Green Home Makeovers: 6 Things You Can Do


By Erin Dale

The April 2008 Glamour magazine (the green fashion issue) featured an article called “10 simple ways to green-over your home.” The three-page spread shows a twenty-something’s New York studio apartment receiving several green tweaks, from new eco paint and wallpaper jobs to replacing the towels and bed sheets with those made from organic cotton. Some of these tweaks were chic and helpful, like a recycling center with stackable bins that blend in.

However, I had to wonder how much of this makeover was actually necessary; sure, Glamour needed a green story for their eco-issue, but what about homes in the real world? As much fun as it is to makeover your abode, it’s important not to go eco-crazy, running out and buying new products simply because they claim to be green (and may not be fair-trade, either). But I don’t want to ruin the makeover fun— so if something old needs replacing, or you just can’t wait to try out a new paint color, there are plenty of green options to make your place eco-chic.

(1) Matresses. I’m in the market for a new mattress, and searching for a green replacement is tougher than I thought. Until I started researching the subject, I didn’t know that most mattresses are treated with flame-retardant chemicals like polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). These chemicals don’t stay on your mattress; they eventually leach into your skin. I’ve got layers of egg crates and a cotton mattress cover that acts as a barrier between the mattress and my skin, but those aren’t organic, either. And the flame retardants aren’t the only problem; a mattress should be made with natural latex and untreated wood. The difficulty with a lot of organic mattresses (for the vegan shopper, at least) is that they’re made from wool. So what if I want a chemical and wool-free mattress? Thankfully, I found a site that finished the intense search for me. has a good variety of organic mattresses, including one that doesn’t have wool. The downside: because it’s completely chemical-free, it requires a doctor’s note to order. The price is no picnic, but I’m keeping in mind that buying organic means supporting sustainable industries. After I’ve made an informed purchase, I’ll recycle the old mattress!

(2) Bedframes. My bed frame doesn’t need replacing, but if yours does, look for one made from renewable or recycled materials. If it’s a wooden frame, it’s important to buy one made from FSC-certified wood. According to, the Forest Stewardship Council gives a seal of approval for sustainably-harvested wood. Of course, this goes for the rest of your furniture, too. Since I love vintage shopping, I tend to scour antique stores and yard sales before buying anything new. Or you could freshen up an old piece of furniture by having it refurbished, which uses way less energy than buying a new one.

(3) Furniture. To score used furniture (and other goods), you can try one of my addictions: This online community encourages you to ask for used items you want, but make sure you offer up your old stuff, too. It’s not a bartering system— trading items is highly discouraged, even forbidden in some groups, since the site exists for the sake of recycling and goodwill. Join your local chapter, and you’ll be surprised at the cool things your neighbors are just giving away!

(4) Carpeting/flooring. Thinking about carpeting your place? Think again. Like conventionally manufactured mattresses, carpets are loaded with bad-for-you chemicals— like volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Even steam cleaning doesn’t make them go away. If you don’t have carpeting, revel in the gorgeousness of hardwood floors; if you have carpeting, care for it as best you can. When it needs replacing, install hardwood floors, try alternative floor coverings (like natural linoleum) or buy carpeting in tiles to cut down on waste. Try Interface or Flor. For more environmentally responsible carpet choices, check out some guidelines here.

(5) Paint. And when it’s time for a paint job, avoid oil-based paints with VOCs that are harmful to you and pollute the atmosphere. Glamour recommends Benjamin Moore’s Aura paints, but they are only low-VOC; the brand’s Eco-Spec paint is odorless and toxin-free. You could also try latex-, water-, plant-, mineral-, or milk-based paints. is another great resource for these natural paints.

Not into paint? Glamour spruced up an apartment using wallpaper “made with nontoxic glues and environmentally friendly fabric.” It’s crucial to avoid paper made with vinyl (which is really toxic PVC). Mod Green Pod makes really cute, hand silk-screened wallpapers— and the inks are water-based and non-toxic.

(6) Cleaning products. And don’t forget—an eco home makeover involves more than just greening the furniture, floors or wallpaper. You have to use something to clean all of that with, right? It’s high time to switch to environmentally safe cleaning products. Regular ones contain VOCs and other toxic chemicals; and when you’re done “cleaning” with these products that actually pollute the air in your home, the chemicals in the bottle you toss out will seep back into the ground. Green Clean will help you green your supply closet, but you can find these things yourself by merely reading the labels. In “Green Chic” (my eco-Bible), Christie Matheson offers a great cleaning product checklist.

