If the eco-friendly shoe fits (Day 167)…

August 14, 2007


As the shoe company Simple puts it, “Just because a shoe is planet-friendly, doesn’t mean it has to look like a hippie clod-hopper.” They’ve got that right. Just look at these organic, vegan-approved, hemp-whatever fashion tragedies — the “sport style” looks like something you’d need to show proof of senior citizen status to wear (no offense to senior citizens, I know you need plenty of arch support).

Now, I know Birkenstocks made a big comeback and all when they started getting into silver and gold colour schemes and different patterns. And they do have this little press release about their environmental efforts and all, but they’re still kinda ugly, and besides, I’m committed as of last week to not buying anymore leather.

So when it comes to a new set of kicks, I’ll be looking to brands like Simple to help me out. As they say on their website, their new EcoSneaks line is manufactured using sustainable materials like recycled car tires, used plastic bottled, bamboo, jute and organic cotton. As well, they’ve cut down on the packaging, so you can feel less guilty about ordering online and having them shipped.

Between the sheets (Day 153)…

July 31, 2007


While changing my bed linens the other day, I noticed that parts of the fitted sheet looked ever so slightly less white than other parts. I wasn’t sure if it was an actual stain or just the glare from my ugly compact fluorescent light bulbs, but then I remembered that these were sheets given to me by my parents a few years ago when I moved into my apartment, and they weren’t exactly new at the time.

Upon closer inspection, I noticed the elastic had stretched out and the stitching was getting loose. I concluded it was time to cut it up into hankies and get a new one.

Normally, I get excited at the prospect of shopping. But to be honest, I can’t think of anything I’d rather not have to buy than sheets. Well, maybe socks. And also watch batteries … man, that was so boring.

Anyway, I knew I wanted a good quality as well as eco-friendly brand. Treehugger had written about the benefits of bamboo sheets, but they’re not easy to find and can get expensive. Eventually, back at Grassroots, I found some unbleached organic cotton sheets for $60, made by a company called Coyuchi (the best is their tagline: “a natural opulence” — see, high thread-count snobbery is totally bio!).

On their site, they explain how the cotton seeds they use must be non-genetically engineered and that the plants must not be exposed to pesticides. Furthermore, the cotton is grown at family-run farm cooperatives, where workers are paid higher than average wages.

The only downside to this product was that it came wrapped in plastic. But I’m not sure it’s even possible to get sheets that don’t come packaged like this — there must be some sort of hygiene law that prevents it. Kind of like those mattress tags that threaten jail time for anyone who removes them.

Photo by Mr Luke Harby at Flickr

Cut from the sustainable cloth (Day 135)…

July 13, 2007


Supporting locals designers is something I always like to talk about but rarely do. It’s usually because the clothes are too expensive, too hard to find, or most often, because all I need is a plain white T-shirt and the Gap sells those for about $20.

But I actually used to work at the Gap, and man was that ever horrible. I won’t get into all the details here because I can’t afford to be sued, but at one point I remember having to work during a “flow” shift, which is either from 5 a.m. until the store opens, or from closing time until 2 a.m. This is when employees change over all the merchandise and display cases, and it happens every couple weeks.

That night I was working, it was about 1:30 a.m. and we were running late. I was sitting on the floor surrounded by piles of Baby Gap apparel as a 16-year-old girl stood next to me, throwing more and more shirts at my head as she asked over and over again, “Can you, like, fold faster or something?”

Totally ridiculous. I’m not going to whine about the crappy minimum wage and the even crappier hours, but the sheer quantity of clothing that comes in and out of that store is mind-boggling and, really, pretty depressing. The fact that we’d get an employee discount off an item that was already 50% off and the company would still be profiting just goes to show how cheap the manufacturing process is. I’m sure that when No Logo came out and students began protesting, Gap made some changes here and there, but even if they don’t get their clothes from sweat shops anymore, there’s no way that stuff is being churned out by fairly paid workers.

So I’ve decided that, no matter how desperately I want a plain T-shirt or cheap pair of jeans, I will not shop at the Gap, nor at any other chain for that matter, until my challenge is over. From now on, I’m only buying clothes from local designers like Passenger Pigeon (whose wrap dress is above), lilikoi (I got this dress from them recently) and preloved. I’ll also allow myself to buy from companies outside of Canada if their merchandise is made from sustainable, sweatshop-free materials (like American Apparel, except not American Apparel, because their advertising revolts me).

Not bound to cotton rounds (Day 66)…

May 5, 2007

Sometimes I think the female species is more responsible for overflowing landfills and excess waste than their male counterparts — at least when it comes to females like myself, ie. recovering product junkies who have an 18-step bedtime regimen involving brushing, flossing, sometimes mouthwashing, one moisturizer for hands, feet and elbows, another for arms and legs, lip balm, a few hair brushes, etc. When it comes to my face, I’ve always used those little cotton rounds to remove my makeup, then used a face wash, toner, night cream, and if I have any zits then some ointment for that, too.

High maintenance? Maybe. But I’m cutting down on at least one step by not buying any more cotton rounds. Instead, I’ll use a facecloth. This will require a bit of extra water, but not much, and considering the little pads are made with bleach and come wrapped in plastic — even the organic ones come in some sort of disposable packaging — I think it’s the more environmentally sound thing to do.

It’s not like Kleenex grows on trees (Day 20)…

March 20, 2007

hankie tree

Oh wait, it kind of does — the photo above is actually of a handkerchief tree (maybe it’s allergic to itself?)

Either way, I’ve decided that Kleenex, Puffs and other such disposable tissues blow. Granny had it right all along: Hankies are where it’s at (or, in my case, “hankettes” — made out of organic cotton).

So as of today, I’m kickin’ it old school and carrying one of these around in my purse. It’ll even have its own little pocket to prevent any all-night germ parties from spilling out onto my lipgloss and cell phone. I figure, as long as I keep them simple and stylish — instead of those sissy crocheted ones — and don’t attempt to blow other people’s noses with them, I should be able to maintain some vague semblance of a social life.

(Photo courtesy of samsheep on Flickr)