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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Sustainable Fabrics: Eco-Friendly Clothing

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If you’re interested in finding ways to reduce your carbon footprint with small, daily changes to your lifestyle, there are a lot of options to cut waste and reduce pollution on a personal level. You can recycle, use green cleaning solvents, switch to organic foods, and make many of your own products at home in bulk (5-gallon buckets of homemade laundry detergent, for example) in order to cut back on disposable packaging waste.

But did you know that you can also support sustainable farming by purchasing clothing made from eco-friendly fabrics? Not only are there a wide variety of clothing options out there (with even some big-name designers jumping on the bandwagon), but there are also plenty of reasons to make the change….

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The Green Garmento – An Eco-Friendly Dry Cleaning Tote

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“Using The Green Garmento for your dry cleaning is similar to the reusable totes movement, which started as something grocery stores were offering and has changed the way people do their grocery shopping,” says Jennie Nigrosh, president and co-founder of The Green Garmento.

Nigrosh’s product is a dry cleaning bag that consumers use over and over again, both as a hamper at home and as a way to transport their dry cleaning without plastic bags. “Way beyond the fact that we have an interesting product that helps make life easier, helps to organize your closet, and helps you be green all at the same time,” Nigrosh adds, “it’s a new category.

Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) interviewed Nigrosh by phone from her California office to learn more about The Green Garmento as well as its acceptance in the dry-cleaning world and in homes around the nation….

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Fauna Extreme Tees – for Inspiration and Style

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If you’ve worn bamboo fabric, you know that it is incredibly soft and comfy. The tees from Fauna Extreme are no exception. I was in love with the organic fabric the minute I touched it. Unfortunately, my medium height and not-quite-as-svelte-as-I-wish-I-were frame didn’t do much for the long, slender shape of the tee. Broyles had warned me that the tees run small, and she was right.

So I asked my friend, Jenny Schilling, to try it on. The shirt fit her perfectly, though a bit on the longish side. Jenny, too, was thrilled by the fabric, as you’ll see in her comments below. The light pink tee I received as a complimentary review product — and passed on to Jenny — is a bit on the pale side for Jenny’s light complexion, so the color isn’t quite what she would have picked. But the Fauna Extreme website shows several rich color choices, too. (I’ll be sure she sees them!)

The story of Fauna Extreme starts with a mom and a marathon. Ecopreneur Sarah Broyles decided to run her first marathon after having baby #1. “One morning, while she was out pounding the pavement, she daydreamed about shirts emblazoned with fast animals like the cheetah and pronghorn,” she writes on the Fauna Extreme website. So, she worked with an artist, who created several beautiful and powerful animal images for a series of tees.

She also did her homework. Broyles, who started out her college career as a wildlife biology major — but graduated with a degree in English — was determined to find the most sustainable fabric, dyes, and inks she possibly could. What she ended up with was 70% bamboo, 20% organically grown cotton, and 10% spandex. The reasons for her choices are many, as she explains on her blog post, “How to Be Eco Fashionista.” …

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Old Clothes Cluttering Your Closet? Swap-O-Rama-Rama!

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I’ll bet you have clothes in your closet that you haven’t worn for years. And how about shoes? How many of those are cluttering your shoe rack or heaped on the floor?

The vast majority of people reading this post have clothes that you’ve forgotten about. What good are they doing cluttering up limited closet and drawer space? Isn’t it time to tell them to move along?

After all, someone, somewhere, would love to have a gently used pair of jeans in the size that no longer fits you. Or maybe they’d enjoy those black pumps you only wore a couple of times before deciding they’re not really your style. And that cool outfit you bought that turned out to look better in the magazine than it does on you? Yeah, somebody else would like that one, too.

Swap-O-Rama-Rama (SORR) is an event designed to solve the problem of too many clothes and too little space. At a Swap-O-Rama-Rama, you donate your lovingly worn or long-forgotten clothing at the event, then take home something that’s just right for you today….

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Green Girl – Organic Luxury Is in the Bag

December 10, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Clothing, Eco-Friendly, Fashion, Front Page, Reviews, U.S., Women

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While I was waiting for my sample Green Girl Eco Tote to arrive, I went to the company website to check it out. There were so many beautiful bags, with exotic colors and interesting black-and-white designs, I wanted to buy them all. But let’s face it: at $120 each, they weren’t going to make it to my MUST HAVE list, even for an organic bag.