Only use products that:

  • List their ingredients (many conventional cleaners don’t)
  • Contain no chlorine, anything that starts with chlor, or ammonia
  • Are certified biodegradable and free of synthetic chemicals
  • Come in recyclable packaging

You can make up your own similar checklist when shopping for any kind of green product for your home. Just ask yourself if now is the time for a green makeover before you go shopping; if it is, follow these guidelines and buy with a clear conscience.

What do you think of green makeovers, and how far would you go to green-over your home? Do you think these things really make a difference?

Does Organic Cotton Equal Organic Jeans?

Linda Loudermilk denim featured at

By Brit

Apart from the lycra to make skinny jeans fit supernaturally tight, jeans are made of cotton. Cotton, the most popular natural fiber in the world, is also one of the most pesticide-dependent crops, making a switch to organic cotton not just desirable, but vital.

In response to consumer demand, more and more farmers are converting to organic cotton. The current definition of organic cotton means that which is grown organically, in the same way as a food crop. Once the cotton has been picked, however, there are no standards for organic processing.

Cotton processing workers are exposed to heavy machinery, and cotton dust which irritates the lungs. And then there’s the weaving, then cutting and sewing, and dying of the garments. The rise of organically grown cotton is wonderful, but if the workers who process it and sew and dye the garments are being subjected to the same low standards as regular garment workers traditionally are, then we have not come all that far.

Organic cotton is almost always ginned and milled on the same machines as regular cotton, which would imply those who process it labor under the same conditions. “Ginning” has nothing to do with Tanqueray – it is the process where cotton seeds are removed from the cotton fibers.

And then, once the fabric is made, and the jeans are cut and sewn, they are dyed, and then depending on the style, distressed, faded, resin coated, using chemicals and enzymes. Synthetic dyes are notorious pollutants and their use consumes several gallons of water to dye one pair of jeans. White and pale colored jeans no better – they are bleached.

Despite the popularity of organic t-shirts and baby clothes, organic denim is still nowhere near as prolific as you would expect, especially considering most women’s wardrobes revolve around the perfect pair (or eight) of jeans.

Here’s a look at some high-profile and lesser-known organic denim labels.

Levi’s organic denim at shown at

Levi’s launched the Eco range of organic cotton jeans in 2007, but how ecological are they? Is it possible to make a fairly traded organic pair for $70? Compare, the Levi’s Capital E premium jeans, hand sewn, dyed with natural indigo, and hand processed with minimal chemicals, which retail at $198.

Edun denim featured at

Bono, Ali Hewson and Rogan Gregory brought organic, fairly traded jeans to international attention with Edun. The brand emphasises fair trade and fair working conditions in their factories. Edun’s signature inky blue denim styles are worthy of the amount of times they have graced red carpets.

Rogan Gregory’s other lines, Rogan, and Loomstate, also use organic fabrics, “All Loomstate factory partners are required to adhere to a code of conduct and Terms of Engagement in our company manufacturing agreement. These factories must use the highest environmental and labor standards, controlling factory pollution, and enforcing fair labor as the cornerstone of the effort.” Edun and Loomstate jeans retail for $150-$200, with Rogan jeans running around $250.

Kuyichi denim at

Kuyichi are a Dutch company who are trying to make the field-to-store process as ecological and sustainable as possible. Kuyichi jeans are made of fairly traded Peruvian cotton. The cotton farmers are partners in the company, and they get to voice problems, and share in the profits. Not officially available in the US (yet) but can be obtained through retailers like ASOS who ship to the States. The desirable lightweight boyfriend trousers are $150, comparable with other premium denim brands.

Good Society denim featured at

Slings and Stones American grown (and Japanese processed – but let’s not pick about air miles) organic cotton skinny jeans can out-skinny the best of them. The slim-cut denims are fair trade, and the neat detailing, particularly the zig-zag yoke, sets these apart. I love the square button and rivets, all handmade and antiqued in India from 24K gold. Anyone else noticed the trend for gold hardware on designer denim? I can’t decide if it’s tasteful or tacky.

