The true cost of consuming fast fashion

Fast fashion is defined as cheap clothes where catwalk designs move into stores at the fastest possible rate in order to respond to the latest fashion trends.


The true cost of consuming fast fashion


Photo courtesy of

Photo credit:

With the speed at which fashion changes it gives rise to a near-obsessive desire to shop for new stuff and the once-treasured favourite clothes are now considered, by some, disposable.

The trouble is that clothes take oodles of resources to produce so it seems unwise that fashion should be as fast as it currently is — and certainly not in an age where our natural resources are under pressure as never before.



The cost of clothes has dramatically decreased (yes you read that correctly!) [1] in the last 20 years; astonishingly low prices abound and we have lost the true value of quality clothes.

Fast Fashion and tip to end it:


It’s a recent phenomenon that a T-shirt can cost $5 — we may not see the true cost on the price tag, but many miles away those who earnestly create our clothes are paying dearly.

Drastic change is needed.

Cheap fashion rarely lasts; it creates waste, we buy more and the toxic cycle continues. The adverts scream at us creating unnecessary want and encouraging uncontrolled spending. We willingly oblige by getting rid of the old and bringing in the new, again and again, year after year.

According to the film “The True Cost“, annually there are 80 billion pieces of clothing purchased worldwide —up 400 per cent from two decades ago — and many of these items end up in landfill.

Americans each throw out 82 pounds of textiles annually!  That’s over 37 kilograms!



 Where did the seasons go?


Rather than two seasons in a year (spring/summer and autumn/winter) shops have “new in” all year round — an absurd number of seasons in one year.

More new clothes than ever and still we cry: “I have nothing to wear!”  Can you relate?

It is a toxic cycle of consumerism that is negatively impacting those people far away from our over-stuffed closets.

I’ve de-cluttered my wardrobe and it feels totally amazing. It is totally refreshing stepping off the fast fashion treadmill and asking myself, “Why do I think I need new clothes?” How many clothes does one really need? I have far fewer clothes than before and I only have clothes I love wearing.


Locally made clothes


According to in 1989, 70 per cent of apparel sold in Canada was made in Canada. In 2013 only 10 per cent of apparel sold in Canada was made in Canada.

When did the business of clothes morph from buying a quality, locally made jacket to the needless impulse buys we see today? I have a winter coat that I have had for over five years, it is in excellent shape and I no doubt will have it for a many more years yet.

Currently price tags omit the true cost of production: the impact of water pollution from toxic chemical dyes and fabric treatments, and the crowded, often incredibly dangerous working conditions.

Wages need to rise to provide a living wage, but factory owners often (very reluctantly) accept ever-decreasing prices, for a set amount of garments made, simply to ensure multinationals use their factory over a competitor.

The variable cost in the fashion equation is that of the human wage. So for many garment workers around the world a living wage is a mere dream, safe working conditions a mirage, and as workers sew, dye and produce our clothes they are acutely aware of how our obsessive consumerism costs local lives.



Photo credit:

Clothes – at what price?


In April 2013 in the Dhaka district in Bangladesh, the Rana Plaza factory collapsed killing over a thousand people.

The film The True Cost — available on iTunes — shows the true cost of our fashion obsession. It is well worth the purchase; the film is eye opening, shocking and very humbling.

According to the film, the fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world. The film’s premise is to inspire and raise awareness, encouraging us to buy fewer higher-quality clothes that last and do not have a high environmental or human cost.


Many clothes are made from cotton, which is a very water-intensive crop; often grown in areas least able to afford to use precious water on crops and fabric production. When water is scarce the last thing needed is pollution and certainly not for clothes that are seen, by some, as disposable.

An impulse buy in a mall in Western Canada impacts an Indian’s drinking water and no $9 shirt is worth that.

The film states: “Major brands are able to source cheap materials and labour while avoiding accountability for the growing cost of human health and the environment.”

Clothes used to be statements, treasured and passed through generations — a far cry from our “I don’t even know if I’ll wear this now I’ve bought it” clothes
of today.


Watch The True Cost trailer below:


Clothes used to be statements, treasured and passed through generations — a far cry from our “I don’t even know if I’ll wear this now I’ve bought it” clothes
of today. It’s time to love our clothes and make that love last!


Further reading:

12 ways to use less water

3 reasons not to drink bottled water

The cost of consumerism


[1] True Cost Movie:

– See more about the the true cost of consuming fast fashion in this newspaper article:

What is the best natural deodorant

What is the best natural deodorant ?


