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How to Style Yourself for Winter (And Avoid the Frump Factor…)

Winter fashion can be really fun. As soon as the weather gets chillier, you get to finally break out those cosy cardigans and warm scarves! However, fashion this time of year can also be a little bit tricky. It’s easy to feel frumpy when you’re trussed up in layer upon layer with a bulky winter coat to top it off. But it is possible to style yourself for winter without looking like the Michelin Man. In fact, there are plenty of elegant winter looks that will have you right on-trend for the season. Read on for some tips on how to style yourself for winter (in spite of that pesky cold weather).

Remember balance is key.

If you’re wondering how to avoid looking frumpy in winter, there’s one important aspect to dressing yourself that you should keep in mind. It’s crucial that your looks always remain balanced so there’s no extra volume on your figure. This means only one loose clothing item at a time. For example, baggy or loose trousers should only be paired with form-fitting tops, while flowing blouses look better with skinny jeans or tighter trousers. Keep in mind that it’s still more than okay for you to show off your figure during the winter! So, dress with the goal in mind of having a clean silhouette without any added bulk.

Throw on those turtlenecks.

Turtlenecks have always been one of the easiest ways to give you extra warmth without causing you to have to pile on a bunch of heavy sweaters. Opt for simple, basic-coloured turtlenecks, since these can be paired with multiple looks in your wardrobe. They’re also a great piece that fits for multiple occasions, which is critical if you’re balancing several different areas of your life (i.e. family, work, social life, etc.). Plus, you can dress them up or down – with a pair of jeans and a vest, or under a dress for a more sophisticated look. Turtlenecks can also be easily paired with our new waterproof winter parka. It’s lined with fleece for extra warmth, but won’t add extra bulk to your outfit either.

winter styling

Image by Laura Dewilde on Unsplash: Pairing skirts with tights means you can stay warm while avoiding winter frumpiness.

Don’t be afraid to keep skirts in your rotation.

In general, it can feel like skirts don’t work too well during winter. But you can definitely switch up your look by keeping skirts in your wardrobe rotation the whole year long. You can throw on a pair of tights or even leggings underneath so you won’t be too cold. If you’re feeling a tad more adventurous, patterned tights can give your outfit some extra flare. Keeping skirts in your wardrobe during winter also gives you more options, so you won’t feel like you need to purchase more unnecessary items just for colder weather.

Swap those clunky boots for booties.

Although inclement weather can make it seem like heavy-duty boots are must-haves, you shouldn’t feel tied to these as your only option in winter. In fact, booties can keep you just as protected from bad weather, and they look much more fun! Plus, this more feminine choice means you won’t be wearing clunky boots that take up half your leg, so your entire outfit will look less frumpy overall.

Belt your coat.

This can seem really simple, but sometimes it’s the littlest things that can make a big difference in your style choices. Belting your coat is great for showing off your figure. Bringing you in at the waist gives you a much more streamlined look, so you can feel less hidden away by all of your layers. Our coats also come with drawcord adjusters at the waist and hem to help give you the shape you need to look the most pulled-together. 

Opt for a bright colour or pattern.

Since the winter season can sometimes make you feel like you’re stuck in the doldrums, it’s easy to fall into the pattern of wearing only drab or neutral colours. Break out of that monochrome wardrobe by adding in a little pop of colour or a pattern to your day-to-day look. You can try a bold choice, like a brightly coloured blouse, or a subtle elegant twist, like a beautifully patterned scarf. Even if your wardrobe tends to be on the minimalist side that sticks to one muted colour palette, you can always switch things up by adding a little bit of brightness. And you never know – a little pop of colour could help lift you out of the winter blues, too!

winter styling

Image by Subhkaran Singh on Unsplash: Choosing to add a little bit of colour into your wardrobe will keep you looking fresh during winter.

Try incorporating an interesting fabric. 

One way to win the game of ‘Winter Styles 2020’ is to try adding a unique fabric choice to some of your outfits. Flowing chiffon was really popular at London Fashion Week recently, so don’t be afraid to try out fabrics that are traditionally worn during other times of the year. One technically more appropriate winter fabric is velvet. It can add a more luxe feel to your wardrobe, even when it’s just worn with jeans or dark trousers.

Add accessories to step up your style game.

Including accessories with your day-to-day looks can help you appear less frumpy and way more stylish. Winter offers loads of fun accessory options, including scarves, beanies and gloves. If you’re a little hesitant to bust out the bright colours during winter, choosing colourful accessories can be a smaller and easier step in that direction. Adding a bright yellow beanie or a rich purple scarf to your outfit can take your look from blah to brilliant in an instant.

There’s no reason you need to feel frumpy or boring during the winter season. Try out some of these tips, and you’ll be looking fashion-forward right through to the first spring blooms!

Featured image by Bundo Kim on Unsplash

3 Best Scandinavian Destinations For Solo Female Travellers

Scandinavian and Nordic countries are known for their natural beauty, progressively sound societal standards, and of course their level of happiness overall. In 2018, the countries of Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Iceland were at the top of the United Nation’s World Happiness Report, with Norway snatching up the honour of first place. The report measured the standards of the country’s health, income, freedom, honesty, generosity and good governance, making these scenically stunning countries that much more desirable to travellers. 

Despite the higher cost of a vacation to these countries, loosening up the purse strings may be well worth it to have that memorable solo vacation solely based on the fact that women are treated pretty fairly, more so than any other places in the world. In the Global Gender Gap Index, the Scandinavian countries listed above were named the most equal. Knowing that, female travellers from all over the world can find comfort in their level of safety while travelling alone. Picking the best destination for solo female travellers from the Scandinavian options really depends on leisure preferences, as opposed to the focus of personal security that many women may worry about when travelling alone. 

Is it safe to travel to Norway alone?

Norway offers some of the most beautiful naturalistic scenery in the world. Aside from its location bordering Russia and Finland, the country is also along the Arctic Ocean, providing some of the greatest views of the water. For a Cheryl Strayed-esque adventure, it’s one of the best places in the world. 

