Welcome to a New and Improved Green Cotton

Over the weekend, Green Cotton underwent some significant upgrades that I am very excited about and would like to share with you:

1)    Green Cotton’s new domain. We switched to a new host so now we have the exclusive domain of www.greencottonblog.com. Yay! (Please update your bookmarks.)

2)    If you were using an RSS feed for Green Cotton, please resubscribe to the new site. The original WordPress-hosted blog (http://greencotton.wordpress.com) will no longer be updated.

3)    We added the ‘Add to Any’ feature to individual posts. In line with the latest media sharing tools, Green Cotton now has the capability for readers to share any of the posts with whomever they like using social networking and media bookmarking tools (such as del.icio.us, Facebook, Digg, MySpace and others). Pick the one of your choice. Please check out this feature (at the bottom of every post) and let us know what you think.

4)    Green Cotton joins Facebook. There is now a Green Cotton group on Facebook devoted to building an online community interested in eco-fashion and sustainability. While this group is an extension of the blog – (e.g., sharing snip-its of various posts we do) it will also include much more. There is a discussion board, the wall, and we want this group to be interactive. We want to hear from you. Join up and let us know what you think– what issues should be covered etc. The discussion topic of the day is on Factory Green and web 2.0 hitting the apparel industry – tell us what you think.

5)    The other place to check us out on Facebook is the Green Cotton page. This page is a great place to get up to date info on the blog and find out about new articles and companies we are reading about.  Come join us!

One of Green Cotton’s goals is to foster an online community passionate about the environment, fashion, style and sustainability. We’d love to hear from you– through our comments board, email, on facebook or elsewhere). Tell us what is on your mind and what’s new or hot in your neck of the woods.

(Note: comments have been disabled on this WordPress-hosted blog. Please go to the new Green Cotton Blog and post your comments there.)

Hot Summer Trends from a Greener Eye: Swimsuits & More

By Erin Dale

There’s no time like summer to flaunt the hottest trends. The weather is gorgeous, and you may be feeling more adventurous than in winter, when you cowered in your cozy knits. There are plenty of snazzy summer items available for every budget, but what if you crave greener wardrobe choices? With a little research, it’s easy to find eco-friendly versions of this summer’s trends—you just have to know where to hunt. I’ve selected what I consider to be this season’s biggest trends – guided by my favorite fashion magazines – and have done some heavy “research” (i.e. major shopping) to find some of the greenest options out there.

Floral prints were everywhere in the spring, and the runway look has carried over and will be even bigger this fall. Let your wardrobe blossom with this floral tube dress by Urban Renewal. It’s made from vintage fabrics and great for a fashion lover on a budget. But be aware: buying this brand may not be your greenest choice because it’s sold in a major store (maybe you could find something similar from a thrift store or an eco-friendly designer). However, everything in the Urban Renewal line is made from recycled fabrics, so not one piece of clothing is alike. Each outfit is handcrafted in Philadelphia from vintage and surplus materials sourced from rag mills. I love to buy made-in-the-USA clothing, and have been buying Urban Renewal pieces for years, long before I knew much about eco-friendly fashion. Keep in mind that Urban Renewal is sold at Urban Outfitters, which you may not feel comfortable supporting; the store also sells plenty of factory-produced imports. So if you prefer to steer clear, you can still find Urban Renewal pieces on eBay. I peeked and found a few cute sundresses for sale, so check it out while you can!

Sunglasses. Since floral prints are a summer classic, they should be paired with an equally iconic accessory. Back in high demand are aviator sunglasses. Complement your boho-chic look with an earth-friendly alternative to the plastic glasses you’ll see on most everyone else. I found this awesome pair of iWood aviators on thegreenloop.com that are made from sustainably-harvested wood. If aviators aren’t your thing, iWood has plenty of other styles to choose from.

Jessica Alba featuring Tolani scarf in fabgrind.com

Scarves. One trend may seem a little strange— summer scarves! Blame it on Hollywood, as numerous celebrities have been spotted wearing light, gauzy scarves. But you don’t have to buy the same designer mufflers; you can find unique, handcrafted scarves that are also fair-trade. I found this beautiful striped scarf from Nepal, but it’s already sold out! But I also found this silk scarf from Ten Thousand Villages, a fair trade operation. The site carries this awesome fuchsia and orange cotton scarf, whose proceeds benefit impoverished women in India, where the scarf was made.

