It rains (a lot!) in England, mostly due to the unique atmospheric pressure, so we often get four seasons in one day or more. Northwest England gets far more rain than drier counties like Norfolk and Suffolk, and although the south coast gets a lot of rain, the sun means pavements often dry up in a few hours, unlike say Cumbria where it rains and rains and rains!
If it rains, you’re going to need a raincoat, an umbrella and some wellies! So which ones to choose? Most raincoats that are any good are covered in a toxic coating, but you can buy much better raincoats from Rapanui (for both men and women, these are top quality and made with green energy). In lots of colours and styles for outdoor people.
Look in stores for umbrellas made with recycled materials. Unlike recycled plastic clothing (which just deposits microplastics in the machine and back out to sea), items like these are good to use up plastic, as they won’t get washed in the machine. It’s not just umbrellas to beware of in thunderstorms but anything metal (golf clubs, motorbikes, bikes, wheelchairs, pushchairs and even tent poles). If you are exposed, squat close to the ground with hands on needs, and tuckyour head in them, not touching (or lying down) on the ground (do this immediately if your hair stands on end). The Met Office has more tips for staying safe in thunder and lightening.
Go for natural rubber wellies over toxic PVC. Evercreatures offer good ones, in funky colours and several styles. Dry them naturally in a warm ventilated room, but away from radiators.
four walks in English weather
Four Walks in English Weather is a wonderful meditation on wet weather in the natural landscape. Whenever rain falls, our countryside changes. Fields, farms, hills and hedgerows appear altered, the wildlife behaves differently and over time terrain is transformed.
In this book, the author explores our relationship with the weather and the natural world as she sollows the course of four rain showers in four seasons across Wicken Fen, Shropshire, the Darent Valley and Dartmoor. Blending these expeditions with reading, research, memory and imagination, she reveals how rain is not just an essential element of the world around us, but a key part of our identity too.
A rare a delightful thing – nature writing that entertains as it informs. Tristan Gooley
Pin-sharp observations about everything from berries to bird-song. The result is as delightful and comforting, as the sound of rain on a roof. National Geographic Traveller
where to find a sustainable raincoat
Rainwear is tricky one, as it needs some kind of water-resistant lining, or else you would get wet! But major brands tend to use PFC, a ‘forever manmade chemical’ used in non-stick pans to fire extinguishers that tends to leach into the water system during production, meaning they end up even in glaciers, and the stomachs of polar bears. This company uses a PFC-free alternative (it’s not clear what but is likely silicone or some kind of plant-wax). It’s best to launder anything not entirely natural in a microplastic-catcher.
Labo Mono is what we’ve been looking for! Not only are these high quality jackets waterproof and made from recycled plastic water bottles, but unlike some brands, the company doesn’t tell people to stuff their jackets in the washing machine that just releases more microplastics in the machine. Instead, you’re advised to spot-clean or gently hand-wash any dirty spots. You can do this with Guppyfriend’s sink filter that fits inside a sink to catch any fibres, so now this is as good as you’ll get for now, as it’s free from the usual toxic coatings and as long as you don’t fall in a ditch (!) you shouldn’t need to wash it beyond their instructions. Or a gentle hand wash using the filter should do it – it’s bouncing coats around washing machines that breaks off microplastics.
These jackets are designed to last years, and have breathable fabrics that are still robust enough to shrug off a downpour. They use a fluorocarbon-free waterproofing, which is safer for people and planet and feature a myriad of clever features.
The terrazzo go-go sky jacket above is made from 30 recycled plastic bottles, made ethically in China by workers paid a living wage, and you can get it repaired or send old jackets to be recycled. The 20K level waterproofing is good for torrential rain, heavy snow and strong winds, and fully-taped seams seal the jacket. It has 2 pit zips for extra ventilation and a soft abrasion-resistant fabric, and self-packs back into a bag with straws sewn inside the right pocket.
The stowaway hood has a semi-flexible peak with 3 adjustment points to follow head movements, and will also fit over a bike helmet. The jacket includes toggle reflective cuffs for safety and two zips to expand the jacket at the hips, adapting to more body shapes. The brand also sells a bright coloured version and more muted plain designs.
other good sustainable rain jackets
Rapanui (Isle of Wight) is a sustainable fashion brand that makes lovely organic cotton jumpers and shirts. Everything is made with green energy and sent in plastic-free packaging. Their range of raincoats and jackets are all made from organic cotton, with PFC-free coatings providing water-resistant linings. Also available for men.
Another thing that Rapanui does differently is design. Most rainwear is ‘fast fashion’ so brands use lots of toggles and pull-cords so they fit most people. This company prefers to make products that fit properly in the first place, so they took five years to design carefully tailored coats and jackets that need no adjusting features, and therefore no plastic. Even their quality YKK poppers and zips are made from easy-to-recycle metal. These raincoats and jacket vary in price from around £60 to over £100 but should last years (there are sale bargains).
Bamboo Clothing Recycled Waterproof Jackets were three years in the making, made with 98% recycled materials, incredibly lightweight and with a hood, storm flaps and secure zipped inside pockets. They feature fully taped seams, an adjustable hood and hem, adjustable cuff tabs and the coat packs into a side pocket. In 2 colours, for men and women.
comfortable natural rubber wellies
Evercreatures is a wonderful brand of natural rubber wellies, as opposed to most brands that are made with PVC plastic. These fun wellies are tested to thousands of steps to ensure they are comfy for long walks in rainy or muddy weather, and designed to last years.
In a wide range of fun colours and designs, there are wellies for tall or short people, ankle wellies and full-length and wellies for children. Not a few of the wellies are not 100% rubber, but most are so surf the site to find your favourites! And if you think natural rubber wellies are more expensive, they are. But they won’t fall apart after a season, they are super-snug and comfy and the site also has a clearance section.
This company has been around for 15 years and offers wellies for every day, whether you’re walking dogs, gardening or mucking out the stables or farm sanctuary. The company combines industry knowledge with funky design to offer some of the best wellies in the world. And the rubber is sustainably sourced and sold in eco packaging, with workers at their factory in China having good pay and working conditions.