Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion—A Guide to Staying Stylish While Keeping the Environment in Mind

March 3, 2013 by  
Filed under Blog, Books, Clothing, Fashion, Front Page, Slideshow

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Before last month, the last time I read an entire book was December 1999, after I got the third Harry Potter book for Christmas.

However, I completely absorbed myself in “Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion” by Elizabeth L. Cline on a Saturday afternoon as a result of her easy-to-read writing style and well-researched chapters. Cline sets out to investigate the impact of “fast fashion” retailers like Forever 21 and H&M—stores that have prices so low that clothing becomes practically disposable—on the environment, the economy, and the typical American consumer’s lifestyle. But it starts out as a personal story beginning when Cline finds herself at Kmart. Standing in front of an expansive rack, she recklessly purchases seven pairs of $7 canvas flip flops that had been marked down from $15 and is inspired to look into today’s fashion consumer lifestyle.

The result? A book covers so many topics that it’s impossible to touch on everything in a review. Cline discusses how clothing has become a trillion-dollar global industry, the plummeting price of apparel, the move to overseas production, the separation between cost and quality, the effect of our increased consumption on the environment, and so much more. After reading this book, I was inspired to reflect upon my own fashion choices. I’ve made some changes as a result….

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Groovy Globe: Chic and Conscious Clothing

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As a consumer who tries to purchase organic and ethical products, I’ve discovered how difficult it is to find clothing that matches my values.

When I look through my pantry, I see fair-trade coffee, hormone-free poultry, organic fruits and vegetables, and Rainforest Alliance Certified tea bags. All of these products were purchased from within minutes of home at my local supermarket. In the last few years, I’ve noticed how much easier it’s become to purchase environmentally conscious foods without having to go to a specialized store.

But when I look through my closet, I see an expanse of polyester, rayon, nylon, viscose, and, of course, cotton — which, according to groovyglobe.net, is the most toxic crop on the planet as it accounts for a quarter of the world’s insecticides and more than 10 percent of worldwide pesticide sales.

An Easy Choice

Recently, I was introduced to Groovy Globe, which sells 100-percent organic apparel. T-shirts are made from 100 percent organic cotton and totes are made from 100 percent recycled cotton, as well as silicone wristbands. Never has it been so easy to make an eco-friendly fashion statement for less than $30–$40….

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Bird on Fire: Lessons from the World’s Least Sustainable City

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Phoenix, Arizona is a sprawling metropolis in one of the world’s hottest places. It has a long way to go before it can be considered “green.”

Andrew Ross, a professor in the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University, wrote Bird on Fire: Lessons from the World’s Least Sustainable City. His book is based on 200 interviews over two years about the Phoenix area’s likelihood of becoming sustainable.

What resulted from his work is a gripping analysis of government’s effect on making positive environmental changes. In Phoenix, he claims, those in charge are not doing what’s necessary to preserve the region for future generations….

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Bucuti and Tara Beach Resort: Sustainability in an Island Paradise

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The inspiration for a successful, environmentally friendly luxury resort on Aruba’s Eagle Beach started from a love of nature and animals.

Ewald Biemans, originally from Austria, founded Bucuti & Tara Beach Resorts 25 years ago on the island paradise. With only 104 rooms, the hotel is situated away from the loud hotspots and high rise buildings on Aruba, but restaurants and shopping areas are accessible in the nearby capital of Oranjestad.

Bucuti & Tara Beach Resorts sits on 14 acres of white sand and has been called one of the few “Dream Beaches of the World.” This romantic, boutique-style hotel caters to adults only. It offers beach weddings, a professional wedding planner, and “green” weddings….

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Sailors for the Sea Encourages Ocean Conservation

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As the official sustainability partner with America’s Cup, Sailors for the Sea is reaching their largest audience to date.

Sailors for the Sea educates sailors and boaters about protecting the oceans. Their partnership with America’s Cup, a race between two yachts that is the oldest trophy in international sport, allows them to reach sailors from countries around the world.

“Now, we are moving to an international level,” explains Dan Pingaro, CEO. “[Sailors] can make a positive difference on the ocean,” he says.

Pingaro says involving sailors is imperative because of the problems facing our oceans today, including a changing pH balance and plastics floating in the water. The changing pH balance has an impact on shellfish, coral fish, and feeder fish for larger ocean dwellers. And plastic trash is the major component of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, among other polluted areas….

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Treasure Mountain Inn: An Eco-Friendly Destination for Travelers

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Eight years ago, environmental activists Andy Beerman and Thea Leonard became the co-owners of Treasure Mountain Inn in Park City, Utah.

The couple had worked at the inn for years prior to purchasing the property. Beerman, who worked as a guide and has degrees in outdoor education and environmental studies, now incorporates his personal, environmental principles into the business.

And his principles have paid off. Earlier this year, the hotel was the first recipient of Park City Municipal’s new Environmental Heroes Award. The award recognizes local leaders who work to protect Park City’s environment. Treasure Mountain Inn, the area’s only green-certified, 100 percent carbon-neutral hotel, was also the first local hotel to start recycling in 1996.