Sharkah Chakra denim found at

Sharkah Chakra jeans are gorgeous, made with handpicked cotton, woven on hand looms in India, and signed by the person who made them. They have pretty pocket detailing, a beyond-fabulous fit, and more of that gold hardware. They “lay claim to having created the greenest jeans available in the world of fashion”. A neat touch is the option to order your size with a variety of inseams, but then I would expect a certain amount of customization for the $330 price tag.

ROMP, a British design duo in the process of conquering Los Angeles, claim to be the ‘World’s First Soil Association Certified and Global Organic Textile Standard Certified Couture Fashion House,’ with their body-conscious dresses and denim. Their innovative website offers you a chance to trace where the garment was sewn, the fabric processed, (with vegetable dyes and natural bleaches) and the cotton grown. The $340 white cotton wide-leg jeans are on my dream-big-wish-list for this summer. I would be skipping the paradoxical accompanying fox-tail though. (Note: their glitzy website should not be viewed on anything other than broadband, or your internet browser will suffer the same fate as the fox.)

$300 pairs of jeans, however worthy, are just not in the budget of most people. Here’s a label to watch out for: Good Society, who “present an affordably priced, forward thinking collection that is fully sustainable – both ecologically and socially”. Good Society organic, fair trade jeans run around $100 and their sleek, clean style is what I’ll be choosing for my summer denim purchase. A raw denim indigo skinny pair would be perfect in my wardrobe.

Organic jeans – true, all the way from cotton seed to wardrobe organic jeans – do exist. Independent companies who know that if they take the lead to produce jeans with the least footprint possible, then people who are equally committed to living lightly on the planet will buy them, and other designers and manufacturers will be inspired to follow.

We’ve forgotten how much work it is to make things by hand. Making one pair of jeans involves an incredible amount of work, and the price of a fairly-traded, organic pair reflects what it actually costs to pay people a living wage to plant grow, harvest, sort, gin, mill, weave, cut, sew, dye and process one pair of jeans.

It’s hard to stop thinking about jeans as a garment for the masses, as they have been throughout their history. But perhaps it’s time to respect what actually goes into one pair of jeans, and instead of buying one, or two, or three cheap jeans, choose and love one organic pair.

What is your favorite pair of organic jeans? Tell us about them…

Silk: just how green is it?

Photo: organic silk lingerie at

By Brit

Silk is one of the most unique, and one of the oldest fabrics in the world.

Much of the silk produced today is made from the cocoons spun by the larvae of the Bombyx mori moth, the mulberry silkworm. When a silkworm hatches from it’s egg, it ravenously consumes fresh mulberry leaves for just over a month, growing from a tiny speck to a fat caterpillar. The silkworm then begins spinning a cocoon of silk filament. In 2-3 days the silkworm can spin a continuous thread up to one mile long around itself, at which point it plans to begin it’s metamorphosis into a moth.

The silk producers have other ideas: they boil the silkworms in water, and the cocoons are unreeled onto spinning wheels which twist several filaments together to make fibres. These fibres are then woven into silk fabric.

This, clearly, is not a happy ending for the silkworm, and that’s just one of many issues with wearing silk.

One mile of filament sounds like a lot, but it takes thousands of silkworms, and many pounds of mulberry leaves to make a dress. 1 acre of mulberry trees produces over 11 tons of leaves, which will feed 240 lbs of silkworms and their cocoons, and will yield just 37 lbs of raw silk.

Like other commercial crops, the mulberry trees occupy land, consume water, and require “a plentiful supply of fertilizers” to produce a high yield of leaves. And growing a plant that bugs love to eat means controlling the bugs that you don’t want to eat it. Mulberry trees are sprayed with pesticides to kill the many other insects who also think that they are tasty.

Chemicals can also be used on the silkworms to increase the amount of silk produced. Methoprene is an insecticide and hormone disrupter which may be applied to silkworms to slow their growth rate and extend the time they spin silk.

Once a luxury fabric reserved for Chinese empresses and emperors, today silk is an mass-production industry with intense pressure on prices. While high-quality, handmade silks are still used for gowns and high-end designer clothing, most silk manufacture is a maximum-output-for-minimum-input business. Most silk production takes place in China, and a significant amount in India; neither country is known for workers rights. When Forever 21 can turn out pure silk dresses for under $30, labor concerns come to mind for the people working in the silk factories.

