slowly coming to light and people are looking for alternative ways to create change with their pocketbooks. The idea of slow fashion has become a notion that isn’t so far fetched. The fashion industry can only improve when we all buy less and buy better. When we have higher expectations and communicate those needs with the brands we do business with, the industry will be forced to respond. Maven Women believes that we all must pay the true cost of production, rather than the cheap prices made possible by cutting corners around sustainability and on the backs of slave labor. As a brand, Maven asks their customers to view clothing as an investment rather than fast fashion. To this effect, they work to produce meticulously and thoughtfully developed, flattering, and timeless clothing in the spirit of slow fashion that pairs well with other items in their client’s wardrobe for a signature, polished look. Founder: Rebecca Ballard hopes that, we as a people will come together to demand better and be a force for change. Shop Maven Women at: https://mavenwomen.com


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Songa Designs, Handbag Collection Empowers Rwandan Women

By Kali Koller

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LEFT: The Jacqueline Handbag MSRP $89.99

Two of the most pressing issues in the fashion industry are its effects on workers and the environment. Most companies will outsource their production in low-waged countries, disregarding the economic distress that creates. Numerous fashion brands create their product without any concern of their environmental footprint. As a conscious consumer, I look for companies that share my values: social responsibility, human rights, women empowerment and minimizing environmental impact. I am more likely to put my dollars into an organization that positively impacts the world.

crafted by Rwandan women over the course of a week and helps create economic independence for each artisan. Known for their specialty accessories and baskets, Songa now offers consumers socially conscious handbags to expand their personal style. The collection was created using traditional Rwandan weaving techniques passed down through families over generations. Each purse is solely composed of locally sourced and recycled materials that otherwise would have ended up in landfills. The collection, released on October 15, 2016, will be available through the end of 2016.

Songa Designs International, a socially conscious fashion accessories brand, employs over 150 under-resourced women in Rwanda to empower and encourage them to be economically independent. It is typical for women in developing countries to depend solely on their husbands’ income, but Songa is changing this dynamic. Rwandan women are able to utilize their cultural traditions by crafting stylish, high quality accessories inspired by nature.

“I am so proud of this collection,” said Sarah Sternberg, founder of Songa Designs. “The handbags have a unique look that blends perfectly the earthy and rooted fell of Rwanda with the free-spirited bohemian. The extraordinary women of Songa are what inspire me to keep innovating and expanding our product line. We’ll be releasing new handbag collections every four months moving forward to keep our designs fresh!”

Recently, the brand released a handbag collection. Handbags are carefully

Each part of Songa Designs, down to its name, thrives to support Rwan-

ABOVE: Sarah Sternberg, Founder and CEO of Songa Designs.

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dan women on their journey toward financial liberation. Crafted with fair trade principles in mind, Songa Designs currently provides 150 women in Rwanda with the opportunity to make their own income using special skills they acquired at a young age. For the first time, many of their artisans are earning a high enough wage to purchase plots of land, send their children to school, purchase livestock, and provide support to their families. The beauty of brands like this is the story and creativity of the artisan who created it. All of the accessories can be customized with different colors RIGHT: The Zuri Tote. MSRP $69.99

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or materials, making them the perfect statement piece for women who want to align their wardrobe with their values. Songa Designs’ ability to combine eco-friendly materials, a positive global impact, and on-trend styles proves that sustainable and ethical fashion is possible and profound. For more information on Songa Designs International, visit www. songadesigns.com. Become a fan on Facebook @SongaDesignsInternational, Twitter @SongaDesigns, and Instagram @Songadesigns.


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LIFESTYLE

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ECO CONSCIOUS NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS Each New Year gives us a feeling of renewal and to strive for better. I have been on the Eco-conscious journey (as I like to call it) for a while now, but this New Year has got me thinking deeper, more specific goals for myself. If you are new to the eco-conscious lifestyle, that’s okay, too. Here are Zola’s top 10 resolutions whether you’re a newbie or veteran.