The country, being one of the most socially accepting places, offers solo women the chance to adventure on their own with a lower level of worry. Women are generally not exposed to the same threats that stick in the back of their minds when experiencing other cultures without a travel companion to have their back in case something menacing arises. Depending on personal preferences, there are both bustling city getaways and quiet, ‘find your peace’ places to go to when travelling to Norway. 

For the solo female traveller who loves nightlife and a heavy dose of culture, the capital city of Oslo is the perfect place to plan a vacation. It’s unlike any other concrete jungle – mainly because of its lush green spaces sprawled throughout the city’s many metropolitan attractions. 

There are over 30 museums in the city, ranging from niche to niche. The Vigeland Sculpture Park is home to over 200 world-famous sculptures created by Gustav Vigeland over 150 years ago. For a unique taste of world history, the Historical Museum is the must-see destination. The cultural smorgasbord of pieces and exhibitions give the solo female traveller a window into the past like no other museum in the world. 

mountain in norway
Image by Sharon Christina Rørvik on Unsplash: The safety of solo female travel in Norway makes it one of the best for both scenic beauty and a stress-free vacation.

To connect with nature in a truly serene way, Tromsø – known most notably as the ‘Gateway to the Arctic’ – is one of Mother Nature’s greatest miracles. During the winter months, the country goes dark, and in that darkness comes a light – the Aurora Borealis. Also known as the Northern Lights, the spectacular sight dances in the sky over Tromsø unlike any other place in the world. During the daylight hours, there are beautiful fjords bordering the Norwegian Sea, tours designed solely to catch a glimpse of the majestic killer whale in its natural habitat, and an abundance of local wildlife to take in while hiking the coast.  

Is it safe to travel to Denmark alone?

Of all the Scandinavian travel ideas for solo females, Denmark is also high on the list because of its safety level, ease of navigation, and culture. Much like Norway, Denmark is considered one of the happiest countries in the world. This, coupled with its reasonable costs for dining, entertainment and events, make it a worthy travel destination for women who want a personal travel experience. 

The cold city of Copenhagen is perfect for any woman wanting to dip her toes into the sea of solo travelling. The country is set up with tourists in mind and is unmatched in the ways of safety and communication. The language barrier is also much less intimidating than that of other places around the world – English is one of the main languages spoken in Copenhagen. 

There are plenty of ways to make the most out of your solo exploration of Denmark. Visiting Copenhagen’s open market of Reffen will make eating alone a revered experience, if you’re worried about eating alone in a more ‘table for two?’ kind of restaurant. The Rosenborg Castle showcases some of Denmark’s most coveted jewels and an impressive outdoor garden in the summer months.

The natural tranquillity of Denmark will melt away daily stress, but for an extra boost of serenity, Møns Klint, the chalk cliffs in the Danish countryside, will put life into perspective and a newfound sense of peace into the mind. Denmark is on the small side, so there’s very little limitation in terms of visiting places across the country. 

Is it safe to travel to Sweden alone?

Taking a break from everyday life is what vacations are made for. Sweden is the perfect place to take a step back and breathe away the stress of accelerated lifestyle many North Americans and Europeans adhere to. Getting back to nature can reset the mind, and the country of Sweden is home to vast forests and lakes. Stockholm is chock-full of divine eateries and museums to help you get a taste of the Scandinavian lifestyle – but it also boasts a calming aspect across its countryside located inside the city limits. 

female travel sweden
Image by Geran de Klerk on Unsplash: For a true taste of solitude, Sweden is a great place for the solo female traveller.

For an even more laid-back experience, the collection of islands and rustic country vibes of Archipelago is perfect for an overnight stay away from Stockholm. To embrace the solitude of solo travel, The High Coast is an often-unutilised spot. The area is home to the beautiful Gulf of Bothnia, a not-to-be-missed beauty in the heart of Sweden. 

Final tips 

Although all three of the above Scandinavian countries offer their own little slice of heaven, it’s important to keep in mind the type of vacation you’re looking for. While Norway, Denmark and Sweden are home to natural beauty and cultural excellence, they can all be on the more expensive side depending on the hotels you stay in, restaurants you visit and tours you take. 

As the Northernmost European countries, they can also be on the chilly side – or downright cold – for the better part of the year, so packing accordingly is a must. To fit in with the crowd, bringing along your favourite Protected Species waterproof jacket will keep personal style as minimal and elegant as these three countries are. 

If you’re asking yourself ‘Is Europe safe for female travellers?’, then the answer is yes. But Denmark, Sweden and Norway in particular are the safest and happiest countries in the world, so when travelling solo, these three countries should be at the top of your bucket list. 

Featured image by Agnieszka Boeske on Unsplash

How To Stay Safe When Cycling In The Winter Months

Cycling is a great activity that boosts health, reduces your carbon emissions and gets you out into the Great Outdoors. The only factor that can put a literal damper on your cycling is the weather. So can you ride a bike in winter without risking your safety? While you may enjoy dashing through the snow or dodging icy patches, the truth is that there are some serious risks to cycling in the winter, but with a few of these road safety tips for winter cyclists, you can still enjoy a cold-weather ride. Here’s how to stay safe when cycling in winter.

What Should I Wear Cycling in Cold Weather?

At Protected Species, we know a thing or two about clothing to help you face the elements. After all, we designed a windproof, waterproof winter parka made from cosy anti-pill fleece especially for these chilly winter months. But aside from a proper lightweight parka to help you stay dry and warm, you’re going to  need to think about the rest of you.

Goggles or sunglasses are essential in the winter to help you maintain proper visibility no matter what the weather. You may also want to consider a balaclava or skull cap under your helmet to protect your face, ears and neck from the elements. Also, ensure that the clothing you wear is highly visible to others on the road and that you have lights on both the front and back of your bike. Shorter winter days can make visibility challenging, so make sure you’re visible to everyone around in order to stay safe.