Blake Lively with the Kooba bag (www.instyle.com)


Bags. And what summer outfit would be complete without the perfect bag? Luckily enough for the eco-conscious shopper, stylish “green” bags are everywhere. My favorite is the Kooba for Barneys 100% organic cotton tote. The gorgeous metallic trim is made from recycled cork! The bag, recently carried by “Gossip Girl” actress Blake Lively, comes in pale olive green or off-white and retails at $245.00. This bag is stunning and environmentally-friendly, but I find the price tag a little steep! Instead, I’ll be carrying the Feed 100 Bag designed by model/humanitarian Lauren Bush. The organic cotton and burlap bag is only $30, and that money is used to feed 100 children in Rwanda. It’s not quite as stylish as the Kooba bag, but the white cotton will go with any summer outfit.

Eco Monokini featured at http://www.niksters.com                           Monokini at Sunandsin.com

Swimsuits. To me, the most challenging summer wardrobe piece to green-over is the swimsuit. Sexy one pieces are bigger than ever this year (yes, one pieces!), but what are your eco options? I don’t know about you, but this is one thing I don’t want to buy vintage! Thankfully there are companies like Nikster. Not only is their stuff eco-friendly, but it’s perfectly on trend with monokinis, another blast from the past you’ll see this summer. I fell for this made-in-the-USA, purple monokini with a ruffle trim. Sunandskin.com has a list of the top five most eco-friendly swimwear designers, and I really like this Anna Cohen suit and cover-up. According to the site, this company strives to be as environmentally and socially responsible as possible.

What do you think? Do you plan on following any of these summer’s trends? What are some of your favorite summer looks, and how would you “green” them over? Let us know!

Top photosource: http://www.sunandsin.com

Eco-Celebrity: is this a fad or the real thing?

Photo: Leonardo DiCaprio in 11th Hour, Treehugger. Dicaprio’s climate change initiatives 11thhourtakeaction and dicaprio.org

**Important notice: Green Cotton has moved to a new host. For our most up-to-date posts and current blog, please visit www.greencottonblog.com (or click on any of these hyperlinks). You can read more on this particular post and also comment on it by going to greencottonblog. We hope to see you there!**

By Erin Dale

Thanks to a dose of star power, the green movement is enjoying the Hollywood spotlight. All you have to do is pick up the latest tabloid (“Stars—they’re just like us! Cameron Diaz gasses up her hybrid”) or check out sites like ecorazzi.com, and you can see just how trendy “celebrity green” has become.

From Cate Blanchett, who lives in a solar-powered home, to Leonardo DiCaprio, whose documentary The 11th Hour urges environmental change, the eco-trend only seems to be growing. But how can we tell if it’s anything more than that—just the latest La-La-Land craze, destined to fade like Uggs and leggings?

Just as it’s hard to discern whether or not a company claiming to sell “natural” or “organic” products is merely greenwashing, it’s impossible to know whether a celeb attaching himself to a cause really cares. But who are we to judge, anyway? If Brad Pitt is only globe-hopping and raising awareness to get attention, what does it matter, so long as he’s getting something done? Fad or no, celebrities calling attention to the green movement should do more good than harm.

Google “green celebrities.” I did, and various lists popped up. Many eco sites have complied lists of the “greenest” stars. While it’s certainly hard to say who indeed has the smaller carbon footprint, it was fun to make a list of my own. Rather than trying to decide who’s “greener than thou,” I’ve ranked my five favorites:

5. Hayden Panettiere. She’s only 18, but the Heroes starlet has already done a world of good. As a vegetarian, she’s passionate about animals and received PETA’s “Compassion in Action” award. She made headlines last fall for her in-ocean protest against Japanese whalers, risking her life as they slaughtered dolphins in dangerous proximity to Hayden and her fellow protesters (the act also earned her a Japanese arrest warrant!). Saving dolphins is a pretty green act; however, Hayden endorses companies like Neutrogena (whose products are not on PETA’s animal-safe list) and Candies, which produces not-so-eco-friendly fashion. Ah, well. She’s still young!

