Stella McCartney, Burberry and Ahluwalia star in a BFC showcase championing sustainability
Fashion has stepped up its climate goals as part of the United Nations Fashion Charter, with brands committing to slash their greenhouse emissions by half by 2030. But it’s clear that reducing the industry’s impact on the planet remains a major challenge, one that requires both innovation and collaboration.
These were the key themes of a Great campaign X British Fashion Council (BFC) showcase held during Cop26 in Glasgow, which highlighted the work of brands such as Stella McCartney, Burberry and Ahluwalia, alongside innovators that have the potential to help the industry move towards a more circular model. “It’s important that the fashion industry has had a much stronger voice at this Cop,” Caroline Rush, chief executive at the BFC, told Vogue. “We know from the designers and businesses that we’ve got showcasing here [that] there’s incredible work being done in the UK, but there’s so much more we need to do. [It’s about] joining the dots and how we empower creativity and innovation to help us achieve our net zero targets.”
As part of a Future Of Fashion installation, visited by Prince Charles last week, McCartney highlighted the new-gen materials she’s been championing, from Mylo leather made from mushroom roots (the first bag made from the material featured in her spring/summer 2022 collection) to Evrnu, a fibre that’s made from discarded clothing and is fully recyclable.
Meanwhile, Priya Ahluwalia – who recently launched Circulate with Microsoft, an app that crowdsources used clothing that can be upcycled – also featured at the event. “I think Circulate is a starting point for what I believe is a really innovative sourcing tool,” the designer said. “And it’s a nice way to build a community, but also to allow people to feel like they’re doing something positive.”
For Ahluwalia, the showcase was all about learning from the other designers and innovators taking part. “There are all these different points of view and I think it’s about testing my own thought process. Sustainability isn’t an absolute; it’s about learning,” she added.
The importance of knowledge sharing was also highlighted by Mother of Pearl’s Amy Powney, who previewed her new documentary Fashion Reimagined, which follows her mission to achieve full traceability throughout her supply chain. Phoebe English, meanwhile, shared her research on regenerative agriculture as part of the showcase. “I wanted to be here today because one of our main objectives in the studio with our research isn’t to sell clothing, necessarily, but to help pass on information and knowledge in the industry as a whole,” English explained.
While English, Ahluwalia and Powney exemplify the independent designers currently championing sustainability in the UK – alongside the likes of Bethany Williams and Helen Kirkum, who also featured – Burberry represented the major brands who are also working to reduce their environmental impact. The British fashion house has set the ambitious aim of becoming climate positive by 2040 (meaning they would remove more CO2 from the atmosphere than they emit), as well as launching its new biodiversity strategy last week.
It’s the major brands that will have to transform the most dramatically in order for fashion to truly lessen its environmental impact – and that is likely to require the support from policymakers, too. With the showcase being hosted by the UK government’s Great campaign, which champions British talent and businesses around the world, in partnership with the BFC – and featuring video messages from both Boris Johnson and Prince Charles – it’s clear that fashion is officially on the map when it comes to broader climate policy.
“The impact that the fashion industry has is finally in everyone’s consciousness,” Rush concludes. “But the need to collectively move together is really important.”
The Perfect Sound for a Good Night’s Sleep
Restful sleep is essential for both physical and mental health, yet it is usually one of the first things to be sacrificed. Year-on-year research shows Britons experience trouble sleeping, with the latest stats showing that 36% of the adults in the UK struggle to fall asleep at least once a week.
A new online tool, Sound of Wellness, aims to cure everyday issues through the power of coloured noise. White noise has been a front-and-centre favourite, but recently experts have been speaking out about the benefits of different colour frequency noises, such as pink, brown and green noise, in addition to white.
The tool was created by Currys along withpsychologist, neuroscientist andsleep expert, Dr Lindsay Browning and professor of Psychology at the Goldsmith University of London, Joydeep Bhattacharya to discover the benefits of particular sounds for different issues.
Listen to Pink or Green noise to help you drift off
White noise, the most well-known sound colour that includes TV or radio static, or the “noise” that a fan makes may make you focus better, but this is not the pleasant soundtrack that will get your mind to wind down to slumber.
Sounds that can help with the quality of sleep are described as pink noise and green noise.
Pink noise sounds similar to nature’s rustling leaves, steady rain, wind or our own heartbeat. This is noise with a logarithmic scale, which means its low frequencies are louder and higher ones quieter. Pink noise can help you evoke a deeper, less fragmented sleep that helps focus and concentration.
Listening to these kinds of noise before sleep is especially beneficial for people living in big cities, whose background is filled with shouts from the neverending street nightlife, says Dr Browning.