Layers are also a good idea. Cycling is a physical activity, after all, and being able to take off and add on layers is essential to regulating your temperature once your body heat rises. A base layer made from a synthetic fabric that will wick moisture away from your skin is essential, followed by layers that can help capture body heat, such as wool. And don’t forget the extra socks or gloves on those blustery days!

cycling in winter
Image by Kayle Kaupanger on Unsplash: How to stay safe when cycling in winter? Make sure you have all the right gear!

Is It Safe to Ride a Bike in Winter? If You Plan Ahead!

Many cycle routes are at their most beautiful in the winter months. Plan where you’re going to go ahead of time and consider the weather when making your plans. If you can pick a route that’s well-travelled, chances are you can benefit from the trails made by others, no matter the weather. Don’t venture too far out in nature when the weather is bad. You need to remain within safe walking distance of help if something happens when you’re out riding in winter weather. 

As always, let someone know where you’re going to be when you do head out. Make sure you have a phone on you too, so you can reach someone should you run into some sort of trouble (or if you get too tired and need to call a taxi!).

How to Stay Safe When Cycling in Winter

Be Road-smart

There are fewer cyclists on the roads in the winter months, so motorists may not be as aware of cyclists during this time. Keep an eye on cars when travelling down busy streets to make sure they see you.

Also, remember to adapt your riding for winter weather. When the roads are slippery, you’ll want to limit any erratic or sudden movements on your bike. Adjust your braking to take into account any snow, ice or rain on the roads and ride slower than you normally would. As always, use hand signals when changing lanes or turning in order to ensure you’re sharing the road safely with others.

winter cycling safety
Image by Petar Petkovski on Unsplash: Road safety tips for winter cyclists: Pay attention to road conditions and stick to routes that have been ploughed!

Keep Your Equipment In Good Shape

Your bike needs to be in tip-top shape for winter riding, which is why it’s important to store and care for it correctly. You should keep your bike cold and store it in the garage or garden shed. If your bike is warm when you take it to the streets, then it will melt snow. When the bike inevitably gets cold again, your brakes and tyres can ice up, creating a hazard for you. A bike that is stored outside and already cold won’t allow that to happen.

You may also want to consider putting fatter tyres on your bike in the winter. A wider tire will ensure you can safely pass over packed or fresh snow. If you can find some carbide-studded tyres, that’s another winning option to help your bike handle better under winter road conditions.

Don’t let dreary winter weather keep you indoors. You can enjoy your bike all year long as long as you know what extra precautions to take. So go ahead – follow our road safety tips for winter cyclists and get out to explore this winter, even on the coldest days!

Featured image by Max Adulyanukosol on Unsplash

11 Free And Fun Winter Break Activities For Kids In London

Are you looking for fun and budget-friendly activities to get your kids out of the house this winter break? Look no further than London. Yes, that’s right, London! While it may be a city that is known for being pricey and perhaps not family-friendly at first glance, London is absolutely a place you can find not only fun things to do with your children, but free things as well. In fact, there’s almost always something going on for children of all ages in this city. Here are just a few free and fun winter break activities for kids in London:

Explore a Museum

Wondering “what can kids do for free in London?”. London is a city steeped in history, so it should come as no surprise that there are a plethora of world-class museums that you and your family can explore – many of them totally free. Some of the best free museums for families include:

  • Natural History Museum – This museum brings wildlife and dinosaurs to life, you’re even greeted by one of these old world giants when you enter! There are many hands-on exhibits for children of all ages here, as well as activity packs that the whole family can enjoy. 
  • Victoria and Albert Museum – Here you’ll find ancient and modern exhibits of jewellery, furniture and fashion from the far east, as well as plays and workshops that are sure to spark interest for the whole family.
  • The British Museum – The most popular museum in the UK, the British Museum is where you’ll find everything from ancient Egyptian mummies to the Rosetta Stone. If you have any history buffs (or budding ones) in your family, then this museum is for you. 
  • Science Museum – Who doesn’t love science? Especially when you can find everything you ever wanted to know about the environment, space and transportation all under one roof at London’s interactive Science Museum. It’s free to enter and has a host of hands-on exhibits for kids of all ages.
london museum
Image by Pauline Loroy on Unsplash: The British Museum is just one of the many exciting and fun winter break activities for kids in London.

Visit Landmarks and Attractions

When it comes to what’s on in London for families, there’s always something to see and do. There are literally thousands of years of history to feast your eyes upon in the city, so take a walk and check out some of these historic landmarks and attractions – and don’t forget to bundle up in your new Protected Species winter parka when you explore:

  • Buckingham Palace – While it does cost money to tour the actual palace, standing outside to witness the world-famous changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace is completely free. Just make sure to check the schedule over the winter before you go, as it takes place on alternative days in the winter months.
  • London City Farms A great choice for families with animal lovers, visiting one of London’s 12 city farms is a wonderful way to give your child a snapshot into what makes a farm work and understand where their food comes from. Just make sure you check each farm’s schedule before your visit to ensure they’re operating on the day you want to visit.
  • Kensington Gardens – Right next to Hyde Park you can find Kensington Gardens. It’s home to Diana, Princess of Wales’ Memorial Playground, which is an impressive structure that features a pirate ship. Entry is free, so it’s one of the most popular free winter break activities for kids in London.
  • Crystal Palace Park – If you’re looking for life-size dinosaurs, a lake complete with boats, or a giant tea maze, then Crystal Palace Park must be on your to-do list. This South London park is free for visitors and something you won’t want to miss.
  • Coram’s Fields – This unique experience is exciting for kids and reassuring for adults, as it’s a seven-acre park and playground that only adults with children are permitted within. Plus, it’s staffed to ensure everyone’s secure and safe. It also happens to be close to the Foundling Museum, a free museum that has several activities the whole family is sure to enjoy.
winter activities
Image by Paje Victoria on Unsplash: There are plenty of winter break activities for kids in London – and the rest of the family, too!