4. Daryl Hannah. Forget “tree hugger.” Daryl’s a tree crusader! Another blonde actress causing a ruckus to help the environment, she was arrested last year for her 23-day “tree-sit” to save L.A.’s South Central Farm. The arrest may seem extreme, but Daryl also walks the green talk; she’s known for her environmental activism and drives a biodiesal car.

3. Leonardo DiCarpio. Either I’m still getting over my Titantic crush, or there’s just something really attractive about a suave actor using his star power for global good. Sure, he’s not the only one, but Leo’s activism makes him stand out from the pack. And he’s been leading the eco pack for a while now—he started the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, which raises environmental awareness, a decade ago. From driving a Prius to producing and narrating The 11th Hour, Leo’s working hard to preserve the environment. I can’t wait to see his next project, Planet Green’s “Eco-Town,” a reality series that shows the rebuilding – or, rather, green-building – of a tornado-ravaged Kansas town.

2. Alicia Silverstone. Remember Batgirl? She’s the second – but not the last – superhero celeb on my list that uses her powers for good, not evil. Alicia’s been a vegan for years, and in addition to being PETA’s Sexiest Female Vegetarian in 2004, she’s the first celebrity to do a nude endorsement for the activist group. But she caught my attention back in June 2005, when she and her husband, musician Christopher Jarecki, married in an eco-chic ceremony in Lake Tahoe. Everything, from the wedding favors to Alicia’s heirloom wedding band, came from recycled materials. She and her husband continue to live a green lifestyle in their solar-paneled home.

1. Edward Norton. It’s hard to get much greener than the Hulk! Norton is another actor who plays a superhero, and, in real life, works overtime to save the earth. He may appear greener than ever in this summer’s The Hulk, but going green is nothing new for Norton; he grew up with green living, thanks to his environmental-lawyer dad. It’s truly all in the family—Norton’s grandfather started the Enterprise Foundation, a non-profit organization that helps develop affordable homes throughout the U.S. (Norton has been involved since he was 18). Norton works on many environmental causes, the PBS series Strange Days on Planet Earth being his latest.

And when it comes to this phenomenon of eco-celebrity, Norton has the best notions. When asked by Vanity Fair (April 23, 2008, vanityfair.com) about using his star status to bring attention to certain issues, Norton said, “It is an opportunity. That is a good way of putting it. I have a very negative reaction to what I perceive as superficial involvement with things… personally I don’t like to get involved in things in which I don’t think I have a substantive expertise to the point where I can maintain an engagement… But given my background and the platform that I have available to me, I’d like to do a little more than that… I’d rather do something like this series that is a substantial, ambitious project that can bring a higher level of actual scientific rigor to questions, and beyond its broadcast goals can bring a far-reaching educational component. If I can do that, then it becomes worthwhile.”

Who is your favorite Green star? What are your thoughts on the matter? Tell us what you think through comments box below or email: greencottonblog@gmail.com

Note from Green Cotton

Dear Readers, I am in the process of moving to Boston and will not be posting regularly for the next two weeks. Thanks for your patience!

Eco-Fashion Quiz Answers Revealed

PATAGONIA!

Patagonia is the first major US company to initiate sourcing organic cotton for their shirts, and they did so in 1996. In the early 1990′s, Patagonia issued am R&D study to look at the environmental impacts of all their fabrics and processing. Much to their surprise, cotton came out the worst. As a result, Patagonia took significant steps toward making the same products (at almost the same price) with organic fibers, and eliminating damaging pesticide and excessive water use in the process.

Interestingly, this was not a demand by Patagonia’s customers, it came from within management. In fact, Patagonia did not aggressively market the organic fibers much at that time, since their customers were not much concerned with the fabrics’ source at the time. However, since then, more than a handful of consumers and companies are now cognizant of and interested in where and how fabrics are sourced. Patagonia has been and continues to be a true pioneer in the green apparel space. To learn more about their steps toward sourcing organic cotton, check out the Footprint Chronicles at Patagonia.

This week’s Quiz Winner is ricepaperslidingdoor. Congratulations ricepapersldingdoor!