As well as labor concerns, health issues also afflict silk workers. Silk workers who process raw silk often suffer from asthma and respiratory diseases caused by a fine dust from the gum that binds the strands secreted by the silkworm, and a host of unpleasant skin problems.

So what’s the alternative?

Organic Silk

A lot of garments are sold as being made from “organic silk”. But currently, there is no formal standard in the US or anywhere else for organic silk. Moves have been made towards a standard so organically produced garments can be labelled as such. There’s a precedent in organic standards for raising crops, and for raising animals, so presumably organic silk would involve growing the mulberry trees organically, without chemicals, and raising the silkworms humanely and without hormones. But as there is no standard, the term “organic silk” presently doesn’t mean anything.

Peace Silk

Mahatma Ghandi criticized the wearing of silk for the killing of silkworms. Some silk producers allow the silkworms to hatch into moths from their cocoons, then spin silk from the cocoons in a way similar to spinning wool. As the moths hatch, they chew a hole through the cocoons which makes reeling the silk in a continuous strand impossible. Peace silk is not as strong as conventional silk, but has a softer texture. One caveat: commercial silkworms have been selectively bred to make silk, and only make silk. All a Bombyx mori moth can do is mate, and die. They have vestigial wings, they can’t eat, and only live for a few hours after hatching. There’s no flying wild and free.

Wild Silk

Wild silk is more in line with animal rights. It is considered vegetarian, and is debatably vegan. Other species of wild moths spin silk cocoons, and once the moth has hatched, the cocoons are collected to make silk. The moth lives it’s natural life with no human interference – it has no need for the cocoon once hatched. Wild silk’s color, texture and lustre varies greatly with the species of moth, the leaves eaten, and the spinning and weaving methods used.

Most wild silk is produced in by small companies, co-operatives or individuals, and companies like Indigo Handloom integrate fair trade, fair wages and refusal to buy products created by child labor. With a similar philosophy, Amana, a British company, makes printed dresses and camisoles from wild silk which sell out infuriatingly fast; and Norwegian company Fin designs sleek, uptown garments which will keep their appeal for enough seasons to justify the higher price.

Recycled and Vintage Silk

A vintage silk dress, if it’s free from rot and stains (which sadly never come out) is a great investment. Silk, when cared for, can last for thousands of years – silk textiles over 4000 years old have been found in Chinese tombs.

Vintage silks lend themselves perfectly to recycling and re-working. These dresses, made from 1950s silk parachutes, seem positively youthful! And a search of the treasure trove of talent that is Etsy throws up many beautiful and ingenious ways to recycle silk into dresses, pillows, purses and accessories, like these slip dresses which I covet to wear to a summer picnic. And perhaps karma will stop the bugs – the silkworm’s distant relations – from biting me?

In sum, on the plus side, silk is durable (not to mention beautiful), lasting a really long time (up to thousands of years if preserved well!) and yet the resources needed to make silk are significant: from the water and pesticides to maintain mulberry trees, to the killing of silkworms to get the silk – all combined are a high cost. Organic silk does provide one alternative, but since that process is not yet certifiable, there are no guarantees that the process is pesticide-free, humane or resource conscious. Recycling old silks seems like a great alternative. Since the fabrics rarely degrade, it makes perfect sense to re-use and re-style.

Tell us what you think… What is your take on silk? Do you wear it and do you think it can be green?

Organic Cotton vs. Conventional: What’s the difference?


There are a number of important differences between conventional and organic cotton. Starting from the tilling of the soil to the selection of seeds, labor paid and water used, organic cotton farming requires significant investment of time and resources to radically overhaul conventional cotton growing methods.

Cotton is a crop that attracts a wide range of insects (eg cutworm, cotton bollworm, tobacco bollworm, army worm, loopers, aphids, whitefly, spider mite among others). This is one of the reasons why it is one of the largest pesticide dependent crops in the world.

The following table outlines some of the major differences at each stage of the growing process. Sources used for this table include: National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service, Organic Exchange, Organic Trade Association (OTA), and Harmony Art Organic Designs. For more information on organic cotton certification, please visit OTA or OneCert.


Click to enlarge images. The following chart (2 pages) was created for Green Cotton using the sources mentioned above.

For a similar chart by Harmony Art Ogranic Designs, please visit her beautiful website:

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JUTE: The 2nd Most Popular Natural Fiber in the World

Photo source:

What is Jute?
Jute is a long, shiny vegetable fiber that can be spun into coarse, strong threads.