DITCH PLASTIC BAGS // This is by far one of the easiest ways to start reducing your footprint. If you are brand new to the eco-lifestyle, this is a perfect initial step. Purchase or sew some reusable bags. Vow to only use those. Keep an extra bag or two in the car as back up. REUSABLE BOTTLE // Another big one to get started to is deny all plastic bottled beverages. This not only eliminates single use plastic; it also forces you to drink more water. START TO COOK // One of the best ways I have reduced my waste is by learning to cook from wholesome foods. Instead of using store bought, opt for a homemade recipe instead. This promotes a healthy lifestyle by forcing to use fresh produce. Cooking also is a wonderful way to bond with friends and family. It provides a space to drop the social media, connect with each other, and share a meal you made together. REDUCE TAKE OUT // This one will naturally follow when you learn to cook better meals for yourself. Limit how much you go out to eat. For some of us, this may be a more difficult one because we have grown so accustomed to grabbing food “real quick” due to the fast-paced nature of society. Start meal prepping your own lunches for work. This may take a little time, but it will save you money! LEARN SOMETHING NEW // We all have dreams of something we want to learn... a new language, yoga, knitting, or perhaps gardening. Make this your year to learn at least one new hobby you have been meaning to try. Its so important to carve time out of our schedule to attend to our own needs and desires.

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NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS

VOLUNTEER // I truly believe that finding a cause we are passionate about can help mold us into better people. Helping others in need is not only self-rewarding, but also important to those not as privileged. Feed My Starving Children is one of my favorite places to volunteer. Find some place you like and volunteer once a month. BUY NOTHING WEEK // This challenge provides us with an opportunity to refuse all unnecessary purchases. I typically have a Buy Nothing Week starting Monday through Friday, allowing for grocery shopping on the weekends. This means no Starbucks, fast food, impulsive buys, or visiting the movie theater. The only purchase allowed is necessities such as filling your car with gas so you can get to work. This also doesn’t mean you get to splurge on the weekends. It creates mindfulness about what you are wasting money on. READ A BOOK // Drop your phone for an hour a day and pick up a book! Whether its fiction, non-fiction, or a bibliography. Indulge your mind into a fantasy world or another person’s shoes. Reading has been such a stress reliever for me. I think it could for you, too. TAKE A WALK // Enjoy the outdoors. Start small, take a 15 minute walk on your lunch break. Breathe in the fresh air and quiet your mind. Studies have shown this can seriously improve depression and productivity. The best is to work up to at least 30 minute walks per day. DONATE // Help simplify your home by donating items you haven’t touched in 6 months or more. Look through closets and under the bed. Chances are you barely even use most of what you own. Donate it and don’t buy something like that again. When our home is only filled with necessities and items that truly bring us joy... that’s where real progress is made. Written by: Kali Koller

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The Ethics of Being Ethical: Should We Eat Meat?

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ne of the best things about living with a social/environmental/ethical conscience is that you feel you are, in some small way, making a difference. Whether it’s by saving an item of clothing from landfill, choosing organic food or supporting a local enterprise, I’m sure you’ll agree with me that doing well, also feels good. However, along the way it often turns out that choosing the ‘best’ way can be more challenging than you originally expected, and you find yourself weighing up which of your personal standards has to fall by the way for another. What if it can only be local OR organic, ethically made OR better for the environment? A dilemma which epitomizes this for me was a story in the news in 2015 about how some of London’s buses would start running on fuel made from waste, including by-products from the meat industry. Great, I thought, and shared it on one of the zero waste groups I’m a member of on Facebook. Not so great as it turned out, as people on the group started asking what vegetarians were supposed to travel on then? Some people said that as non-meat eaters, they wouldn’t want to get on buses powered by meat products. I was pretty taken back by this. I mean, I’m a vegetarian of 13 years, and I didn’t have a problem with it. Why would I, I thought? I’m not eating the fuel, it saves it from being another waste product AND it reduces gasoline use. But the more I thought about it, the more I could see their side of the argument – paying the meat industry for its waste products is an endorsement of it, of sorts. And by buying a 36

company’s services a customer is, to a greater or lesser extent, showing that they support its choices. This experience helped to me realize a very important lesson: when it comes to making a good decision it’s not just a case of ‘doing the right thing’. There are so many different facets that make up peoples’ ideas of what right actually is and sometimes they clash. One person’s waste saving action is another’s disgusting meat-run bus. Now, I don’t have all (or even any) of the answers, but like many others I’m interested in the questions. I’m not here to tell you what’s best, or what you should do; I’m really quite