“This is an ongoing process,” says Beerman, about the couple’s efforts to make the hotel more eco-friendly….

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The Heifers Are Strolling in Brattleboro, Vermont

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Spain has the running of the bulls. Brattleboro, Vermont has Strolling of the Heifers.

Ten years ago, Strolling of the Heifers got its start in order to educate the public, especially schoolchildren, about sustainable local agriculture. It began with 10,000 attendees, the weekend long event now attracts more than 50,000 visitors from across the country.

Orly Munzing, Executive Director, says, “The goal is to connect people to the food they eat,” and to benefit local farmers.
Free Events

June 3–5, attendees can enjoy all events for free, including the featured Heifers parade, a green living expo with bands and food, a bicycle tour of local farms, and more. There’s even a sandwich competition in which the winner will be flown to Australia for the international competition….

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redleaf Water Introduces Biodegradable and Recyclable Water Bottles

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One of the strongest arguments many consumers make against bottled water is the massive amount of waste that ends up clogging our waterways when bottles are discarded as litter. To counter this problem, redleaf Water, a Canadian based, premium bottled water company, recently released what they’re calling “the industry’s first biodegradable and recyclable water bottle.”

It’s not a perfect answer. Redleaf Water’s bottle biodegrades in landfills over slightly less than four years in most conditions, according to marketing manager Patrick Hillis. But four years is much better than the predicted hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of years that some researchers claim.

“The bottle can also be recycled regularly,” Hillis explains. “It won’t harm any of the other plastics.” …

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International Women’s Day Event to Celebrate Ugandan Hero

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In an early celebration of International Women’s Day, Blue Planet Green Living is partnering with A GEM of An Idea to host a live and interactive, online forum featuring the subject of this post, Agnes Nyamayarwo, founder of Mulago Positive Women’s Network.

We’re focusing on Agnes — both here and in the online forum — to celebrate her singular accomplishments as a woman of initiative, courage, and strength.

We invite you to join us February 26, 2011 from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. EST to speak with Agnes Nyamayarwo live from Uganda via the Internet.

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Woofables – A Gourmet Bakery Your Dog Will Love

December 4, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog, Ecopreneurs, Front Page, Iowa, Pet Food, Pets, Slideshow

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Although Woofables, The Gourmet Dog Bakery in Coralville, Iowa, sells dog food, it has the light scent of a real bakery. Owner Laura Taylor, who used to work in marketing, now spends her days crafting handmade treats for canines out of all-natural, all-human-grade ingredients.

While frosting a cake, Taylor explains that everything made in the store can be eaten by people; they’ll just think it tastes bland. Salt is unhealthy for dogs, so items are flavored with pumpkin, peanut butter, and cinnamon. Frosting is made with carob and yogurt and tastes like white chocolate….

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Taproot Nature Experience Deepens Children’s Connection to the Natural World

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Taproot Nature Experience was founded on the simple idea that kids need to have time outdoors.

Launched in September 2007 by Zac Wedemeyer and his wife, Elesa, this Iowa City-based company has several different programs that connect children with nature: an after-school program; a summer camp; and Sprouts, a program for pre-school-aged children.

Wedemeyer says that kids used to be allowed to go outside more, but now parents are afraid to let their children out of the house alone. As a former elementary-school teacher, he saw firsthand how little time kids spend in nature and how much time they spend watching television and playing video games….

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The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Making Natural Soaps

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Soap: Laundry soap, dish soap, hand soap, body soap, shampoo. Until I thought about it, I never realized how much soap I bought and used on a regular basis.

What if I started making all these different types of soap at home? With The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Making Natural Soaps by Sally W. Trew and Zonella B. Gould, I not only learned how to make the household product, but how to do it in an environmentally conscious way.

Homemade natural soaps have tons of benefits compared to commercial soaps….

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Torie Halbert – Designing for Eco-Conscious Luxury

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Torie Halbert, a finalist on Home & Garden Television’s Design Star and owner of To the T. Interiors, has a favorite tip for redecorating in an eco-friendly way: repurposing. Reusing old furniture and materials is not only environmentally friendly, she says, “It’s also stylish.”

In 2009, the Houston native finished in the top four of HGTV’s Design Star reality show. Halbert has received multiple honors from PRISM, Parade of Homes, Houston’s Best Awards, and was named 2009’s Most Dynamic Woman in Houston. She works as a custom home designer and strives to be environmentally conscious with her designs.

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Stop “Chocolate Milk” from Running in Iowa’s Rivers – Vote for Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy Referendum

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Iowans have a crucial choice to make that will impact future generations: the choice between clean water and dirty water.

On November 2, Iowa voters will see a referendum on a constitutional amendment called Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy (IWLL) on the back of their ballot. If it passes, it goes into effect for the next sales tax increase. Three-eighths of a percent of all Iowa sales will go into the trust fund, which will be used for soil conservation programs, to improve water quality, and to promote outdoor recreation.

