The Lemon Stripes Manifesto

Over the last few months, I’ve been learning more and more about sustainability in the fashion world and growing in ways that I wasn’t expecting. I’ve been trying to educate myself on a lot of topics so that I can make smarter decisions for myself, my family, and the future of our planet. With that education, in my opinion, comes a responsibility to share the things I learn with the voice I have here.

But committing 100% to a clean, eco-friendly life isn’t realistic with our family budget and especially with raising a toddler on that budget. Lately, I’m being super picky about what campaigns I take on and our family wallet is definitely feeling it. It’s been hard to know what to say yes to and what to say no to and that challenge has been scary and difficult. So I decided to write out a little manifesto that feels right for me and for Lemon Stripes. One that I can commit to and feel good about.

I’m sharing it today so you know where I stand and because I have all of you to hold me responsible for sticking to it.

This is not a space where I will only be promoting sustainable and ethical brands, but it is a space where I will be sharing what I learn along the way. It is a space where I’m committed to doing better.

If you want to follow people who are much more committed to sustainability than I am, I highly recommend checking out my friend Jess’s blog and Instagram. She has done an incredible job in the last 6 months or so of completely changing her lifestyle and fighting for our planet. And my friend Meg is dedicated to a “no shop” 2019 which she documents in detail on her Instagram and blog.

Here is where I stand:

Stay educated. I am committed to actively seeking out information on the products I use, the clothes I buy, and the partnerships I take on. If I speak to a brand or shop at a store, I will ask where the products are made and dig deeper into their sustainability practices. Even if we can’t buy the “right” things all the time, being educated will help us make better decisions when we can.

Share what I learn. As I learn more on the topic and discover interesting brands, I’ll share them here and on Instagram to spread the word. For example, the dress I’m wearing was sent to me by a reader who created her own sustainable line of clothing. You can read her story here. It gives me so much hope now that I’m seeing so many people stepping up and trying to make a difference in the fashion industry. I’ve added a category to my site called sustainability where you will be able to find all of my tips and learn about brands that are making a difference. You can find that anytime in the navigation bar at the top of the blog.

Live a balanced life. I am committed to doing the best I can with the information I have. I want to be super clear on this.  Will I still shop at Old Navy for Amalia once in a while? Probably, until I find another affordable solution. Will I also try to seek out sustainable kids lines and support and promote them? 100%. (PSA: My current favorites are Sweet Bamboo and Mini Boden. I just bought her this cute dress.) Will I support sustainable clothing brands for myself like Everlane and Reformation? Duh. Will I also continue to shop at J.Crew? Also duh. But I’ll also continue to encourage J.Crew and other brands, with the contacts I have there, to step up to their game.

Outside of fashion, will I shop with reusable bags? It’s 2019. If you’re not doing that already, wake up! But will I sometimes forget them? Guilty as charged. Will I continue to search for clean beauty products? For sure. Will I also bleach my hair? Yup. Anel and I have always been and 80%/20% family when it comes to clean eating and that’s how I plan to look at it for the rest of our lives too.

Don’t be hard on myself. I’m going to make mistakes. I won’t be perfect. That is ok! If we can all learn from our mistakes and do a little better next time, then we’re headed in the right direction.

And that’s it! It’s not a huge commitment, but it’s a realistic one. I fully believe that if we can all just do a little bit better, we can move the needle and change the way the world works.

What is your personal manifesto on sustainability?

Francesca Sandro Dress (gifted, on sale) / Talbots Sandals (gifted) / ASHA necklace

Francesca Sandro Dress (gifted, on sale) / Talbots Sandals (gifted) / ASHA necklace

Photos by Julia Dags.

Interested in learning more? Join the conversation in the Lemon Stripes Sustainability Facebook group!

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Comments

  1. Katherine said:

    Love that dress and love this whole blog post! I am trying my best right now to make smart choices for myself and the environment but it’s overwhelming at first and just not something I can afford to do all at once. This reminds me it is okay to start with what I can and keep working. Doesn’t have to be an all or nothing thing. I saw something floating around insta (maybe you posted?) where we just need to each do the part we can do, and that is what makes a difference.

    6.17.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Thanks Katherine! It’s definitely overwhelming and I totally agree. If we all make one or two small changes, we can change the world together.

      6.17.19 · Reply
  2. Dana said:

    I love your realistic approach to create a sustainable lifestyle. I have been making small changes, too, such as, we use cloth napkins which I toss in the laundry with out towels. I also got micro cloths with silver in the fabric and use those to clean. The silver kills bacteria (I only use paper towels and spray when I handle meat).

    6.17.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Interesting! Where did you buy the cloths with silver? I’d love to try those too.

      6.17.19 · Reply
  3. Bee said:

    This is a great next step, Julia! Totally agree that these are all doable steps and the 80/20 rule seems like a good general rule of thumb.

    For me the bizarreness of that Walmart post wasn’t so much on the sustainability side, but the fact that you just don’t seem like a Walmart person. We’ve all gotta make money, but when you choose to be a blogger and influencer, you’ve gotta try and stay authentic to what your audience expects. If McDonalds came and offered you $15k to casually drop into Insta 3 times a month that you swung by and just loooove their new burgers that would seem odd. If Spirit offered you a free vacation with Anel and Amalia, that would seem at odds with your brand. There’s a way to make money but also objectively take a step back and say “Is my audience gonna think I’ve been hit on the head and had a personality change if I promote this brand?” You’re so lucky with the brands you get to work with and the free things you get sent. It’s a fine line to walk to ensure your readers don’t start rolling their eyes at your freebies. (For example, I just saw a blogger receive probably 15-20k of free outdoor furniture and she’s received similar from other companies every year I’ve followed her. And it just frustrated me so much that a company would be that willing to just send so much free stuff that I unfollowed the blogger and mentally added that company to my Do Not Buy list.)

