Saturday, May 31, 2008

Stefano Nati recycled leather bags

Reminiscent of plastic folded folios and document carriers, Stefano Nati takes these simple, everyday containers and turns them into fashionable eco-chic accessories using regenerated leather. Handmade in Italy, the leather is created by grinding up scraps of waste leather that would usually go into a landfill and bonding the grindings with small amounts of natural rubber resulting in a beautiful, modern and durable material. The modern lines are held together with strong metal rivets but generally the shape is determined through folding instead of seams.

Stefano Nati is a native of Nocera Umbra, from a family steeped in the traditions of Umbria's ancient rural culture with its emphasis on hand-made artisans and respect for the earth.

You can purchase his bags at

Friday, May 30, 2008

Target's green videos

For years I've been able to buy Method brand cleaning products at the local Target, I know they've been the first big chain to focus on sustainability. So while checking out the organic cotton clothing at Target's website, I found these eco-concious shopping videos. It looks like they partnered with the author of "Gorgeously Green" and have included some tips for shopping green at Target. So check out the videos.

Target, green-washing or a good start?

A Target advertisement caught my eye on TV last night. Their ads are always well done, but this time, they said the cloths were eco-friendly. I sat up and logged on to see what was going on at Target. The collection they were talking about was "Go International: Rogan Gregory". The photos of the rather cool safari clothes are set in front of solar panels and grassy fields. I was excited and started "doing research" (or shopping). But, i didn't find a lot of organic cotton pieces, as it turns out, about 1/3 of the collection is organic cotton, the rest is silk, linen and then some poly. It's eco-chic to a point and in my opinion, it's a good start.

Who is Rogan Gregory? He's the designer behind Loomstate and Edun and recently open a boutique in NYC, Rogan, featuring his collection of modern street wear that reflects his fresh aesthetic. I'm looking forward to receiving my Target purchase which, in the end, reflects the makeup of the collection - one sustainable piece (the T below), one not. Oh well, like I said, it's a good start.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Stella McCartney and LeSportSac

It's been 10 days and I've been looking for something to be excited about for a post and sure'nuff, found it!

LeSportSac and Stella McCartney team up to create an eco-chic line of wonderful bags. Made from 100% recycled polyester, these eco-friendly bags are sure to please every econista looking for a casual, functional and stylish bag for the beach, gym or even for diapers!

With Stellas signature creamy palette and eye for functionality with a twist, these bags have me drooling. The different compartments work great for all sorts of things for work or play. Retailing for the requisite it bag price of $300 +- you can buy them at

If you're looking for some travel luggage, you can pre-order some designs from the the offical website where you can choose from the solid pink or grey or playful patterns Stella designed for large and medium rolling suitcases. Take a look at the entire line on the site too and you might buy more than one.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

BBC: Blood, Sweat and T-shirts

I've been to India, and it's a fascinating place. I had a love/hate reaction to India, I loved it because it was so foreign and hated it because it was so real. In my opinion, India is a great example of a Libertarian system. It's a democracy, but there's not government regulation of anything, from clean drinking water to garbage pickup. After my visit to India, I realized that the only thing that makes the US a first world nation is the system of paying taxes and that money being spent on maintaining certain standard for our society. Not paying taxes, corruption in spending tax money, and greed and selfishness (people not wanting to help other groups with education, housing etc) is what erodes society and puts it into third world status.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


An endearing plastic bag replacement. I just love it. From Vintage Shopper Made from fair trade cotton. Lots of different styles.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

How organic is organic going to be?

For some time now, many in the movement have wondered how the all natural personal care industry is going to maintain it's integrity as green, health conscious products increase in demand. New "all natural" companies pop up every day it seems. Organic shampoos, all natural skin toners, organic fruit enzyme cleansers. You read the "organic" and "all natural" labels and say to yourself, wow, there's so many choices now. But how do you know that the product is organic, it could contain a percentage of organic ingredients, but how much (or how little) constitutes the organic label?

Well some things are in the works to nail down these definitions and to nail the impostors.

  • Last month, Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps filed a lawsuit charging many of its competitors with deceptively marketing their soaps and lotions.

    The lawsuit - filed in San Francisco Superior Court - targeted many widely known cosmetic manufacturers including Estee Lauder, Kiss My Face, Hain Celestial and Stella McCartney America. It also named smaller firms such as Mill Valley-based Juice Beauty.

    In the suit, Dr. Bronner's accused the firms of false advertising by labeling products "organic" that contain relatively little organic material, that contain synthetic chemicals, or that use petrochemicals in processing.

    "This is the corrosive marketing of the cosmetics industry that hollowed out the meaning of 'natural' and now is doing the same with 'organic'," said David Bronner, president of the 60-year-old company.

    The lawsuit is evidence of the growing clout of green consumers, particularly in the arena of personal care products. Sales of natural body care products grew from $499 million in 2004 to $685 million in 2006 - an increase of 37 percent, according to the consumer products research firm Mintel.

  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture sets strict standards for organic food. But it doesn't have a similar standard for soaps, shampoos and cosmetics.

