Category: Fashion

The best Black Friday bargain? Not buying into it!

Today on Black Friday 2021, we would like to highlight a blog post written in 2016 by Sustainability Officer Maria Rabanser. It seems that Black Friday has not changed much in the past five years – let’s hope that in another five years our approach to overconsumption will have shifted.


In the US, Black Friday – the day after Thanksgiving – has been regarded as one of the biggest shopping days of the year since 1932, with news reports and viral videos of fights breaking out at large stores being a regular fixture. Some retailers such as Amazon and Asda started bringing Black Friday to the UK in the 2000s, and more stores joined in 2014. This year in 2021, shoppers are expected to spend almost £9.2bn over the weekend.

This surge in sales, particularly in electronics, can have huge environmental impacts. Their production is often resource-intensive, while lifespans are short, and disposal is often problematic. According to the UN’s Global E-Waste Monitor, only 17.4% of the document global e-waste was collected and properly recycled in 2020.

Source: Hubbub Foundation

Source: Hubbub Foundation

Clothes can be a problem too, with large amounts being thrown away every day. And many of us seem to not enjoy Black Friday as much as retailers are trying to tell us: Polls by the charity Hubbub suggest that 2 in 3 people say they do not enjoy Black Friday, and 6 in 10 said they bought things they never used.

So what are the alternatives?

More businesses and charities are now promoting the idea of either using Black Friday as an opportunity to only buy something they were planning to buy anyway, or to stay away from shops (and online stores!) entirely, and spend the day in a different way.

This movement against impulsive purchasing behaviour has grown into Green Friday. IKEA, for example, has started a sell-back program where you can sell your preloved IKEA products back to them for a store credit or hand in your used home furnishing and electronics in return for a coupon. Ketonico will donate 30% of all purchases to the Spanish Food Bank Foundation, an organisation that responds to the food demand of socially vulnerable communities and individuals.

If you do want to make the most of Black Friday discounts, WRAP recommended SMART shopping in 2016:

Shortlist – Research products you want to buy in advance.
Make a decision – Choose the product you want to go for before you go out.
Act! – Don’t impulse buy, stick to your plan and the products you researched.
Register – For appliances, register your new purchase online as a safety precaution, and you might be entitled to an extended warranty by the manufacturer.
Trade-in – Trade your old products to save money on your new purchases. If something is broken, make sure you recycle it. RecycleNow have a handy guide to find your nearest recycling point!

With Christmas, and the high levels of waste and packaging that come with it, around the corner, opting out of excessive shopping on Black Friday is the first step towards a more sustainable festive season. Adopting a more sustainable approach to consumption will also contribute to achieving UN Sustainable Development Goal 12: Responsible consumption and production. How will you be spending the day?


Having a wardrobe clearout inspired by the Trade-in element of SMART?

Then check out Smart Works. This charity helps women to regain the confidence they need to return to employment and transform their lives by providing them with quality clothing and job interview coaching. Drop off points for Elevate’s clothes donation campaign for Smart Works are now open until Friday 17 December, with locations across our campuses.

Sustainability Week 2020

Each year, we hold Sustainability Week to raise awareness and educate King’s staff and students about sustainability at King’s. Sustainability Week revolves around how to ‘#MakeADifference’. The Sustainability Team, alongside students, student societies, staff Sustainability Champions and charities, put on events with the aim to educate and inspire around various topics relating to sustainability (whether that be social, environmental or economic), give back to society and most of all – have fun!

We had a total of 522 people come to take part in the events throughout the week.

Here is a summary of some of the events we had throughout the week…

GEOGFEST

GeogFest’ was a charity event for King’s staff and students, organised by GeogSoc and the Geography Sustainability Champions to raise money for the International Tree Foundation.

The event took place in the KCLSU bar The Vault on Friday 7th February as an early kick of to Sustainability Week.

There was entertainment from the Worn out Shoes ceilidh band formed by academics from across the Geography department, PhD candidate George Warren and a dance materclass by UG student Pia Fletcher.

There was a live count of the money raised through the night, in total the Geography department raised £243.38 for the ITF, which will be used to help offset the flights from second year Portugal and Morocco fieldwork trips.

 

DIY lip balm & craft your own zero-waste products

Gathered in the KCLSU zero-waste store, Nought, 24 students got together to learn how to make their own zero-waste lip balms (recipe here – made without the honey) and how to crochet their own face scrubbie, instructed by King’s Energy Manager and star crafter, Julie Allen.

During sustainability week, Nought held a competition to win a zero-waste hamper for all those who spent over £10 – so this event was also a chance for the students to stock up on their essentials to be in with a chance to win!

A Green Threaded Corridor

Artist and Goldsmiths University student, Margaret Jennings came to Kings to deliver ‘A Green Threaded Corridor: Tree Art Workshop’. The workshop started with a conversation about our natural environment in the middle of Guy’s campus memorial garden and an insight into Margaret’s background and artwork. This was followed by a silent walk around the gardens, taking notice of the trees and life which surrounds them.