Honorable mention goes to Kelven Goodridge who guessed American Apparel in 2003.

Stay tuned for the next quiz question!

Organic Cotton: An Emerging Market

cotton-flower.jpg

Photo source: Flickr by Kamiekam

Of all the organic fibers/fabrics on the market today, organic cotton is by far the most popular. Here are some interesting and important facts about organic cotton and the certification process provided by the Organic Trade Association.

What is “organic cotton”?
‘Organic cotton is grown using methods and materials that have a low impact on the environment. Organic production systems replenish and maintain soil fertility, reduce the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers, and build biologically diverse agriculture. Third-party certification organizations verify that organic producers use only methods and materials allowed in organic production.’

National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is one third party board tasked with assisting the assist the Secretary of Agriculture in developing standards for substances to be used in organic production. The NOSB a definition of Organic was passed by the NOSB at its April 1995 meeting in Orlando, FL.

“Organic agriculture is an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony.

How much organic cotton is grown globally?
‘In 2000-2001, international production was approximately 6,368 metric tons (slightly more than 14 million pounds, or 29,248 bales), grown in 12 countries, according to data from the Pesticide Action Network of the United Kingdom and from the Organic Trade Association (OTA). This represents about 0.03% of worldwide cotton production. Turkey and the United States were the leading producers of organic cotton, followed by India, Peru, Uganda, Tanzania, Egypt, Senegal, Israel, Greece, Benin and Brazil.

How much organic cotton is grown in the U.S.?
Based on OTA’s 2005 survey of U.S. organic cotton producers funded by Cotton Incorporated, farmers in four states harvested 6,814 bales (3,270,720 pounds) of organic cotton from 5,550 acres during 2004. This is an increase from the 4,628 bales harvested from 4,060 acres in 2003. Texas continues to lead the United States in organic cotton production, with limited acreage also planted in California, New Mexico, and Missouri. In 2005, U.S. farmers planted 6,577 acres of organic cotton. Harvest figures for 2005 are not yet available.’ Are they not? They must be available now…

How is the apparel industry involved with organic cotton?

‘Apparel companies are developing programs that either use 100 percent organically grown cotton, or blend small percentages of organic cotton with conventional cotton in their products. There are a number of companies driving the expanded use of domestic and international organic cotton. For a current list of OTA members with fiber products, visit The Organic Pages Online at http://www.ota.com/.’

What kinds of products are made using organic cotton?

Organic cotton fiber is used in ‘everything from personal care items (sanitary products, make-up removal pads, cotton puffs and ear swabs), to home furnishings (towels, bathrobes, sheets, blankets, bedding), children’s products (toys, diapers), [and] clothes.’ In addition, organic cottonseed is used for animal feed, and organic cottonseed oil is used in a variety of food products, including cookies and chips.

How fast is the organic fiber market growing?

In 2003, organic fiber sales in the US grew by 22.7 % to reach $85 million, according to the Organic Trade Association’s 2004 Manufacturer Survey. Sales of organic women’s clothing during that period grew by 33.6%, while organic infant’s clothing and diaper sales grew 20.5 %. Sales of organic men’s clothing grew by 11 %, and children’s and teen’s clothing sales grew by 15.8 %. Meanwhile, sales of organic sheets and towels grew by 17.9 %, and those for organic mattresses and pillows increased 8.3 percent. Participants in the survey predicted that U.S. sales of organic fiber would grow an average of 15.5 percent each year for 2004 through 2008.

Issues with Organic Apparel Certification: One main issue with certification in green apparel is that certification focuses on the farming and raw fiber (agriculture) and not on the processing. In the case of bamboo and potentially other highly processed fibers this is a critical step, and has a significant impact not only on the environment but also on the cloth that we put on bare skin, including babies and young children. Apparently a change is underway to revise the definition of organic for apparel purposes but I have yet to see the final definition and certification process.

However it appears that OTA along with NOSB and several other interested organizations are in the process of creating standards for processing as well as growing organic fibers. In fact an international working group: Global Organic Textile Standard has been working on this issue for quite some time. Key partners include: International Association Natural Textile Industry (IVN), based in Germany, as well as Social Association (England), OTA (USA) and Japan Organic Cotton Association (JOCA) are all members.

