Sunday, June 24, 2007


Each year, Americans throw away some 100 billion polyethylene plastic bags. (Only 0.6 percent of plastic bags are recycled.) When one ton of plastic is recycled, the energy equivalent of 11 barrels of oil are saved.

Here's a way to make a statement while shopping! BYOB, a Canadian outfit, has a whole line of sassy and sweet canvas bags available in organic cotton or natural cotton. They aren't cheap ($35 for organic) but they are a great way to tell other shoppers to think about their choices. BYOB also makes custom bags which is a great idea for corporate give aways.

Saying no to plastic bags is popular right now, especially here in San Francisco where the city has banned plastic bags at supermarkets. I was lucky to find a thrift store that had a huge crate of used, imported (mostly from Germany) canvas shopping bags where I found a fun Lotto themed bag. Funky and fun, but I think I might be willing to fork out a few more bucks for one of BYOB's creations.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The People Have Spoken

New Zealand's The People Have Spoken uses responsible manufacturing processes and sustainable fabrics and wherever possible. They use fabrics such as Tencel and Modal instead of cotton. These wood based fabrics are 100% organic, bio-degradable and have a much smaller carbon footprint than cotton. They require 1/4 of the dye and have exceptional properties such anti-bacterial, moisture wicking, temperature control, and suitability for sensitive skin. The brand's style is very wearable.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

95% Thrifted

I just did another shoot called "Alone" where most of the clothes are thrifted. These are a couple shots. The other 5% consists of a pink babydoll dress - a handmade Ransack Studios creation - the patterned tights were new and so was the bracelet. There are a couple organic cotton pairs of tights in there too. You can see all the shots from the shoot at the link to the right.

Recycled Clothing

Most people who drop off a big bag of cloths at Goodwill are simply trying to clean out their closets. But did you know that only 10% of clothing donations are sold in those stores. There's is an entire international industry of used clothing coming from America. The charities sort through your pile and find the best pieces to sell. Then poor people, bargain hunters and funky thrift store fashionistas buy the cloths. The profits from these transactions do aid the organizations, however, most of your donation comes from the sale of the other clothes you dropped off.

The remaining 90% of your donated cloths are sold by Goodwill (or which ever charity) to companies like Secondary Recycled Textiles Association. In fact, hundreds of millions of dollars worth of cloths each year. The recycler sorts the cloths again to find fabrics suitable for things like cleaning cloths and other industrial items that can be made. But again, most of the cloths don't end up as rags or transformed into a different product, they are bundled up into units, 100 pairs of jeans for example, and then sold in bulk to an international clothing ring for a great price, around $1.30 per pair of jeans. Then they are shipped in bulk to the developing world where they are sorted and distributed in the "bend over" market (imagine people browsing stands when the clothes are laid out on the ground). Now the pair of jeans can be worth up to $6.60. That's a huge profit!!

Some may be offended by this process and feel like the donation was intended to help the poor here, not some entrepreneur in the developing world. But I don't mind, Goodwill is helping a lot of people. The clothes are being used and frankly, that type of profit is what the original brand who made the product from scratch enjoyed when they sold the clothes new. So when you travel to Africa, don't be surprised to see a T-shirt with an American wrestler on it... it's part of our global economy.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Green Laundry

So a great way to still be environmental while we wear our not so sustainable wardrobe, is to make smart choices when we clean our cloths. Besides the advice we've all heard about doing full loads and washing on cold to save energy, we can also push our local dry cleaning industry to go green too.

Dry-cleaning uses chemicals that are solvent-based and harmful to the environment. The primary solvent, perchloroethylene, that is used in the process is a classified "probable carcinogen" by the EPA. Which means it's bad for your health and for the environment.

A few new processes
that can replace dry-cleaning are becoming more available. One is called "wet cleaning" by "Miele" a German made processing unit that "wet cleans" the garments using perfectly balanced soaps and water. It is gentler than hand cleaning, can remove stains that dry-cleaning can't and is approved by more and more garment manufacturers on their dry-clean only garments. Fabrics that can be washed using the Miele wet cleaning process include wools, cashmere, silks, wedding dresses, laces, rayon and more.

Another dry-cleaning replacement is C02 dry cleaning which uses liquid carbon dioxide instead of perchloroethylene. The liquid carbon dioxide is combined with recyclable cleaning agents and is exposed to the garments during the cleaning process. Then the machine pulls the mixture away from the cloths leaving them clean while the solutions are reused. Because heat is not used, the process is gentler on the cloths and more energy efficient.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Treadbanger Episode

Monday, June 11, 2007

Diamonds for Africa

I'm not the biggest fan of diamonds, don't get me wrong, they are super beautiful, but there's a lot of things around the diamond industry that I don't find very.... honest. I didn't need to see Blood Diamond to understand what distruction such precious rocks could have in a community that lives on a dollar a day. But with this bracelet, Simmons Jewelry's Green line is working to change all that.

