Rachel Fortune of Kirkby Malzeard launched The Sustainable Lifestyle Awards to help us make beautiful consumer choices that are ethical and cool.

AS a mother of two young children, aged six and four, Rachel Fortune knows they already understand the importance of looking after our planet. She believes sustained change will come about only by educating the younger generations to respect the world we live in.

However, Rachel, who has a background as a fashion stylist, working in the past for for the designer Nichole Farhi, as a personal in-house stylist at Topshop and running her own personal styling business, now works hard to promote sustainable production and consumption within the fashion industry.

She created The Sustainable Lifestyle Awards – the inaugural winners were announced in November – to put the spotlight on the conscientious creators who are dedicated to making beautiful lifestyle products with positive social and environmental impacts. Empowered by their craftsmanship and dedication to do things better, the SLAs recognise the critical role these pioneers play in influencing and driving positive change within their industries.

“We’re all aware of the ever-increasing urgency the climate crisis presents, so finding solutions and products which can easily help us all live that little bit more sustainably is no longer a ‘nice to do’, it’s an absolute imperative if we’re going to help affect real change at scale sooner rather than later,” Rachel says. “The ambition for the Sustainable Lifestyle Awards is to provide everyone with a list of products and services at every price point to help shoppers make better, more informed and beautiful choices.”

At a time when consumers are becoming ever more aware of climate change and conscious of their everyday purchases, the SLAs are a hub of shopping recommendations, covering everything from household cleaners and clothing and toiletries to restaurants and technology. "'Accept the things you cannot change, but have the power and strength to change the things you can'. I remember reading this piece of advice in a newspaper article a long time ago and it has resonated with me ever since,” Rachel says.

The Northern Echo:

“I had always been interested in fashion brands that promoted sustainability. My venture, Style The Sustainable, signalled this intention to influence others into a more mindful and conscientious type of consumption.”

As her focus shifted, the spending behaviours of her family changed. “I only buy what I need; our clothes tend to be hand-me-downs; I try to avoid purchasing food with plastic packaging, and we eat locally sourced and seasonal produce," she says. "There is a small premium attached to the latter, but one thing I noticed in our household: the more money we paid, the less likely we were to waste it. In effect, we learnt to live more simply.

“I did learn a few additional things. There are lots of misconceptions about ‘eco’, ‘ethical’ and ‘sustainable’ products; a belief that quality and aesthetics are somehow compromised for the sake of being ‘virtuous’. Yes, sustainable products have suffered an image problem – on the one hand, wrongly maligned as the sole preserve of the clean living, tree hugging, socks-and-sandals wearer; on the other, incorrectly regarded as prohibitively expensive in the way organic groceries can be.

The Northern Echo:

“The truth is that the majority of people buy into products first because they like the design; the fact that something might also be eco, ethical and sustainable is seen as an added bonus, but not necessarily an influencing factor in the overall purchasing decision. Style The Sustainable was set up as a means of illustrating a point: that there is a middle ground – that fashion could indeed be affordable, cool and ethical.”

Rachel, who grew up in South Stainley, North Yorkshire, says some of her favourite regional brands and shops are Myroo Skincare and Violet pre-owned fashion shop in Harrogate, Earth Unwrapped zero waste food in Northallerton and Kristina’s ethical gift shop in Thirsk.

For consumerism to be made more conscientious, the experience needed to be easier, more streamlined, she says. There needed to be a valid adjudicator that could stringently vet for truly sustainable and ethical brands against a tough checklist, separating them from other brands who merely “green wash”. Her ambition for the awards is to give the sustainability movement a positive voice and encourage consumers to “vote with their money”.



  • Slow down. Don’t think you need everything right now to keep up with the Joneses and don’t over-buy food
  • Shop local. Try and limit your food shopping radius to ten to 20 miles to reduce food miles and plastic. Local markets are great for this.
  • Second-hand. In our family, we scour the pre-owned sections for clothes and donate from our wardrobes.
  • Experiences. Don’t buy stuff to feel better. Go for a walk, cook dinner, spend time together.
  • Stop. Think about what you really want before you fill your lives with items you don’t need. Upcycle your clothes into new styles.