Jute is comprised mostly of cellulose plant material AND lignin (a wood derivative). It is thus a ligno-cellulosic fiber –partially a textile fiber and partially wood (see Wikipedia for more).

The fibers are off-white to brown, and 1–4 meters (3–12 feet) long. Bangladesh is the world’s largest exporter of jute. Jute is grown in the same land-water area as rice and is a very difficult crop to grow and harvest. Other important jute export countries include India, China, Burma (Myanmar), Pakistan, Nepal and Thailand.


JUTE has seemingly limitless uses.

Core uses: twine and rope, sackings, carpets, wrapping fabrics (cotton bale), and the construction fabric manufacturing industry. It can be used in curtains, chair coverings, carpets, area rugs, hessian cloth, and backing for linoleum. Other uses include espadrilles, floor coverings, home textiles, high performance textiles, Geotextiles, and composites.

While jute is being replaced by synthetic materials in many of these uses, jute is still valuable due to its biodegradable nature. Synthetics are not suitable in some cases. For example certain planting containers for young trees planted directly without disturbing the roots, and land restoration cloth to prevent erosion while natural vegetation grows are two good uses.

Twine and Rope. A very popular use: jute fibers are used alone or blended with other types of fibers to make twine and rope.

Paper. Jute fibers can be turned into pulp and paper and with increasing concern over forest destruction for the wood pulp used to make most paper, the importance of jute for this purpose may increase.

Textile machineries such as textile fibers having cellulose (vegetable fiber content) and lignin (wood fiber content). Just is applied in the automobile, pulp and paper, and the furniture and bedding industries to manufacture non-wovens, technical textiles, and composites.

Home textiles. Jute has many advantages in home textiles, either replacing cotton or blending with it. It is a strong, durable, color and light-fast fiber. Its UV protection, sound and heat insulation, low thermal conduction and anti-static properties are advantageous. Jute fibers are also carbon-dioxide neutral, naturally decomposable and can be used in high performance technical materials.

Fabrics. Jute can be used for Hessian cloth, sacking, scrim, carpet backing cloth (CBC), canvas and even blended to make silk. Hessian, lighter than sacking, is used for bags, wrappers, wall-coverings, upholstery, and home furnishings. Sacking, a fabric made of heavy jute fibers, has its use in the name. CBC made of jute comes in two types.

Jute packaging is used as an eco-friendly substitute.

Floor coverings consist of woven, tufted and piled carpets. Jute non-wovens and composites can be used for underlay, linoleum substrate, and more.

Geotextiles made jute more popular in the agricultural sector. It is a lightly woven fabric made from natural fibers that is used for soil erosion control, seed protection, weed control, and many other agricultural and landscaping uses.

Jute leaves are consumed in various parts of the world. It is a popular vegetable in West Africa. It is made into a common mucilaginous (somewhat “slimy”) soup or sauce in some West African cooking traditions.

Jute can be grown in 4–6 months with a huge amount of cellulose being produced from the jute hurd that can meet most of the wood needs of the world. Jute is the major crop among others that is able to protect deforestation. Jute is one of the most environmentally-friendly fibers. The expired fibers can be recycled more than once.

Additional Jute Resources (besides Wikipedia on Jute):
(1) The International Jute Study Group
(2) The Wisegeek on Jute

Stay tuned for more posts on Jute resources and companies using jute fiber for apparel!

Photosource: wikipedia on jute.

p.s. In case you are wondering what the most popular natural fiber world is, it is COTTON.

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Bamboo Processing Considerations II


**Important notice: Green Cotton has moved to a new host. For our most up-to-date posts and current blog, please visit (or click on any of these hyperlinks). You can read more on this particular post and also comment on it by going to greencottonblog.This is one of Green Cotton’s most popular posts.


By Shana

The advantage of many renewable fibers such as bamboo is that they can be grown without petroleum based toxic pesticides, herbicides and defoliates such as those that are typically used in cotton growing.

Despite the nearly impeccable growing characteristics of bamboo, there are some concerns associated with its processing (as noted in my recent post Bamboo Processing Considerations I). Since that post, I have come across evidence suggesting that there are companies currently processing bamboo in a low impact manner.