unqualified to do so! But what I can do is share some of my own ethical dilemmas, and hope that you’ll join in me in the often confusing and contradictory, but ultimately worthwhile pursuit of trying to make better choices. And perhaps finding the funny side of it along the way. So, to celebrate this first issue, I’m starting with the very subject that kicked off the whole affair: the problems of consuming animals when you don’t eat them. One area of this lifestyle based on avoiding meat that I struggle with is clothes. Specifically leather. There are a number of advantages to leather; it’s durable, long-lasting and looks good even when old and beaten up. On the

other hand, aside from it being the skin of an animal being an issue in itself, leather production uses a lot of resources, and in many cases toxic by-products can damage the environment. If you’re replacing like for like, synthetic leather such as that made from plastic isn’t a great solution – not only does it wear out and not age gracefully, leather made from petroleum products is unlikely to be ticking any extra ethical boxes for the conscious consumer. So, whilst new leather is out of the question, second-hand and upcycled leather is more of a grey area. It fulfills some good criteria for the green shoppers amongst us, as it’s potentially saving items from being landfilled AND saves resources in not buy37


Written By: Pip Sadler

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et and I’d never consider getting a leather sofa – something the size of a cow, made of cow sitting in my living room just feels wrong. To complicate the whole matter further, it also seems that for many people, leather occupies a strange middle ground that other animal products don’t. Let’s face it, fur, second-hand or not, is a no-no for large numbers of people regardless of dietary choice. Ditto ivory or products made from bone.

ing new. If looked after, it may well get to be third, fourth or fifth-hand at some point.

So is this distinction logical? Probably not. I’m a product of my society, where everyone has leather shoes and belts and bags, so perhaps that’s why these products seem more normal. If you live somewhere where it’s freezing cold and you work outside, the idea of wearing animal skins and furs no doubt seems much more practical and normal to you. Much in the same way that sausages or steaks in their finished state seem so very removed from the animal they came from to the average meat-eater, to me so do shoes. Does that mean the problem is that I’m not connected enough to the source of my clothes? Well, very probably. And this is where the second handness of purchasing comes in – with a limited budget I feel more comfortable supporting a charity shop or indie vintage shop than buying something new that was all in all likelihood made in a sweatshop. And the second hand-ness gives a feeling of disconnection from the suffering that went in to the product when it was new.

But…it’s still the skin of an animal, and I can totally understand if that’s just a line you don’t want to cross. I wouldn’t eat a pepperoni pizza if someone was going to chuck it out, saving waste or no. Is wearing the skin of an animal so different to eating one?

This article has now rapidly started descending into the stream of consciousness that also follows me around whenever I purchase something. It also returns to one of my points at the beginning of the article – I really, really don’t have the answers. I’m a bad vegetarian in all probability, but I have satisfied other aspects of my ethical criteria in reusing and preventing waste.

Somehow for me, it is. But only partially. Confession time – I have a pair of Doc Martens that I bought second hand, and through three winters and much stomping through mud, they’re still only just reaching peak comfort and have many years of wear left in them. But I’d feel uncomfortable wearing a leather jack-

Some vegetarians are probably horrified by this article. Perhaps there are others out there that agree with me. I think one difficult aspect of trying to be good is that there’s always something to call out someone else on that doesn’t align with your own priorities. I suspect the answer here, (ironically given the subject matter) is to live and let live. Sometimes trying to be good is good enough. 39


A DISPOSABLE WORLD THE SEVERITY OF PLASTIC ON T HE GLOBE By Kali Koller

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s Americans we are generating virgin plastic more than ever. The biggest problem with it is that it never goes away. It doesn’t biodegrade. While the durability of plastic is useful and convenient to humans, it is devastating to nature. Plastic undergoes a process called photodegradation. The sun will break down the plastic into smaller pieces without break-