The site makes the Eco Totes sound quite appealing:

Combining the best of fashion and function, Green Girl organic totes stylishly simplify the shopping experience while respecting the purity of the Earth… For the first time, Green Girl unites environmental practicality with high-end fashion sense. As the world moves toward a more sustainable future, Green Girl organic totes are fast becoming the “it” accessory for fashion savvy, eco-aware women across the nation.

I’m all for helping the environment while looking good. So, I was eager to try one out for myself….

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Earth-Friendly Fashion Cry – “Save the Ties!”

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A few years ago Brooke Costello couldn’t use the word “recycled” in describing the unique line of fashion accessories she produces at the helm of her independent Chicago-based design company, Tongue Tied.

“That didn’t help the sale,” she explains. “So I coined the term ‘respirited.’ I’ve seen it used by other people since, but I believe that term originated with me.”

Now the association of her wares with the recycling movement contributes substantially to the bottom line. “People across every socioeconomic level are responding to the concept,” she says. “Shopping in resale boutiques is born of the philosophy that you don’t have to spend a king’s ransom to wear couture.” …

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ReThread “Threads the Word” about the Environment

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ReThread is a hip, new clothing company that sells “rad and responsible” organic t-shirts and hoodies, screen printed with enticing environmentally focused designs. Each item is linked with a nonprofit, so that proceeds from a particular design support a related environmental cause.
Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) interviewed reThread co-founder and lead graphic designer, Rob Irwin.

IRWIN: ReThread has a little bit different business model than most companies. Even some of the sustainable companies out there — where people are trying to be green and sell green products — oftentimes, they’re still just concerned with the bottom line.

We attempt to embrace collaborative efforts across a multi-disciplinary plane. By doing this, we create a cooperative commerce. The ability to be sustainable in an economic downturn hedges very much on joining hands and networking with other companies. That is to say, your bottom line doesn’t stop at your own company. You end up transferring back and forth, not just clients, but actual education and analysis to better the world and increase the quality of life.

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ModCloth Ecopreneur Turns Vintage Shopping into Successful Career

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Seven years ago, Susan Gregg Koger began ModCloth.com by selling vintage clothing online from her Carnegie Mellon University dorm room. Later that day, she had her very first sale.

Now, ModCloth.com is an internationally recognized brand and the number one Google search result for indie clothing, retro clothing, and vintage outfits. It has expanded to include a mix of vintage-inspired wear.

The site has its roots in Koger’s teenage fascination with vintage shopping. She now mixes business with pleasure and still considers thrifting a hobby…

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Take Action – Remove Toxic Flame Retardants from Kids’ Products

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In California, babies and children are exposed to toxic flame retardant chemicals in their clothing, sheets, and other materials nearly every minute of every day. Healthy Child Healthy World has launched a campaign urging citizens to send faxes to Governor Schwarzenegger and other government officials TODAY, with a strong message in favor of SB 772. According to Christopher Gavigan, CEO of Healthy Child Healthy World, the bill would “exempt baby and juvenile products from California’s regulations that create a de facto mandate for the use of toxic fire retardant chemicals.”

On the surface, fire retardants in children’s clothing, bedding, strollers, infant carriers, changing tables, cribs, high chairs, and other products sound like a good idea. We all want children to be protected from flames. But Gavigan points out the flaws in this reasoning…

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Green Living Takes Recycled Clothing from Shabby to Chic

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Until recently, I never really considered buying used clothing, much less used kids’ clothing, but somewhere along the path of saving money and doing good for the planet I wound up in a used-clothing store. I was amazed by the buried treasures and great prices, and ever since, I’ve been hooked. I’m just one person who has reconsidered my view of used clothing shops — but I’m one of many.

Between watching the news and chatting with my girlfriends, it’s become obvious to me that many people have caught on to the idea of buying gently used clothing and other items. They not only save money, they also reduce their use of virgin natural resources. A practice that was once considered a faux pas is now common — and even a bragging right, when the discussion turns to the importance of going green…

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Swishing – A New Green Craze for Frugal Fashionistas

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“That’s so cute! Where did you get that?”

We’ve all said it to our friends, admiring a blouse, a skirt, a purse, or a pair of shoes. And they’ve said it to us. But we all get tired of our own clothes after a while. Instead of running out to the store to pick up a new item for yourself, consider swishing — swapping before shopping — as an environmentally friendly way to get those super-adorable clothes your friends own. Swishing is easy to do, and a fun way to enhance your wardrobe without spending a dime.

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