“What natural deodorant do you wear?” is a question I am regularly asked – I guess there are worse questions.


what is the best natural deodorant


Deodorants are simply products which mask the potential odour of sweat, in the case of natural deodorants that is usually pure essential oils and baking soda.

Antiperspirants are products which, through the addition of aluminium compounds, create a temporary plug of the sweat duct. [1]

We constantly sweat but we tend to sweat more when we need to cool down our bodies in the heat, after physical exertion, or when we are stressed or nervous.


It’s a wholly naturally process but it seems through being bombarded with adverts in magazines, on buses, and the internet we’ve become accustomed to spending rather a lot of money on deodorants and antiperspirants.

The deodorant market in North America is expected to be worth $3.2 billion dollars in 2017, according to Companies and Markets.  So there’s a lot of money riding on you feeling that you stink, which you most likely do not but if you want a more natural alternative at least there are now some super alternatives.


What is in deodorant and antiperspirants?

It is worth checking deodorant labels as many conventional deodorants contain ‘fragrance’ or ‘parfum’ an ingredient often containing phthalates which are known hormone disruptors.

Aluminium, or aluminum depending on where you grew up, is often added to antiperspirants and whilst many worry about it’s impact on our brain, in particular Alzheimer’s, some research implies we are wiser to eat well, exercise regularly, de-stress, and do crossword puzzles rather than solely focus on deodorant ingredients but studies come out all the time and so who knows what we’ll know in a year or two.


The precautionary approach to beauty

Overall with cosmetics and beauty products I opt to use the precautionary principle; an approach to preventing harm to our health or the environment when the scientific evidence is inconclusive.  Less is more!  We do not need the wealth of products, organic or otherwise, that grace the shelves of stores.  We can look great without using oodles of beauty products. Face masks can be honey, cleansers simply jojoba oil. Simple stuff really!


What is the best natural deodorant ?



For eight years I used the same natural deodorant, made by Miessence (affiliate link) in Australia. It’s simply made from aloe vera, baking soda and essential oils.

When I first switched from a conventional aluminium-based deodorant my arm pits detoxed, I had a little rash and I stank! Sorry but it’s true. After a few weeks my body had seemingly got was used to the natural deodorant and I actually found I didn’t really need the deodorant everyday.


Routine deodorant cream:

I changed deodorants as, unfortunately, Miessence  (affiliate link) came in a plastic roll on and I wanted something packaged in glass.  Recently I’ve been using a deodorant paste: “Routine deodorant cream” which is made in Canada and comes in a little glass jar. So far I’m really impressed, it is not only effective but so easy to use.


“Routine” deodorant cream which is made from coconut oil, kaolin clay, baking soda and essential oils. Being a paste and you only need a tiny amount. They say a jar lasts three to six months, I’ve only been using it a month so don’t know about that – yet.  I tried the “Lucy in the Sky” deodorant which is vegan as it had no beeswax.  It goes on smoothly and I have not had stinky armpits, even in the boiling hot weather recently, so far so good.


Bare Organics:

I also like “Bare Organics” deodorant. Find them at:  Bare Organics products are made in Ontario, it is again a baking soda-based deodorant; it comes in a plastic stick form or a jar.


DIY deodorant recipe:

There is a simple recipe for making your own deodorant in my book : “The Radiant Woman’s Handbook”.

The Radiant Woman's Handbook available at

Why not get together with a few friends (and save money on ingredients) and make a deodorant? It is really easy.


Do you really smell or is it advertising?


I have noticed that my sweat smells when I feel stressed but I simply see it as a good way of tuning in and slowing down; it’s too easy to be on auto-pilot, or is that just me?  My body gives me daily clues which, if I tune in, gives me an opportunity to adjust my lifestyle accordingly.


So next time you ask: What is the best natural deodorant ? you have an idea of some alternatives, but still remember to read ingredients labels and do your research; as I have said before: “Just as it is on the shelf doesn’t mean you should buy it nor is it necessarily good for you!”

I’m not saying stop wearing deodorant but ask yourself do you really stink as much as you think you do or is it just advertising and marketing making you feel you should buy a product?

Most adverts aren’t for your benefit, and with an industry worth billions we’re only making someone else rich, perhaps it’s time to try a natural alternative or even go au natural and see whether you really do stink or is it just ‘advertising baby’?





Like this post? Sign up for my newsletter, and never miss a post, I will also send you a sneak peek of my book The Radiant Woman’s Handbook.

Sign up for the newsletter here.



Further reading:

Non-toxic deodorants discussed, read more

What happens when we wear deodorant and antiperspirants, find out here

Learn more about antiperspirants and deodorants, here




Photo credit:


This article was also in print at

7 ways to quit comparing your life

It seems to be a common toxic trait: we want what we don’t have.