The line was inspired by a recent fact-finding trip to Botswana and South Africa taken by Russell Simmons and a Simmons Jewelry Co. delegation to see how diamonds were empowering Africans where they are a natural resource. Upon his return, Simmons and Simmons Jewelry Co. announced the formation of the Diamond Empowerment Fund (D.E.F.) and the Green Initiative. The D.E.F. is an international, non-profit organization, with a mission to raise money for educational programs to uplift the people and communities of Africa.

50% of net profits of the bracelet go back to Africa through D.E.F. which means with a $125 price tag, you're actually donating a lot of money to the cause. The brancelet is made from green malachite beads and conflict-free rough diamonds sourced from Africa. Each special Academy Awards Green Bracelet came with a Gem Certification Assurance Lab certificate, ensuring that the diamonds are conflict-free. Now those are some diamonds I'd have a hard time passing up. Not bad, and it's a unisex style, you can dress it up or down and you get a diamond within a diamond shaped cage, a great metaphore. You can get one of your own here.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Street Style Sunday

This Sunday is all about Flickr Group Wardrobe ReMix member o0lua0o / Lewis Mirrett

Earth is everything to us but we treat her like dirt

Last night was a rather political evening in my home with a double feature of documentaries. Trudell is a film about the life of John Trudell, the Native American activist and poet. He’s a man who grew up on the Res, poor as poor can be and has had a life full of pain (his entire family was killed, rent the movie to hear his story).

The second movie was another viewing of An Inconvenient Truth. Al Gore, a very familiar figure, is a Washington insider and power broker, wealthy and privileged. Gore is almost the complete opposite of Trudell, or so it would seem. But what struck me at the end of the evening is that they were both talking about the same thing – our relationship to the Earth.

Al Gore presents a very convincing (and terrifying) scientific case for global warming. He uses high tech animation, computer projections and video to support his case. Trudell discusses the spiritual realm, the invisible, the improvable. His philosophy about the poisoning of our lands (the uranium mining on his reservation has given many Natives cancer) is that our society is spiritually lost, we have no connection to the land or to each other. Our spirits don’t love the generations to come. He criticizes the American culture for needing to be hit over the head with facts formulated by scientists (or politicians presenting the science) before believing what is in plain site – we are poisoning the Earth.

While Al Gore argues that we can use our democracy to clean up our environment, reduce global warming and prepare for the changes to come, Trudell argues that the fight is inside of each of us. I argue that both are true.

The fight is not to save the Earth… she’s been around for a long time and has survived worse than us… the fight is to save life as we know it. We must use science to buy us more time and figure out how we can still have our toys while being in balance with the earth. However, in the end, true sustainability requires a change in our spirits.

A start may be to ask questions of ourselves. Where is the love for our children and for our home? Are we really such slaves to our jobs that we have no time or energy to dedicate to bettering our civilization? Do we care more about what people think about us than who we actually are? Why are we afraid of the bacteria and not the antibacterial chemical that kills them? Why is packaging less real than the object inside? Why are we constantly searching for what is new?

Change is what life is about.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

H&M Dontates to Water Aid

Being an Econista is sometimes difficult. There are so many desirable fashions that just don't sit well with the politics of the Eco part, but satisfy the style and fun of the fashionista part. H&M is one of those places that is so much fun to visit, but the guilt of supporting disposable chic, sweatshops and very unsustainable materials just kills the joy of shopping. Beyond their organic wares, H&M is doing a few charity efforts that an Econista can support.

Every summer, H&M designates one bathing suit to benefit Water Aid but this year, Kylie Minogue has teamed up with H&M to produce a very cute summer line and she chose Water Aid as her charity. The line of sexy bathing suits and colorful and glam cover ups is just what Fashionistas are looking for when they hit the beach. 10% of proceeds from any piece in her line goes toward water projects in developing African and Asian communities so it's a guilt free purchase for Econistas.