Natural materials from the gardens were gathered and used in the art section of the workshop. The art was inspired by our individual tree stories (e.g. a cherry tree in a grandfathers garden or the grief you feel when a tree is cut down) – the art could be painting, drawing, poems. These were passed around and altered by others – as a comment to nature and its ever evolving state.

The art and poems created in the workshop will form the body of Margaret’s research at Goldsmiths university – alongside other university and community group tree stories.

The event ended with planting a Birch sapling on Guys Campus gifted by Goldsmiths University. This will form part of a tree corridor, as King’s will be mirroring this by gifting an Alder tree to Goldsmiths University.

 

King’s Think Tank: Post-Environmental Regulations Debate

See the blog post below, for an event summary from the Director and Researcher of the King’s Think Tank Energy and Environment policy centre.

Vegan Sushi Class

King’s Vegetarian and Vegan society ran a vegan sushi class at Great Dover Street Apartments (GDSA) café. Over 30 students came to learn how to make their vegan sushi from scratch – how to cook the perfect sushi rice, prepare the vegetables, tofu or tempeh and do the perfect sushi roll.

Circular Economy Workshop with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation

On the final day in Sustainability Week, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation came to deliver a workshop on circular economy.

They gave attendees an overview of what the circular economy is, and what businesses and services using circular economy principles may look like. As it was Valentine’s Day, they tasked students with coming up with circular economy alternatives to common Valentine’s presents, including re-used cards and potted flowers.

 

 

Slow Fashion, Explained

The fashion industry has been going through a wave of change over the last few years. Powered by consumer demands for transparent supply chains powered by revelations the fashion industry has on the planet, people and animals. Brands are increasingly rejecting the principles of Fast Fashion, and instead, developing a slow fashion approach to fashion, for a more sustainable approach to making clothes.

What is Slow Fashion?

Slow Fashion is an approach and awareness to fashion, which considers the resources  and process required to make clothing. It is a sustainable mindset and action which involves  buying better-quality products, which will last longer and holds value for the fair treatment of people, animals and the planet.

The term ‘Slow Fashion’ was coined by Kate Fletcher, from the Centre for Sustainable Fashion, following the slow food movement. Slow Fashion opposes the fast fashion model which emerged around 20-years ago.  As with the slow food movement, Fletcher saw the need for a slower pace in the fashion industry.

Some characteristics of a Slow Fashion brand

  • Made from high quality, sustainable materials (e.g. organic Fairtrade cotton, hemp, bamboo, Tencel)
  • Often in smaller (local) stores rather than large chain companies
  • Locally sourced, produced and sold garments

The movement of Slow Fashion

Pre-industrial revolution, clothing were locally sourced and produced. Clothing was typically more durable and could serve them for a long time. Clothing reflected the place and culture of the people wearing them.

Today’s Slow Fashion is seen as some these old ways coming back into focus.

Awareness from consumers demanding higher sustainability and ethical standards in clothing is increasing. Research shows, 19% of the top fast fashion-related searches are linked to the environment, ethics and sustainability. Slow fashion encourages us to buy less – and less often, but at higher quality and made from more sustainable processes.  It puts the emphasis on the skills of the people who make them and the quality resources gone into the product.

#GreenFriday

Swap Shop with F&SD champions!

On 13 May 2015, we held the first ever Fundraising & Supporter Development swap shop to encourage sustainable behaviour change across our team of 113 staff members. It was held in Virginia Woolf Building on Kingsway, lasted for two hours and more than 50 people attended.

The swap shop raised £107 toward the King’s Helipad Appeal, donated 120 items to Oxfam and 30 items to the homeless shelter in St Martin’s In the Fields.

We also had some regular and some Fairtrade home-baked goods to accompany the swapping, and people could donate what they thought their items were worth. Things baked included Fairtrade sponge cake, flapjacks, banana bread and Guinness cake, all of which went down a treat.

There was also music and this turned the event into a bit of a social for our team. We also gave away free Fairtrade tea samples, and also sustainably-produced Green Reggie branded canvas bags, in which people could carry away their booty.

Some people were incredibly generous and donated literally dozens of items, and we also had many clothes given to us by popular fashion label Warehouse, as they are one of our charity supporters. image2Overall, we had a mixture of men and women’s clothes, accessories, shoes, books and homeware items.

The swap shop helped to raise the profile of the F&SD sustainability team, build awareness of our activities and encouraged other team members to get involved. Colleagues straightaway insisted we hold another one, and we currently have plans to host one again after August, once the other half of our team joins us from across the bridge in JCMB.

Please contact Catherine.heath@kcl.ac.uk if you would like any more information about the swap shop.