Friday, January 4, 2008

Year in Reflection, Part 2

As I was happy to laud my successes a few days back, I think it's the time to look at what didn't work out so well.

Number one on the list is that I don't think I changed anyone's mind about buying only organic or sustainable clothing. There could be a lot of reasons for this, and I've gone over them in my head many times. Perhaps I did not make the reasons for buying sustainable clothing more apparent, the trade-off did not seem worth the effort to most. I actually think this is a problem for a lot of environmentalism. It is not absolutely clear to people how things connect.

For instance, It is easy to say, and all over in print, "one organic cotton tee shirt saves 1/3 of a pound of pesticides and fertlizers". Which means something to me, but others will say, "yeah...and so?" It's in the so.

So, pesticides and fertilizers poison water systems making them dangerous to drink (blue baby alerts) and kill off fish and ocean life. A recent MSNBC article relates to fertlizer on corn crops specifically, but since cotton is responsible for about 46% of clothing made and grows on about 76 million acres world wide, it should be easy to see how growing organic cotton is important, ( organic cotton makes up only about 1% of the cotton grown world wide)

So, pesticides used in the growth of cotton are carcinogens. So pesticide and herbicide use encourages stronger strains of insects and bacteria.

So, there are more Sos, and maybe I avoided them too much in the last year.

My second failure is that I fear I was not the best sustainable clothing model of the year. I have this feeling that people thought, "yeah I might wear sustainable clothing, but not if I have to look like that." I don't think I'd ever get an honest answer on this one from my friends, but I should probably make more of an effort to go out looking more put together.

Another big failure is not making a good argument for paying the higher price of many organic or sustainable options. I need to work on this. Maybe listing cost, and then price per wear? How to convince people it's worth the price, especially when the first thing you hear (especially among my friends) when you give them a compliment on a piece of clothing is how cheaply they got it for and when.

I don't want to turn into a person who harasses people into doing things, and over the last year even though I never told anyone else what to do, I got a little bit of that vibe going on.

Not the most thought through post, but I needed to get it off my chest.

This is

Friday, December 28, 2007

The end of the year

It's been a while, a long while since I've posted to this blog. I am surprised that the year is coming to an end so quickly, my year of only buying "sustainable" clothing. I put sustainable in quotations because it is a constant struggle to decide what is truly sustainable. I struggle with wondering if mankind can even sustain it's basic needs, let alone it's wants. And I freely admit that I want way more than I need.

Christmastime always brings this want into focus. Not only my desire for objects, but my desire to give other people things. This year I tried to give many pieces of artwork, which I justified to myself by telling myself they are pieces of paper and biodegradable. But I did give this artwork in frames I bought from the store, and despite my good intentions of bringing my own bags, there was still a pile of un-recyclable plastic wrap that each frame came individually wrapped in. It could be worse, but I know it could have been better. For family I bought a lot of presents from Gaiam as well as food presents that I felt pretty good about. Even then, I knew these items would be delivered in tons of packaging, including plastic bags that the organic cotton shirts I bought would come in. So, although I tried to be sustainable with my holiday choices, there was a lot of room for improvement.

My friends have all been very respectful of my choices in their choices of presents for me, from great books, to solar chargers to organic yoga pants they seemed to understand and make an attempt to get me things that followed in my beliefs.

My family made some choices that reflected my beliefs, but a couple that they just completely ignored. This is frustrating, because I know it comes out of a desire to want to get me nice things, yet it ends up making me feel terrible in the end. Conveying that less is more seems nearly impossible sometimes, I wish I could explain that I'd rather have one organic tee shirt and nothing else than an organic tee and five other non-sustainable items. I guess it comes with time, and the year before there were no sustainable items in the gifts I received.

As for the end of the year, I am not planning any spending spree on once forbidden items, it seems easy enough to continue on as I have. Over the months I have longed for a couple of totally unsustainable items, but I haven't given in and really never felt like I was missing out on something so badly. I am looking forward to another year of shopping at Envi, Greenloop, Title Nine, Gaiam, Kaight and the other wonderful places I have purchased items for over the past year. I feel better that my money is going to a conscientious group of people and items that are if not totally sustainable, on their way to creating a sustainable future. I think this is perhaps the first time I've ever kept a New Year's resolution the whole year and it feels pretty good. Hopefully I can figure out one for 2008 that can have the same personal impact.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Just Ask

I have started to realize how important it is to just ask for sustainable clothing, even if you are pretty sure a place doesn't carry it. First of all you can be surprised, many places are experimenting with carrying some organic options. Sadly they are often hidden and mixed in with everything else. Asking can often be a way of "training" the salesperson to understand what organic or sustainable is. I have been met by many a salesperson that asked me if "organic is a brand?" Until the sales staff is asked, they often won't bother to learn anything about it. I have also been in the situation where one person is aware that they carry a sustainable item and another isn't, it lets the store know that they should inform their whole staff on the sustainable options. Be sure once you ask you double check the tags yourself, I have also been told things are organic when really they just meant that they were cotton.

So while you're asking, you can ask the staff at Nordstrom to steer you towards these:

I love the World Wildlife Fund's hotter than I should be shirt, although I am not sure if I have the nerve to wear it. It is a great message, a little sassy, and bound to start conversations. A nice balance between the eco doomsayer tees and flowery eco hippy tees. I must admit I have a few of both. I saw these tees at Nordstroms and they are very soft and nicely cut.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Ok, I should be here more than once a month!

