JBC to the rescue: Fair Wear Foundation

Not buying clothes that are unfairly made and bad for the environment is, of course, easy to say. 

The first few weeks this went well. Every now and then I would have a look in a thrift shop and if I saw something I liked, I would take it with me. This happened very sporadically though, you often have to really take your time to find something here. After a few months I noticed that I started to need new clothes. Finding nothing in a second-hand clothes shop became frustrating and difficult to keep up. This is when I decided to look for another alternative.  

I started surfing the internet and found JBC

Fair Wear Foundation 

JBC – a purely Belgian company that works with Belgian designers and licences – is affiliated with the Fair Wear Foundation (FWF). This is an organisation that strives for better working conditions for workers in the textile industry in countries where garments are made. They stand for fair clothing at a fair price.  

Their points of attention are:  

– No forced labour 

– Free of discrimination in the workplace 

– No exploitation or child labour 

– Freedom of association and the right to join a trade union 

– Payment of a living wage 

– Reasonable working hours 

– Safe and healthy working conditions 

– Legally binding employment contracts  

JBC does not only want to keep good working conditions in mind, they also take environmental measures. For example, they have organic cotton in several collections and they respect the REACH regulations set by the European Union. This means that they do not tolerate any of the harmful chemicals described in these regulations. This is forbidden in all shops in Belgium, but often violations are still found. JBC carries out random tests on their products to make sure that all their clothing is in compliance with these regulations. 

Last but not least, they focus on animal welfare. They only have fur-free collections, but they also do not accept garments made with angora wool or feathers from animals that have been plucked alive.  

Other members of the FWF 

It is thanks to JBC that I got to know the FWF. So besides this shop, there are other affiliated shops in Belgium. Among the first affiliates are Mayerline, ACP, Stanley & Stella and The Cotton group. These companies are the forerunners in Belgium and deserve much more credit than they are currently getting! 

After this, Bel&Bo came into the game 

Since 2017, you can also visit the 8 Belgian brands of the FNG group: Superstar, Limon, CKS, Baker bridge, Fred & Ginger, Kiekeboe, Friday and Hilde&Co. After their first year of operation, these shops received a positive score on their brand performance check report.  

As the last newcomer, the producer of the house brands of e5 fashion (ECG) has decided to join this organisation as well. This amounts to about 70% of the clothing here. It concerns the brands D’Auvry, Liberty Island, l’histoire de Louise, the Libelle collection, Dansaert Blue, Dansaert Black and Deer Island. The external suppliers must comply with the code of conduct, but are not affiliated to the FWF. 

Unfortunately, the Fair Wair Foundation cannot guarantee that the clothing is 100% fair trade. Fortunately, they can promise that a great deal of effort is being made to improve working conditions. 

NUUD after 18 months

Meanwhile, I am an avid user of this natural deodorant. I cannot say that it was without doubt, but I would not want to use anything else. 

The first half year I had a real love-hate relationship with NUUD. They warn you of an addiction period for all the chemicals in other deodorants. Like everyone else, I thought it would not be that bad. I often missed a fresh smell and was often afraid that I did not smell good. To overcome this period, I decided to get a block of natural, fragrant deo. The combination of these two products got me through this period. 

Since I switched to this deo, I also went to Vietnam for 3 months. In this very hot, humid environment I also only used NUUD. Here I never had the feeling that I would benefit more from classic deo. 

How much does it cost now 

NUUD itself says that you can get by for about 6 to 7 weeks with a tube of deo. This amounts to about 40 euros per half year. However, I have found that I last at least four to five months (depending on the season) with one tube! This means that in all this time, I have only used 4 complete tubes and have only spent 50 euros on this deo after one and a half years. I also bought a block of deo at LUSH for just under 10 euros. However, I only use it in the summer, so after more than a year I still haven’t used half of it. 

In terms of purchase price, these deodorants seem to be a big chunk of your budget, but after a trial period of more than a year, I have come to the conclusion that it is not much more expensive than buying deodorants elsewhere. Plus… a healthy body is priceless.  

My first step

A few years ago, in mid-February, I decided to stop smoking. This was my first step to a healthier life. It was at the same time that I wanted to start living more consciously. I wanted to be healthier not only for my own body but also for nature. I also wanted to start taking fair trade into account. As a student, you don’t always have a very large budget available for these changes. I decided to do it all step by step. By quitting smoking, I had extra money left over at the end of the month. Now I could spend it on clothes that were fairly made. This was my first venture.  