“It has been suggested that listening to background noise, such as pink noise, during the night can be helpful for people with insomnia. This is because, if your sleep is disturbed by external noises waking you up, such as from a barking dog or police sirens, then playing background noise can help to mask those noise interruptions. Pink noise is a background sound which is more pleasant to listen to than white noise because it contains quieter high-frequency sounds which some people can find shrill.”, explains Browning.
Green noise is similar to pink noise but sounds more natural and is more pleasant to listen to, it sounds like rumbling rivers, trickling waterfalls and waves crashing on the beach. It is a matter of preference, and the best thing is to try the sounds.
6 tips to help you sleep better!
Listening to pink and green noise before sleep is one way to improve quality, but it is not the only thing that will assure better sleep quality.
Dr. Browning suggests following these several sleeping tips.
- Stick to a sleep schedule
Waking up and going to sleep at the same time every day can reinforce your circadian rhythm (body clock). By sticking to a routine, your body will already be ready for shuteye at a certain time and it will be easier to nod off.
- More sunlight, better sleep
Your body clock works much better if exposed to sunlight as it tunes up to day/ night. A simple walk outside during the daytime can do the trick.
- Bed is only for sleeping
Breakfast in bed may be tempting, as well as opening a bag of crisps and binge-watching a favourite TV show. However, a bed should only be for sex and sleeping. Using your bed for anything else will cause your brain to associate the space with other activities, making it harder to drop off when bedtime comes around.
- Limiting screen time
Blue light is on the same wavelength as daylight, which can trick your body into not producing melatonin, the natural hormone that controls your sleep cycle. Limiting screen time to two hours before bed can improve sleep quality.
- Creating a calm space
A bedroom should be an oasis of peace, as much as possible, so creating an ambient that’s free of external noise and light may be another factor that influences a good night sleep. If not possible, investing in an eye mask and ear plugs is also an option.
- Cut down on caffeine
The mean half-life of caffeine in plasma of healthy individuals is about 5 hours. However, caffeine’s elimination half-life may range between 1.5 and 9.5 hours depending on the person. This means caffeinated drinks should be limited as the day progresses and stopped entirely around 5 hours before bedtime to aid sleep.
How running can help improve mental health- the 4 key benefits
An analysis of Google trends data shows that searches for “what are the symptoms of depression” are up by 350%, and “how to deal with depression” up by 70% over the past 30 days, suggesting that many are starting off 2023 suffering from low mood and depression. A huge contributing factor to this will be seasonal affective disorder, which is a depression experience by many during the darker winter months.
To help, the experts at New Balance share four key ways in which exercise, and running in particular, can help improve your mental health.
- Release of happy hormones
Research by Mayo Clinic which found that exercising for about 30 minutes three to five times a week can help relieve depression symptoms. Exercise in general also helps release the feel-good hormones like dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins, which can negate the symptoms of depression and low mood.
New Balance marathon runner Jonny Mellor explains: “You always feel good after a run. There’s never a feeling of, ‘I shouldn’t have done that’. Getting out of the door is the hardest step. Then once you’re out, you’re set up to be in a better mood. After running, or any other exercise, endorphins are released in the body, and you feel much better.”
- Increases oxygen and Vitamin D exposure
During the cold and dark winter days it can be difficult to find the motivation to get outside, but in fact running, as a form of exercise, is actual extra beneficial during winter months. Opting for a run outside during the day instead of in the gym exposes you to fresh air, which increases the amount of oxygen in your body, helping white blood cells to function more efficiently and keep the winter bugs at bay. Not only this, but it also increases exposure to sunlight during a time of the year where vitamin D levels are typically not high enough. In fact, studies have shown that we get 90% of our vitamin D from the sun, if not taking any additional supplements, which means we should make a conscious effort to expose ourselves to the sun during the winter months.
Although there is limited evidence that a Vitamin D deficiency directly contributes to depression, the symptoms of a deficiency are aching bones, sore muscles and joints as well as constipation, all of which can affect a person’s quality of life and therefore mood.
- Aids better sleep
It is typical of those that have depression to be experiencing poor sleep, in fact, studies have shown that insomnia occurs in about 75% of adult patients with depression but according to the Sleep Foundation, depression and sleep have a bidirectional relationship, meaning it is difficult to prove whether it is depression causing poor sleep or poor sleep contributing to depression. Either way, improving the amount and quality of sleep will improve mood and overall health- and one way to do this is to increase exercise levels.
Moderate exercise, such as running, has been proven to aid a restful night’s sleep by reducing the time it takes for sleep onset, which is the time it takes to fall asleep, this decreases the amount of time people lie awake in bed during the night. There is also the benefit that you are using more energy in the day to exercise, meaning there is less pent-up energy in the evening, essentially you wear yourself out.
Also, if you exercise outside it can help regulate your circadian rhythm. Exposure to sunlight lets our body know when it should be awake, meaning that when the sun sets, our bodies then produce melatonin to induce sleepiness and promote sleep. Increasing the time spent outside is a simple and effective way to trigger the natural chemicals in our brain that promote high-quality sleep.
