Living Consciously

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Today I'm going to talk about something that's been on my mind the last few months and something I'm particualrly inspired by. Ethical living, ethical consumption and primarily ethical fashion.

In a time so advanced and educated as the twenty first century it's mind boggling how much inequity, injustice and mistreatment that is excepted, ignored and allowed to continue in society.

Unfortunately we live in a society that loves things, that loves shopping, that loves newness and most importantly that loves low prices. We walk a shop pick up a product and make a judgement on its quality and worth based on price. With no consideration for the human investment, ethics or circumstances in which this product has came to be.

Price is king in the common shopper's mind. We, and I say 'we' because I'm guilty of this too, have become accustomed to paying bargain bag prices without thinking of the individuals behind the scenes in dangerous, crippling circumstances who are paying the consequences.

And thing thing that gets me is that many of us, in fact the majority of us, are completely unaware of the consequences of our shopping habits. You walk into a popular high street clothing store and pick up one of the millions of 'new season' cotton-polyester blend 'must have', 'perfect addition to you Fall closet' festive jumpers on sale for the bargain price of €20. You think 'Oh wow, what a great deal! I already bought last season's must have jumper but sure it's only €20 I might as well.' But what you aren't aware of is the crippling conditions that person (often a young women) who made that jumper is working under. Or the brand that sells you the 'perfect', 'bum friendly' jeans may be contributing to a flowing denim blue dyed river, its ecosystem completely destroyed.

A while ago I read a book called 'To Die For' by journalist Lucy Siegle about the inhuman, unethical nature of the fashion industry. It was eye opening and sparked an interest. I was more aware of the consequences of my shopping and was no longer fooled by  I'd recommend anyone who considers themselves a 'shopaholic' to give it a read.

I recently watched 'The True Cost', a brilliant documentary on Netflix directed by Andrew Morgan featuring interviews with Executive Producers Lucy Siegle herself and Livia Firth Creative Director of Eco-Age and founder of People Tree, Safia Minney. It touched on the same topics as 'To Die For' and followed the lives of garment workers. 

These pieces of work have inspired me to begin doing a bit of research on a few clothing companies and organisations who have ethics and true value at the heart of their operations. I'm far from educated on these topics and want to learn more and hopefully make a difference. I want to be part of the movement that challenges the current high street business model and raises awareness so that the general public sees the error of their ways.

This way of producing and consuming 'things' has to stop. We have to collectively close the cycle. We have to work harder to free the makers of our clothes, of our things, the producers of our food from the price cutting trap. I want to make a difference by living consciously. 

A few other sources I've been using are: Re-dress, Eco-Age, Clean Clothes Campaign  and Ethical Fashion Forum

And three clothing brands I've found: People Tree, Braintree and Reformation.

Coming Clean. Making Changes.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

There's no doubt that not a single person in the world that flies through life effortlessly. Life is hard and not perfect, there's no denying it. Everyone from your mother to the person sitting beside you on the bus will have to deal with the brick walls that come up in life.

But for some people life gets even harder. Not only do they have to deal with the stressful ordeal that is life but for some completely unfair happenstance they have one more layer of complexity to peel through. They have to deal with mental health issues.

For me that's anxiety, depression and disordered eating. For anyone dealing with mental health issues you are not just experiencing one emotion, it's a roller coaster. On the bad days you can go from down to sad to angry to hopeless to deep depression. It really takes a toll on the body and the complexity of what you're going through makes it hard for your loved ones to understand and help.

Of course the fact that I studied away from home, a bus, train and plane ride away from my support group made it particularly difficult for me to cope. I was living in uni halls constantly surrounded by a 'party' and 'drinking' culture that I wasn't able to interact with. I'm not against having a fun night out but a few times a week was too much for me, it wasn't worth the tired, groggy state the morning after and the anxiety over how much alcohol I had consumed.

The anxiety had so much power over me I'd panic when I'd run into other people in the flat and isolated myself off in my room for a large portion of the year. After bad nights I wouldn't be able to attend lectures or focus or study when it came to exams. Even when I came home to visit for a precious weekend the joy of being home was always overshadowed by the thought of going back to uni on the Sunday.

Over all this year has been incredibly tough for me and I've gone through a lot of it alone. I wasn't enjoying my life and hadn't been truly happy in months. For this reason I've decided to drop out of uni once again and move back to Ireland to start another course in Dublin. Third times the charm as they say!

While I didn't enjoy my time abroad at all that's not to say the people I met weren't lovely people who I'll miss seeing or that I didn't like my university. In fact it's an absolutely top class university and I'll be disappointed to have to leave my wonderful course and the classmates.

But here's to another fresh start. Let's hope I can settle in and start living life to the full.

Quick Christening Outfit!