Do a Spot of Shopping

In London, shopping takes on a whole new meaning as you’ll be able to visit stores that simply don’t exist anywhere else in the whole world. The best part is that you don’t actually have to buy anything as window shopping can be just as fun! Get ready to be impressed when you take a turn in these London landmarks:

  • Hamleys – For kids, it doesn’t get much better than Hamleys. This world-famous toy store is one of the largest in the world. It has six whole floors of toys and games for your child to explore. Just make sure you make it clear that there will be no buying before you go!
  • Selfridges – You may not be in the market for London high fashion, but if you go to Selfridges during the holidays, you’ll find fun workshops for the kids, family-friendly restaurants and even a spot of storytelling.

London is an amazing place to visit, especially for families on a budget! There’s literally something for everyone in this energetic city, so try out some of these fun winter break activities for kids in London this holiday season.

Featured image by Robert Bye on Unsplash

8 Stunning Winter Walks Near London

There’s nothing as beautiful as London in the winter. The air is crisp, and despite the chilly weather, it can be quite pleasant to stroll around the city. Whether you’re looking for a winter walk in London that ends in a pub, or just a relaxing jaunt around a scenic area, there are plenty of stunning winter walks near London that you can enjoy. Read on for a list of some of our favourites.

1. Ham House and Garden in London

The Ham House and Garden offers both gorgeous scenery and a chance to appreciate history. If you come during Christmas time, you can take in the fun atmosphere of lit candles all through Ham House, as well as greenery and Christmas trees that help set a festive tone. You can even take the kids along for a visit with Father Christmas. If you’d like to just stretch your legs, you can walk around the 17th-century gardens or take a guided tour around the historic site. No matter how you decide to spend your time there, there’s plenty to keep you busy.

2. Netley to Botley walk

For one of the best winter walks near London, head to the Hampshire coast for a walk from Netley to Botley. This four-hour walk offers beautiful sea views and lots to see. Start at the Netley Chapel down to the shore at Southampton Water and along the beach. You can then take a ferry (although it’s not always running regularly during the winter) and walk along the River Hamble. Stop for lunch or tea in Lower Swanwick or at Manor Farm if you find yourself getting hungry. The route ends in Botley where there are several pubs, convenient for rewarding yourself with a pint. It’s generally a pretty easy walk if you’re not interested in a strenuous route, but since you’ll be along the coast, it can get a bit cold. Be sure to throw on a PS Winter Parka to keep you protected from the elements.

3. Buckinghamshire

Drive about an hour outside London to escape the busy city and to take some fun winter walks around Buckinghamshire. There’s much to choose from, including a walk around the scenic landscape at Stowe, the parklands of Hughenden, or the woodlands of the Chilterns countryside. These spots all differ in terms of how tough they are to walk, so you can choose a route that best fits the pace you want to take. The entire area is lovely with fresh snowfall as well.

london in winter
Image by Robert Bye on Unsplash: What could be more beautiful than London in the winter?

4. Morden Hall Park in London

There are few things more delightful than a frosty morning touring the open expanse of South Park in Morden Hall Park. Because there are no leaves to block the views from the avenues, there are incredible scenes to take in everywhere you look. One of the best winter walks is into South Park and then returning along the river from the Surrey Arms entrance through the rose garden. You can also walk around the arboretum to view a rose garden that starts to bloom in January. One of the best parts is that you’re likely to spot egrets and snipes in the wintertime along the wetland – a dream for birdwatchers!

5. Winkworth Arboretum in Surrey

Surrey makes for one of the best walks near London during the winter. About an hour outside London, the Winkworth Arboretum offers a stunning wintry woodland that makes for an enjoyable walk outside. There are also several different routes you can take depending on how strenuous you want your walk to be. For an easier option, stick to the levelled walkways; for a tougher walk, you can hit up the more challenging hilly areas. You can also take a longer walk by going from Winkworth to the Oakhurst trail (for about two and a half miles); this walk goes through the picturesque Surrey countryside.

6. Box Hill to Leatherhead walk

If you’re someone that enjoys a tougher walk, try out the Box Hill to Leatherhead route. It’s not a very long walk (around three and a half hours), but there are a lot of hills to traverse. You start by crossing the River Mole and go to the top of Box Hill to enjoy views out over the valley. The route also goes along Juniper Top, which has its own pretty special views. After a steep climb up White Hill into Mickleham Downs, you can have lunch at one of two pubs there. The next part is less challenging, with a flat walk along the River Mole valley, through Norbury Park into the centre of Leatherhead. This walk has beautiful scenery throughout, but is definitely not for the faint of heart!

Hampstead Heath
Image by coombesy on Unsplash: Take in the beautiful views of the city on a walk in Hampstead Heath.

7. Hampstead Heath in London

Hampstead Heath can provide you with one of London’s best winter walks. The grassy area allows you to do a low-key stroll along the loop or trek up Parliament Hill for a spectacular view of the city skyline. If you’d like to take a break from your walk, you can tour the stately Kenwood House for free. If the hustle and bustle of London is getting you down, take a breather by enjoying the relaxing ponds and wooded areas throughout Hampstead Heath (a park that’s considered to be one of the best spots in all of London!). If you’re travelling to London from outside the area, make sure to research what to pack first so you’re prepared for your winter walks.

8. Wye Circular walk

If you tend to like a more structured walk, you can do the Wye Circular walk for a more direct approach. Start by going high up on the Crundale Downs to spot some beautiful views and then cross the River Great Stour and return to Wye. Depending on fitness levels, this five-hour walk could be a little challenging for some, but it’s worth it for the views. Just be prepared that the area can be a little muddy during the winter months.

If you’re in the mood to get in touch with nature, don’t let the cold temperatures deter you. Instead, bundle up in your waterproof parka and head out on one of these lovely winter walks. You can explore this part of England, spot some gorgeous views, and stay in shape all at the same time!

Featured image by Jack Finnigan on Unsplash

Why Ethical Consumerism Deserves A Seat At The Table This Christmas

Christmas is one of the best times of the year. But every year, Christmas seems to get… bigger. More in-your-face, more colourful and, above all, more expensive. If you’re like a lot of woke folk this time of the year, you’re probably looking for how to pair happy memories of Christmastime with more ethical practices. At Protected Species, we’re interested in ways to make Christmas ethically merry and want to share some of our best ideas with you. Here’s what you need to know about how to be ethical at Christmas – and how to create memories that last not only due to merriment, but because they truly spread Christmas cheer in a way that has a lasting impact on the world.

