Nadine Banks is a style blogger and the founder of Re-Archive; an online platform which hosts honest discussions about the controversial issues facing the fashion industry and the environment. We had a chat with her about her sustainable journey and its challenges.
What was it that sparked you to change your focus from fashion blogging to promoting ethical practices?
Andrew Morgan’s 2015 documentary The True Cost really sparked change for me. It truly opened my eyes to what was happening in the fashion industry behind closed doors, I knew our clothes were made in unethical ways but never to this extent. As I was watching The True Cost, immediately followed by my own research I decided I could no longer continue supporting such a harmful industry. It really was a black and white decision for me, that I had to start promoting ethical practices from that day on.
How did your audience respond to the change?
I had mostly a positive response - especially with those closest to me (friends, family and industry based friends). People reached out wanting to learn more, asked for advice and some even thanked me for inspiring them to take small steps in becoming more sustainable.
What is your top tip for shopping for sustainable fashion in London?
I love shopping in London because there are so many second-hand clothing stores. You’ll find an Oxfam, independently owned thrift store or a vintage shop in almost every neighbourhood. My top tip would be to play it by ear, if you find yourself in a different area of London open Google Maps and search for either of the following - charity shops, vintage stores, second hand. Be open minded when going into second-hand shops, some days you may find an absolute gem and sometimes you will find nothing! Regardless, I recommend trying out the same shops at least 3 times.
What are your favourite sustainable brands?
Ooo tough question, there are so many I love! But to name a few … I adore Maggie Marilyn (NZ designer), Riley Studio, Organic Basics, ROOP, Birdsong and of course second-hand sites like Depop and Vestiaire Collective.
How does sustainability come into your life outside of fashion?
I'm a big advocate for action on climate change. Outside of fashion I am constantly keeping up to date with the latest headlines, research and data on climate change. I also strive to be as sustainable in my everyday life as I can be. I have made eco-friendly product swaps like using a menstrual cup, reusable cotton pads, a safety razor and a reusable water bottle. However I would like to point out that I’m not perfect, I still have a long way to go in being as sustainable as I can be. For instance, I’m vegetarian but not 100% vegan, I don’t drink milk or consume eggs but I eat cheese and products containing dairy.
What was your biggest challenge when changing to a more sustainable lifestyle?
So far, I would say my biggest challenge has been trying to fly less. Being from New Zealand, I aim to go back home at least once a year but this means I have to catch two long-haul flights. Taking a long-haul flight generates more carbon emissions than the average person in dozens od countries around the world (according to the Guardian). But there is no logical alternative to flying to the other side of the world. However, I have cut down on flights to Amsterdam (where I regularly visit family) by taking the Eurostar.
What are your top reading tips for a sustainable awakening?
I recommend consuming an equal balance of good and bad information. I sometimes find myself being so consumed by the negative facts, stories and history of climate change because I honestly find it somewhat more interesting. However what’s bad without the good, and only reading negative information is not good for our mental health. Here are some books I have read and love:
I also signed up to the UN CC: e-Learn courses, which is a learning partnership initiative where you can learn about climate change through courses. Better yet, it’s FREE! I took the Climate Change: From Learning to Action course and learnt so much. Some of the courses only take 2 hours while other can take up to 12 hours. I highly recommend taking a look and setting aside half an hour each day to get through a course - https://unccelearn.org/course/index.php
What is the most important thing you would encourage our readers to do to make a positive change?
While it’s great to live sustainable as an individual, it’s more important to be an activist. As individuals we need to make as many changes as we can but without real change from the big coperations and the governments, our individual efforts are minuscule. Join climate change groups, sign petitions, take part in protests (these don’t have to be IRL), contact your local council, write to fast fashion brands, share resources on social media, ask questions and keep pushing for a better future for our planet and people.
Follow her journey on @nadinebanks