ing into simpler compounds. A toy from 1950 is still somewhere on this planet. Doesn’t that just blow your mind? Plastic and its byproducts are contaminating our cities, oceans, marine life, and contributing to health issues. Some types we use in everyday life are known to be toxic. A plastic labeled as “#3”, which is also known as PVC or vinyl, contains phthalates and heavy metals. These create dioxins when it burns. One most of us have heard is Bisphenol-A (BPA), which has been recognized as a chemical that disrupts hormones. Plastics also contain thousands of possible additives but the plastic manufacturers aren’t required to reveal their formulas. The small bits of plastic produced by photodegradation are called nurdles or mermaid tears. These nurdles are floating in our ocean. Marine lives of all sizes, from plankton to whales, are accidentally eating small bits of it, which poisons them and leads to fatal blockages. Marine life, including coral, is getting strangled by fishing nets. Fish and wildlife, that you may eat, are becoming intoxicated. The toxins from plastic have invaded the food chain and end up affecting human health. Because of its longevity, there are literally patches of trash in the middle of our oceans. Because circular currents of the ocean (think a toilet-bowl flushing motion) the trash from the shores of North America and Asia have made a giant Texas sized patch of plastic. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is located near Midway Island in the North Pacific Ocean. To date, researchers have found five patches in our ocean. You may be thinking, “Okay. I’ll just recycle instead!” There is a common misconception that anything with a recycling label slapped on there means it can be recycled. The reality is that some heavier, non-recyclable plastics get filtered out of the recycling programs and put into the landfills anyway. While some can be recycled, it is never a guarantee. The best option is live a plastic-free lifestyle

ABOVE: ‘This Isn’t Happiness’ Photographed by Vilde J. Rolfsen vilderolfsen.tumblr.com

ALTERNATIVES TO PLASTIC 1. Ditch disposable water bottles 2. Use reusable bags and totes 3. Stock up on mason jars for storage 4. Shop your local farmer’s market 5. Say goodbye to soda 6. Do it yourself 7. Buy second-hand 8. No more single-use kitchen utensils

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WILD SWIMMING

Come on in, it’s cold, dark and murky

T

he alarm goes off. It’s still dark outside, with the gentle glow of the moon lighting the room. I creep out of the bedroom trying to make as little noise as possible, gathering my belongings as I go. After dressing in layers of warm clothes, I sneak out the house, softly closing the door behind me. Heading towards the first glimmers of sunrise on the horizon, I feel both excitement and trepidation as the town shrinks away behind me. We meet at the rendezvous point, a lay-by next to the church. Quickly stripping off our outer layers, we gather what we need and run across the road barefoot, squeaking with pain

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at the occasional stone underfoot and then at the chill of the grass, still covered with frost. The sun is starting to filter through the trees, illuminating the mist and the birds are starting to stir. It won’t be long before people in the homes across the bridge start to wake. We reach the edge, and look down to the murky depths below. “You go first.” “No, you.”…“OK, let’s do this.” “HOLY ****, THAT’S COLD!” Welcome to the wonderful, exhilarating world of wild swimming.


BELOW: Lake Bled, Slovenia

Now, getting up at the crack of dawn to then strip down to your swimsuit and go for a swim up the river might not be everyone’s idea of fun. But please, stay with me here for a minute. Do you: Like secret adventures? Love beautiful scenery? Enjoy seeing wildlife up close in its natural habitat? Want to feel amazingly, stupidly, ridiculously alive? Then there’s a good chance that you’ll also love wild swimming. Of course, wild swimming will be very different depending on where you are. If you’re living in somewhere hot and sunny you may be

able to swim in warm, inviting waters, where no swearing is required on entry. Maybe swimming in a local lake or the sea is a normal activity, done by normal people throughout the year, in which case you are a very lucky person! If you’re somewhere that has a more temperate climate (I’m writing here from the UK), the thought of getting in water that is barely 12ºC/54ºF for half the year may sound dreadful. I’m here to tell you it’s not. Wild swimming is a great activity for people looking to simplify and green their lifestyle as it requires very little in the way of

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stuff’, it’s low impact, and it gives you a real, urgent awareness and affinity with nature. It’s also great for you, as studies have shown that cold water immersion can increase both physical and mental health. So as a way to feel happier and healthier without impacting on the planet, wild swimming is a winner. I’m not going to tell you that cold water doesn’t feel cold. It does. The sensation of being cold is not instantly, easily enjoyable like being warm is. What being cold does however, is heighten the senses and alertness of the body. To me, cold water feels like slipping between the sheets of a bed that are still chilled by an unheated room, alarming but delicious. Every bit of your body is glowing with aliveness. Colours look brighter, clouds more interesting, birds sing louder. Instead of being near or by nature you feel part of it, no longer an impostor in the scenery.

