Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I Don't Know

My post on eco-friendly clothing got a very close friend of mine pretty infuriated. Okay, I lie when I say infuriated. It prompted emotion. And I guess I've never seen him this ardent about much before. He wondered why I choose to give attention to global warming and eco-friendly 'fashion', when there is lack of medical attention for AIDS patients, people dying in Darfur and poverty across the globe.

What can I say G, but I don't know? I care about a few things as passionately as I can. I write this blog, not because I have too much time on my hands, but hoping that someone as busy and lazy as me makes a small change their life.

I wish someone could fix the world, the AIDS crisis, the war in Iraq. While they’re at it, could someone fix the leaking faucet in my bathroom?


Monday, October 29, 2007

Finally.. the Scoop on Where to Shop (Part of The Fall Eco-Fashion Series.. )

After two serious posts on cotton and bamboo, finally, the scoop on where to shop. Here are some of eco-friendly adult and baby clothing, home goods manufacturers and retailers that I loved. Something to think about with the gift buying season coming up.

Haute Couture for the Fabulous Fashionista
Oscar de la Renta and Kate O’Connor, Linda Loudermilk, Summer Rayne Oakes, Amanda Shi of Avita

For the Concious Casual Dresser
Cotton field USA: Clothing thats a 100% pesticide free, chemical free and latex free. They offer lovely natural shades of brown, beige and sage with a variety of eco-dyed shades.

Chopper Couture just to show you how far this eco-fashion thing has seeped into all nooks and crannies of our society. Eco-designer Irene Zingenberg of Chopper Couture is hoping to demonstrate that beneath the rough chopper chick exterior and is a luxuriously soft eco-friendly chick. Chopper Couture is based in Toronto, Canada and has more than 100 stores retail Chopper Couture across Canada and the U.S.

Rawganique: Organic hemp, cotton and linen products with delivery in the US. Check out their organic v-neck cotton T-shirts

Hempys: American manufacturer and worldwide distributor of clothing and accessories made from sustainable materials including hemp, organic cotton, recycled cotton and recycled synthetics.

Other clothing manufacturers Bamboosa, Shirts Of Bamboo, HTnaturals

For the Baby
Organic wear USA: they offer beautiful organic baby gift sets, organic baby throws, blankets, toys, cute baby socks or any other gifts. All their our baby clothing and gifts are made with 100% certified organic cotton and come in beautiful natural colors

Sage Creek Naturals: Organic cotton baby clothes, organic bedding, and gifts

For the Home
The Bamboo Revolution.

Screen printing
T.S. Designs: Their REHANCE screen printing process avoids using plastisol inks.

QuantumOne from Wilflex is another non-PVC and non-phthalate plastisol screen printing ink that has similar look, feel and characteristics of conventional plastisol screen printing systems.

The European T-Shirt Factory is an interesting green printing story with a strong … and sincere … sustainability focus supported by ethical workplace policies for their employees. For their large commercial clients like Nike, Adidas, Polo and Wal-Mart (of course), the European T-Shirt Factor does everything from the knitting of tee shirts using certified organic cotton on tubular knitting machines, to eco-friendly screen printing on the finest commercial screen print equipment, to packaging (including bar coding, tagging and bagging), to distribution directly to their retail stores. Besides screen printing, the European T-shirt Factory also does apparel embroidery in its Egyptian facility.

Happy Shopping !

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Lucky Bamboo (Part of The Fall Eco-Fashion Series.. )

What do conventional fashion designers Oscar de la Renta and Kate O’Connor, eco-fashion designers Amanda Shi of Avita, home furnishings manufacturers The Bamboo Revolution and clothing manufacturers Bamboosa, Shirts Of Bamboo, HTnaturals have in common? Bamboo.

Bamboo is making waves throughout the fashion industry because of its smooth texture, gentle drape, exquisite softness and and easy price when compared to silk and cashmere. And, not to forget why it gets a whole post on this blog– because of its eco friendly cachet.

After my research, all I have to say is that most of the hoopla is justified.

