Caring about the environment is patriotic.
March 23rd, 2011
If there’s one good thing that came out of my bout with a nasty flu-like virus for the past week-plus, it’s this: My hands look amazing.
That’s because I’ve been obsessively washing my germy digits with a giant-sized pump bottle of California Baby Natural Antibacterial Blend Moisturizing Handwash, which I had received as a gift last fall when my daughter was born. (Thanks goodness I remembered I had stashed the bottle in the back of the closet, because I had run out of hand soap and wasn’t about to go out and get more with a 102-degree fever.)
Now normally, this kind of attention to asepsis would spell disaster for my skin, since my hands are usually cracked and bleeding to begin with. (Like the person with questionable breath who’s always being extended a mint, friends are forever offering me hand lotion.) But something magical happened with the California Baby wash: The more I washed my hands, the softer they got.
Is it the non-stripping and biodegradable vegetable cleansers? The essential oils used in lieu of hormone-disrupting synthetic fragrances and toxic triclosan? The addition of coconut oil and gardenia flowers as natural moisturizers? I’ll never know. But this will be a must-have in my bathroom long after flu season has flown.
January 3rd, 2011
It was the Meatless Monday campaign, though, that really opened my eyes to the environmental impact of eating animals. Since then, I’ve written 61 Meatless Monday posts on this blog. But not one has been about wearing animals.
An oversight, I know, since factory farming applies as much to leather as it does to London broil. But I’ve got to be honest: I haven’t thought a whole lot about this, probably because I rarely buy clothing or shoes (yay, anti-consumption).
Obviously, I’m not the only one: A green-minded friend contacted me after reading my Eco Etiquette column on the environmental impact of fur to ask whether Uggs are made from actual sheep skin or just the wool (the former, sorry to say).
So here’s my New Year’s resolution: Before I buy my next pair of shoes or a piece of clothing, I’m going to think about these things. And I’m going to look for viable eco alternatives. Stay tuned.
December 23rd, 2010
Let’s face it: People are not going to stop wearing fur. US fur sales have declined sharply since 2005, but that’s attributable to the economy more than any sort of mass ethical/ecological epiphany. Worldwide, sales are way up, thanks to a new crop of luxury consumers in Russia and China.
Since that’s the case, I would rather see someone wear a vintage or recycled fur coat than a faux one made from toxic textiles. But I know not all of you agree with me, and think wearing any type of fur (even an “ethical” one) would be condoning the industry. Or maybe you’re having second thoughts about that mink vest after reading this week’s Eco Etiquette.
So, then, what to do with that vest? Throwing it out wouldn’t be very eco, after all.
Luckily, there’s The Humane Society’s Coats for Cubs program, quite possibly the most adorable aid program ever. The old furs are used by wildlife rehabilitators as surrogate mommies for orphaned/injured animals. Your donation is tax-deductible, and no item is too small to donate — hats, gloves, and muffs (for all you Dickensian carolers) are all accepted. Cozy animals and a clear conscience!
December 14th, 2010
Despite being a month pregnant and having to pass on the bubbly, I glammed it up last New Year’s Eve as the best man at my brother’s black-tie wedding. This year, I’ll be enjoying a cozy night at home with my husband and baby daughter. What a difference a year makes.
You probably have fancier plans this year than I do. Which means right now, you’re asking yourself, What the heck am I going to wear?
Unfortunately, a sparkly splurge is far from eco-friendly, since you’ll probably only wear it once. Too bad: American discard 68 pounds of clothing and textiles a year.
So why not Rent the Runway this New Year’s Eve? For as little as $50, you can have designer duds (I’m talking Chloe and Hervé Léger) delivered to your door for your big night out. You get a backup size dropped off for free, and can even order a second style for just $25.
When you’re done, just pop it back in the mail, and it’ll be eco–dry cleaned for the next lucky wearer. How’s that for sustainable style?
November 15th, 2010
I’ve written before about the challenge of being both environmentalist and mother; perhaps nowhere are the two harder to reconcile than at a baby shower. (It’s called a “shower” for a reason, after all — the deluge of baby goods can sometimes seem endless!)