know exactly where and how you can get out again. Always be in charge of your decisions – if you want to stay in for one minute where you can always touch the bottom, that’s absolutely fine! You may also need to check with your doctor as to how cold water may affect any health issues you have. One of the best things about swimming outside is the freedom it brings, but this also means you MUST be responsible. Some great advice is available over at the Outdoor Swimming Society’s website, which is a great resource for anyone planning a wild swim. But don’t let any of this scare you too much. Wild swimming can be done safely and carefully and will still feel wild and wonderful, and just a little bit naughty.

I recommend getting in slowly, noticing the sensations as you go. By the time you’re up to your waist, you’re starting to feel like you own the situation. Once you’ve been there half a minute or so, sink down an inch further and realize that the new little submerged band round your middle feels cold. That means the rest of you that’s already underwater has begun to acclimatise. Take a deep breath and submerge to the neck as you gently exhale. There’s an actual reason for this breath; the cold is likely to make you gasp and it’s good to have some spare lung capacity for it. In fact, breathing is key to getting in and staying in – it can help you relax and acclimatise whilst you take in these new sensations. On the chance that you can be gently persuaded to give it a go, now is a good time for the disclaimers and the number one rule of wild swimming – always be safe! Don’t swim anywhere where the water is of questionable quality, where it is unsafe due to natural things like currents or tides or human things like speedboats, or where you don’t

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So, dip.

you’re Here’s

ready what

to try a you’ll need:

• A swimsuit – obviously. Unless you know somewhere you can go without, you lucky thing. • A brightly-colored swimming hat – so you can be seen by other users of the water, such as people in boats. Ideally something non-nature coloured, like bright pink or red. • A big, warm towel – waiting for you when you get out. • A friend – either someone to swim with, or someone waiting nearby who can keep an eye out for you (safety first, remember?). • A flask of tea/coffee/hot beverage of your choice – it will taste better than anything has ever done when you’re warming up afterwards. Bonus points for also being a post-swim hand warmer. Depending on how, where and when you are swimming, there are a few extra items that you may want to consider buying or borrowing: • Swim socks/boots – made from wetsuit material, swim socks can keep your toes warm and can also help when you’re wading in across stones or uneven ground. • Goggles – if you’re going for more than just a dip, or you want to see what’s going on under the surface, a good pair of goggles are a great investment. • A dry bag – a bag you can take in the water with you to transport clothes/towel. A dry bag can be inflated so it bobs along behind you, attached to your waist. No walking back to base in just your swimsuit!

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Next, how do you find somewhere to go swimming? If you’re not familiar with swimming spots in your area, it’s well worth doing some research before choosing somewhere. That way you can check that it’s safe, legal and even find a local group to join up with. Some great resources include: Wild Things Publishing have a number of guide books, including the UK, Spain, France, Italy and Sydney, Australia. Perhaps worth requesting from your local library? Currently mostly UK based, the Wild Swim Map is an ever-growing resource, full of reviews created by other swimmers who have tried and tested spots all over the place. Why not post a question on the Outdoor Swimming Society Facebook group? Someone may know somewhere right near you! I have met some truly lovely people via my local group, who have introduced me to spots to swim that I never knew existed. You may find that there is a place to swim where access is through a company or organization who own the area of land, where they also have facilities on site. Places like this can be a great way to start swimming outside, as you get all the benefits of nature and some wildness, but with staff watching out for you and access to hot showers afterwards! My first experiences of swimming outdoors were via the ponds on Hampstead Heath in London, where there are lifeguards and changing rooms. The ponds are still some of my most favourite places to swim, and if you’re ever visiting London, go check them out. So, let’s return to where we started, shivering on the banks of the river. The mist is starting to evaporate


in the early sunshine, rolling over the surface of the water. The sky has a strange, other-worldly pinkish hue. The water is glittering. We start making progress upstream, and in less than a minute the shock of the cold has worn off, and we’re past the bridge with just water ahead of us and weeping willow trees lining the way. Pushing on, we pass swans and their cygnets, now teenagers rather than babies in the late summer. We keep a wary distance, but they aren’t interested in us anyway. The water feels amazing, like cold, liquid velvet. My hands break the way ahead of me, my vision alternating between the alien-like weeds below me on the river bed and a frogs-eye view of the surface and the sky. I’m so happy I can’t think properly. Once we’ve gone as far as time allows, we turn round to head back to our entrance point. Swimming downstream is amazing – like you have magical swim-

