Friday, November 4, 2011

What is Fashion?

I'm sorry, I just have to post something new so that every time I open up my blog I don't see crotches (from my last posting on underwear)!

So I give you this beautiful quote from an amazing man. If you haven't seen the documentary about him, you really have to as soon as possible!

Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life. 
Bill Cunningham

To  me, this quote helps explain why fashion is important. Fashion and clothing are two different things. Clothing is a physical t-shirt and a pair of pants, whereas fashion is a concept, an idea, an emotion, a real part of our lives. For eco-fashion to be successful, I feel that we must think about it as a more than just an organic t-shirt. It needs to be fashion movement, something that embraces sustainability yet also holds true to what fashion really is, and what it means to us.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Organic Unmentionables...

For a while now I've been needing to buy some new, ahem... underwear. But I procrastinated because I was not looking forward to finding some that fit into my rules. Obviously secondhand is out of the question for this one (yuck!), and I know I could purchase something made in the USA from American Apparel, but that feels like a bit of a cop-out. Plus I've been thinking that I'd really like organic fabrics for this particular item in my wardrobe!
Exhibit A: ugly organic undies

Scouring the internet, I came upon a lot of websites with organic cotton underwear, but quite frankly they looked really old-lady-like and not faltering at all. In addition they were pretty expensive, around $25 per pair.

Then I found a really neat looking company that specializes in pretty much exactly what I'm looking for: organic, socially conscious, attractive and stylish undergarments. They are called PACT (, and their philosophy is that...

CHANGE STARTS WITH YOUR UNDERWEAR. The purchase of PACT underwear is participation in a social movement: when you buy PACT underwear, you are supporting and encouraging organic cotton farmers, responsible labor practices, and businesses that form partnerships with nonprofit organizations dedicated to positive change in our world.

Pact's underwear is 95% organic cotton and 5% elastane to give it stretch so that it doesn't loose shape. Their cuts are young and attractive looking, and they partner with non-profit organizations. For example, some of their prints are created by artists from the Creative Growth Art Center which is an art studio/gallery that serves adult artists with developmental, mental and physical disabilities. And the prints are really great!

In addition, Pact has made almost all aspects of their business socially responsible: from their supply chain, to their dying techniques, to their packaging. Check out this page on their website to see all that they do

The prices aren't the cheapest in the world, most range from $20 - $22 per pair, however there were many on sale for around $15. I bought a couple of pairs. I think it's worth spending the money if you get exactly what you are looking for. I also like their policy for your first order: if it doesn't fit right they will get you the right size for free! Oh and they also have men's underwear.

The next step in my eco-unmentionables will have to be the bra department. Which reminds me, you should check out this article from Ecouterre about a company in Japan who is recycling women's old bras into fuel...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Green Halloween?

Halloween having just passed, I feel like it's important to analyze the eco impact of what just happens to be my favorite holiday. I have to say it's difficult for me to criticize Halloween because I love it so much, and because I didn't do a great job of greening my Halloween this year...

Technically I did follow my rules, I made my own costume. I've been making my own Halloween costumes for years and I put entirely too much time and effort into them because, well it's what I love doing. Sometimes (like this year) I wasn't even sure I'd have a place to wear it. But it's not the wearing of the costume that I love, it's creating something fun, unique, and beautiful that really doesn't serve a point in the normal world. But therein lies the rub, creating something to be only worn once is pretty much as un-green as you can get. So how do I justify this and what does it mean for Halloween?

I don't think that we can go so far as to say that holidays like Halloween shouldn't exist because of how unsustainable they are. I think we should just each try to reduce our waste on Halloween as much as possible. Buying store bought costumes is the first no no. They are super cheap, made overseas, fall apart in one night, and are made from non-recyclable synthetic fabrics. If everyone made their own costume with things they owned, or purchased items from second hand stores, it would be much less of an impact. I will still stand behind people like me who buy fabric and make their own from scratch. The impact from making my own is much less than buying the pre-packaged, plus I plan to keep my costumes for years and years. I've already had several friends borrow my old costumes when they needed something to wear last minute on Halloween night. So see, they are being reused!

The thing is we can't say that Halloween shouldn't exist. That borders on very dangerous territory which takes being green to an extreme. If we say costumes for Halloween are wasteful, then I feel like you start to look into things like theater, arts, dance, and even sports, and could potentially say that these things are also expendable activities that use a huge amount of resources for costumes on a regular basis. I think the key to being successful in sustainability is making smart day to day choices. If we start attacking the things in life that bring meaning and beauty to the world, then we might as well live in a colorless bland world where everyone is the same.

Here is an interesting article from the ecologist on how to have a green Halloween, if you are interested:

And if you're curious, here is my costume from this year.

The white swan (from the movie Black Swan) -  I hand made my tutu trying to use real tutu making techniques and I hand made head piece made from an old headband and some wire. The base of the corset was made from old fabric I had lying around, but I do have to confess that I had to buy many yards of tulle and 2 yards of fashion fabric for the rest of the costume. So not the greenest, but also still didn't break my rules! :)

Happy Halloween everyone!