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
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
Now for a local, small business and community centric alternative to the Seattle 2010 Go Green Conference. Seattle’s Eco-Chic Expo is being held on Saturday, May 1st, at the Ravenna-Eckstein Community Center located in Northeast Seattle. A self described “interactive green lifestyle event”, the event is put together to provide the general public with an interactive day of tips, tricks and products to help people live greener, yet fashionable, lives. The Expo is free to the public and features a number of local companies dedicated to sustainable lifestyles. › Continue reading
With the weather improving (I’ll take 65 degrees any day!) and it finally feeling like Spring, girls are dusting off their sundresses and flip flops to match. If you are looking for that perfect pair of flip flops, make sure you try on the unique I Used To Be A Ricebag collection from BC Footwear. They are made with love and stamped with approval, featuring an imprint that says “I Used To Be A Ricebag” surrounding a recycle symbol. It’s another type of reusable bag that will definitely gain you a lot of compliments.
The eco-friendly shoe, just like the title says, is handmade from used rice, detergent and various other storage bags. Previously intended to end up in a landfill somewhere, these bags can now show off their unique colors and patterns walking down the street. They feature a cushioned insole and rubber sole and fit true to size. BC makes two types of these chic sandals, the Danke Ricebag and the Earthquake Ricebag. › Continue reading
I still remember what I initially thought when I first heard about PeopleTowels. I’m rather ashamed to admit it was something along the lines of “What, are they made of people?” Thankfully, no. They’re made for people, to empower people to cut back on the over consumption of paper towels. As co-founder Linda Lannon puts it, “It is the opposite of a paper towel, it is a PeopleTowel.”
Don’t pretend you haven’t walked into a public bathroom, either at a movie theater or at work, and cringed at the sight of the trash can literally overflowing with crumpled up paper towels. Even the air only blow driers use up a ton of energy and don’t get your hands properly dry anyway. Every once in a while you’ll see the waste-conscious, roller hand towels. But even then, I’ll always wonder whose germs I’m spreading over my freshly soaped and scrubbed hands.
The solution? PeopleTowels: the smart, personal, reusable hand towels. They’re conveniently small, roughly nine by nine inches. They’re well designed and brightly colored. They’re certified organic, fair trade cotton, made with 100% natural and nontoxic eco-friendly dyes. Absorbent, light weight and fast-drying, they come in a number of bright, fun, eco-chic designs. My personal favorite is the “this is not a tree” design, which really brings the point home. By using a PeopleTowel for one year, your actions alone are saving an entire quarter of a tree, conserving 250 gallons of water, and reducing landfill waste by 23 pounds. Those kinds of numbers add up pretty fast. › Continue reading
I’ve recently come across the coolest little gadget for men, and perhaps even for women. It may be old news but it’s worth being brought up again: the Sol Shaver and other solar razors like it. These electric razors are solar powered, something I didn’t actually ever expect to see on the production line because most people only use their razors behind closed doors, in bathrooms, in the morning.
But for those of us with busy schedules, constantly moving around, often traveling, this device is simply perfect. If you go camping, you can’t really say no to bringing one of these along. Likewise, spring break is coming along quite soon and many of us will be taking a long road trip ending up on a beach somewhere (plenty of sun). Wouldn’t this be the handiest thing to have?
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Sometimes it can be hard to find ways to make our habits more eco-friendly. Fortunately, sometimes making a few small changes can greatly affect our health and sustainability. When it comes to nail polish, you can find plenty of cute, eco-friendly alternatives. When shopping for nail polish there are three big ingredients to avoid:
1) Formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen associated with various cancers and leukemia. It is used in building materials and as an industrial disinfectant. Banned in cosmetics in Sweden and Japan although legal in the U.S., formaldehyde causes headaches, respiratory problems, irritates eyes, and can worsen asthma when inhaled. When ingested, it can even cause death.
2) Toluene. Toluene is a solvent commonly used in nail polish. It has intoxicating properties and is also commonly used as an inhalant drug. Toluene can cause serious neurological damage. Toluene is so toxic because the body is unable to properly metabolize it. Your body can’t get rid of it through sweat or bodily waste. Most of the toxicity is taken out when it is metabolized, but the leftovers can cause severe damage to your cells.
3) DBP (Phthalates). DBP is what is called a plasticizer. They are added to nail polish to make it more fluid, or easier and smoother to apply. The use of DBP within cosmetics, including nail polish, has been banned within the European Union and most producers within the United States have stopped using it as well. DBP is thought to be an endocrine disrupter, may be linked to obesity, and has been known to cause birth defects in mice.
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Our landfills are filling up faster than ever, and the garbage problem, is only getting worse. Recycling the obvious cans, bottles, and cardboard are the first step. Beyond that, it’s our job to develop green shopping habits that will help us lead a more sustainable lifestyle. I’ve listed some of the eco-friendly shopping tips that have come in handy for me, as I’ve tried to rethink the way I shop, and develop more sustainable habits in my life.
Tips for eco-smart shopping:
- Try out your local thrift stores. Second hand stores are great, and they’re full of things for you to reuse. I live in a very affluent area of California, and the thrift stores are full of clothes and books that have barely, if ever, been used. Plus they are dirt cheap! I can find the greatest button up shirts and cookbooks at thrift stores. I not only get to feel great about reducing my monthly spending, but I get to feel good about buying used products instead of adding to the landfill.
- Give your old stuff to charity. Just as thrift stores are great for finding great stuff, they’re also a more eco-friendly way of getting rid of your stuff. Most charities for the homeless, or lower income families, are always in need of used clothes, books, or toys. This is a great way to give back to the community while reducing your net output.
- Cut back on your purchases. With the economy the way it is, it’s the perfect time to cut down on your purchases. Reducing your “stuff”starts by reducing what you buy, and keeping it down to the essentials. How many times have we found a screaming deal on something at our favorite store, only to watch it sit in our house unused, and wasted? › Continue reading
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