At Green Festivals in DC, I visited Jonano, one of the best eco-fashion apparel stores in my view, and spoke with Bonnie Seifers (owner and designer of the company). According to Bonnie, it is possible to process bamboo without harsh chemicals and damaging environmental impacts. Her process (obviously proprietary) does not use bleaching and is apparently organic. Jonano carries a range of organic clothes for men, women and children with a fashionable, yet comfortable look. Many of her fabrics derived from bamboo and processed into her own proprietary blend called ecoKashmere.

Further to the green bamboo processing argument, last weekend I had the opportunity to visit Envi, a relatively new eco-friendly clothing store on Newbury Street in Boston, MA. Envi carries a broad range of green apparel labels from Stuart + Brown, to Panda Snack, Twice Shy and Toggle as well as Edun.

While small, the store carries a variety of styles including some of the softest, most appealing bamboo shirts and skirts I have seen. In chatting with the salesperson, I learned that at least some of the companies producing bamboo clothing are borrowing from the practices of Tencel production and reusing the solvents throughout the pulverizing and combing process, such that environmental damage is minimized. So it may be the case that the bamboo clothes (at least those in Envi Be Green and by Jonano) are more green than originally thought.

While it is very difficult to get a solid handle on exact bamboo processing steps and components, Tencel production appears to be one of closest comparison. Tencel is similar to bamboo in a number of respects.

Tencel is the brand name for a fiber generically called lyocell, and lyocell is a man-made fiber from natural wood pulp. It has proven popular in clothing primarily because it is absorbant , soft and comfortable. It is particularly appealing in high humidity climates. Lyocell (or tencel) is stronger that cotton and rayon and does not lose strength when wet. It is frequently blended with cotton or polyester, typically in oven fabrics. It is manufactured using a solvent spinning process, but the solvent is reused so that there is little environmental exposure.

Patagonia, a remarkably innovative outdoor clothing company with one of the most pioneering green track records of the last two decades has been using tencel for quite some time. According to Kill Vlahos, environmental analysis director for Patagonia, “Tencel production is a closed loop system. All solvents remaining after processing are reused; none gone into the waste steam. Most processors won’t talk about bamboo processing. They say it’s a proprietary process. We need disclosure, and the information we get has to reveal true environmental advantages for us to consider the fiber.” Source: ‘All Natural” in Winter 2005

So if this is also the case for Bamboo, then we are looking at a much more eco-friendly product. However I dare say that not all companies are embracing the closed loop production process (without multi-stage bleaching). At Green Festivals, I asked as many vendors as possible who were selling bamboo fabrics/products, and only one of them, Jonano confirmed organic, eco-friendly processing. Others, such as Pure Fiber, mentioned that they do not have full information on the processing, since it is proprietary and done before they get the fabric (in places such as Pakistan).

Hopefully someday we will have a better certification process available that will also include the processing of these fibers. Until that time however, it is important to ask questions on the sourcing of materials and make sure that the processing meets your own standards of green-ness.


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Source: Flickr (Ewe Give Me Knits!)

Top photo source: Flickr (spiffxp)

Biomimetic Waterproofing: Finisterre is Hot

UK company Finisterre, who got their roots in high technical surf gear is now breaking new ground with their tremendously innovative waterproofing gear. As a deviation from the Buffalo clothing concept from Patagonia, this new technology uses a combination of fibers piles in a hydro carbon coupled with a high density fiber that mimics body dynamics (to allow for breathability) – much like animal fur. As you sweat, moisture droplets are collected in the face of the fabric. The fabric is designed in such as way that the more you sweat, and the harder you work, the farther away the moisture droplets get from your body. The current system is designed by Nikwax Analogy.

This company is definitely worth checking out.

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The news is that they aren’t manufacturing in China any more, have introduced beeswax impregnated poly-cotton fabrics, garments of traceable merino wool, and embraced recycled polyester fabrics, whilst simultaneously dropping laminated waterproofs in favour of what they see as a biomimetric alternative. No, not the much vaunted lotus leaf fabric, instead they take their cue from animal fur. After the fold we chew the fat in an extended interview with the guys from Finisterre as they explain in detail just how this all works.
Buffalo uses a fiber pile worn next to the body – a combination of capillary action and thermodynamics keep the wearer warm and relatively dry when working hard.
Biomimetic waterproofs use a fiber pile worn away from the body and then waterproofed [we think they mean water resistant] in a hydrocarbon d.w.r [durable water repellent]. The result is very similar to animal fur and its performance revolves around two points.

blog it

From Finisterre


Moving closer to our ambitions is a gradual process and in order that we maintain our focus, every single one of our garments is designed under a number of initiatives. Throughout the product descriptions over the next few pages, you’ll see where each initiative, via its motif, has been applied to which product.

