We chat to sustainable living advocate Kira Simpson about sustainable fashion, how to spot greenwashing and her tips on sourcing truly ethical clothing.
Kira Simpson is an environmentalist and the founder of The Green Hub – an online sustainable fashion and lifestyle publication.
Kira’s mission is similiarly aligned with Pip’s. Through her website and social channels, Kira aims to educate and encourage people to start taking action in their own lives to create a more sustainable future.
She regularly shares ideas on how people can have an impact through their own small daily actions, how they can be part of the bigger environmental movement, and ultimately, how they can leave the world a better place.
Today, we chat to Kira about how she got started on the path to sustainable living and the steps she takes every day to be zero waste. Kira talks to us about sustainable fashion, reveals how consumers can identify greenwashing when it comes to sourcing ethical clothing, and also shares some of her favourite slow fashion brands.
Tell us about your journey to start living more sustainably. What inspired you to start The Green Hub?
I started The Green Hub in 2015 as a personal blog documenting my journey of reducing plastic waste. I studied science at university and a lot of my classes centered around the earth and environmental science. That’s what first opened my eyes to some of the major issues facing the planet, like climate change and plastic pollution, and inspired me to start the blog.
What are some of the steps you take to live sustainably every day?
The things I do every day include avoiding single use plastic where I can by shopping at bulk foods, and growing my herbs as everything comes wrapped in plastic these days.
I eat a mostly plant-based diet. I reduce my food waste by prepping my fresh produce every week to make sure it stays fresh and lasts longer, get creative with ways to use up old veg, and compost what I can’t eat. I get my hair done at a sustainable salon partner and ride my bike as much as possible instead of driving.
As for the bigger picture stuff to help reduce my carbon footprint, I switched to a renewable electricity provider, I’m currently looking into switching my bank and super to funds to organisations that don’t invest in fossil fuels. I regularly email my local MP to tell them what changes I’d like to see in government. And I support bigger campaigns for policy change by signing petitions and sharing the message across social media.
These are things we can all do to have a positive impact – start with one thing and grow from there.
What have you found the most challenging aspect to sustainable living?
Knowing when to say it’s okay not be perfect. In the early years I really stressed myself out by trying to be this perfect environmentalist – which I now know doesn’t exist.
Talk to us about sustainable fashion. What are the three most crucial tips you can give us to ensure what we’re buying and wearing isn’t harming the planet?
Ask yourself, “Do I actually need this?” before buying anything new. Do you already have something in your wardrobe that will work? Can you find it second-hand? Can you borrow or rent it? Not buying is the best thing you do – the most sustainable clothing is what we already own.
Really think about a purchase before you buy. Will you wear it at least 30 times? Is a trend or will you still be wearing it five years from now?
Buy the best quality you can afford and take care of it. Alter pieces to fit you so you will actually wear that piece more. Follow the washing instructions, store them gently, and repair when needed.
natural materials and organic fabrics like cotton, linen and silk, and if you buy synthetic fabrics, use a Guppy Friend wash bag.
What should consumers watch out for when it comes to spotting sustainable fashion greenwashing?
Look for certifications like Fairtrade, Ethical Clothing Australia (they have a list of brands on their site), GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) and B-Corp. These are third party audited and ensures that the brand has an ethical and transparent supply chain.
Keep an eye out for buzzwords – just because a brand says they’re ethical and maintains sustainable practices, does not mean they actually are. These terms aren’t regulated so you need to be a bit savvy to spot when it’s just greenwashing.
Do your research – if a brand says they manufacture ethically, they should have proof that you can easily find via their site.
Don’t fall for fast fashion brands “eco” collections. Bringing out a small capsule collection using eco-friendly fabrics is not addressing the root cause of the problem, which is over production, which has a huge environmental impact. Fast fashion can never be sustainable.
We hear you’ve got some favourite podcasts you listen to which delve into ethical fashion in more detail. Which ones are they?
Wardrobe Crisis is my go-to for all things fashion – Claire Press is a wealth of knowledge, a great storyteller and always has the most interesting guests.
Conscious Chatter is a great listen and tackles big topics like intersectionality and greenwashing in the fashion industry.
And Emily Stochl’s Preloved Podcast talks all things second-hand and the resale market.
What are some of your favourite ethical clothing brands?
We are so spoilt for ethical brands in Australia. Spell are my go-to, I’ve been wearing their pieces for years and their sustainability efforts just keep getting better each year with new fabrics and innovations.
How do you care for your clothing to ensure it lasts?
Most of the wear on clothes comes from washing, so I try and wash as little as possible. I’ll spot clean stains, steam and use a fabric spray to give clothes a refresh or hang them out in the warm sun for a few hours to air out.
I handwash any delicate fabrics, wash on cold, line dry and I use an eco-friendly laundry detergent.
Eco anxiety is on the rise. How do you combat feeling hopeless in the face of the ever-worsening climate crisis?
The best way to fight feelings of helplessness is to increase feelings of empowerment by getting informed and getting involved. Connecting and working with other people (especially withing your local community) to address the big issues helps us have a greater impact, and also provides social support that can help us deal with negative feelings.
Get outside and reconnect with nature – it will help you feel more connected to the very earth we are trying to protect. Walk barefoot on the grass, swim in a lake or ocean, go bushwalking, hike, roll around in a park. Do what you need to revive your connection with nature to help keep you inspired and motivated to keep fighting.
Know that the world’s problems are not yours to solve alone. There are so many social and environmental injustices happening around us; it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking you need to take them all on yourself. Think about what you are passionate about, the issue that is most important to you and what you’re motivated to work on – and do that, do your own small part.
It’s important that everyone do their part and focus their time, energy, unique voice and skills to the areas where they will have the greatest impact.
Which eco-related documentary has most inspired you?
I have so many!
‘Kiss the Ground’, ‘David Attenborough: A Life on This Planet’, ‘Ice on Fire’, ‘Public Trust’, ‘Down to Earth’, ‘2040’, ‘Seat at the Table’, ‘The Story of Plastic’, ‘Chasing Coral’… just to name a few!