At the same time, OTA also recognizes that the American Organic Fiber Processing Standards (AOFPS) remain as policy guidance for OTA members and others in the organic community of the United States and Canada. What are these standards exactly and is it possible to certified organic fiber processor? It is not super clear, but stay tuned for more information as I dig it up.

Another issue is that for some, the certification definition is too narrow. By only considering the environmental impacts, the certification avoids important issues related to social, cultural and economic values. I suppose this is one reason why we also have the Fair Trade certification process, which accounts for some of those issues. I am actually in favor of keeping the two elements separate because they are separate issues, and for those companies that are both socially as well as environmentally integrated, and go forth with both certification processes, it adds tremendous value to their brand and products.

More about the NOSB:
The Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, part of the 1990 Farm Bill, authorized the Secretary of Agriculture to appoint a 15-member National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). The board’s main mission is to assist the Secretary in developing standards for substances to be used in organic production. The NOSB also advises the Secretary on other aspects of implementing the national organic program.

organic-cotton-yarn.jpg

Photo Source: Flickr by the purl bee (blue sky organic alpaca cotton)

Go Fair Indigo!

Hats off to the company Fair Indigo for taking a pioneering step in the right direction toward fair wages. Through some of my travels to Bangladesh, Pakistan, India and Indonesia, I had the opportunity to witness aspects of the garment industry. Working with NGOs that teach HIV prevention education to young girls in factories, one quickly comes to experience the harsh reality of the workplace. While I can appreciate that “a” wage can be better than no wage, and that intense competition is driving the labor market, it is also evident that recognition of the health and well-being of a workforce can be a win-win situation, creating healthier, longer-living and more productive workers.

I am 100% in favor of globalization, but I also strongly believe that new jobs and opportunities should be accompanied by better access to housing, food and health care. Developing nations look to the US/Europe as role models in the global economy, so if we disregard or minimize human conditions and integrity in our business practices, then guess who will follow by example?

It is possible to be financially viable and ethically inclined, and Fair Indigo (FI) has proven this well.

clipped from www.fairindigo.com

Fair Indigo, Style with a Conscience

We are headquartered in the suburbs of Madison, Wisconsin and whether you shop with us through the catalog, at fairindigo.com or at our flagship store at Hilldale Mall in Madison, we are committed to providing you with great customer service.� Everything we sell is backed by an unconditional guarantee: if you are not completely satisfied with any item, at any time, for any reason, we will gladly exchange it for another or refund the purchase price.
With years of experience working for major clothing brands, a small group of us left our jobs determined to pioneer a change in the apparel industry. We wanted to create stylish, high-quality clothes while paying a fair and meaningful wage to the people who produce them. It’s a concept known as “fair trade”
We handpicked the best, most ethical factories around the globe and presented them with a new concept: paying workers a fair wage, not just a minimum one. We designed beautiful, well-made clothing and accessories for women and men.

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Female Green Trailblazer #2

Trailblazer # 2 – Suki Kramer’s more recent product line appears to be top of the line in terms of results. Suki , like Brenda, transformed her kitchen into a chemistry laboratory to concoct the best organic creations possible for face and skin. Hours and hours of laboratory experimentation and quality control appear to have paid off. The line is increasingly popular. My good friend in NY who happens to be Indian did say however that the cosmetic line was too geared toward caucasian skin tones. Any plans to make additional products more suited for darker complexions? What are your favorite products?

clipped from upurea.com

 

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Image of the Salvaged Cotton Saris

Source: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2007/08/sari_roll.php
clipped from www.treehugger.com

jewelroll.jpg

Treat your baubles with a little TLC, a sure way to extend their longevity, by wrapping them in a soft jewelery roll hand-stitched from salvaged cotton saris and secured with a loop-and-button closure.

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Beeline beauty products – all natural?

This new line of beauty products looks interesting. The trouble with bees is that the can go everywhere– they fly in and out of different environments and can pollinate on plants/flowers that are not organic. So even if the ingredients in the product are pure and natural, the bees may be contimated thus contaminating the honey. Some honeys are purely organic. But not this honey. Worth giving it a try anyway.

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2007/08/beeline_beauty.php

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