Ethical consumerism
Image by Kenny Luo on Unsplash: Ethical consumerism at Christmas is important, but it’s also something you should practice all year ’round – like we do at Protected Species.

The Problem

Let’s face it: Christmas is a minefield. No matter who you are, there’s a good chance that your friends and family expect you to be thoughtful and generous this time of the year. The problem is that many of the cheap gifts you can buy online are produced through practices that simply aren’t ethical. The inexpensive gift you give your neighbour often comes at the expense of the person who was woefully underpaid to create it, or the person whose water was poisoned to process the materials it was made with. And how much joy do you really inspire with cheaply made gifts that end up in landfill come January, anyway?

The UK’s Response to Ethical Consumerism at Christmas

According to the Ethical Consumer Markets Report, ethical spending is growing in the UK. More and more people are searching for sustainable, planet-friendly, plastic-free ways to spread Christmas cheer. Sales of fair-trade products continue to grow as people seek out the options they know are ethical and environmentally-friendly. Yes, the world is changing in many ways for the better, the real issue is how to combine it with Christmas to make your family and friends happy but in the most ethical way possible. 

Ethical Christmas Gift Ideas

There are ways to give your friends and loved ones gifts they’ll appreciate and that are also produced in a way you can feel good about. The first step is to find out what the people in your life really want for Christmas. Yes, it may seem obvious, but you may be shocked to learn just how many people don’t find out what someone wants before they do their Christmas shopping. People’s need to surprise someone they care about can actually backfire if they give a gift the recipient doesn’t actually want or use. Find out what the people you’re buying for really need, then source it in a responsible way by shopping ethical products.

Are you afraid of ethical products because you think they’ll break the bank? Don’t be! You may be used to buying products that are inexpensive, but the expense is made up for down the line by someone who wasn’t paid a fair wage to produce it and was possibly subjected to an unsafe working environment to do so. When you practice conscious consumerism at Christmas and make an effort to source ethical products, you know the person who created them was treated and paid fairly, which means they’ll likely be products that were made to last rather than something cheap. Yes, ethically produced gifts can be more expensive, but you’re paying for higher quality and craftsmanship, so in the long run you may actually spend less.

Remember that the key to ethical consumerism at Christmas is to ultimately buy less and to choose well while you do it. Ultimately, you may spend the same amount of money you would have anyway, but on fewer items. If you simply can’t afford it, then don’t worry! Consider crafting your own gifts to make, such as cookies or candy. If you’re not a baker, then consider providing someone in your life with an experiential gift. Chances are you know a frazzled parent or two who would love to have you babysit for a night so they can go out and let their hair down! 

Christmas baking
Image by Food Photographer Jennifer Pallian on Unsplash: If you want to practice ethical consumerism at Christmas, then try your hand at baking something sweet for family and friends!

The Protected Species Difference in Ethical Consumerism

At Protected Species, we made it part of our mission to lead the performance-wear industry by utilising only environmentally sound principles. The waterproof fabrics we use to create our waterproof mac and waterproof winter parka are made to be friendly to the environment at every stage of the manufacturing process. We use eco-energy, eco-materials and eco-engineering to bring you the best products with the smallest carbon footprint. We also invest in the communities that help us create our outerwear by supporting after-school programs and local hospitals, while also ensuring that every single employee is trained in a safe and supportive environment. You know when you buy Protected Species products that they’ve been made with care, not just for the consumer, but also for the planet and the people that have helped us produce it.

Are you feeling inspired to make this your most ethical Christmas yet? Good! Remember to talk to your family and friends, including the smallest ones, about the importance of conscious consumerism at Christmas and the small things they can do to make a big difference.

Featured image by Ben White on Unsplash

The 10 Most Magical Christmas Markets in the UK and Europe

There’s no better way to get into the Christmas spirit than to tour the most magical Christmas markets in Europe. With lots of shopping options, yummy food selections, and spectacular sights to see, Christmas markets can provide you with plenty of holiday cheer. Not sure which cities have the best Christmas markets in Europe? Read on for a rundown of our 10 favourites!

1. Hyde Park Winter Wonderland in London, England

Hyde Park is always a fun place to go no matter what time of year it is. But once winter hits, the park is transformed into a magical ice kingdom with shops and food stalls to explore. It’s also one of the best Christmas markets in the UK because it has the largest open-air ice rink and a fun show, “Paddington on Ice,” that the whole family can enjoy. Oh, and if you need recommendations for what to pack for your trip, we have you covered!

2. Christmas Markets in Prague, Czech Republic

If you’ve found it’s easiest to feel the Christmas spirit by listening to holiday music, then the Christmas markets in Prague are your best bet. Old Town and Wenceslas Square (just a five-minute walk from each other) offer open-air concerts where you can hear the soothing sounds of live music (and sip on some festive drinks to keep you warm). You can also stay cosy by wearing one of our winter parkas to help protect you from the cold Prague air. Just make sure to arrive at the marketplace by 5 p.m. to see them turn on the festive Christmas lights each day!

christmas market

Image by Alisa Anton on Unsplash: Don’t forget to bring a PS coat with you while you’re strolling around all the best Christmas markets in Europe!

3. Viennese Dream Christmas Market in Vienna, Austria

Vienna is home to one of the most beautiful Christmas markets in Europe, mostly because the city looks so gorgeous blanketed in snow. Located on Rathausplatz, the market has plenty to do, including reindeer rides for the kids, an ice rink for skating and curling, a merry-go-round, and a Ferris wheel. This market is also ideal for finding traditional handmade gifts, such as wooden toys and artisanal crafts. Despite the chill, you’ll feel warm on the inside by snacking on freshly baked pretzels and sipping some mulled wine.

