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East Coast eco-chic

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Living simply is the path to a more sustainable life, and the new mantra for many Atlantic Canadian design gurus 

Where design meets simplicity, you’ll find Kelly Anderson. 

She worked corporate jobs for 20 years before she decided to give up her day job on the West Coast and move home to New Brunswick. Six years later, Anderson is now nesting in Fredericton and owns Simple Home Simple Life, a business to help clients create sustainable homes through essentialism.

“Essentialism is essentially living by design rather than default,” says Anderson. It’s all about reusing and repurposing rather than over-purchasing. The first thing Anderson says you should do is to identify the values you have and the lifestyle you want to live, so you can get rid of the excess.

“Figuring out your intention helps you realize the things you don’t need,” Anderson says.

Repurpose and upcycle

Creating new uses for larger furniture items in your home is a start. For example, Anderson says your dresser can make the perfect height for a standing desk. Add an antique crate on top to place your monitor, and voilà.  

For smaller pieces, upcycling might be the way to go. Bottles, jars, and baskets are great for functional kitchen décor. Anderson says when you’re done with large bulk jars from places like Costco, rip off the label, add chalkboard stickers and use them for organizing. 

Use your environment

Lucky for us Maritimers, nature can often help with beach-chic design elements. Anderson suggests next time you’re on a beach walk, collect some driftwood for the mantle or find sea glass to put in a clear jar. 

Our environments, Anderson says, are key to mental and physical health, as a year of lockdowns has made even clearer. These purposeful practices will help limit wasteful consumerism, spending and time.

The closet connection

One business that’s taken advantage of the essential lifestyle is P.E.I. clothing company Ureshii, prioritizing comfortable and sustainable clothing.

Partners in business and life, Emily McBride and Amanda Dawe are shifting the way we purchase our clothes. Emily McBride sews while Amanda Dawe works the customer service side. Together they own Ureshii, a made to measure and made to order sustainable clothing business in Summerside, P.E.I. 

“COVID-19 is changing the way we buy clothes,” says Dawe, meaning we’re opting for comfort and longevity rather than trends. This is good news for Ureshii. Sustainable clothes are coming back into the conversation and with it, made-to-order clothes. 

Fast fashion leads to a lot of leftover stock which means more waste. “It’s really good for consumers to get used to choosing a product really carefully and then waiting maybe an few days for it to be made just for them,” Dawe says. In addition to using less waste and fewer resources, you’ll also get clothing tailored to your body.

If retail shopping is more practical for you, Dawe suggests that you make an effort to look for transparency when buying. “It’s important to think about what the clothes are made out of, who’s making them, are those people being paid appropriately and how far away is it coming from?” 

If you’re talking with a small-business owner, they’re usually able to tell you all of those things so you can make those choices easier, says Dawe. 

Ureshii uses hemp and linen fabrics since these plants don’t use a lot of pesticides or water and, a big plus, can be grown in North America. Dawe and McBride are looking forward to when local farmers can start growing and producing sustainable fibre fabrics on the East Coast.

“It’s kind of an amazing thing to think that one day we could be making clothes from a fibre that was grown by a local farmer,” says Dawe.

Talia Meade

East Coast Living