The refrain, “I’ll be happy once I get X, Y or Z” is often heard, but will it really bring us lasting happiness? Not in my experience.


Here are 7 ways to quit comparing your life.


Is it time to change?


What works is a change in thinking and the way you do things, which is easier said than done.


I used to want what I didn’t have and found myself going round in a cycle of unhappiness — until one hot day in Australia, many years ago, a friend firmly said to me, “you have a great life, better than 99 per cent of people in the world. You have to stop complaining and focus on the positive things God is doing in your life.”

Initially I did not like the way I felt about her comments; upset, guilt and disbelief that no one really “got” how I felt. Inevitably over time I was grateful for her words, they were the catalyst for me to change direction, to trust more and appreciate my life.


Before I went travelling in the ‘90s to Australia, my mother gave me a handmade bookmark with this quote:


Philippians 4:8 “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.”


I hadn’t been doing this.


Positive versus negative


I started a daily tally of positive thoughts versus negative thoughts, and it was soon clear change was needed.



Despite being intelligent we regularly take the trailer of other people’s lives and compare them to the full-length film of our life, yet we are not making similar comparisons.



The happy marriage, beautiful children and amazing holidays are balanced by marital arguments, toddler or teenager tantrums and sunburns with bug bites.


Comparing your life often isn't a true comparison.

I love life and yet there are storms and setbacks, twists and turns. A life that is too easy may well become rather boring?



The threat to your happiness is wanting what you don’t have, constantly comparing, and dreaming your days away with unrealistic wants. It’s wise to set goals and prudent to observe whether you are constantly comparing.

Perhaps living life to the fullest and leaving a legacy is time better spent?

Life is messy, life is wonderful, your life is unique.  Is it time to quit toxic comparisons and start using your energy to make the world a better place?


Seven ways to quit comparing your life

  1. Quit comparing, enough said. Notice when you compare and why.
  2. Forgive the past, but learn from it.
  3. Accept the possibility of an alternative — if only brushing your teeth with the other hand — it opens the door to possibility.
  4. Spend time in nature with a distraction-free walk, listen to your favourite piece of music or enjoy soaking up nature.
  5. Start to make small changes: save $10 a week, listen more carefully, turn off social media notifications or get up earlier. You’ll have your own ideas, which will likely be better, but let’s not compare!
  6. Do YOUR best. You are unique; your life will not look like anyone else’s life.
  7. Remember: being here today is a necessary step; you are right where you need to be today.


Like this post? Sign up for my newsletter, and never miss a post, I will also send you a sneak peek of my book The Radiant Woman’s Handbook.

Sign up for the newsletter here.


– See more at:


3 reasons to quit ridiculous car journeys

Do you make ridiculous car journeys?

I used to, before I was environmentally aware. I got in the car and thought nothing of it but I do remember my grandfather saying: “Joanna, put your seat belt on first before you turn on the car, well unless you are sponsored by the oil companies!”

Could you use your car less?


The most ridiculous car journey

The most ridiculous journey I witnessed was when I was in Texas; it was the morning, coffee was suggested and I saw the coffee maker on the kitchen side board and so I assumed we’d make it at home with the family. The idea of going out for coffee when at home hadn’t crossed my mind. The scene went like this:

The husband said “what would you like?”

I said ” Oh, just a cup of coffee with a little cream please.”

He replied: “I’m off to Starbucks so you can have anything, latte, cappuccino, mocha, vanilla latte.”

I said “Has your coffee maker broken?”

“Oh that, we don’t use that, we get just Starbucks every morning” the wife said.

“I’m happy with a ‘made here’ coffee don’t waste petrol, filter coffee is fine.” I said.

“I’m going anyway.” the husband said.

Later that day out for a walk I stumbled upon the Starbucks, I thought I wonder how far it was to get coffee this morning. I realised it was under 900 metres from the house! There were cars parked all around the coffee shop. Perhaps I am missing something but to this day I still can not see how on earth it was quicker to drive?  I enjoy an early morning walk, I find it sets me up for the day more calm and ready to be productive.  Yes, it was hot and muggy but fresh air is still important, surely?


Isn’t using a car faster?


Bike traffic lights. Pixabay

The myth is that the car is faster, I used to think that for a long time but that wasn’t quite the whole story.

You know the ’round and round and round’ time of finding a parking space; waiting for someone to leave, being patient, being patient still, hoping you’ll get the space only to be gazumped by someone else. Biking is faster, less battle for a parking space!