4. Vorosmarty Square and Basilica in Budapest, Hungary

There are two separate areas in Budapest you can visit in order to be immersed in the Christmas spirit. First, the Basilica: Hungary’s largest church, which features a Christmas festival with more than 160 vendors, an ice rink and folk-dance shows. There are also laser projections on the Basilica itself and a huge, beautiful Christmas tree. Second is Vorosmarty Square, Budapest’s oldest Christmas market with lots of food stalls, shops and free concerts to entertain you. We at Protected Species also love that this market is one of the more sustainable, eco-friendly options in Europe.

5. Bath Christmas Market in Bath, England

Bath has definitely earned its spot as one of the most magical Christmas markets in the UK. With over 150 chalets offering gifts ranging from jewellery to homewares to decorations, this market also offers Fairtrade-certified shopping – about 99% of all the products are handmade in Britain! There are also loads of activities to take part in, including the “Bath on Ice” rink, a Christmas trail at Prior Park Landscape Garden, and Shoppers’ Carols at Bath Abbey during the holiday season.

6. Christmas Markets in Berlin, Germany

If you’re looking for the most market options in one area, Berlin has over 80 (!) Christmas markets at your fingertips. The Spandau location is the biggest, but the Weihnachtszauber (in Gendarmenmarkt Square) is perhaps the most festive, with lots of arts and crafts for you to purchase. If you’d like to get your heart rate up, consider heading to Winter World on Potsdamer Platz, where you can feed your love for winter sports. They offer tobogganing and curling as well as an ice-skating rink (with free lessons for kids). Some of the smaller markets are only open for a brief time, so if you’re wondering, “What dates are Christmas markets in Europe?” make sure to check so you can plan your visit.

festive markets
Image by Reiseuhu on Unsplash: Get all of your Christmas shopping done at the festive markets.

7. Magic Christmas in Colmar, France

Want more than one Christmas market to choose from in Colmar? This area of France actually offers six, including Place des Dominicans, Place Jeanne d’Arc, Place de l’Ancienne Douane, Koïfhus, Petite Venis and Gourmet Market Place de la Cathédrale. Colmar has a magical atmosphere with lots of twinkly lights, an ice-skating rink and a carousel. There are also plenty of shopping opportunities and nativity scenes to set the mood.

8. Christmas Markets in Copenhagen, Denmark

Want more of that cosy hygge vibe in your life? The Copenhagen markets are filled with holiday cheer, and lots of Christmas lights and decorations. The city centre has several markets, but many people prefer the one at Tivoli Gardens. There’s also a Ferris wheel and skating rink, but no matter which one you choose, you’ll find tons of gift options (including wooden toys, ceramics and chunky knitwear). Embrace the hygge lifestyle by nibbling on caramelised almonds or sipping traditional mulled wine, also known as gløgg.

9. Piazza Navona Christmas Market in Rome, Italy

Get your fill of Christmas festivities by heading to the Piazza Navona Christmas market. The square transforms during the winter with stalls brimming with sweets and gifts. There’s an added element of cheer as street artists and acrobats play throughout the area to the sounds of Christmas songs. It can get a little chilly during this time of year, so make sure to snag a PS City Walker that’s easy to layer, while still allowing you to look ultra-chic.

10. Edinburgh’s Christmas in Edinburgh, Scotland

Located in East Princes Street Gardens, right next to the Scottish National Gallery, this market turns the city into a Christmas wonderland. With a Christmas tree maze and a mini-train ride, this location is ideal for families with small children. Plus, you can get an even better view of the Christmas lights by riding on the Edinburgh Eye (a tall Ferris wheel with stunning views of the city).

There are so many Christmas markets to explore around Europe, so check out the ones above to help get you in a jolly mood!Featured image by Anthony Garcia on Unsplash

Can Christmas Be Sustainable AND Grinch-Free?

The holidays are supposed to be a time of year when everyone can reflect on their good fortune, surrounded by family and friends. Christmas should be the perfect moment for us to realise how truly grateful we are for the wonderful things in our lives. It should be a coming together of loved ones to share good company and good food and a time marked with happiness and cheer. 

Unfortunately, society’s attitudes towards Christmas have changed dramatically over the last several decades. Instead of the focus being on family and community, we’ve all been driven mad with rabid consumerism and greed. Christmas used to be a time when people partook in the innocent delights of eating turkey and spending time with their families. Today, we all take part in the fervent exercise of spending too much money and buying things no one actually needs. This intense drive to buy is not only ruining the spirit of Christmas, it’s also causing irreparable damage to our environment.

Research has shown that we increase waste by up to 30% more during the holidays in the UK. Because of plastic, disposable and poor-quality Christmas decorations and gifts, a lot of that waste ends up directly in landfills. More landfill waste means more methane and carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air, which leads to an increased risk of rising temperatures on Earth. So, while we’re buying seemingly endless supplies of Christmas decorations that need replacing every single year, we’re just contributing to climate change. Even innocuous things such as wrapping paper and sticky tape can add up. In fact, because the average child in the UK receives around 16 Christmas gifts every year, that’s a lot of resources wasted on gift-giving (not to mention there are about one billion Christmas cards sold in the UK each year!).

Can Christmas be sustainable?

While all the points mentioned above are relevant, it doesn’t mean you need to suck all the fun out of Christmas just to be eco-friendly. Going full Grinch means you’d be focusing solely on how lucky you are to have plain, boiled brussels sprouts on the table – and that wouldn’t be fun for anyone. So, in order to make the holidays more sustainable, try to be more mindful of the waste you’re producing, as well as still focusing on the elements you’re grateful for. We’ve listed some things you can do if you’re wondering how to have an environmentally friendly Christmas.

Tips for an eco-friendly Christmas

Need some sustainable Christmas ideas? Look no further than these tips!

1. DIY Christmas decorations

Don’t spend a fortune this year on meaningless tat to decorate your home. You can make your own using recyclable materials or natural, compostable items like dry leaves or twigs. Making your own decorations can be a fun activity to do with kids or just a relaxing task to help get you in a festive holiday mood. The best part is that you can toss everything once the holidays are over without feeling guilty about buying something that’s not eco-friendly.

sustainable christmas decorations

Image by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash: Decorate your table with natural items like pinecones and leaves for a sustainable option.