“This is a way to not have chocolate milk running down our rivers,” said Mark Langgin, campaign manager for Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy….

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Naturally Fresh Deodorants – Odor Protection without Health Risks

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When you work at a busy Mexican restaurant with a broken air conditioning system in the middle of summer, you worry about sweat and body odor.

So I was really nervous when I tested Naturally Fresh Deodorant Crystal in Tropical Breeze before a hectic weekend shift. I normally return from work covered in my own blood, sweat, and tears, and other people’s chili con queso. I need a deodorant that works.

I had my doubts about the product because, though I’ve eco-tized most of my toiletries, I haven’t been able to give up my tough Sure brand deodorant/antiperspirant that I buy from the drugstore. I’m so paranoid about sweat and bad odor that I ignore the warnings about aluminum, the active ingredient in traditional deodorant/antiperspirant.

But I was really surprised by Naturally Fresh….

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California Green Chemistry Initiative to Improve Consumer Safety

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Maziar Movassaghi, acting director of the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), is determined to provide the United States with safer consumer products.

“More and more consumer goods are recalled lately because of the chemicals they contain,” Movassaghi said in a phone interview with Blue Planet Green Living.

Consumer products manufacturers will be required to “show they’re not using harmful ingredients, or face restrictions including a possible ban on selling those products,” according to a press release from Movassaghi’s office….

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Scented Cleaning Products May Harm Your Health

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Cleaning products that are artificially scented with smells like lilac, lemon, pine, and tropical rainforest may be popular with consumers, but the fragrances themselves shouldn’t be. Each fragrance is potentially made up of hundreds of chemicals — many of them toxic, according to Erin Switalski, executive director of Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE).

“It’s basically chemical soup in a lot of these products,” Switalski says.

WVE is a national organization that works to eliminate toxic chemicals that impact women’s health. The group compiled What’s That Smell?, a landmark report that examines the health effects of hidden fragrance chemicals.

Women are disproportionately affected by the chemicals in fragrances since they use them more frequently than men. They also experience more health effects from the fragrances, such as skin rashes, headaches, and breathing problems. Plus, they can pass chemicals on to their children during pregnancy and breastfeeding….

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Wolf Trap Foundation Inspires Green Living through Theatre

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The “3 Rs” of Readin’, ’Ritin’, and ’Rithmetic have been replaced by the “4 Rs”: Reuse, Repair, Recycle, and Reduce.

For the past two years, Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, based in Washington, D.C., has been teaching children these lessons through its musical puppet show, Junkyard Pirates.

“We thought, what can 3, 4, 5 year-olds understand?” says Mimi Flaherty Willis, Senior Director of Education at Wolf Trap Foundation. The organization commissioned some of their artists to create a show for children to teach the importance of recycling. All puppets are made out of recycled materials and pirates are the “good guys.” Their leader, Captain Spare Tire, is up against his nemesis, Land Fill….

“The arts are very powerful for children and adults,” says Flaherty Willis, speaking about why it’s so beneficial to teach lessons through musical performances. “As children, important messages are taught through games and songs — like the alphabet. We did the same thing to teach recycling.” …

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Top Ten Tips to Green Your Prom

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Ally Maize was already excited to go to prom to see her friends dressed up and spend the evening dancing at a swanky hotel. But this year, the 17-year-old high-school senior from West Los Angeles decided to make her prom a little greener.

She wore a couture, floor-length, royal blue ball gown by Lindee Daniel of Puridee. It’s made from fair-trade organic fabric and high-quality Indian peace silks called ahimsa and tussah. She also met with 30 friends, who agreed to carpool to the dance.

Maize founded the Green Youth Movement when she was 15. After watching An Inconvenient Truth, she was inspired to educate elementary students about sustainability and global warming. She organizes events like community gardens to teach kids how to plant and grow their own food. This year, attending her own prom inspired her to inform others on how to lessen its environmental impact.

“Prom is something that high schoolers across the country do every year. It’s easy to make prom greener,” says Maize….

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Christopher Drummond Eye Shadow Rocks!

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When you want a burst of color on your eyes, you normally have to wear heavy, cakey, powdery eye shadow.

Not anymore. I reviewed Christopher Drummond Beauty’s eye shadow in petal-pink and sky-blue, and fell in love with the iridescent, jewel-toned colors.

My favorite was the sky-blue. Sometimes people shy away from this bold color, fearing they’ll look like Mimi from old episodes of The Drew Carey Show. With this loose-powder eye shadow, users get a beautiful burst of blue that isn’t overpowering. I wore the shadow both to work and out to dinner, and got so many compliments on how pretty it was. It’s appropriate for all occasions, whether fancy or casual.

Plus, it’s made from all natural ingredients, and it’s vegan. All Christopher Drummond’s products comply with the EU Cosmetics Directive and have no known potential carcinogens. Scarily, many companies in the cosmetics industry sell products that contain ingredients banned from food. The company is affiliated with The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, PETA, and Green People. At the time of this writing, Christopher Drummond Beauty products have not yet been evaluated by Environmental Working Group on their Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database….

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