When I factor in the benefits of exercise, time in nature and fresh air then the bike or walking, or even walking to the bus wins every time.

Today it’s raining and the temptation is to take the car but I have waterproof trousers, a great waterproof jacket and a bike. It might also brighten up by the time I need to go to town.

I also do not pay for the gym so biking it is. Don’t worry I have mud guards, so I can keep my jeans or skirt clean and tidy!

It makes a huge difference when the local area is ‘bike-friendly‘ and these bike traffic lights are often seen in Denmark and Sweden – be sure to watch the video below on how Malmö in Sweden have encouraged more people to bike.  Could you do that in your area?

I know that more people would bike if they felt really safe, that is where bike lanes and clear signs are paramount. Yet it is only when we bike more and are seen on the road that cars get used to bikes. It’s also a good idea to write to your local MP, (MLA in Canada) and show the need for investment in bike infrastructure, with many countries recommitting to reducing their that it is seen as a priority.


 3 reasons to quit ridiculous car journeys:


It is free exercise.

It keeps us young! Many of the women I saw in Copenhagen biking were in their 40s, 50s and 60s, peddling along at a phenomenal speed.  Younger women were biking too but don’t assume it was all young men and women, it wasn’t.

Biking is a habit like any other and the more you do it the fitter you get – I know as I bike so much more now and love it, I also can zip up a hill that I once struggled with – that’s the benefit of biking everyday!  Fitness!


Quick to do and duel purpose.

Biking can be faster and is certainly healthier.

It is often quicker to bike, once you’ve factored in the finding a car parking space (see paragraph above) and all that, biking is quicker as you combine fitness with chores.  Once, I had done my shopping and saw the same car still looking for a car parking space!


Time out in the fresh air

Time without distractions in a busy world; no music, just nature, fresh air (of varying levels!) and the sunshine (or rain) is important.

Bike a little way every day and smile more!


Do you bike?  Would you like to do more biking? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook.


Further reading:

Bike and eat the Danish way

Step into Spring – why walking is the answer


Sign up for the newsletter and never miss a post, as well as your free download snippet of my book!


5 reasons we need to embrace bacteria

5 reasons we need to embrace bacteria

Junk food is not good, you know that, but did you know that it can diminish your gut bacteria too?

We need the unique blend of microbiota that are in our gut, a hundred trillion of them, apparently.

Here are 5 reasons we need to embrace bacteria


Junk food and why we need more variety in our diets.

Our gut bacteria is unique, rather like a fingerprint and even identical twins have differing microbes, says Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London and author of The Diet Myth — out in July — I’ve ordered my copy from our local book shop.

Professor Spector says: “Microbes (bacteria) are not only essential to how we digest food; they control the calories we absorb and provide vital enzymes and vitamins.”

The human gut contains around 3,500 different microbial species. Microbes are not the enemy, regardless of what alarmist television adverts imply with their surface cleaning product advertisements.


It's time to use soap and water.

Photo credit:

In eating a variety of real food, as opposed to heavily advertised junky foods, we are nurturing our gut with range of microbes providing an arsenal of defence. It also ensures we have interesting food and enjoying your food is important; it’s a pleasure in life to prepare and share food.

I eat a wide variety of foods, mainly what’s on sale or special offer, that way I get variety and save money. I do my best to eat seasonally, local and organic if feasible. I love the Farmers’ Market which starts up again soon — cue my happy dance.

According to the Johns Hopkins Children’s Centre newborns exposed to household germs and pets in their first year of life have a lower risk of getting allergies and asthma. The “hygiene hypothesis” is based on the notion that if your house and environment are too clean you are at higher risk of creating a hypersensitive immune system and sadly more prone to allergies and sensitivities.


Are our portion sizes too large? Yes!


Spector [1] found that a 10-day diet of only fast food greatly reduced the microbes in the gut, by nearly 40 per cent of the total. If that happens in 10 days one can only imagine the deleterious effects a long-term poor diet creates.

Today many of us consume a very limited variety of foods. “Fewer than 20 separate food types and many, if not most, are artificially refined,” according to Spector.

We can redress this loss of diversity though by choosing a wider variety of foods.

If you see me out in the sunshine enjoying a glass of Belgian beer and a slice of local cheese remember I am nurturing my microbiota!


Good gut questions for you:


  • Do you buy the same vegetables each week? Could you start to eat seasonally?  Increase the variety in your weekly diet.


  • How much of your food is artificially refined, with added sugar, sweeteners, stabilizer and additives? Could you lessen the amount?