We think we need all this stuff, but the truth is that babies grow up so fast and have such basic needs that their parents usually end up with piles of unused clothing and toys that wind up getting tossed in the trash.
So for my special event, I wanted to do things differently and have a “green” (which actually means mindful) baby shower, and luckily my friends, family, and American Baby magazine climbed right on board. Going green wouldn’t mean that we all had to be grinches; it just meant giving extra thought to a celebration and registry that would be healthy for both baby and planet. Check it out (click here for the full-sized version):
Cover and story reprinted with permission from American Baby® magazine. ©2010 Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved. All photos: David Tsay.
August 7th, 2010
I know, I know: It appears we’ve reached a market saturation point with the eco-friendly tote bags. My own hall closet is bursting with them — cotton canvas, mesh, polypropylene, recycled PET — so many that I could probably pack up my whole apartment in them instead of boxes the next time we move.
Here’s the thing, though, about most of the reusable bags I’ve accumulated over the years: They’re fine for tossing in the car or for doing a quick marketing on my morning walk when I’m in my sweats and looking grungy, but they don’t look so cute when I’m out and about on the weekends, shopping with friends at the farmers market or the swap meet. I hate to sound vain, but I like to make green look at least a little bit glam. How can I convince other people to think reusable bags are cool if I’m schlepping a wrinkled and stained Trader Joe’s number?
Enter these adorable jute shopping bags from June Fifteen. I picture a très chic Parisian woman carrying one of these, which is exactly who I’m going to pretend to be when I stuff mine with bread, cheese, and flowers at the Hollywood Farmers Market this weekend.
What’s great about the bags is that they’re flat-bottomed, so it’s super easy to keep your purchases neatly organized. A couple styles come with built-in wine holders, too. What a perfect way to pack up a romantic picnic lunch for you and your sweetie!
Do this now: Don’t forget to wash the reusable bags you already own — they can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Toss your cotton totes in the wash (just don’t dry them on high, unless you want a mini tote), and soak your plastic-based ones in a bath of soapy water and a quarter cup of white vinegar. June Fifteen’s jute totes have a waterproof lining; use a damp cloth to wipe out the inside.
July 6th, 2010
I’ve written before about Green Sheep Shop and its gorgeous, eco-friendly yarns, but I couldn’t resist posting about the online store’s featured yarn for the month of July, especially now that I’ve got babies (or should I say baby, due in August) on the brain: Be Sweet Bambino Taffy.
Made from a luxuriously soft organic cotton/bamboo blend, Bambino Taffy is perfect for do-it-yourself baby gifts. And it’s virtually idiot-proof: Each skein has five coordinating colors that self-stripe as you knit or crochet, adding pops of color without all the work of having to drop yarn A and pick up yarn B (or C, or D).
The Be Sweet company is also socially responsible, employing artisans in economically depressed regions of South Africa (including female members of the Xhosa tribe) to make its beautiful, eco-friendly yarns.
As you may know by now, I’m a big fan of of the do-it-yourself (DIY) movement that’s seen a resurgence since the US economy tanked, and especially, the home arts: sewing, knitting, gardening, cooking, etc. This type of know-how isn’t just financially beneficial, it’s good for the environment: Being able to mend your own pants at the first sight of a tear instead of running out to Target for a new pair, for example, helps reduce consumption. (Reduce — the first of the three R’s of the environment, remember?)
And what could be more self-sufficient and DIY than knitting and crocheting? You take a couple balls of yarn, a pair of kneedles, and presto! You have a hat on your head, or a blanket to keep you warm, or a cute outfit for your best friend’s new baby (hint, hint).
Be Sweet Bambino Taffy is available for 20 percent off on Green Sheep Shop throughout the month of July (click here to order). I’ll be snapping up a skein for the baby booties I’m hoping to finish for my little bambina.