Water Aid understands that one of the most important effects of global warming is the diminishing amount of potable water. 1.1 billion people in the world do not have access to safe water, this is roughly one sixth of the world's population. 5000 children die every day because of complications related to unsafe drinking water. If the world's water fit into a bucket, only one teaspoonful would be drinkable. These statistics will only worsen as the global population rises and the environment worsens. Water Aid is doing great work worldwide to improve sanitation and they are also on the front lines of the privatization debate by fighting multinationals who are buying water rights and selling the water back to the people for a profit. We go to war for oil just so we can drive cars, but imagine the wars that may be fought over water - the resource that sustains all life.

Thinking Like An Econista
California is preparing for drought. While last year it seemed like it rained constantly, this winter it rained only a few times. The Sierra snow pack is the lowest it's been in decades so we're back to the conservation tactics we used when I was a kid ... in a nutshell:

Yellow = mellow
Brown = flush it down

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Camilla Norrback

Camilla Norrback is a Swedish designer who's work embodies elegance. Her designs speak to sophisticated working women. Europe has more specific and strict environmental certifications and Camilla Norrback has chosen to produce the major part of the garments in ecological or environment-certified natural materials. For a fabric to be labeled ecological it must be environment-friendly produced in every step – cultivation, processing and colouring. These standards focus not only on what is released into the air during production, but also preserving the groundwater when coloring fabrics. Perhaps these standards are a reason why Europeans have almost half the number of chemicals found in their blood than Americans.

Monday, June 4, 2007

The Battalion

L.A. Based label, The Battalion, is a fresh addition to the sustainable style scene. Designed by a team of sisters, Linda and Chrys Wong have created a line that is fresh, fun and sexy. After producing their first two seasons using conventional fabrics, they discovered Bamboo jersey and never went back. Their popularity is gaining momentum and I can see why.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Street Style Sunday

From the top left:
Berlin .. Shanghai .. Helsinki .. Stockholm .. Milan .. Paris

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Sustainable Style on Etsy

So more and more cloths made from bamboo and organic cotton and hemp are popping up on Etsy. Check these selections!

april dawn reigart

Whose Sari Now

El Diablo Shoes custom footwear

Hopeful Monster

Mummus shop

Treehouse 28

Defy Boarders

Sunday Social

Friday, June 1, 2007

Chinese Factories Post1

Here are some very cute shoes by Worn Again, a green UK company. Their casual sneakers are a witches brew of recycled materials. A pinch of old men's suits, a dash of car seats and a teaspoon of prison blankets and poof: sweet sneaks.

As blogged about on Tree Hugger, Worn Again recently came under fire by the UK’s Daily Mail because this green shoe company (an offshoot of Terra Plana) manufactures their shoes at a factory in Guangdong, China. They reported that the factory, Brilliant, which also makes shoes for Next, Gap and US fashion label Bathing Ape, has poor environmental and labor practices. About 60,000 pairs of shoes are produced every year for Terra Plana - a relatively small contract for a vast plant churning out around 2.5million pairs of shoes a year. Besides exposing that the town is highly polluted and the river is black like soy sauce, is unable to support any life and emits a toxic odor, the article has some pretty damning testimony from workers.

“They complained bitterly about the cramped, grimy living conditions where ten workers share one small 16 square metre room, and said canteen food was so bad they ate in cheap cafes outside the factory when they could afford to. A meal for two in a simple restaurant costs 45 yuan (£2.93).

‘I work with this strong glue every day and I don’t believe it is good for me. After doing this for eight hours a day, you have no sense of smell and no sense of taste.' ”

Last February, one-tenth of the factory’s workers returned home for New Years and didn’t return to work at th factory. Since then, the factory has had difficulty filling all 4 production shifts.

Thinking Like an Econista
The point of this post isn’t to further punish Worn Again and it isn’t to expose the poor environmental and labor conditions in China (we can well imagine what these are like).

My point is to say that the sustainable fashion movement needs to cut companies like Worn Again some slack. If you take a look at Worn Again’s website you see that they talk a big game about how green they are and all of their lofty plans on how they are going to save the world. Yeah, it’s kind of annoying but when was the last time Nike talked about saving the world? Worn Again uses recycled materials and donates proceeds to various charities… right there we are making progress and I think we should be happy with that for now (if in 5 years they’re still talking big and failing to meet our standards, then get on their case).

We greenies need to nurture these small companies that are trying to be environmentally and socially responsible within a highly entrenched system that doesn’t care about such things.

Our civilization needs to EVOLVE. And evolution means seeing what works and what doesn’t - survival of the fittest - so let’s make sure these green companies survive by supporting them financially and politically.

As I’ve said before, green customers are more educated and have higher standards, but we don’t want to be impossible to please. Save the attack dogs for the multinational corporations who nurture their bottom line and nothing else.