2. Go vegan

One of the biggest ways we’re harming the environment is by overconsuming meat around the world. If you want to be super green this holiday season, consider eating a vegan diet (that means no meat and no animal by-products such as eggs, dairy etc.). Because there are so many vegan options on the market these days, you can easily forgo more traditional options like stuffing balls, pigs in a blanket and bacon sprouts for full-flavoured, tasty veggie sides. They’ll make your table look more colourful, add texture to your plate, and help with overall digestion. Going green never tasted so good!

3. Give smarter gifts

Stop buying your loved ones things they don’t need this Christmas. Instead, focus on giving consumable gifts (such as a wine subscription service or a tasty chocolate sampler) that won’t contribute to the world’s waste problem. Or better yet, give the gift of a fun activity or experience (concert tickets, travel adventures, etc.) so that your friends and family can have an amazing time that they’ll remember long after Christmas is over. 

You can also gift items that are built to last and will be treasured for a long time – including clothing! Our PS Waterproof Winter Parka is perfect to keep your mum cosy during colder weather, and because it’s made to last for a lifetime, she’ll be able to use it for years to come. A more glamorous option, the PS Waterproof Mac, is ideal for any women in your life who love to support sustainable manufacturing (but still want to look stylish while doing it). Plus, buying from us means you won’t be wasting money on gifts that won’t last beyond the holidays.

4. Get wrapping

If you are buying physical gifts for your loved ones, make sure you’re not producing extra waste in how you wrap them. One fun option is to use newspapers to wrap your gifts. You can stay even more green by using flour and water to create glue and twine to tie it all up with. This will give your presents a fun old-school aesthetic, while still staying with the ‘green’ theme. Although it takes a tad more effort, you can make things a little silly by only using funny newspaper stories when wrapping. Whatever you’re using to wrap with, try to stick to compostable or recyclable materials.

paper christmas wrapping

Image by Caley Dimmock on Unsplash: Wrap your presents in newspapers or compostable materials to be more eco-friendly.

5. Christmas gaming

The holidays can be such a fun time of year to spend playing games with your family. But you don’t need to waste money purchasing board games or other expensive activities. Instead, play equipment-free games like Charades or Celebrity Heads that can keep you all entertained for hours. Another idea is to make up quizzes on different family members to help you all get to know each other better. Using these quizzes to learn more about older generations (such as parents and grandparents) can be a wholesome and enlightening way to find out some hidden treasures and fun stories in your family tree. These types of games can help you stay eco-friendly and can prevent you from buying extra stuff during the holiday season.

Try out the tips listed above so you’ll know how to have a sustainable Christmas without being too much of a Grinch! Following these ideas can help you recapture the good ol’ days when the holidays were about connecting with loved ones, not mindless consumption.

Featured image by JEShoots on Unsplash

7 Sustainable Gift Ideas That Will Outlive the Holiday Season

Shopping for the perfect presents for family and friends can often be a tricky undertaking. You always want to make sure you’re buying something they’ll like and truly use, without contributing to the environmental cost of the holiday season. So, what should you do if you need eco-friendly, sustainable gift ideas for Christmas? Well, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve thought of several suggestions that will last long-term and won’t get forgotten about as soon as the holiday season is over.

The Environmental Cost of Christmas

Although Christmas can be a joyful time of year, the attitude of consumption for the sake of consumption (stocking-filler joke presents that are fun for a minute, forgotten the next and end up in landfills barely decomposing for a few thousand years) is incredibly taxing on the environment. With the average UK adult spending around £330 on presents every year and the average child receiving around 16 gifts – that’s a whole lot of new products to contend with! There are also typically about one billion Christmas cards sold in the UK alone each and every year. Research tends to show that we create more than 30% more waste during the holiday season in the UK (including two million turkeys and six million Christmas trees). The waste we end up sending to landfills means there’s that much more methane and carbon dioxide (CO2) getting released into the air, leading to further warming of the planet and a highly likelihood we’ll be facing the projected dire consequences of irreversible climate change.

So, how can Christmas be more sustainable? Try to remain conscientious about your gift-buying (including packaging) while you shop so that you can attempt to limit your waste. Pay attention to whether the gifts you’re buying are actually something the person will use and will, in turn, use for a long time to come. Consumable goods and upcycled gifts can go a long way in helping to reduce waste. For some more specific suggestions for great sustainable gift ideas, read our post below!

sustainable christmas gifts

Image by on Unsplash: There are plenty of sustainable gift ideas for Christmas that will help you lower your environmental impact!

1.Special experiences

The most sustainable present idea, and one of the best things you can buy someone, is not a physical item, but rather an experience that they’ll never forget. This could be tickets to a play, concert, or sporting event, where they can spend time enjoying something that they love. Camping trips or another eco-friendly travel plans are other great experience-led gifts that will create cherished memories. Along the same lines, consumables (especially monthly subscriptions to wine or specialty food boxes with compostable packaging) can be a great way to reduce the amount of waste, since the present is something they can use right away.

2. Zero-waste kits

Have you been wondering, “What should I get my eco-friendly friend for Christmas?” Consider buying them a zero-waste kit from Your gift recipient can live a more sustainable life with a kit that includes a water bottle, insulated mug, bamboo utensils set, stainless steel straw, 100% organic cotton produce bag, two stainless steel containers, a bamboo toothbrush, and a beeswax food wrap variety pack. All of the items come in a tote bag, which makes the kit totally portable. There are also a variety of kit options, ranging in price from £32 and up, so you can find the perfect gift. 

3. Winter parkas

Get your friend a piece of clothing that’s fashion-forward, eco-friendly and built to last a lifetime. Our new waterproof winter parka is made with our signature high-performance fabric to keep you dry and protected but with a fleece lining for extra warmth during the cooler months. The cut is slightly longer than our traditional parka with an elegant dipped back hem to create a longer more sophisticated line. A drawcord at the waist and hem further allows the wearer to adjust the shape to suit their own. This item will be a go-to piece in their wardrobe for a lifetime to come, and they’ll be sure to appreciate that it was made under sustainable conditions.