So things have been busy to say the least, everywhere but the clothing department. I have not been thinking about clothing much this summer, and have honestly been frustrated by the choices when I've gone out to look. But, a little clothing hiatus produced some pleasant surprises when I stepped back into the mall on a recent 97 degree day.

We went to get a gift for a friend at the Levi's store and while there, I found new men's and women's eco styles, and older styles on sale for $20! That's a bargain in case you haven't ever bought a pair of organic jeans! The newer styles were great and a little more versatile for my figure. I was excited to see that for guys they have 514s in eco now, my husband's cut of choice.
I walked away with four new pairs of jeans that day, which is great because I have about the same amount that are disintegrating into feathery cotton puffs.

On the way out I was walking through Nordstrom and saw a shirt that said "Green is the New Black" the cynic in me said, oh yeah right, I bet that shirt's green. So I went up and checked and it was %100 organic cotton. Another pleasant surprise. They had 6 different styles that day. I bought a couple, though they are a little preachier than I would usually own. The nice thing about wearing a glaring green message on your chest is that you feel even more impelled to practice what you preach. Of course this is marketed to teens, and I alas, am not one, but i will wear it with pride anyway.

So my last pleasant surprise was that when looking online to find a pic of one of the tees I bought, I saw that Seven for all Mankind finally make organic jeans! These, of course are no bargain, but there are plenty of teenage girls and adult women that walk around with Sevens anyway. So I think it's great that they are introducing organics in their line.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Socks at Walgreens.?.

I am in Indiana visiting my family, and to say there are little less organic items in stores around here is putting it mildly....But, I had to go to the local Walgreens to pick up some things for the kids and I found 3 pairs of earthables socks, for myself. I have never seen this brand before, but two pairs were made of hemp and one out of bamboo. They are lightweight and had pretty nice colors. I don't know if they were made by Walgreens, because I can't find a company website on line. They were on sale for $2 a pair, and there were only a few pairs left at the Walgreens here, but they are woth checking out if you are near a Walgreens.

I was also pleasantly surprised to see the Walgreens carried Jason personal care products. It is nice to see environmentally friendly natural products in a store like Walgreens, especially in a town like Valparaiso where there is not a Whole Foods anywhere near by. The CVS in Providence cannot even make the same boast and is seriously lacking in natural/organic care products.

Now if I can only find some Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore souvenir tee shirts that are also organic, I'll be all set.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


The new thrill in my life has been to go out salsa dancing on Wednesday nights at the Black Rep here in Providence. Since I haven't danced socially since high school, and have never done any latin dancing at all, I realized my evening wardrobe can use some additions. Although I have been getting a lot of mileage out of some nice wide-leg Edun trouser-style jeans and silk/hemp blend cami from The Oko Box, I am itching for some other choices. I need things that are nice looking, easy to move in, cool, and that stay put when you're twirling around like a top.

First on my salsa wardrobe wish list would be some more skirts. I found this %100 organic cotton W's Solimar skirt skirt on Patagonia's site. There are other patterns that have a great contemporary feel to them, but I liked the touch of red in this one. This skirt would look great pared with a strappy red tank, also from Patagonia. Both could also easily be dressed down with some thongs during the day.

For a little dressier evening, this black hemp and silk blend Stewart and Brown dress is gorgeous, and would be nice and cool on the dance floor. The eyelet detailing is really pretty, and gives it a sweet touch that is a little less racy. I think it's the kind of detail that can also make it a dress that doesn't seem too over-done during the day.

As I said, this is still the early stages of a wish list, so I'll let you know how they pan out, if I get any of them. For the record, The Under The Canopy tanks I purchased from Whole Foods have been my best buy this year. I definitely recommend them as a closet staple. They are pretty, flattering and versatile.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

on Target? no, but getting a little better

For a while now I have lamented that Target seems way behind in organic clothing, as in I've never seen a piece of organic cotton clothing in the store. I would think they would be a little quicker on the uptake of sustainable clothing, because they are so progressive using great, cutting edge designers. Cool and tempting but why not sustainable?

Although I have not hit clothing gold at Target (and haven't seen anything that will suggest I might sometime soon) I did find two happy surprises. One was a set of organic sheets for my son's bed. They are light blue, and fitted sheet, flat sheet and one pillow case were bundled on sale for $20! The color choices were a bit limited, but there were four choices that could accommodate a lot of different rooms.

I also found some nice green organic dish towels. These were not on the web site, but only in the store. On line I also saw organic bath towels, and though I didn't notice them in the store, I also wasn't looking for bath towels at the time. The sheets and dish towels were both on nice end-cap displays, very obvious and easy to find.

I know there are a lot of great companies out there selling organic sheets outside of big box marts, but I also think these are the places where average americans will likely make their first organic purchases, so I think it is a good sign when you see anything sustainable in those places.

I haven't been back to see if the organic line at H&M has arrived at the local mall, but I'm not holding my breath. I was recently in Sweden, home of H&M, expecting the huge line of organic products that was promised on their web site half a year ago. I was disappointed to only find a hand full of tops in two different cuts.

The wait continues.