    As this influencer world changes and shifts, I selfishly don’t want you to have to take the leap to slow down blogging and move back to a more traditional job, because I really enjoy your posts! But I also don’t want you to shill things that don’t seem like you actually like them.

    Anyway. Unsolicited advice, sorry. I just want to keep seeing you be successful and not go the way of so many other influencers!!

    6.17.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Thank you for this, Bee. I hear what you’re saying and I agree with you. It’s funny because I’ve been pitched a new outdoor project every year too. I did it twice and then realized how stupid it was and have turned it down since then.

      That said, I’d love to try and explain my Walmart decision at the risk of sounding defensive. Before I took on that partnership, I had received a ton of messages, emails, and comments asking me to post more affordable fashions. When Walmart reached out and I saw that the clothes looked cute (I admitedly didn’t think about sustainability or anything else at the time), I thought it would be a great opportunity to showcase that you can wear something that looks good on a budget. And I actually did like the clothes I picked for the record 🙂

      I’m not saying it was the right move, but that is where my head was. I hope that makes sense! I learned from it and can only grow moving forward. The other thing I have to say in defense of influencers is that sometimes the projects that we get aren’t with brands we already know or use, but they’re something new that we can test out and share if we love. That is how I discovered Brandless, Full Circle, and Beautycounter, three of my favorite brands today.

      So if some of those seem off-brand because we’ve never shared them before, think of it as a learning experience for us all! Glad we’re having this open conversation. Thanks for speaking up.

      6.17.19 · Reply
    • Marielle said:

      Julia correct me if I’m wrong but I honestly think you liked the pieces you found at Walmart and would continue to wear and tag them if people didn’t climb down your throat saying it’s so off brand. I truly believe there is a happy medium between fast/low cost fashion and sustainability (buying less, fixing pieces rather than tossing them). There is a place in the market that’s going nowhere that the majority of women rely on for affordable clothing. A lot of people are not purchasing clothing even at Jcrew prices, hence why readers across many blogs are requesting posts featuring brands they actually buy.

      6.17.19 · Reply
  4. Ashley said:

    Thank you so much for sharing this! I think this is so reasonable, and love that you wrote it down! My husband and I try to make good decisions, but we aren’t perfect! I love following along!

    6.17.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      As long as you’re trying and aware, that is what matters most. In my opinion, anyway!

      6.17.19 · Reply
  5. Kelly said:

    I love the things you post and tend to take a very gracious attitude towards all the social issues involved with fashion. I appreciate that you give a damn, but I’m also never going to be one of the crusaders for any particular issue. We all care about different things to different extents! The only blogger campaign I’ve ever scoffed at was a Crocs one (lol) but I have a sense of humor, so it’s not important enough to criticize people for. Keep going and posting what you like. We like your taste and know you’re a good person. You have nothing to prove to me or any of your readers! 🙂

    6.17.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      OMG I’ll never live that Crocs one down haha. What’s hilarious is that my rubber Birks I wear everyday now look kind of like Crocs so Anel makes fun of me for the mericlessly. It’s going to follow me everywhere!

      6.17.19 · Reply
  6. Laura said:

    This is a really great post – Thank you so much! Sustainability in fashion is so important but also very overwhelming. I appreciate you taking the steps, being honest and transparent and helping the rest of us out along the way! P.S. Dress and outfit is so beautiful! 🙂

    6.17.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Yay so glad it’s resonating with you! And thank you. I’m in love with this dress.

      6.17.19 · Reply
  7. Libby said:

    Julia, I love your LS Manifesto!! I have been feeling the exact same away about sustainability. It is hard (and v expensive) to live a completely sustainable, eco- friendly life. I agree that it does stress me out I feel like I could be doing better, but I love your point of finding balance, and not making all the big big changes at once. It feels more feasible to make small, easy changes first! Also I love that you want to continue your education in this topic because so do I!! If we all share our tips, and knowledge, think of the world we can create! Making realistic goals is 100% how I feel about this, too. I agree that mistakes happen, but as long as we are trying to do our best, the earth will benefit 🙂

    Thank you so so much for putting this out there!!

    xx Libby

    6.17.19 · Reply
  8. Christine Matusek said:

    I love this! If everybody adopted the 80/20 rule, imagine how much progress we’d make in a short amount of time!! Encouraging companies like JCrew to be more sustainable is just as great as selectively purchasing because we ALL need to change… not just this amazing group you’ve motivated!

    6.17.19 · Reply
  9. Katrin B said:

    Hi Julia, i have been reading your blog for 3 years now and I think your approach is very good. I was also interested in the noshop19 resolution from your friend Meg and read her updates. Inspired by her approach, I am trying to only buy 12 fashion items this year. I am already at 10 though .. it is pretty tough. I like to buy sustainable clothes (we have a german brand called „Armedangels“, which I really like) but for my 7y old daughter I haven’t found an affordable and yet super eco-friendly brand yet. For her outdoor clothes (jackets, shoes etc) I like some Scandinavian brands and I am also willing to spend more money on than leggings and t shirts. She gets lots of stuff from her 1 year older friend though. Apart from fashion i am trying to use the bike or subway instead of the car most of the time and just in general try to not buy aa much stuff as I would like to buy. I am lucky that a new tailor has opened in our neighborhood and I already brought her some clothes that she changed for me (specifically she cut off the sleeves of some of my blouses that I didn’t like to wear anymore and they look like such cool summer tops now). Regards from Munich and keep doing what you’re doing 🙂

    6.17.19 · Reply