Sunday, April 29, 2007

H&M & Organic Cotton

I recently did a photo shoot highlighting a couple outfits from H&M’s organic cotton line. As I edited the picts, I started to think about the trade off between buying organic cotton from a mega seller like H&M vs buying a conventional cotton outfit that was made in the USA by, say, American Apparel. This question is one of the reasons I started econista in the first place: to define an environmentally sound thought process behind the "why to buy" decision.

It depends on what evil I’m trying to remedy. In this case, I chose to buy the organic cotton hence making a stand against the use of pesticides and placing a vote for organic cotton on H&M’s ledger. But these items have a fairly large carbon footprint after being shipped around the world and trucked across the country (or at least from the Port of Oakland). Then there is the issue of H&M’s use of sweatshops in Southeast Asia, Africa, and Eastern Europe that accompany rumors of child labor (article). Even though the cloths are organic cotton, there’s no mention of the use of vegetable dyes that would ease the chemical burden on the water system by replacing synthetic dyes.

In the end, I’m pleased that H&M is making an effort to clean up the fashion industry by assuming a leadership role in creating a viable market for organic cotton farmers. Today, my-dollar-is-my-vote goes to organic cotton and H&M. Tomorrow, my vote may be cast for a carbon neutral alternative, but that’s just what is so great about these times, we don’t have to be ignorant anymore when we go shopping, we have some choices!!

The other cloths in the shoot included a bamboo dress by Lilja and the rest are thrifted items.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Terra Plana

Check out this eco shoe by Terra Plana. It is made of recycled and locally sourced materials, assembled with minimal glue and dyed with vegetable dyes. The style of the line is only rivaled by the company's commitment to sustainable production. They're beautiful inside and out. On zappos too.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Bamboo Textiles

bamboo/organic cotton blend denim skirt from Undesigned.

Bamboo is an amazing natural resource, as many of us know, it can grow feet in one day. It belongs to the family of grasses and canes, comes in many sizes and colors, and can grow in hot tropical regions or in the cold (down to -20 degrees). Different varieties are native to almost every continent. Not only is bamboo a highly renewable raw material, it also requires few pesticides because of its natural defenses to ward off pests.

Here is the rub for the savvy consumer. Because bamboo is not yet certified organic, the textiles are chemically processed in order to be spun into yarn. The bamboo must be crushed and broken down by chemical solvents like Sodium Hydroxide (lye) and Carbon Disulfide, or N-Methylmorpholine-N-Oxide until it liquefies into a paste. The paste is turned into fibers and spun into yarn to create the textiles. According to the makers of bamboo fabric, the chemicals used are recycled back into the production process making little byproduct or waste. The end product however, your cute bamboo cami or dress, is 100% biodegradable.

So here is the compromise we must consider. Bamboo is a sustainable resource that takes few pesticides, little water, land and labor to extract the raw material. But we need chemicals to turn it into clothing. Considering the large quantity of pesticides used for cotton crops and the chemicals used to make synthetic fabrics, bamboo still comes out ahead in most cases. Plus, bamboo clothing is extremely durable, requires less laundering and you won’t need to wear deodorant because it’s an anti-microbial (so it doesn’t absorb odors). With so many positive traits, choosing bamboo is an easy alternative.

Stephanie Syjuco

This amazing artist from San Francisco has been making one-of-a-kind hand-made recycled garments. Her store is still in beta, but check out this preview.

About Stephanie Syjuco: Maker of Anti-Factory clothing: unique garments made from recycled materials...because sweatshops suck! I am primarily a visual artist who is currently teaching sculpture at the California College of Arts in San Francisco. My clothing line is my strange attempt at creating wearable examples of turning away from mass-production and mass-consumption. Viva la revolution!


Sunday, April 22, 2007

Carbon Footprint

Quick, not-so-scientific footprint quiz that tells you how many acres it takes to sustain your lifestyle. Results measured in number of planets it would take if everyone lived like you do.

Dioxane chemical in baby products

I heard about this on the radio and googled it.

Laboratory tests released today revealed the presence of 1,4-Dioxane in products such as Hello Kitty Bubble Bath, Huggies Baby Wash, Johnson’s Baby Wash, Scooby-Doo Bubble Bath and Sesame Street Bubble Bath. The tests also found the carcinogen in Clairol Herbal Essences shampoo, Olay Complete Body Wash and many other personal care products.

1,4-Dioxane is a petroleum-derived contaminant considered a probable human carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and a clear-cut animal carcinogen by the National Toxicology Program. It is also on California’s Proposition 65 list of chemicals known or suspected by the state to cause cancer or birth defects. Because it is a contaminant produced during manufacturing, the FDA does not require it to be listed as an ingredient on product labels.

A list of products tested:

Saturday, April 21, 2007

LILJA Designs

San Francisco based designer Linnea Michaelsen creates a unique variety of beautifully feminine knitwear reminiscent of Missoni. Lilja uses yarns made from Bamboo, viscus, cashmere and cotton and makes many of it’s garments in San Francisco Bay Area.

LOMA Shampoo and Conditioner

Of all the "natural" hair care products I’ve tried, LOMA makes my hair the softest and shiniest. I think the results are better than the other salon-only brands I’ve used.

From their site:
LOMA is the industry leader to utilize the purest, most active form of Aloe Vera Gel as the product base. The use of aromatherapy-based oils rather than synthetic fragrances truly sets LOMA apart. It smells good enough to eat! LOMA products are blended with a uniquely effective combination of natural ingredients including pure botanical extracts, essential oils, vitamins, and naturally occurring proteins.

Friday, April 20, 2007


The first post for Econista needs to make a statement and embody the spirit of the blog. A good day to start? Earth Day 2007 of course! A great product to spotlight? ONE by Edun:

The special edition ONE tee shirt designed and produced by EDUN is made in Lesotho, South Africa of 100% African Cotton.

By purchasing this shirt, you are bringing Trade to Africa, making it possible for people to support themselves. Also, with every tee shirt sold EDUN will give $10 to the ALAFA fund to fight AIDS providing life-saving prevention and medicines to factory workers and their family members in Lesotho.

To purchase ONE