[Watch Do It Gorgeously video on Vimeo]
This week, my HuffPost column focused on avoiding toxic chemicals in cosmetics; since then, I’ve received a bunch of emails asking for eco-friendly skincare recommendations. I’m happy to oblige, but here’s the deal: A lot of the truly natural, nontoxic products I’ve discovered (and I mean truly nontoxic, as in an EWG rating of 2 or lower) are also gloriously expensive.
I know there’s a market out there for high-end green beauty products, but I think the whole eco-luxury thing in a horrendous economy is a bit of a turn-off. People shouldn’t feel like going green is only for those who are privileged enough to afford it. If you have the budget to spend $120 on a certified organic anti-aging mist/serum combo, then great; otherwise, there have to be attainable solutions for the rest of us.
That’s why I’m loving New York Times-bestselling author Sophie Uliano’s new book, Do It Gorgeously. In it, she shows just how easy, inexpensive, and gratifying it is to make eco-friendly beauty products yourself — including every indulgence from luxurious exfoliating scrubs to anti-aging face creams.
I know what you’re thinking — I’m not really the DIY type — but I’m telling you: Having read the book, this is not complicated stuff. In fact, a lot of it is what our grandmothers knew how to do, but what we forgot how to do over the past several decades of mind-numbing consumerism.
Once you see what minimal work it takes to make your own minty fresh mouthwash or a gift of gourmet herb salt to give to a friend (two of the many fun projects Uliano details in the book), you’ll never want to pay retail for them again.
And if you’d like to meet Uliano in person, don’t forget to buy your ticket for next weekend’s Women of the Green Generation Conference, at the Evo South in Downtown Los Angeles. (I’ll also be there, moderating a panel on environmentalism and the media — hope to see you then!)
I’ve never been much of a perfume wearer, probably because it always seems to give me a horrendous headache. (I had a love affair with those giant bottles of Jean Nate After Bath Splash as a child, and since then I’ve pretty much subsisted on a dab or two of lavender oil for special occasions.) Last month’s news that top-selling designer fragrances like Calvin Klein Eternity and Chanel Coco contain dozens of secret chemicals that can trigger allergies or disrupt hormones only further cemented my aversion to the sweet-smelling stuff.
But a new line of non-toxic, phthalate-free fragrances from Agape & Zoe Naturals may have me dabbing my pulse points for the first time in years. They’re made with only two ingredients — 100 percent pure essential oils and organic grain alcohol — and rank an absurdly low 1 to 2 (“low hazard”) on the Skin Deep scale.
Added bonus: The fragrances are completely free of the petrochemicals that most conventional perfumes contain, which is important for those of us trying to reduce our oil footprint since the BP oil disaster.
After sampling the line for a week (with no headaches, thank you very much), I’m partial to Green (how surprising!), a crisp blend of cucumber, mint, and mandarin orange, but all five of the fragrances are quite lovely. And at $5 for a 1/3 oz. rollerball, you could try all of them for about half the price of a bottle of toxic designer fragrance.
May 25th, 2010
Whether in anticipation of future plastic bag taxes or to back up the brand’s eco-luxe bohemian aesthetic with some real tree-hugging action, no matter; I was duly impressed to see shoppers heading out with their Free People purchases in these reusable mesh fabric totes when I visited the store in Highland Park, IL, this past weekend.
Reusable bags have become a common sight at grocery stores (at least where I live, in Los Angeles), but retail shops are an entirely different matter. Even my friends who dutifully take their pile of Trader Joe’s canvas totes with them marketing wouldn’t turn down a glossy black Barneys shopping bag should they have the occasion to splurge.
Somehow, that Carrie Bradshaw moment doesn’t feel quite the same when you’re walking down Madison Avenue with a wrinkled hemp tote, does it? (Although it’s never stopped me: I admittedly don’t do a lot of clothes shopping, but when I do, I pack up my purchases in this expandable nylon number that I carry on my key chain.)
This Free People cutie is the perfect compromise: It’s cool looking, you don’t have to remember to bring it to the store, and most importantly, it’s not made of petroleum-based plastic.