ming power with the current gently pushing you faster than you could ever hope to swim without assistance. A dog walker looks slightly surprised to see us from the bank but then shouts a morning greeting to us. The dog considers joining us before he’s called away. We get to the exit, and the water by now feels positively pleasant. We wallow for a minute, catching our breath and chatting, before pulling ourselves out and back into the morning air. A quick, drippy run across the road, back to towels and that warm thermos of tea. Then it’s home time, and time to get ready to go to work. Whilst co-workers are yawning through their morning emails, I feel like I’ve been on a tiny holiday and the secret of my morning adventure stays with me all day. Written and Images By: Pip Sadler

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15

Holiday Gifts to Inspire Zero Waste Living

As many of you know, zero waste living is an eco-friendly lifestyle, minimizing waste as much as possible. For those that are just starting to live this lifestyle, going zero waste can certainly seem overwhelming. Other people have no idea the lifestyle even exists. Some even think that you are crazy for trying or have no idea why a person would live such a lifestyle. A person could explain how dangerous it is to the environment to keep putting junk in landfills or how living zero waste you have options, such as refusing items, (like receipts or plastic straws), reducing, (not buying what is not needed and using all of products first before buying another of the same product), reusing and re-purposing items, (like jars, glass bottles, cans, etc.), and recycling, (as a last resort if the item can’t be used for anything else). What about extra food? Compost that crap, (crap can be literal if a composting toilet is being used). Yes, it is totally a thing! Looking for a simpler explanation? Here it is‌ Striving to live a zero waste lifestyle is about doing all a person can to help the planet and her inhabitants by limiting the waste a person creates, (i.e. getting rid of plastic from his or her life). It’s not about being absolutely perfect. There is no better way to introduce the idea to family and friends this holiday season than getting them a gift that gets them on the zero waste journey!

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Below are 15 great gift ideas for those eco-friendly folks! Click on the gift idea for an example of where these products can be purchased.


Reusable Bags

Klean Kanteen

Mason Jars Compost Bin

Garden Tools

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Zero Waste Bath &and Body

Bamboo Cutting Boards

Bamboo Utensils Eco=Toothbrush 50


A Good Read

Bulk Bag

Stainless Steel Straws

Seeds

Cloth Diapers

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Giving Back

feed my sta rvin g childr e n

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F

eed My Starving Children has one mission: “We want to reach everyone, until ALL are fed.” This means reaching out to those that are difficult to reach. Volunteers will be stationed to pack, similar to an assembly line, MannaPack meals. These meals will reach children and their families suffering from malnutrition in places such as Haiti, Swaziland, Philippines, and El Salvador. Feed My Starving Children believes working together drastically reduces the time it takes to transition a person from relief to resiliency. Providing MannaPack meals to those without a sustainable source of food creates a solid foundation to help them regain their footing and provide for themselves consistently. The organization’s partners are embedded in communities and help them advance as circumstances realistically permit. Meal supplies are reduced slowly as the community progresses. It is extremely difficult to develop individual livelihood and community sustainability while

battling malnutrition. Since many communities lack local food sources, or families cannot afford to purchase food, MannaPack meals act as a bridge toward creating local food security to ensure future generations don’t go hungry. Volunteerism is the reason places such as Feed My Starving Children can exist. There is no mass production machine to create or package the meals. Each meal is hand-packaged, making the process extremely personal, impactful experience. You’ll have a fun, team building experience with others who just like you give their time and energy generously. The entire process is deeply personal. I’ve volunteered here multiple times and each time, I am in awe of how many strangers will gather to engage world hunger and make a tangible impact. Feed My Starving Children has locations across the United States. Visit www.fmsc.org to learn more about how to make a difference. Written By: Kali Koller

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Zola | Sustainable Holidays Issue  

Our debuting issue focusing on sustainable fashion, ethical choices, and living mindfully. Zola is a Bi-Monthly publication, check us out in...

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