Wearable Shelter

In the past year, the worst humanitarian emergency in decades has taken centre stage in the British media, and we’ve woken up to the extent of refugee suffering (as embodied in that infamous picture of little Aylan Kurdi). We are now all too aware of the harrowing conditions refugees are facing on boats and in camps like the Calais Jungle, never mind during the long and dangerous journey by foot they face before and after arriving into Europe.

People are finding new and imaginative ways to tackle the problem and help in some way, like the Royal College of Art’s Textile and Interior Design students, who’ve collaborated on developing ‘wearable habitations’ for refugees.

Clothing and interior design are often dismissed as ‘fun’ luxuries far removed from real global altruism, and yet this talented group of students have demonstrated how these spheres can be forces for good. Created in direct response to the Syrian refugee crisis, the resulting coat – which resembles a three-quarter-length puffer jacket and transforms into a sleeping bag or tent – acknowledges the significance of the journey as a desperate struggle for survival. As we know all to well, the weather in Europe can be dismal, and shelter could make all the difference to an unforgiving journey. This coat has the potential to save thousands of lives.

The students used information provided by Médecins Sans Frontières when developing the coat to ensure that it met the needs of refugees. The waterproof pockets on the inside provide a place for passports, important documents, photos and other valuables to be kept safe. The prototype is made from Tyvek, a lightweight and waterproof but very strong fabric often used on aircrafts, and is lined with Mylar; a polyester insulator that is used in emergency blankets, tents, space suits and houses.

The students raised money via Kickstarter and are hoping to deploy the coat as early as this summer via refugee agencies. Author of the project brief, Dr Harriet Harris, says:

‘This project demonstrates the keenness of students to use their design talent to make a difference where it matters’.

I must admit, I’m totally inspired by this practical approach. Whilst this coat is not going to solve the refugee crisis, it encourages us to each think about how we can use our skills to be a part of the solution.

Over a million people arrived into Europe last year and despite the new EU deal that’s sending people back to Turkey, as the war rages on in Syria, the enormous flow of humanity across borders shows no signs of stopping. If there was ever a time to be proactive, it’s now.

tent

Photo source: Royal College of Art

The Real Cost of Cosmetics

We live in a time where demonstrating concern for our environment has become downright necessary. We’ve welcomed the move to charge for plastic bags, we advocate the use of technologies like solar panels, almost every Uber you jump into is likely to be a Prius and sustainability has become a buzzword.

And yet, millions of women are innocently using products that contain non-biodegradable plastic that harm the environment on a daily basis. Used primarily as exfoliants, tiny pieces of plastic called microbeads are in a multitude of everyday products from face scrub to toothpaste. These microbeads go down the drain, but are too small to be filtered out during the water treatment process, and so end up polluting our oceans and poisoning the fish we eat.

This worrying impact upon marine life is now being flagged by a number of prominent charities, including Greenpeace, and the international campaign ‘Beat The Microbead’ has been gaining momentum since Obama banned them in December 2015.

Although people are starting to take notice, a multitude of products that contain this unnecessary plastic remain widely available, from numerous ‘Visibly Clear’ Neutrogena products to three different Elizabeth Arden products including their ‘Skin Balancing Exfoliating Cleanser’.

The microbead is so ubiquitous that even brands that we associate with top quality, natural ingredients like Sisley use them; their ‘Gentle Facial Buffing Cream’ appears on the ‘Beat The Microbead’ list, as does Clinique’s ‘Sparkle Skin’ body scrub. Other body scrubs that contain this incriminating ingredient include L’Occitane’s ‘En Provence Almond Shower Scrub’ and Dermalogica’s ‘Exfoliating Body Scrub’ (whatever happened to a good old fashioned bit of sand!?). The list goes on and on, even products such as toothpaste, like Arm & Hammer’s ‘Truly Radiant Whitening & Enamel Strengthening Paste’, are known to contain plastic beads.

So what is being done, we might ask? Ethical campaigners and beauty experts alike are calling upon David Cameron to follow in the US and Canada’s footsteps by banning the use of microbeads. Over 226,000 people have already signed the petition run by Greenpeace, which you can find and add your name to by simply searching ‘microbead petition’.

The ‘Beat The Microbead’ campaign has the support of 82 NGOs from 35 countries, and their website states that 239 brands from 59 different manufacturers have already promised to remove microbeads from their products. Companies like Boots, Avon and The Body Shop have also pledged not to use microbeads in their products, however they may still stock items containing them.

Until policy changes, it is crucial not to underestimate the power of the consumer. Ultimately, you can help fight the microbead purely by being aware of them and the products they are likely to be used in.

If in doubt, check the lists provided on The ‘Beat The Microbead’ website. Simply not buying something speaks volumes, and when sales of certain products plummet, big business has to sit up and take notice. At the Oscars, Leo called upon us all to be a part of the change, and awareness about small stuff like this is a great place to start.

DIY Scrubs: Natural Alternatives You’ll Find in Your Kitchen
• Sugar
• Oatmeal
• Sea Salt
• Baking Soda

Featured Image from The New Scientist 

The Choker Edit

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probs noticed that the choker is currently EVERYWHERE. From Kim K’s diamond ‘Saint’ choker to Danielle Bernstein’s (author of the We Wore What blog) seemingly never ending supply of chic plain fabric ones, neck hugging bands are the current must have item.

If you’re on a major budget, you can DIY by simply using ribbon. I often save bits from Christmas and Birthday gifts and then repurpose them, it works like a charm! However, if you haven’t got the time or if you’d like to go for something a little less basic, I’ve rounded up 10 of my cheap and cheerful favourites for you to choose from! Whether you wanna rock a 90’s style fabric choker, a simply chain or something all together more exciting (think ultimate festival jewellery), I’ve got you covered.

  1. black velvet Basic Black Velvet Choker, ASOS £5.00

 

 

 

 

2. Gold Chain Choker, River Island £8.00

gold

 

 

 

 

3. Fabric Cut Out Choker, Topshop £10     topshop leather

 

 

 

 

 

4. Delicate Gold Choker, Not on the High St £35

notonthehighst

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. ALDO Multirow Chokers, ASOS £10ALDO

 

 

 

 

 

6. river island decorativeStatement Choker, River Island £35

 

 

 

 

 

7.  Suzywan Choker, ASOS £17.50chocker flower asos

 

 

 

 

 

8. Engraved Coin Choker, Topshop £12.50coin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. Lace Choker, Urban Outfitters £8
(comes in black and cream)  lace

 

 

 

 

 

10. Jet Stone Choker, Accessorize £6
accesorise