  • Have you ever stopped to read the labels on your food? Give it a go, it’s eye-opening — you have been warned!


  • Skip antibiotics unless absolutely vital. The Public Health Agency of Canada says: “Sometimes the right prescription is no prescription.”


  • Enjoy some fermented food: sauerkraut or kimchi, perhaps kefir.


  • Professor Spector says foods that promote gut flora are leeks, celery, garlic, coffee and Belgian beer. Obviously, eating other foods is wise too though!


  • Cook real food. Enjoy ingredient variety throughout your week.


  • Most of all enjoy taking your time preparing and eating delicious food.

– See more at:


Further reading:

Diet is a dirty word

Bike and eat the Danish way, read more

Granny is wise, eating intuitively, read more

Photo credit:

Like this post?

Sign up for the newsletter, follow us on Facebook, or Twitter.

and never miss a post, you’ll also get a sneak peek at my book all about how to look radiant, naturally.

Sign up for the newsletter here

Bike and eat the Danish way

The weight-loss industry invents billions of dollars worth of “quick fixes” to lose weight, but are we looking for the answer in the wrong place?


What size of plate are you eating off, are they small or large? Our plates are quite large, and perhaps it comes as little surprise that my jeans are a tad tight sometimes!


Are our portion sizes too large? Yes!


Obsessing over one’s weight is toxic. We come in all shapes and sizes; surely feeling happy and healthy is the key?

I had a revelation while in Copenhagen recently: North American portion sizes are really too big. Even a coffee has gone from a small to a medium, I ask for a small and I get funny looks!


Bike and eat the Danish way


It seems we have lost the art of enjoying three simple meals a day. Hardly surprising when snacks are constantly marketed to us — snacking is a growing billion-dollar industry. [1]

Are we unwise looking for new diet tricks rather than slowly eating less of a simple, wholesome diet?  Certainly everyone has an opinion on diets but I find that confusing, conflicting and actually rather boring. Over the years of “new diet”, “healthiest diet yet” headlines I realise that simply put I am a fan of three square meals a day! Oh and maybe a cup of tea or two, it’s so boring I know.


Tips from Denmark
Copenhagen was (just in case you were curious) a fabulous city and I had a relaxing time. I inadvertently managed to find myself in the city on the day of Queen Margrethe’s 75th birthday and was fortunate to see her (very close) as she rode past me in her horse-drawn carriage.  It was just a case of wonderful timing and yet so much fun to be part of a patriotic celebration of the Danes’ beloved Queen, but I digress.

A slice of rye bread is not very large, but it provides enough nutrition with wonderfully fresh ingredients for a delicious lunch.

Waist size is connected to portion size — or for me at least it is.

When we first moved to North America I remember being horrified by how big portions were, but over the years I have forgotten about it and I’ve gone up a size in jeans! That extra nibble adds up.


Travelling to Copenhagen I was reminded that I do not need to eat as much as I had been eating. Smørrebrød are hugely popular in Copenhagen, they are simply an open sandwich; usually on rye bread, with pickled fish, smoked salmon or meat with fresh vegetables or condiments on top.

I had some completely delicious smørrebrød, my favourite being fish roe and some fermented carrot, and yet they were not big portions.  That said many of us do not eat enough, it is finding that balance and it’s different for everyone, obviously.

Life in Copenhagen seemed significantly slower than Vancouver. Mothers and fathers bicycled with their children, in the trailer, on the Christiania bicycles. Bikes were often left outside a shop without a bike lock!

I rarely saw people eating on the move, they sat at a cafe or on a park bench.


Copenhagen city life- altogether more peaceful.


Bike lanes meant that I felt safe biking about the city, like I did in Montreal. Men and women biked about looking unbelievably glamorous — no stretchy fabrics in sight!

Certainly a flat city means that biking is easier, but couple that with a smaller portion size and you have the perfect “free” way to keep in shape without a gym.


Walking to wellness

Walking is another way to keep fit without paying a gym fee.  I was fortunate to meet up with friends of my father’s and they said “the soap shop is just a short walk”, we walked for 20 minutes! It is all relative, I enjoyed the walk but was entertained that 20 minutes was considered a short walk. What is your baseline? Is it time to extend it a bit? If you walk 10 minutes a day make it 20 and if you don’t walk outside each day, begin!



Next time you ponder being slimmer or losing weight perhaps the size of your plate is worth considering?


Further reading:

Three square meals a day diet, read more

Step into spring and keep fit, learn more


– See more at:

[1] [Sweet and savoury snacks] Sweet and savoury snacks in Canada.