Fair trade 

I became more aware of the unfair trade in the world through my sister who pointed me to an article in a magazine. In it, someone said that they would not let their children wear clothes made by children of the same age. My sister told me this while we were shopping in a low budget chain shop. I told her ‘OK, let’s stop buying these clothes’. We put everything back and went to a second-hand clothes shop. Here, to make up for the day, I bought one of the most beautiful skirts I have ever owned. It cost more than the ones I had in the chain shop, but I am much happier with it. Besides, I don’t feel guilty at all.  

I can highly recommend this kind of shop to anyone who is shopping to feel better. These clothes are often of better quality and yet at a reasonable price. I felt good in another way when I bought these clothes. I spent money on clothes and felt like I was doing something good for the environment and people. Win-win. 

Starting a blog 

Since the beginning of 2018, I have been very busy figuring out what products I can buy without feeling like I can’t do anything anymore. Like many people, I like to dress nicely and take care of myself and I certainly didn’t want to give this up. In the middle of 2018, I started writing some posts about my new lifestyle. However, I soon realised that I did not have enough experience to inform others about this and give useful tips.  

Meanwhile, after two years, I feel that my base is already more extensive. I can’t wait to share it with everyone and make the world a little more beautiful for all of us. 

NUUD’s CO₂ neutral shipping

In order to better explain NUUD’s CO₂ neutral shipping, I contacted NUUD itself.  

I soon received an answer, where I was told that their distributor has a quality mark from PostNL. This quality mark guarantees that the shipment is CO₂ neutral. They call this green mail. In short, PostNL wants to have zero CO₂ emissions in the long term. Since they are not that far yet, they compensate the CO₂ they have not yet been able to reduce so that they still arrive at a CO₂ neutral shipment ‘on paper’. 

Nuud compensates for each shipment by investing in high-quality, sustainable projects. These projects included wind farms in Turkey, China and Taiwan. 

NUUD, the carefree deodorant

One of my very first acquisitions: ecological carefree deodorant. 

This carefree deodorant is harmless both to your body and to nature.  

First of all – and certainly not unimportant – it is packaged in unbleached biodegradable FSC certified cardboard. The tube itself looks like ordinary plastic. However, this appears to be made of fully recyclable sugar cane (if only they would replace all plastic packaging with this?!).  

A big disadvantage, however, is that it can only be ordered online, which means you have to add transport to the bill. Nuud, however, promises that every shipment will be sent in a CO2-neutral way.  

The product itself contains absolutely no harmful products, according to its makers. Nuud tackles the cause of bad odours without making your body unable to perspire properly. 

Besides all this, it is supposed to be a very durable product (which is definitely a must for my budget). I paid €24.95 for the duo pack and one tube should last me 6-7 weeks. They recommend a pea-sized amount per armpit and only once every 2 to 6 days. 

I am very curious and promise to keep you informed! 

my own place

In the beginning of 2020, my boyfriend and I decided to buy a flat in beautiful Ghent. We are both fairly impulsive and after two months we bought the fifth flat we saw. It was within our budget, had three bedrooms and met my most important condition: living within walking distance of the centre of Ghent. It was a flat that we could move into immediately, but it still needed a lot of work. 

Renovating and furnishing in a sustainable way takes a lot of time. We have to do a lot of research, weigh up the alternatives. And it costs a lot of money. Money that we don’t really have yet as young starters. 

Little by little, we are discovering how we can afford to turn this flat into our home and do so in the most ecological way possible! 

All at once

Sometimes I have days when I suddenly have the motivation to work out ideas. All my ideas, all at once. These days are usually very sunny. I don’t need to tell you that my favourite seasons are spring and summer. 

I would like to work on these ideas all at once. On these creative, sunny days, I never know what I want to do first. Do I want to share my good ideas here with everyone? Or do I write everything down in a book that I can share later? When the weather is nice, I often feel like putting my house in order. A messy house is not so conducive to my outbursts. The biggest disadvantage of Belgium is that you usually only have one day where the sun shows itself. So I have a lot of unfinished ideas and often no motivation to start. 

Today, however, it was such a rare sunny day in Ghent. So today, I am writing here on my blog, writing in the book that I really want to publish one day… and putting my house in order a bit. Tomorrow, when the sun has disappeared, I can get back to figuring out which sunny country I’m going to move to. 