Biomimicry – The imitation of systems present in the natural environment and the application of their design to man-made products.

Natural Advantage – Solutions built by nature.

Reclaim, Reprocess, Reuse – A multi option recycling programme relating to what happens to the garments after their life.

Eco-circle – The world’s first closed loop polyester recycling scheme.

Horizons – From manufacturing ethics to sustainable development, this focuses on building transparency in our practises and those we work with. In the current range, this is divided between the Storm Track and Humboldt, both made as part of a rehabilitation scheme run by nuns in Colombia. The remainder of the products are made in the EU (Portugal) in a facility that has the top ISO accreditations. As well as this, we also aim to keep everything we do here as local as possible.

ZQUE – Worlds first traceable chain that combines Merino with an accreditation programme that ensures environmental, social and economic sustainability, animal welfare and traceability.

Bamboo: Processing Considerations

Organic Clothing Blog recently brought our attention to the important distinction between bamboo, the miracle plant, and bamboo fiber, the more troublesome fabric. While bamboo is indisputably one of the world’s most sustainable and eco-friendly grass plants, the clothing fiber is not easy to produce from the raw grass, nor apparently as sustainable. Manufacturing the fiber into a usable fabric appears to be wrought with environmentally concerning effects.


Two well know processes exist for producing regenerated bamboo fiber:

1) Chemical Processing: Sodium hydroxide (NaOH- also known as caustic soda or lye) is used to ‘cook’ the fiber into a form of regenerated cellulose fiber
carbon disulfide is used for hydrolysis alkalization combined with multi phase
bleaching. This process produces a fiber also known as bamboo rayon or modal.
Chemical processing is the most popular bamboo fiber regeneration process.

2) Mechanical Processing: In mechanical transformation, machines are used to crush the woody parts of the bamboo plant; natural enzymes are then used to break the bamboo into a mushy mass at which point the individual fibers are combed out and spun into a yarn. This is similar to the process used to make linen. As such, the end product in this process is also known as bamboo linen. This process is much less popular than chemical, primarily because it is much more labor intensive and costly.

Both processes present environmental hazards and harmful health effects. As for the chemicals (the more widespread process), breathing in carbon disulfide is known to cause tiredness, headache and nerve damage among the exposed. At factory plants it is also associated with neural disorders among rayon manufacturers.

Low levels of exposure to sodium hydroxide is also known to cause irritation of the eyes and skin. As a strong alkaline base in its crystalline form, caustic soda (NaOH) is one of the major ingredients of Drano. These same chemicals are used not only for bamboo, but in standard rayon processing from wood or cotton waste byproducts.

Because of the health risks posed by these chemicals, coupled with the negative environmental impacts in surrounding factory plants, bamboo manufacturing, like other regenerated fibers produced using hydrolysis alkalization, is not considered eco-friendly, nor sustainable. However, important to note is that some companies ARE producing bamboo organically, using processing that do not involve bleaching.

Yet, what is the alternative? When assessing environmental impacts, we must always weigh the alternatives, one of which is traditional cotton. In the case of cotton, while in some cases the processing may be less chemical intensive (although not always) the growing is one of the most environmentally destructive crops in the world both in terms of water and pesticide use.

In addition, it appears there are some organic bamboo processing pioneers out there and more are on the way. I am certain that it is only a question of time before we develop environmentally friendly processes to transform the pulp into fine fibers. Consider the green progress made in household cleaning, lawn fertilizer and pesticide products. It is only a question of time before we discover greener methods for bamboo processing, too.

Additional advantages of Bamboo: Bamboo fabric is very soft and can be worn directly next to the skin. Many people who experience allergic reactions to other natural fibers, such as wool or hemp, do not complain of this issue with bamboo. The fiber is naturally smooth and round without chemical treatment, meaning that there are no sharp spurs to irritate the skin. (Source: Wise

More on Bamboo ( Bamboo fiber resembles cotton in its unspun form, a puffball of light, airy fibers.

