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Being Beautiful Was Never So Environmentally Friendly

Being Beautiful Was Never So Environmentally Friendly

Haven’t you heard? Green is the new black. No, not the color silly, we’re talking about the environment. That’s right, while many car companies, oil tycoons and energy companies claim the green way, eco-fashion has finally been picking up steam and garnering a lot of attention. But it’s not just the kinds of clothes you wear that determine your eco-fashion level (or lack thereof), but also how you buy, clean and take care of your clothes. And hey, you can still look great without wearing all hemp clothes and accessories.

Many designers are turning away from conventional production of clothes to “greener” pastures. In fact, during the 2009 fashion week, there was also the GreenShows Eco-Fashion Week, which premiered only fashion committed to eco-friendly, ethically sound, fair-trade fashion in NYC.  Partnered with the Rainforest Action Network, the GreenShows features designers such as Izzy Lane, Bahar Shalpar, House of Organic, Lara Miller, Mr. Larkin and STUDY by Tara St. James [Source: Design Taxi]. Still other designers like Marc Jacobs and Burberry are touting their collections as eco-friendly [Source: Discovery]

Of course, like the corporate world, the fashion world is full of greenwashing that can mislead the buyer. Not all companies are using sustainable practices and may just use any kind of green marketing as a way to attract environmentally friendly consumers. For example, Banana Republic launched a green collection where only the buttons and paper price tag come from recycled or sustainable materials. But does this make their clothing anymore eco-friendly than say Rogan’s that use free-range alpacas and no toxic dyes in their sweaters? Of course not, but the average consumer has very little information on what goes into making sustainable clothing.

Buying clothing made of organic cotton can help but not if the actual process of treating the shirt is as harsh as that used for regular cotton tees. [Source: Fast Company]. The same can be said for bamboo clothing. While the plant itself is very easy to grow and requires very few pesticides, so many harsh chemicals are added in the process of changing the wood fiber to textile that it almost renders the sustainable bamboo clothes moot. In order for the fashion world to truly embrace the green lifestyle, they must first educate consumers  about their purchases and disclose all of the details on their product from eco-friendly to not so eco-friendly parts.

The easiest way to be eco-chic, however is either:
1. Don’t buy as much (easier said than done)
2. Buy “used”.
Now “used” does not necessarily mean from a thrift store-although that’s always a good idea since not only are you reducing the amount of junk, but generally supporting a good cause – it can also mean made from used products. There are many artisans that have reused old cans, pop tops and glass to create beautiful jewelry (check out the stuff at etsy.com). Even more complicated accessories like hats and belts can be made out of reclaimed rubber, metal and leather. Of course, the number one concern is the actual clothes and shoes that we wear. But don’t fret, there are plenty of ways to recycle your old clothes into a new outfit. There are even some companies that specialize in only these types of clothing, like Super Lucky Cat and Deborah Lindquist. Both of these companies gather cast off clothing to create a different look. Deborah Lindquist is also very high-fashion and uses vintage cashmere, lace and kimonos to achieve a glamorous yet effortless look.

There is certainly a growing interest in the fashion industry to push for eco-friendly clothing, but a lot of the work also has to be done by the consumer. Rather than just throwing out clothes when they rip, learn how to stitch the seams back together and sew buttons back onto that favorite jacket. Simple repairs like this can increase the lifespan of your clothes, thereby decreasing the amount of junk thrown into a landfill (did you know that 85% of recyclable clothes are thrown out needlessly every year? [Source: WikiAnswers]). Taking good care of your clothes also will contribute to a longer life. Always follow the directions on the care instructions on your clothes/accessories. And while you’re at it, you can find green dry cleaners and even environmentally friendly laundry detergent and fabric softener.

It doesn’t take much effort to look great and save the planet. The easiest way is to make sure the clothes you buy will always be in fashion (you know how fickle people’s tastes can be), but if you must buy or have the latest look, then think green before you buy.

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12 comments

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3:55AM PDT on Sep 28, 2009

I consider myself extremely “chic”, I’m starting to become more eco-friendly. I notice stores that are “going green”. One of my favorite stores to buy used great condition, and fashionable clothing for teens and young adults is Plato’s Closet. They buy used clothes back and resale them, of course they are very strict, however, it’s just like walking into Forever 21, Wet Seal, Charlotte Ruse, Abercrombie and Fitch, and Holster. But the clothes are so affordable. I find myself frequenting their more than the real stores, plus they give extra points on their value card if you don’t use a bag to support them “going green”. Now how eco-friendly is that? ULTA, a hair and makeup store, they sale eco-friendly products, such ecoTools—earth-friendly beauty products. I purchased a Bamboo blush brush that’s natural and recycled, plus it comes in a reusable storage pouch. It’s way cool. On the back of the pouches are green tips. There are many eco-friendly makeup products and clothing products that I wasn’t aware of. However, now that I’m tapping into being environmentally conscious I’ve learned a plethora of information.

