Sustainably Chic

Diary of an 'Ethical' Blogger | In a Colorful World, There is Little Room for Black & White Concepts

LifestyleNatalie Kay

Let me start this off by saying I’m not perfect, nor am I anywhere close. I’m constantly learning & I’ve made a ton of ‘eco’ mistakes over the last 5 years. Most of these mistakes have been somewhat innocent like ordering a drink and forgetting to say ‘no straw’ or forgetting my bags at the store & asking for paper. The thing is - I’ve NEVER claimed to be zerowaste or all-knowing, yet I’m still put under a microscope as if I’ve made these claims. 


This Blog Has a Focus

I started Sustainably Chic to discuss sustainability within the fashion industry. This blog isn’t about my personal life, diets, travel, what have you... it had a purpose because I had a love for fashion. I wanted to do my part in making the industry more responsible & fair for the workers, and I would like to keep my focus on that task. It’s also the industry I’m most knowledgeable of; therefore, it’s the place where I can find & keep a sustaining job to provide a roof over my head. 


I've Been Working With Sustainability for over 5 years

After studying sustainability in college & beyond, I’ve been able to take this concept and apply it to many different facets of my life. Although I haven’t gotten it down pat, I’ve done the best job I could so far for my lifestyle. {I’m always thinking - I can do this better} Sustainability is often misinterpreted & not defined properly. It’s a subjective, complex concept that does not have one definite answer for all. Here is a video & webpage with associated links I find sum up the concept well & show how complex and ever changing it really is. 


The Disagreements

A couple times a week I receive messages from people online who disagree with some of the products I promote {it really is a small percentage - like less than 5% - of my usual messages and comments}. The disagreements are totally fine and normal to have, but I don’t have to have a conversation with everyone who disagrees with me. Honestly, I don’t have to have a conversation with anyone. The idea of an open dialogue is great for a discussion board, but there is only me on my site & my time is valuable and runs out quick. This entry is primarily for the ones with lots of time in their hot little fingers {as well as a large vocabulary for name calling} & expect platforms like mine to align with their values and principles. Let’s just get a few things straight - I’m not vegan, I’m not an environmentalist & I’m not zero-waste. I’m conscious & mindful of my everyday actions, but they aren’t always going to be the same as yours. For example, I choose to live in a neighborhood where I can walk everywhere to keep my driving to a minimum; however, I do my walking in a good pair of lasting leather shoes. Maybe my carbon footprint is much smaller than many vegans who travel constantly or have to drive to work, but that doesn’t make me more sustainable just because my usual daily impact is lesser than theirs. It just means we both make certain conscious choices to make our individual lifestyles more sustainable. 

I support some forms of leather, silk & wool because I believe it can provide great economic opportunity to many people while supporting traditional craftsmanship and avoiding waste {because meat eaters are not going to go away over night and we don’t want them to either < less people will be fed - soil would go bad > read this & find out why the vegan diet is ranked 5 out of 10 popular diets}. 

I choose to be an advocate for sustainability because, in my opinion, it provides the best balance. You are able to look into more than just the environment and take differences in peoples' cultures, behaviors & economic backgrounds into account. There is no room for black & white thinking which makes it so colorful and interesting to dig into. 

I understand the bigger the blog grows, the more disagreements {& messages calling me fake, fraud or stupid} I’ll have to deal with. I’m about to become a mom, and having to explain myself constantly isn’t a priority anymore. This will be your reference if you are one of those viewers who needs more answers. I highly suggest you taking the time to click the links I’ve added into this post. Our ethics won't be the same, just like our spirituality or religion may be different, so keeping an open mind and recognizing the true concept behind sustainability is the only way we can make real positive change {& just remember, it may not always go in your favor!}. 



How is leather sustainable?  First, not all leather is created equal so not all leather can be considered sustainable. The question should be 'How can we make leather sustainable?'. Just like 'How can we grow these tomatoes sustainably?'. Veggie-tanned, fairly-made leather products can be argued as sustainable. The resource is biodegradable and in supply because of the majority of diets. It creates economic opportunity and sustains several different lifestyles all over the world. I hate waste and I detest plastic goods, so why not use it to our advantage? If it's a question of animal ethics for you, then that is different. I don't hold those same values. 

Why Aren't you Vegan?  I can't label myself something I don't entirely agree with. Veganism is not the same as sustainability. Technically,  someone who follows a vegan lifestyle can walk into a store, purchase strawberries wrapped in plastic that were picked by people who make $2 an hour. Not saying they all do this, but veganism doesn't prevent them from doing so. I have several vegan brands reach out who use harsh chemicals or PVC within their products, and I have to pass. It's not the right fit for sustainable fashion. Some of my closest friends are vegans, and I have absolutely nothing against the movement or lifestyle, I just don't consider it sustainable unless they adopt other principles outside veganism into their life. 

What's Your Diet?  People love to know what I eat - well the truth is, not much. My calorie intake is much smaller than the majority of people in my life, but it probably has something to due with the fact I'm 5'2'' and weigh 100 pounds {okay, not with this baby inside of me, hah}. Travis & I try to follow a plant-based diet in the home because we can and like to do so. However, we both eat whatever anyone makes us {especially with over 300 million people in the world suffering from malnutrition, I eat the foods I hate the most if in front of me}, and when we go out to eat we bend our house rules. For my body and busy lifestyle, a 100% plant-based diet has not worked out well for me. I'll spend a few weeks {even done a few months} where I've been very strict, but have felt mentally and physically drained. I'll keep trying at it to find my groove and perfect diet, but right now, I feel balanced and healthy during this pregnancy. 

Why Don't You Answer Everyone's Questions?  Crazy to think, but I have a real life outside of social media. Also, I don't usually get questions - they are more blanket statements! I don't have the energy or time to respond to everything. All of the information I have in this post can be found in my blog, but I can't lead everyone there nor is that my responsibility. I'm also tired of sounding like a broken record. I can't teach people to apply concepts and use critical thinking. I can't drill the concept of sustainability into each mind, and hope they use it properly. The thing is, most people need a black and white answer. They don't like to problem solve or make room for other arguments. They want to know 'is this sustainable?' rather than saying 'how can we make this more sustainable?'. I get it - it takes more work than watching a Netflix documentary and having someone tell you something isn't sustainable. If life was only that simple :D Sustainability will change and vary based on where you are in the world and who you are talking to. It's up to us to allow ourselves to absorb it and give the view a chance rather than a definite, straight-up 'no'. 


Back to my focus for sustainably chic....

This blog is a space for those who want to create a more conscious wardrobe. I take every material, every traditional craft and every style, and give you the best mindful & sustainable alternative I can find. It won't always be what you are looking for, but it may be exactly what someone else has been looking for. I believe fashion can exist responsibly, and it needs to in order to support the millions of people who pay the bills and feed their families because of this industry. 


I know this post won't end the comments or questions, and it may change/be added to over time. Right now, I'm focusing on my health and high-risk pregnancy. My family is my top priority so the discussions will have to take a back seat. 


Thanks for reading, keeping an open mind & being kind :)