    Some firms like Dr. Bronner's have voluntarily adopted the USDA's organic food standard for their body care products, which requires that 95 percent of the ingredients be organic if a product is to call itself organic.

    Some other firms like Juice Beauty adhere to California's standard for organic body care products, which is less demanding than the USDA food standard.

  • 30 cosmetic companies, including Estee Lauder's Aveda, came out with their own set of rules called Organic and Sustainability Industry Standards (OASIS). Products have to have at least 85 percent certified-organic content to qualify for the OASIS seal. Plus, non-organic ingredients included in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)-certified organic products can only be substituted if they're not available in organic form. But, the watchdog Organic Consumers Association thinks this 85% is misleading, considering that many personal care products are more than 85% water.

All Natural

The new standard for all natural products has been developed by the Natural Products Association. The new certification they have developed has been influenced by many long time industry leaders as well as good science and respected international standards.

Under the new program, products must follow strict guidelines set out by the Natural Products Association to merit bearing the seal. The criteria include, but are not limited to:
  • Product must be made up of at least 95 percent truly natural ingredients or ingredients that are derived from natural sources
  • No ingredients with any potential suspected human health risks
  • No processes that significantly or adversely alter the purity/effect of the natural ingredients
  • Ingredients that come from a purposeful, renewable/plentiful source found in nature (flora, fauna, mineral)
  • Processes that are minimal and don't use synthetic/harsh chemicals or otherwise dilute purity
  • Non-natural ingredients only when viable natural alternative ingredient are unavailable and only when there are absolutely no suspected potential human health risks

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Lara Miller Spring 08

Lara Miller is up to her geometric transformations again, but this season, her collection is more streamlined and elegant - more eco-chic. These few pieces demonstrate an increased sophistication and simplicity. Her usual draping layers of jersey still prevail throughout the collection, but the complexity of the wrapping has been reduced and the silhouettes more defined. She uses fabrics made from bamboo, seaweed and organic cotton.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Marie Claire goes green ... for good?

A recent Guardian article interviewed Marie O'Riordan, the woman at the helm of the glossy Marie Claire. Their new tag line "Fashion with heart" launches this June with a cover of Cate Blanchet while inside, the magazine profiles "A-list activists", talks to real-life eco-heroes, gives three women a sustainable fashion challenge and offers pages of "guilt-free" indulgences.

My alarm bells started to go off early on while reading this article. I was thinking (like an econista) how Marie Claire would stay mainstream while being green. I mean, would they still have ads for H&M, encourage us to buy the latest must-have beauty products containing known carcinogens and mass market mass produced leather-like shoes? Would they continue to show beautiful women swimming in blood diamonds? How big was was this heart going to be.

Fortunately, the author had similar questions.

"But while the magazine's editorial offering has always been subject to a tension arising from its attempt to combine intelligent features and frivolous fashion, by trying to marry ecology and consumerism aren't they now at risk of pushing it beyond the point of all credibility?

"I think we're just trying to reflect the reality of our readers' dilemma and confusion," answers O'Riordan. "There's no point in us saying, 'You have to stop shopping' or 'You have to stop flying'."

O'Riordan still thinks her primary task is to produce a glossy magazine - and she hasn't set herself a mission to fundamentally alter what that means. "At the end of the day, entertainment is my priority every month," she says, "and as soon as I stop entertaining I've lost the fight."

So there won't be an end to flying the fashion team to exotic locations, celebrity journalists commuting back and forth to LA for interviews, or the celebration of nice new things to buy? "We're not going to turn into the Ecologist because that's not who we are," she says.

When O'Riordan says that the magazine now uses paper from sustainable forests, but not recycled paper, "because it's not glossy enough", it is a neat summing up of what her professional instincts are telling her about how far to push the eco-message.

I commend Marie Claire for treading into the murky waters of fashion morality while still trying to fill adspace. I just don't expect them to ask the hard questions of an industry that thrives so much on waste and self importance.

Many times I wonder if we econistas are too hard on the mainstream when it comes to how green they are. It's not easy to go from one extreme - unfettered consumption - to sustainability all in one swoop or declaration. And this is essentially what Marie Claire is saying. But at the same time, it is the help of the big money players, the main stream, that can provide the momentum needed to turn this movement into an everyday way of life. Mainstream sustainability is the only way we can ensure a fashionable life for our grandkids.

For too long the designers on the fringe have been creeping the movement along by making wares by hand, trading with friends and working with limited sustainable materials. Why must the megabucks fashion industry rely on the little guys to do what's right? But isn't that how it's always been done, those who sacrifice for their ideals and stick to their word are used by those who want to make a buck? It's true in many industries: those working on the fringe are inventing the future, while those in the inner circle are trying to predict the future.

In the end, I just hope that Marie Claire's quest for "fashion with a heart" really means that these fringe designers who are toiling away in the shadows will have their day in the sun on the glossy (not recycled) pages of the mainstream magazines. To bring their work and integrity to the fore and challenge the establishment is probably the most we can as for from a glossy with share holder mouths to feed. But that, in and of itself is a big step.