Sunday, 19 April 2015

One evening I was coming home from town on the bus with my boyfriend when he casually let me know I was invited to his niece's christening. Don't get me wrong, I was thrilled to be invited but the fact that he only gave me 4 days notice wasn't the best!

It took my mom and I two days until we finally found a dress that didn't make me look like either a granny or a stuffed sausage. I wanted a simple, timeless dress that wasn't too showy for church but then again wasn't completely nun-like and I finally happened upon one in Karen Millen. I'd never shopped there before but they actually had two dresses that I liked which was certainly saying something because we'd looked in about 15 places plus two department stores without finding a single thing!

Since I usually don't wear any make-up and left what little I had back at uni I also had to borrow some from my friend. (No joke I now have a little Tupperware container of foundation) 

But I think I managed to scrub up well in the end.

Dress: Karen Millen
Bag and Shoes- River Island
Bracelets- Alex and Ani

Sorry for the terrible photo quality, these were quickly snapped by my mom on her phone and also the only photos taken.

Anyways I'd better get back to packing since I'm leaving to go back to uni this evening.

Thanks for reading,
Ciara xx

Musée D'Orsay and the River Seine |Exploring Paris 4

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Last Paris blog for you today! So sad that I don't have an excuse to keep looking back through my photos reliving the holiday...

On our last day we had planned to go to the Catacombs, the resting place of some six million people, yes very morbid but it matched the tone of our last day. However when we arrived bright and early the line was already stretched halfway around the park behind the entrance and after and hour of waiting we decided we were not going to waste another second. Off we trotted to the Musée D'Orsay.

After you're welcomed by this breathtaking room (we literally gasped as we walking in) you can take your time looking at Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Van Gogh and pretty much any impressionist you can imagine! 

After soaking up all of that culture we went for a stroll in the sun along the river Seine and sat down by Pont Neuf.

A perfect ending to a brilliant holiday! If anyone is thinking about going to Paris I'd highly recommend it! Even better if you can get to see Paris on a sunny day, it makes all the difference ;)

Thanks for reading,
Ciara xx

Palace of Versailles & Le Tour Eiffel |Exploring Paris 3

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

So as my Paris trip blogs continue, today I'm bring you along to the Palace of Versailles and Eiffel Tower.

We managed to haul our over walked legs out of bed early that morning and fuel our bodies with a pain au chocolat from a local bakery and some fruit. Eating on the go we made our way to Gare du Nord and hopped on an RER C train to the palace.

When we arrived it was only a short walk, one might call it a warm up for the amount of walking there is to do around the gardens, and found the grand palace entrance. Once again we took advantage of the free admittance for all EU residents under 25 and walked straight in!

Missing something very key for imitating this statue!

The palace is a massive place of gold, grandeur and luxury.

After being blown away by the brilliance that was the palace we went back into central Paris, stopped off at the hotel, had a bite to eat and then used our Metro skills to visit the lit up Eiffel Tower! Walking around the glowing structure whilst munching on nutella crepes was just a perfect ending to the day.

Day 3 over and done in Paris! So sad that there's only one more day left but I must say it's a good one.

Thanks for reading,
Ciara xx

The Latin Quarter Paris & L'Arc de Triomphe| Exploring Paris 2

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

So we awoke the next morning bright and early to a drizzly cloudy Parisian sky, but we didn't let that get us down. Our bags loaded with juice boxes, fruit and crackers we started our tour of the Latin Quarter with the Jardins de Luxembourg.

Everywhere you go in the park there are plenty of chairs and benches to sit yourself down on and take in the day. If it had been better weather I may have been tempted to sit and sip a cup of coffee and watch the other park goers doing tai-chi, martial arts practice and of course admire the determination of the joggers.

By following the outskirt of the park walls you'll find yourself nearly bang on with the Sorbonne Université, the university of Paris. You can't actually go inside without a student ID but it's great to go see and imagine you one of the lucky ones who can study in the centre of Paris.

To round off the Latin Quarter I highly recommend you pay a visit to the Panthéon, and because the french like to treat their tourists right if your under the age of 25 and an EU citizen, bring along your passport and you'll get into most tourist attractions for free!

The Panthéon was originally constructed as a church dedicated to St. Genevieve but now stands as a burial place for some of the most famous French icons in history. Marie and Pierre Curie, Louis Braille, Victor Hugo, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Voltaire.

And the day didn't end there, oh no. After a short re-con at the hotel and a spot of dinner we made our way to the Place de la Concorde, walked up the Champs Élysées and climbed the 273 or so steps up the Arc de Triomphe (Ladurée macarons in tow...). 

Quite the eventful day but completely worth it! I still have two more days of my Paris adventures so remember to stay tuned for those.

Thanks for reading,
Ciara xx