Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Second Time Around

I have spring fever and I have it bad. The last three days have been in the 70s. Depending on where you are reading this from, 70 degree weather may not sound like a big deal, but after a week and a half straight of 30 to 40 degree rain and sleet, it is very welcome.

So two things happen to me when I have spring fever. The first thing is that I have to stop myself from taking out a second mortgage on my home to buy everything that catches my eye at the local plant nurseries. The second is that I have to stop myself from taking out a second mortgage so that I can buy a new wardrobe that somehow flatters my wintry white legs, and keeps me cool, while still being comfortable.

So since second mortgages are out (we finally just paid ours off, yay!) This year I'm turning to used clothing boutiques, and Savers. Second Time Around on Thayer street in Providence recently saved me from going to a black tie wedding in jeans and a tee shirt. With only 45 minutes to shop, I found a great black dress that I will definitely wear again. They carry lots of gently used designer clothes and boutique extras. (I stick to the used clothing) You can find anything from Prada shoes, to a Milly blouse, to a pair of used Miss Sixty jeans.

Another great resource for Rhode Islanders is Into The Wardrobe, which also boasts a beautiful collection of used designer clothing. There is a wide selection and price range. You may find a pair of Gucci pants and then on the next rack something from Banana Republic, or Marc by Marc Jacobs.

For those who would like to go online and get their used clothing glitz on, there is Rodeo Drive Resale. I've gotten a couple of pairs of used designer jeans there in the past, citizens of Humanity and 7 for All Mankind. They have a wide range of articles. Some pieces there are new overstock, so if you are trying to buy only used clothing pay attention as to if it says new or not. They are very clear about which items are new.

So until more of these designers wise up and go organic, I'll be buying used. I read that 7 is supposed to be coming out with an organic jean, so I'll keep you posted if I find it.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Grass IS Greener on the Other Coast of the Country

I just returned from a trip to the West Coast, with my husband and sons to visit my brother and his family in San Jose. While we were there, we stayed in a "Green Hotel" in San Francisco, went thrift shopping for clothes, and visited an organic vineyard in the Los Gatos/Santa Cruz area. I will be writing a blog about the great clothes I found, our sustainable stay at the Orchard Garden Hotel, and our visit with the wine maker. But first I wanted to mention something that really struck me as unique to the visit: the presence of green articles in the newspaper almost daily in the San Jose Mercury News.

Being in the center of the world's high tech industry, I expected to see plenty in the news about computers and other technologies. Being in the state governed by Supreme Eco-steward Arnold Schwarzenegger, I expected to hear a lot about sustainability and climate change. But the combination of the two brought much more than I expected: DAILY reports on green topics. Reports about efforts to persuade industry to recognize global climate change and to invest in addressing it. Reports about the technologies being developed to solve it. Here in Silicon Valley, California was the right combination: brilliantly persuasive people (politics), and brilliant people finding ways (technology) . I was really impressed and energized by the articles that spread out in front of me every morning at my brother's table.

Upon return home to a cold and rainy East Coast, I thought maybe it really wasn't all that greener over there. Maybe it was just that I was on vacation and actually had free moments to sit down and soak in a newspaper. And if I did that here, not far from Cambridge after all, I might just catch a lot of the same news. So I did a little experiment to see if it was just my daily routine or if there really is just a shortfall of green news on the East Coast.

To be fair, my experiment was not exactly the same as reading a newspaper. Instead I searched three newspaper websites for articles dated April 6-12, 2007 (the dates I was on vacation) with the keywords: "green sustainable climate change global warming environment". Here are the results (which may reflect more on each newspaper's websites more than their actual printed papers):

San Jose Mercury: 15 Articles
Boston Globe: 0 Articles in the one-week timeframe, 1 Article in the past month (March 18)
Providence Journal: 1 Article (April 8)

See for yourself:

San Jose Mercury News

Boston Globe
Providence Journal

It seems to me we have a lot of catching up to do out here! I hope to be part it!
Meanwhile, enjoy all the articles!

Monday, April 9, 2007

Skinny and skinny and skinny.

Over at Levis, there were a few new additions to their organic line that were nice looking. The best of them were in the skinny jean category, which I'm not always sure I can pull off. That said, there are a lot of skinny young things out there running around in them, so why not make them organic?