Growing bamboo is a wonderfully beneficial plant for the planet and is even more beneficial when growing organic bamboo. Botanically, bamboo is is classified as a grass and not a tree. It is the fastest growing grass and can shoot up a yard or more a day. Bamboo reaches maturity quickly and is ready for harvesting in about 4 years. Bamboo does not require replanting after harvesting because its vast root network continually sprouts new shoots which almost zoom up while you watch them, pulling in sunlight and greenhouse gases and converting them to new green growth. And bamboo does this the natural way without the need for petroleum-guzzling tractors and poisonous pesticides and fertilizers. With all of that, bamboo just might be the world’s most sustainable resource.

Newer manufacturing facilities have begun using other technologies to chemically manufacture bamboo fiber that are more benign and eco-friendly. The latest in nano-technologies are being introduced into the bamboo clothing industry.

GreenYarn, a startup located in Boston, is developing a bamboo clothing line made from nano-particles of bamboo charcoal. GreenYarn’s “Eco-fabric” is manufactured from 4 to 5 year old Taiwanese-grown bamboo that has been dried and burned in 800 degree C ovens until it is reduced to charcoal. The bamboo is processed into nano particles which are then embedded into cotton, polyester or nylon fibers. This conventional fiber yarn that contains trapped bamboo charcoal nano particles is then woven into fabrics … mostly socks and blankets now.

Be sure to check out their slumber gear; my personal favorite. Their blankets prevent static electricity buildup, so no more snap, crackle, pop of wintery shocks when using the fleece in the chilly winter.

Greenyarn’s eco-fabric is promoted as being anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-static, de-odorizing, breathable, thermal regulating (cool in hot weather and warm in cool weather), and environmentally friendly.

What's special about Bamboo?

- Bamboo clothing is easy to launder
- Because of the smooth and round structure of its fibers, bamboo clothing is soft and non-irritating, even to sensitive skin.
- Bamboo is naturally anti-bacterial and anti-fungal
- Bamboo clothing is hypoallergenic
- Bamboo fabric has a natural sheen and softness that feels and drapes like silk but is less expensive and more durable

Bamboo the plant as well as bamboo the fabric get a 5 star on being environmentally friendly!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Cotton - From Field to Fashion (Part of The Fall Eco-Fashion Series..)

In conversations that I've had before I researched organic clothing I often used the term “natural clothing” to refer to organic clothing because the clothing is completely natural and was not grown with any toxic chemicals nor manufactured using toxic chemicals. But what I've learnt is that natural fiber clothing simply refers to clothing made from fibers found in nature, such as cotton, wool or hemp, which may not be grown or manufactured under conditions which would allow them to be certified as organic.

Natural fibers fall into three main groups: vegetable fibers which come from plants; protein fibers, which come from the wool and hair of animals; and the strong elastic fibrous secretion of silkworm larvae in cocoons which is used to create silk. The most common natural fibers used to make clothing are cotton, hemp, ramie, linen, lyocell / Tencel, wool, and silk.

Cotton – hero or villain?
When we think about global warming, growing cancer rates, deepening poverty in some of the world’s poorest countries, and even increasing chemical sensitivities, our clothes closets are probably not the first villain that comes to mind, but our clothes can be a significant, the quiet co-conspirator.

Cotton evokes images of white, fluffy purity and many people think of cotton as being a natural, pure fabric. Versatility, softness, breath-ability, absorbency, year-round comfort, performance, and durability are just a few of the qualities that have earned cotton its popular status. Cotton has a unique fiber structure which can absorb up to 27 times its own weight in water; it breathes and helps remove body moisture by absorbing it and wicking it away from the skin.

It reminds me of that cool white cotton shirt on a hot indian summer afternoon.

But, the global cotton industry has a worldwide Dark Side of which most of us are not aware as we fill our shopping bags with inexpensive cotton shirts from major clothing stores.

The simple act of conventionally growing and harvesting the one pound of cotton fiber needed to make a T-shirt takes an enormous and devastating toll on the earth’s air, water, and soil that impacts global health.