Photo Credit: Organic Clothing Blog

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What do conventional fashion designers Diane vonFurstenberg,
Oscar de la Renta, Kate O’Connor, Agnes B and eco-fashion designers Amanda Shi of Avita, Linda
Loudermilk, Katherine Hamnett, Miho Aoki and Thuy Pham at United Bamboo, Sara Kirsner at Doie Designs, and clothing
manufacturers Bamboosa, Shirts Of Bamboo, Jonano, HTnaturals
in Canada and Panda Snack, and fabric
manufacturers Table Bay Spinners of
South Africa, Richfield Tang Knits Ltd.
in Mauritius have in common? Bamboo.
Chemically manufactured bamboo fiber is a regenerated
cellulose fiber similar to rayon or modal. Chemically manufactured bamboo is sometimes called bamboo rayon because of the many similarities in the way it is chemically manufactured and
similarities in its feel and hand.


The manufacturing processes where bamboo the
plant is transformed into bamboo the fabric are where the sustainability and
eco-friendly luster of bamboo is tarnished because of the heavy chemicals

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“Eco” Fashion Week in London

Here’s to a powerful showing of ethical and green fashionistas in London this week. For the first time, eco and “people” friendly fashion acquired its own rightful place at the week-long event. ‘Esthetica’, the eco exhibition, featured designers from Ciel and Enamore to Davina Hawthorne and Samant Chauhan, some of the hottest, most talented designers in the field. Notably, many of these young artists not only demonstrate their uncanny ability to source creative eco products and materials for designs – all with low carbon footprints, but more than a few explicitly embrace fair and ethical trade practices.

We are entering a new generation in which it is not only possible to create and sell sexy, hip, environmentally conscious clothing, but it increasingly is a necessity. The very definition of hip, I believe, has transformed to include socially and environmentally conscious design practices.

Interestingly, Esthetica reveals a huge range in product, design, materials and approaches. Hetty Rose for example takes used high end Kimonos and integrates them into stunning, individually crafted shoes for women. While not inexpensive, these shoes are a work of art: contemporary, fun, elegant and hip. The best part too is knowing that the material, as re-used, is not contributing to additional carbonization of the planet.Also worth noting is Noir– which appears to be the sexiest, most striking line of the week. Proving that green can be hot and hip, Noir took an impirial, dark and almost militaristic approach to their sexy designs this year. Catchy indeed- the clothes are powerful and hot, serving to drive home even deeper that green-ing is achievable, one baby step at a time. Noir is not 100% organic, but they are working toward that goal, one thread at a time.

Finally, I’d like to make note of Samant Chauhan, a new designer from India, whose knitware work is obvious in its ingenuity. This man is clearly a visionary and one step ahead of the crowd in terms of his designs. While some may say, the designs appear too odd, off-beat or strange at times, I would argue that Samant may be onto something. Inspired by the Asian pulse of fashion, he bridges the gap between East and West: fusing two typically opposing paradigms to create one very unique look. Furthermore, given that Asia constitutes the fastest growing consumer market in the world, and houses close to 3 billion consumers — I can only guess that the work of designers like Samant will be increasingly influential.

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Another new initiative at the Exhibition @ London Fashion Week is Estethica,
it will be the hotspot for ethical fashion, designers will show collections founded
on ecological and organic principles. Maintaining the highest standards in design
and craftsmanship, all the labels here including Katharine Hamnett and From Somewhere
are creating high end fashion without compromise.




hetty rose



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The DNA of Green-ness: A look at the IPATH

Ok, I am on the hunt for good uses of coconut. First there was Triko and the ingenious use of coconut fibers for buttons and other typically metal/plastic accessories on clothing. Now, IPATH is integrating coconut into skate shoe insoles. Excellent. This shoe in fact is quite the textile laboratory experiment. Not only does coconut line the insole, but hemp, ramie, bamboo and linen fibers also constitute its DNA. Positioned as a low environmental impact shoe, the IPATH has not only the genuine green-ness to lure any eco-minded skater, but also the marketing jazz of an apple product to really get the excitement rolling. I am not a skater, but if i were, I would certainly buy these shoes. Nice going IPATH.

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IPATH shoes, which are currently only made for men (though don’t be shy ladies because plenty of these shoes would look fab on you too), are made of eco-materials like hemp and organic cotton. The leather is tanned without chromium. The insoles of the shoes are special and include coconut and natural fibers for odor absorption.

new Fred Gall Pro shoe

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