4. Coffee table books

Really nice coffee table books with beautiful pictures can be a great sustainable present idea because they’re an item that people can display in their home for a long time. Get them a book focused on a topic they’re really interested in, or stick with the green theme and purchase a book about ecological issues (like Vitamin Green by Phaidon Press, which focuses on the intersection of sustainability and home design).

coffee table books

Image by Gui Avelar on Unsplash: Coffee table books (especially about green topics) are a great sustainable present idea.

5. Eco-friendly beauty products

We’re sure plenty of people would appreciate a gift set of eco-friendly beauty products. One option is to purchase a monthly subscription to Authentic House, which provides a box with a range of eco-friendly products that support ethical living and waste-reduction. Boxes range from £15 to £24 with free shipping in the UK. These ethically sourced, cruelty-free, vegan-friendly items also help support conservation with donations made to Trees for Cities and Rewilding Britain. Gift subscriptions are great because your loved one will think of you the whole year round when they receive their box in the mail.

6. Nest smart thermostats

Help your friends and family to reduce their energy consumption by buying them a Nest smart thermostat. This allows them to control their thermostat (including air conditioning and heating levels) right from their smartphones, so they can make sure they’re conserving their energy usage at home all year long. This type of smart thermostat can even end up helping them save money in the long run!

7. Living composters

Another great eco-friendly gift is a living composter. There are countertop options that are odourless and biomorphic, allowing them to easily turn food scraps into fertiliser right from their kitchen. So, instead of contributing to the huge amount of food we throw away every year, a composter can help make use of those food scraps in a more sustainable way. One option from Uncommon Goods can be shipped to the UK and will have your loved ones living a super-green lifestyle in no time.

Do your part to make this Christmas a little more eco-friendly and buy some sustainable gifts that will last long after the holiday season is over! 

Featured image by Ben White on Unsplash

Trailblazing Female Innovators You Should Know

The world as you know it simply wouldn’t be what it is today without women. Men are often thrust in the spotlight for their innovative and out-of-the-box thinking, but just as many women have contributed in both big and small ways to make your life comfortable and easy to navigate. Here are just a few of the fabulous women innovators who have helped shaped the world you live in today and continue to make the world a better place to live.

Kristina Tsvetanova

Kristina Tsvetanova may not be a household name, but for more than a quarter of a billion people worldwide with visual impairment, she’s made their world a better place.

The world has become increasingly digital. It seems as if almost every minute of everyday technology is used to communicate and navigate the world around us. But for those that are visually impaired, it can feel a bit like they’re excluded from all these technological innovations. Well, until BLITAB was created. 

Tsvetanova’s BLITAB is a Braille computer tablet. It helps those who are partially sighted and blind to use tablet technology by using disruptive actuating technology to create text and graphics that are tactile. It’s an amazing innovation!

Kristina was inspired to create this product after she saw the struggles of a friend at university who was visually impaired. Her friend was having difficulty following courses online, so she decided to do something about it. 

One of the most amazing things about BLITAB is that it’s accessible for many people with a cost less than $500 US dollars. That’s less than the cost of an iPad and a small price to pay for opening up the digital world to the visually impaired.

Image by Bence Balla-Schottner on Unsplash: Trailblazing female innovators are turning overlooked things, like ugly food, into useful tools to improve the world.

Christine Moseley

Have you ever thought about how much food goes to waste every single day? And how much that adds up to each year? In the UK, 1.9 million tonnes of food are wasted each year. Full Harvest, a company headed by Christine Moseley out of San Francisco, recognised this worldwide problem and decided to do what she could about it.

Christine saw a place in the market for ‘ugly’ food. You know, the imperfect produce that many people, including those in the food and beverage industry, would normally give a pass to. Full Harvest connected that not-so-pretty produce with buyers, helping to increase the yield and profit of growers. Christine’s global food brand is now working on creating food products out of rescued produce to do her part in the fight against not only wasted food but climate change, too.

Lisa Dyson

What if you could literally conjure food from thin air? That would go a long way in helping to ensure that people across the world were able to get the food they need to survive – and it’s something Lisa Dyson is working on. 

Inspired by carbon dioxide recycling work done by the U.S. space agency NASA, Dyson is working on a process she says is similar to making yoghurt or beer, except the air is combined with nutrients, renewable energy, and microorganisms to create ‘air protein’ that is then combined with other ingredients to make food. 

Her company is fittingly called Air Protein, and its aim is to create an alternative meat product from air to sell worldwide. She is also working on finding a way to make plastic biodegradable, create sustainable feed for fish farms, and nutrify soil for agriculture. Now that’s innovation!

Nicole Hu

Natural disasters are on the rise across the world, intensifying not just in frequency, but severity too. Nicole Hu has started a company called One Concern. Their mission is to use data science and artificial intelligence to make the world a safer place. The data they provide is being used by governments to create evacuation plans for natural disasters, project the damage cities may suffer from disasters, and help them know which buildings in which cities need to be reinforced to survive earthquakes and floods. 

She says her mission is to save livelihoods as well as lives – and it’s working.

Protected Species

At Protected Species, we’re no strangers to innovation. The company was founded in 2014 to bring practical, functional, and fashionable outerwear to women – but that’s not all. Anne and Rebecca, founders of Protected Species, also want to deliver versatile and sleek clothing in an ethical way. They work with other female entrepreneurs in the Far East to manufacture the fabric for their garments, and seek to empower women in the communities they invest in. 

In addition, the Protected Species fabric mill has pioneered waterproof fabrics that are created in an environmentally sound way. Only eco-friendly elements are used to produce Protected Species’ versatile clothing, such as the ladies’ rain mac or signature women’s waterproof parka

rebecca protected species

Image: Rebecca co-founder of protected species, testing a new waterproof ladies jacket to add to their existing collection

 The world is constantly changing, but it’s up to everyone to make sure it’s changing in a positive direction. These women are doing their part to help improve the environment, health and longevity of their fellow humans. Hopefully, it can inspire you to tackle a project that could help in your local community – and maybe even the world. 

Featured image by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

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