Can you get clean clothes with the eco-egg

As well as trying to limit washing clothes too quickly, I also wanted to try another way of reducing my impact on nature when washing. This is how I came across the eco egg/Ego Egg via various sites. I wanted to test if I could get clean clothes with the eco-egg

How it works 

This eco egg consists of two different types of pellets. The black ones are tourmaline ceramic pellets. Normally they do not need to be replaced during the lifetime of the egg. The purpose of these black pellets is to weaken the adhesion of the dirt to the fabric. Then there are white pellets, which need to be replaced every few washes. These pellets ionise the oxygen molecules that penetrate deep into the fabric to remove the dirt. 

You can buy the white pellets in different scents. You have the basic perfume-free one (which I bought). Your laundry smells clean, but it doesn’t have a specific scent. You can also choose, for example, spring blossom or cotton blossom. I haven’t tried these scented variants yet, so it’s hard to say how long your wash will smell of these blossoms. 

It is very easy to use. You put your washing in the drum, put the eco egg on top, choose your washing programme and start. Three points to bear in mind are that you can only wash at 60°C, do not overload the drum and do not use a water-saving programme. As the egg works when it comes into contact with water and must be able to move around well in the drum, these points are important. 

My experience 

This eco-egg is perfect for not-too-dirty ‘laundry’. The washing comes out of the machine clean and smelling fresh. When there are stubborn stains somewhere, I have already noticed that they fade, but often do not disappear completely. 

You get clean clothes with the eco-egg, but I have not yet found a good alternative for when there is a stubborn stain in my clothes. Luckily, I still have a box of Vanish that my mum gave me 2 years ago. As soon as I have found an environmentally friendly stain remover, this is the first place you will read about it! 

Why you should try ivy as your newest ‘green’ detergent

When I read that some people use ivy as a detergent for washing their clothes, my first impulse was to try it out myself. I must admit that at first I thought ‘wow, that is really back to basics’. I went to my mother’s garden to look for ivy so I could take it home with me. It is best to look for large mature leaves and not the young, light green ones. 

How to start 

It was very easy. Pick a few leaves (5 – 10, depending on the size of your wash), tear them into big pieces and put them in a sock and tie a knot in it. Put this in your washing machine and wash as you would otherwise. 

I had a laundry bag at home so I decided to use that instead of the sock. I should add that when I tried this, I had been using the eco-egg (laundry egg filled with mineral pellets) for a while. My laundry never smelled the way it did with conventional detergent and fabric softener. 

After washing, the laundry smelled fresh and clean. There is no strong smell due to the ivy, but all bad odours have completely disappeared. I would not use the ivy on really dirty laundry, towels, rags… I only use it on relatively clean laundry that really just needs a freshening up. 

Would you like to make your ivy wash extra effective? Then add some vinegar. Put this vinegar directly into the drum with the laundry and not into the soap dish. Depending on the amount of laundry, choose how much vinegar you want. This is a bit of a search in the beginning. 

Since ivy can be found everywhere (recently also on my own balcony in my new flat, although it will have to grow a bit more), ivy as a detergent is a very ecological and cheap alternative to classic detergents and even the eco-egg. So it is definitely worth a try! 

Is glass that much better than plastic?

Plastic packaging is unthinkable for people who want to live without waste. Glass, on the other hand, can do no wrong. I catch myself having no problem buying something in/with glass and always try to avoid plastic. I wanted to know if its true. Is glass that much better than plastic for the environment?

First, I looked at the negative points of glass. To make new glass, sand is needed. This sand comes from rivers and sea banks. This extraction causes the disturbance of ecosystems. When glass is made, it has to be transported. The biggest disadvantages compared to plastic are that glass is heavier and therefore transport causes more emissions. In addition, glass breaks more easily during transport. 

The biggest advantage of glass is that the recycling is a closed loop recycling. This means that no additional waste or by-products are created, in contrast to plastic. Of the negative points mentioned above, the first (mining sand) is largely eliminated. However, this is only true if all glass is recycled instead of being dumped. In America, less than half of the glass is recycled as this is more expensive than making new glass. In Belgium (and many other European countries) however, almost 100% of correctly discarded glass is recycled and reused (yay Belgium). 

So to answer the question: is glass that much better than plastic? We need to look at a lot of factors rather than just the recycling process.