Conventionally grown cotton
Farmers in the United States apply nearly one-third of a pound of chemical fertilizers and pesticides for every pound of cotton harvested. When all nineteen cotton-growing states are tallied, cotton crops account for twenty-five percent of all the pesticides used in the U.S. Perspective, just 2.4% of the world's arable land is planted with cotton yet it accounts for 24% of the world's insecticide market and 11% of global pesticides sales, making it the most pesticide-intensive crop grown on the planet.

The health of our planet has been adversely affected by pesticides. The pesticides and synthetic fertilizers used on cotton routinely contaminate groundwater, surface water and pollute the water we drink. Fish, birds and other wildlife are also affected by the movement of these chemicals through the ecosystem.

Organically grown cotton
Working with rather than against nature is the guiding principle behind organic farming. Organic farmers use biologically-based rather than chemically dependent growing systems to raise crops. While many conventional farmers are reacting to the ecological disorder created by monocultures, organic farmers focus on preventing problems before they occur. By focusing on managing rather than completely eliminating troublesome weeds and insects, organic farmers are able to maintain ecological balance and protect the environment. Organic cotton is now being grown in more than 18 countries worldwide. In the United States, approximately 10,000 acres of organic cotton were planted in 1998 in the Mid-South, Texas and California.

• In Peru, cotton farmers have saved over $100 per acre in pesticide and fertilizer costs by switching over to organic production.

• In Tanzania organic cotton farmers plant sunflowers to encourage beneficial ants that feed on the larvae of the bollworm, and fertilize the soil with manure from their cattle.

• In India organic farmers intercrop cotton with pigeon peas and make insecticidal sprays from garlic, chili and the neem tree.

• In California, organic cotton farmers plant habitat strips of vegetation such as alfalfa near their fields as a refuge for beneficial insects. These natural alternatives are used to reduce and eliminate the toxic consequences found in conventional cotton fabric manufacturing.

For more information on this and related topics, please visit these sites:

Organic Consumers Association: An informative site that campaigns for food safety, organic agriculture, fair Trade, and sustainability.

Institute Of Science In Society: For articles on the science related to the hazards of genetically engineered cotton and other agricultural products.

USDA Organic Rules implementing the U.S. Organic Foods Production Act were finalized in December 2000. The word "organic" on U.S. products means that the ingredients and production methods have been verified by an accredited certification agency as meeting or exceeding USDA standards for organic production.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Fall Eco-Fashion Series..

My younger sister is terribly into everything organic or herbal. From herbal face, body and foot creams (she swears by Himalaya herbal – available in Indian grocery stores), to organic food. Her latest passion being organic clothing.

As sisters, we argue incessantly. (We like to call it a difference in opinion). The single hardest conversation I’ve had with her recently is over organic towels. Our 'discussion' got me thinking about the confusion that people have about what natural fibers are really used in textiles. In some people’s opinion, natural fiber clothing is the same as organic clothing.

This prompted me to do a fall fashion series about fibers in their journey from the field to the fashion runway as they journey to rise to eco-fashion stardom or sink into conventional toxic Margarittaville. I’ll share my knowledge on the conventional versus organic manufacturing process, and list some fabulous manufacturers for 'sex and the city' worthy fashionable yet eco-friendly clothing.

So, the next time you are feeling a little guilty about buying that one extra blouse, don’t. You are saving the world.. One organic fashion statement at a time.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Gore, UN Climate Panel win Nobel Peace Prize

In recognition of "their efforts to build up and disseminate knowledge about man-made climate change", Al Gore and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have been announced as co-winners of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

In awarding the honor, the Nobel committee singled out Al Gore as "probably the single individual who has done most to create greater worldwide understanding of the measures that need to be adopted".

"Gore's ex-boss, former President Clinton, also said he's 'thrilled by this well-deserved recognition,' and credited Gore with 'warning and educating us about the dangers of climate change for decades. He saw this coming before others in public life.'"

Gore stated that he will donate his half of the $1.5 million dollar prize to the Alliance for Climate Protection, an organization he founded to persuade people to reduce global warming by cutting greenhouse gas pollution