I love reused books and bookstores, I’ll spend hours inside. As for style and fashion, you certainly don’t have to purchase “New” clothes to be fashionable. In my opinion, “You make the clothes, the clothes don’t make you”. It’s all in how a person

11:40AM PDT on Sep 24, 2009

Nice article. makes one think of how they can do more. Simple things like using old bath towels as bathroom mats, recycling old jeans into bags and throwing tea leaves into plant pots may sound eccentric to some but it goes a long way if everyone would do just one more conscious thing. I saw a wonderful video the other day of a parent showing a child how to recycle old wax crayons. If I find it again I will share, it may have been on the webecoist site.

3:22AM PDT on Sep 24, 2009

I still have outfits, from my grandmother,and high school days. I'm 54. I recycle everything I own, or, hand it down to friends. I buy from Greater Good. Eco friendly yes, chic, who's to say, I dress so I'm comfortable.

12:18AM PDT on Sep 24, 2009

What cood be this eco-chic, I have to understand or to feel something ? I believe that some problems are a little more serious and has to be take serious. If someone think this is a game, let me tell you the end of the game it wount be nice for us, and not only for us.

11:43PM PDT on Sep 17, 2009

Megan M - I couldn't agree with you more!!!! :) :) :)

2:23PM PDT on Sep 16, 2009

Yes indeed, I am an eco conscious fashion designer and eco designer of enviromental houseing system. I am obsessed and have loads of info, and love learning about all new info.
I do the obvious and always think of effects of what I buy. My father was I guess an influence as he never through out good stuff you can make news things from. Thats has stayed with me, can't think of living any other way , its automatic. Every little helps and every person can.

2:19PM PDT on Sep 16, 2009

I consider myself "eco" but not "chic".
I hate the fashion industry.

:}

1:14PM PDT on Sep 16, 2009

Style and then class. You either got it or you don't. Expensive doesn't mean a thing. Fad is a joke so save your money. Get rid of the" I just have to have it". We really don't Goodwill in our town is really good.

8:38AM PDT on Sep 16, 2009

Unfortunately, thrift, second-hand stores and charity shops are not as frequent in some countries as they are in the USA. In Spain, only big cities have reliable, honest second-hand shops. In my town, the few ones I've seen only sell ruined clothes or shoes, and not much more. When I traveled to England and Wales last summer, I was surprised to see charity shops (I never learned to read that properly ^_^) on each corner.

Fortunately for me, I've never been a fashion victim. I only buy clothes that I'm sure I'll like and wear for years. Being a vegetarian and an animal advocate, I never buy leather, silk and of course fur, which is great for the pocket as it is for animals and my own peace of mind. And finally, I'm glad to see that some brands like H&M have started selling some clothes made of organic cotton. One day at a time.

I guess everybody here knows about them, but the Greater Good Network sells lot of eco-friendly goods (both organic or recycled, and fair-trade too) that I'd love to see in stores near my house.

I have to say that I'm also surprised of the good quality of used goods sold online (i.e. Ebay). I often buy second hand books and they are in mint condition, as if they had never been opened.

But I agree with the basic rule - if you don't need it, just don't buy it. It's the first and the most important of the three "R"!

Greetings to everybody ^_^

7:07AM PDT on Sep 16, 2009

I have bought only from second-hand and thrift stores for years. I can honestly say I haven't had a "new" outfit in at least 6 years. Some thrift stores are in areas where people throw things out with the seasons.At least they do recycle them. I can get virtually pristine garments even shoes. I still go for natural fiber clothing and the same thrift stores provide this.
I always carry my bags in the car for everything. And I try to walk many places. Even here in Mexico many people opt for using our own bags.
Book trading is huge where I am which is great. We have many people involved so there is always a good supply.
Any way we can start is a good place. Little steps are comfortable, although I think people who read these articles are already on the path. It's the ones who wouldn't be caught dead reading Care2 anything that I personally want to reach.

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