Clothing and Accessories
Bamboo is one of the most sustainable materials available today, but does that sustainability and eco-friendly label extend to bamboo clothes? The sad truth is, mostly no. The process to transform bamboo into clothing involves quite a bit of energy and produces chemical waste with environmental and health concerns.
Bamboo is turned into yarn by cooking the bamboo plant in strong chemical solvents to create a viscose solution. This solution is reconstructed into a cellulose fiber which is spun into yarn to create clothing, linens, and other fabrics and cloths.
Textiles derived from bamboo pulp are really just rayon fibers made through a harmful chemical process which definitely isn’t green. The viscose processing for bamboo pulp is similar to that of wood-pulp viscose and produces the same chemicals, one of the worst being carbon disulfide which, when exposed to high concentrations, can cause life threatening nervous system complications. › Continue reading
Thomas over at Tomi Otee was kind enough to send me some new organic polo shirts for my golfing. I found them to be not only comfortable, but also really like their modern cut and sturdy feel. The tee holders designed into the sleeves are a great functional focus piece and set them apart from your common polo shirt.
Tomi Otee is out to make stylish and functional golf clothing more sustainable with organic fabrics. Specially designed with a golfers quiver on the sleeves to hold your tees in a convenient and comfortable place. These polo style ‘golfer shirts’ come in long and short sleeve, and are designed for a flattering, yet comfortable fit. They fit slim but allow for a smooth, unhindered swing. › Continue reading
I am a big fan of Fair Trade products, and Stephanie over at Fair Trade Designs was kind enough to send me some of their products to review. One thing I really like is the stories about each of the artisans, so you really get to know the people behind the products you are purchasing.
Fair Trade Designs jewelry is sourced from all over developing countries and are made from a wide variety of eco-friendly and sustainable materials including seeds, recycled glass, and even paper. Here is a sampling of some of their wonderful products and stories.
Rainforest jewelry from Ecuador – The tagua nut fair trade bracelet comes from Ecuador and grows on a species of South American Palm. This eco-friendly cuff bracelet is handmade from “vegetable ivory” which is shaped, polished, and naturally dyed, giving it a distinctive smooth, cool feel. It is a great earthy and robust feeling piece, with more character and flair than the plastic counterparts you see in jewelry and fashion stores.
There is a long history of using rainforest seeds to create jewelry in Ecuador, however there is no real export market to sell their jewelry. Artisans are unable to live from their craft and their jewelry is rarely seen outside the small villages in which they originate. › Continue reading
Even today, many people still don’t know about the contentious issues that surround diamond production. Most people’s first experience of buying a diamond is when they plan to get married, and when caught up in all the excitement that brings, unless you have prior knowledge of the blood diamond issue, it may not be something that’s on your agenda.
Blood diamonds first became a real talking point in the late 1990s. One of the first organizations to raise awareness of the issue was Global Witness. In 1998, it released a report that exposed the role of diamonds in funding the civil war in Angola. Over time, international pressure from various organizations forced the diamond industry to move to try to eradicate these blood or conflict diamonds from society. At this same time, new markets in diamond alternatives and synthetics began to pop up to address consumer ethical and environmental concerns. › Continue reading
A newcomer to the Eco shopping world, Future:Standard is all about ethical style. With well established and even some newcomer eco friendly designers such as Alex and Ani, and everything from recycled handbags to eco underwear.
“Future:Standard came about because I am looking forward to the day when clothing (and all of our products) does not need to be labeled ‘organic’, ‘sustainable’, ‘fair trade’, etc. That it is just assumed that it is all of these things, that it is the standard.”
Using the guideline of only buying from designers and manufacturers that have taken into account the planet and the people producing the item with a high value placed on the environmental and social impact.
In a world of imperfect products Future:Standard set their standards high. Each designer and brand brings something different to the table, from philanthropic business models to organic materials and fair trade certification.
Items that are selected must be transparent in their design, manufacturing and distribution processes.