It is, however, important to bear in mind that the timing of your run will impact the effect it has on sleep. Exercising too close to bedtime can have the opposite desired effect, as exercise releases endorphins, adrenaline and raises body temperature it can make sleeping more difficult. Avoid exercise at least 2 hours before bedtime.
- Improved self-esteem
There are many physical health benefits of running such as improved cardiovascular fitness, decreased blood pressure, and, of course the more obvious one, weight management. Whether your goal is to feel healthier and fitter or your goals is to lose weight, taking up running can help improve how you feel about yourself- your self-esteem, and you don’t need to be running marathons to feel the benefit.
The NHS physical activity guidelines state that to help reduce the risk of heart disease or a stroke: “Adults should aim to do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity a week.” Running is classed as a vigorous activity by the NHS, meaning that just 15-minute run 5 days a week will see adults achieving their recommended activity goals and therefore positively affect other goals which helps boost self-esteem.
Offering certainty to an uncertain PRS
By Paul Foy, CEO, RentGuarantor
The UK private rental sector is facing growing uncertainty. The number of landlords offering properties had already dropped considerably when the government imposed the Tenant Fees Act in 2019, and now, following the pandemic and amidst the current cost-of-living crisis, we are on the verge of a rental crisis – with the average lettings agent having just 11 properties available to rent in July per member branch, and 127 new prospective tenants on average being added to the books.
With the number of properties available already limited, and the recent government whitepaper, ‘A Fairer Private Rental Sector’, proposing drastic changes that are expected to drive more landlords out of the market, tenants looking to move need to make sure they are in a position to make an offer quickly, or else risk losing out on their dream home. This includes having enough money to pay the deposit, and in most instances providing a guarantor, which is easier said than done in the current financial crisis.
For landlords, the need for a guarantor is becoming ever greater with so many facing financial insecurity. As rising energy bills and higher costs of living continue to put strain on the British public, 400,000 households are already expected to fall behind on their rent payments, meaning landlords need to find a way of ensuring they can still receive rent payments – so as to cover their own costs and income. The issue, however, is that the crisis is affecting us all, and a friend or family member acting as a guarantor may well find themselves in a position where they are unable to pay the rent themselves.
Evictions aren’t beneficial for either party and, despite how they can sometimes be presented in the media, most landlords care about the wellbeing of those renting their properties. But with rent arrears being a top concern for landlords, and 78% of tenants being worried about how they will pay rent, there is a clear need for additional support to be extended to all within the private rental sector.
Extra security for landlords
The last few years have seen landlords subjected to a great deal of uncertainty around their rental properties. Changing laws, the pandemic and the current cost-of-living crisis have all come together to spur an increase in due diligence when looking at prospective tenants and the security of the tenancy. This has in turn led to an increased demand for tenants to have a guarantor, rising by 36% over the past 4 years.
As financial pressure mounts for many in the country, that need for a guarantor is only expected to rise, but with the increased living costs hitting the majority of people it can dampen the stability granted by a personal guarantor.
Instead, many landlords are recommending tenants use a company guarantor, offering them a guarantee that is underwritten by an insurance company, and providing an additional level of security to both the landlord and tenant. On top of this a professional guarantor service grants the landlord with the peace of mind that any situation arising from a tenant falling into arrears would be managed on their behalf – including eviction in the rare circumstances where it should come to that.
Additional support for tenants
As well as the benefits afforded to landlords, rent guarantor services also provide a much-needed lifeline for prospective tenants. With the private rental sector currently facing a major housing shortage, having the right provisions in place when making an offer could be the difference between securing or losing that dream home.
The service provided by a rent guarantor company means tenants can quickly provide a guarantor when needed, without having to negotiate any awkward or uncomfortable conversions with friends or family members, and can often have a completed application within minutes – only paying once the contract has been signed.
Additionally, the majority of these services offer the option to pay in instalments, taking away the pressure of paying a lump sum up front – which can be a daunting prospect in today’s financial climate. This can, through some companies, include an upfront deposit payment that can be added to the instalments, further reducing the cost burden tenants face and helping to streamline the moving process.
A necessary service in an uncertain sector
While relatively new to the UK, rent guarantor companies provide an important service, which guarantees landlords will receive their payments. In turn, this takes away the financial pressure and concerns of the tenant by granting them a reliable guarantor that will back them if they’re unable to afford rent. With many of these services underwritten by some of the UK’s largest insurance firms, they can provide an invaluable level of security during these difficult times.
While the future of the PRS is still uncertain, and there are likely to be many more hurdles to overcome in the near future, the services provided by rent guarantor companies can at least provide some respite during the current crisis we are facing – offering the extra support needed by both tenant and landlord.