Levis did have another non-skinny eco-jean offering, which was the traditional shrink to fit 501s. These are in the red line and carry the heftiest price tag I've seen so far for organic jeans, $245. Damn. Not fully remembering how the shrink to fit era worked, I am intimidated by the fact that when you buy them, they don't fit at all, and you have to kind of guess what size they'll shrink down to. A gamble I might be willing to take at another price, but $245, ouch. Has anyone tried them? What were your results? The thing I like about them is that they are a classic cut, which would probably work better on me...but it's a lot of money to spend on jeans that I know already fit perfectly, let alone ones that may shrink too much or too little.

I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of H&M's organic line, which is supposed to be arriving here in Providence next week. H&M's website says that the line will be available in all stores nation wide, so this seems like a great way to get some widely available and reasonably priced organic clothing.

As soon as I have a weekend free, I am planning on visiting my friend Leita from the Y, who also happens to be a seamstress who reinvents used clothing to give it a second life. I have been eager to turn a much loved pair of 7 jeans into a jean skirt. The samples I've seen of her work are great.

I have been really interested in places and people that rethink used clothing, because as of right now I don't have the skills to do it myself. As we move (hopefully) into a more sustainable future, people like Leita will and should be valuable resources. It is a worthwhile search to find someone in your area that can turn something that was once loved, but now needs a little tweaking, into something you can wear for another couple of years.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Global Girlfriend

women made.
fair trade.

If you are interested in any of the above (and you probably are or you wouldn't be reading this right now) check out Global Girlfriend. Here you will find not only beautifully styled, hand-made organic cotton apparel, you will find yourself in the company of women caring about women, caring about the planet, and caring about style. Each purchase you make here will benefit women's cooperatives or non-profit organizations that support women's human rights across the globe. You will be helping impoverished women help themselves while you treat yourself to garments that are "lovingly produced from seed to sewing machine."
Beautiful. Earnest. Green.

...and affordable.
I first purchased the two t-shirts, sweater and skirt
in the images above (no that's not me!) from Global Girlfriend almost two months ago. I don't know what took me so long to post this blog, but don't take that as a non-endorsement of their products! Because when I revisited GG's website tonight to refresh myself about their mission and values, I found myself ordering more items. But first let me tell you about the ones I already own...

The green sweater was only $36.00 (on sale from $72). It's merino wool, lightweight yet warm. I have worn it several times and I really like its texture and color. It's great for work with a skirt, or more casual with jeans. I ordered a large, but for a little more fitted look I would recommend a medium.

The skirt was only $28.00. I haven't worn it yet thanks to winter never easing it's grip on us here is Providence, but I am looking forward to wearing it soon!

The white scoop neck t-shirt has a simple, appealing neckline and shape and will be one of those constantly worn basics. At $26.00, it's more than I would spend on something similar at Old Navy, but it's still bound to cost only pennies per wearing. And just think of all the chemicals those pennies are saving from the environment! (One caution - I ordered a medium, and it fit perfectly, but after washing it is now just a little snug. I would recommend ordering a larger size on this item as the cotton does not seem to be pre-shrunk.)

My favorite of all is the blue empire waist t-shirt. It's casually elegant with it's empire waist and lightly gathered bustline. It's elongating with its extra long waist and sleeves. It has the sweetest micro-lace detailing on the neckline and sleeves that make me like to look at my wrists the way nice shoes make you enjoy looking at your feet. It's charming and feminine without trying too hard. And it is sooooooo soft! I like it so much I bought another tonight. And guess what? It is now on sale for only $14.00!

And what else did I buy tonight? Two more scoop neck t-shirts, but short-sleeved for summer, and in a size larger. One white, one lime green.

And I am helping an order of Franciscan nuns in India who employ and care for 120 disadvantaged and handicapped women. And I am helping 300 small organic farmers. And a colony of knitters in Nepal.

And although India and Nepal are far from local, certainly the reduction of farming chemicals anywhere in the world benefits us all. I think the positives harvested in the organic farming process and the improvements in the lives of impoverished women offset at least some of the negative aspects of shipping, if not carbon. And hopefully UPS isn't rolling out empty planes or trucks, so the impact of shipping my small orders is lessened by the thousands of other small orders in the cargo.

But if you would like to shop locally and remove all doubt, check the Global Girlfriend store locator. If you live in Rhode Island, stop in at Most Naturally in Narragansett - you can find Global Girlfriend items there! I'll be checking it out next time I go surfing! If winter ever ceases... Or if I can find a recycled winter weight wet suit.... Anyone want to sell me a second hand surf board?