“We look for brands that are doing what they can. We look for items products with a smaller footprint and a concern for the people behind the product. We ask each and every designer about their production processes. If it seems like the designer is working to become more sustainable and ethical, we will reward them by buying. We hope that traditional brands will begin to realize the value in creating ethical items.”
If you’re like me, you love when you can contribute to a great cause just by buying things you would normally. That being said, I cannot stand buying things simply because they donate 10% of a way overpriced item to charity. I’d much rather donate that 10% myself, and buy something I actually want for a decent price. I donate regularly to my favorite causes and finding products that support good causes is just a bonus in my opinion.
Peace Keeper Cause-metics, while a still a young company isn’t shying away from donating despite the rough economic times. They’re embracing it. They continue to donate a portion of their sales, even when they are not profitable. That, I think is the mark of a great company. Putting the cause before the cash.
While Peace Keeper is committed to supporting women in harmful situations around the world, they’re not skimping on quality. Most of their formulas are mineral-based, without parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde, acetone, toluene, mineral oil, synthetic fd&c colors, artificial fragrances, artificial preservatives, and they don’t test on animals. Yeah, get out your list of no-no ingredients (or check the skin care ingredients to avoid list), and that about covers all my concerns.
Peace Silk vs. Eco-Silk
I have been trying and trying to find an eco-friendly wedding dress for my September wedding, and it was much much harder than I anticipated. There are a variety of organic companies that sell dresses, and a few designers have environmentally conscious choices, but let me tell you, the options are slim. Heaven forbid you want something that fits your body style, or that you’ll actually look good in! I finally found a few choices I was comfortable with on Etsy. I typed in “organic white dress” and found a myriad of pretty little options. Still not much compared to a bridal store, but it was something. It at least got me to the point where I realized I could get it custom made. Since I have such specific requirements I had to get it custom made. I chose a design I liked from the J. Crew Wedding catalog then set out to find an eco-friendly silk to have the dress made from. Little did I know how hard it would be to find an honest vendor that really knew what their stuff (and wasn’t trying to rip me off). I found the easiest choice was to find a vendor, and let them give me a price and to provide them with fabric I’d researched.
I originally asked for organic silk, and was startled to see the price and people throwing the word “peace silk” around left and right. I knew it was time for me to ‘get educated’ about the fabric I wanted for my dress. Peace Silk is a type of unbleached, natural silk, where the silkworms are allowed to live out the entirety of their lives. Ordinarily with silk, only a few of the worms are allowed to fulfill their natural lives and emerge from their cocoon. With Peace Silk, all of the worms are allowed to fulfill their natural lives, and the silk from the cocoons is harvested. It is also referred to as vegetarian silk or Ahimsa (non-violence) silk. Tussah silk is also very similar to peace silk, in that the moths live out their natural life and their cocoons are harvested after they’ve been vacated, however Tussah silk refers only to wild silk worms. The color of Tussah also tends to be a bit darker due to a different diet than cultivated silk worms.
A topic covered often here on The Chic Ecologist are brands and stores which carry eco friendly clothing. Based in Chicago, Verdessence is an on-line retailer opened by Lauren McGinty and Michael McCarthy out of a desire to promote positive change in the world. They were kind enough to send me an item from one of the many eco-friendly brands they carry, a sustainable hoodie by Edun (and no, that is not me in the picture).
Edun is probably best know by its celebrity co-founder, Bono from the band U2. Edun is a socially conscious clothing company launched in spring 2005 by Ali Hewson and Bono with a mission is to create beautiful clothing while fostering sustainable employment in developing areas of the world, particularly Africa.
The hoodie I received was made in Africa (Madagascar to be exact) by sustainable and recycled elements like wool, polyamide, cashmere, and PBT. It has a very modern fitted look and is top notch quality, as I would expect with all the brands Verdessence carries.
I actually initially ordered the Sameunderneath hooded coat (which was brilliant by the way), but I indicated the wrong size. The return/exchange process was very quick and easy making it painless to get a really great item. › Continue reading
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