Thursday, 5 July 2018

Packing a plastic-free holiday wardrobe

Plastics now form a key part of our summer holiday wardrobes, from swimwear to sunglasses. Fabrics made from plastic, like polyester and nylon, dry quickly and don’t crease, and pleather is becoming a go-to alternative for vegan shoes and bags.

Plastic Free July is mainly aimed at cutting out single-use plastics, but if you’re looking to have less plastic in your life generally, get creative with clothes and accessories made from an amazing range of materials. And if you can’t avoid plastics, make sure they are recycled, or reusable.

Here’s my guide to top-to-toe natural fibres.

Nothing says summer style like a beautiful wide-brimmed straw hat, but if you’re after something a little easier to pack, this visor is 100% paper and rolls up to take up minimal space. It’s also surprisingly durable: I’ve had it for years, despite the fact that it was a high-street impulse-buy by a former colleague who passed it on to me!

It feels like the perfect summer fabric to me. It’s not without its problems: it’s not cruelty-free as the moth larvae in the silk cocoons are killed (unless you buy peace silk, where the moths emerge from the cocoons before the cocoons are harvested). I’m wrestling with my conscience on this one, but I’m still wearing vintage silk clothes. Charity shops are excellent sources of secondhand clothes made from luxury fabrics at this time of year; someone else’s fear of outfit repeating could be your bargain buy!

A cruelty-free, vegan alternative to silk, that is less damaging to process than viscose? Yes please! Lycocel is the generic name for fabric made from wood, and different brands have been experimenting with a range of ways to use this versatile material. The Sustainable Angle showed Tencel trainers at their Future Fabrics Expo, with every part of the shoe made from wood fibre. It can also be woven into soft drapey fabrics that rival silk, and knitted into a soft jersey that makes brilliant breathable undies.

I’ve raved about the excellent properties of bamboo leggings, socks and knickers in past posts. Bamboo fabric is moisture-wicking so it makes the perfect alternative to synthetic sportswear in this hot weather.

Plant Leather
My Pinatex Po-Zu shoes are perfect in summer weather; the coconut fibre and natural latex insole means my feet are supported but not sweaty throughout the day. If you're stuck in the city and you need to wear closed toe shoes to work (I don't want dressmaking pins getting stuck in my toes!) these flats are more robust than ballet flats but just as comfortable.

Plastic has become an almost unavoidable fact of life, but you can reduce your environmental impact by choosing plastic-based products that have been thoughtfully made, or by making thoughtful decisions yourself.

Recycled plastic
I bought bikinis from Davy J and Auria last year, but there are plenty of sustainable swimwear brands that are now using reclaimed plastics to make their products, whether you’re looking for activewear or something to pose by the pool in.

I blogged earlier in the year about my w.r.yuma sunglasses, 3D printed from recycled car dashboards! Another sustainable alternative is vintage sunglasses; if you need prescription lenses there are companies out there that will swap original lenses for new ones.

Buy less, choose well
Spending a bit extra on better quality clothes will mean they will see you through several summers, rather than having to go in the bin as soon as the temperature drops. None of us want to spend our holidays doing chores, but it’s worth spending a few moments a day looking after your clothes so you’ll look as fabulous as you feel on a well-deserved break.

  • Put on suncream as soon as you get out of the shower in the morning and let it absorb into your skin, that way you should be able to avoid sunscreen stains on pale clothing. 
  • Rinse swimwear when you get back from the beach or pool and hang it up to dry. 
  • Get a case for your sunglasses and remember to take it with you! Try not to sit on them. 

Do you really *need* a whole new holiday wardrobe? I love a warm weekend when I know it’s finally time to liberate those frivolous dresses from my closet; the ones that are too low-cut, strappy or see-through for work, but are perfect for lounging in the park, or as a poolside cover-up. They remind me of past summertime shenanigans and put me in a holiday mood! Those fun, floaty holiday clothes never really go out of style, so hang on to the ones you had the most fun in, and they’ll be ready for another great summer as soon as the weather is.

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