Tag Archives: ethics

Musings on Green Fashion, Part 1: Buy Used!

As much as I care about being green, focusing specifically on green fashion is relatively new to me. In recent months, I’ve started trying to reduce my purchases – buying less, and repurposing what I already have. However, I’m definitely a girl who loves clothes, and I often get sick of what I already own. Don’t we all? In fact, I’m planning on organizing a clothing exchange party for my girlfriends soon, because I know we all have cute stuff in our closets we’ll just never wear again and might as well pass along to a better home!

Anyway, I’ve started looking for clothing that is made from sustainable materials and/or made in America – extra points if it’s made locally. This is quite a daunting task, as you might expect. It is so, so difficult to find clothes that aren’t made in China. Now I haven’t done tons of research on this subject, but I’m willing to bet the working conditions in many of the places where this clothing is made are not the best, nor are the wages. Caring about the environment also means caring about the people on it, and I don’t want to support sweatshops. Again, I haven’t done extensive research on this, but in general, I am steering away from clothing and other products made in China, whenever possible.

In addition to being hard to find, eco-fashion tends to come in two different options: affordable and hideous (think hemp, hippie-style), or cute and trendy, but expensive. Now, I don’t mind paying a bit more for well-made clothing that’s in line with my values, but ya know, the economy is not doing so well right now. We’re all broke, and it’s simply not an option for many of us to buy fancy green fashion, even if we want to.

One solution I’ve come up with, that I’m liking a lot, is to buy used. Sometimes when I think about how much “stuff” is already in the world, I freak out. It’s pretty disgusting, actually. Buying used is a great solution, leaving a very small carbon footprint. I’ve been shopping at Crossroads lately (locations in CA, Seattle, Portland and Chicago), which tends to have current, cute, trendy fashion. I’ve also recently discovered Plato’s Closet, which I’m loving! I’ve picked up some great stuff in the past few weeks – a few dresses (for under $10), cute sunglasses (LOVE that I don’t have to buy “new plastic”), a zip-up hoodie that I’ve got tons of compliments on, a Weston Wear shirt (made in the USA, a local company AND used – triple score), and Joe’s Jeans that were $40! It looks like they have locations all across the country. I highly encourage you to check them out – you might have to do a little digging through a lot of teeny-bopper stuff, but there are some great deals to be found! Today, I’m wearing this cute dress I got there for $10. I haven’t checked out Buffalo Exchange yet, but they’ve got a ton of locations as well.

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I feel really stupid modeling this, but cute dress, right?

Some stuff I’ve picked up thrift!
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Velvet shirt (the brand Velvet, not the texture, which I hate, ha), C&C Organic hoodie shirt, Weston Wear shirt, Zip-up hoodie, “I Need a Hug” shirt, Joe’s jeans, the dress from the picture above, Little Black Dress ($8!)

I’ve also been doing a lot of eBay window (heh. Windows?) shopping. One problem with eBay is it seems to have been taken over by the resellers, which defeats the purpose of trying to buy used! But you can look under the Conditions filter and choose “used” or “pre-owned.” Sometimes “New w/o Tags” is also an option, but make sure they are not resellers. You’ll be able to tell if they have multiples of the same item. I bought the C&C California Organic striped-shirt in the picture above for $8, including shipping. It retailed for $98 – ridiculous! There are also some great eBay consignment shops that sell lots of cute, gently used clothing. If I find an item I like, I’ll check out the seller’s other items, again making sure they’re not a big reseller. One thing I like to do, when I’m not sure what I’m looking for, is search for a term like “Anthropologie,” which will serve up lots of clothes in the style I like.

I definitely encourage you to try thrift if you’re looking to be green while saving some cash. You – and the planet – deserve it!

Coming in Part 2: Shopping online for ecodeals, and buying American-made!

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I Heart Whole Foods, Take Two

I spent a ridiculous amount of time this morning considering which grocery store I should go to. I think I changed my mind a hungred times! I knew I needed Double Rainbow ice cream, a delicious local brand (I brought it over to a girlfriends’ house recently and it was a big hit!) for book club tonight – I’m hosting. I also knew I needed to go to my local video store to rent the movie version of the book (The Prize Winner of Defiance, OH – so good!), as we’re planning on watching it after discussing the memoir. I figured I’d pop into my local market down there, Nabila’s, for a few things and to support a local business. I also thought about going to Bi-Rite and Rainbow Grocery, two of my favorite shops, but I’d need to go to both of them, as Rainbow doesn’t carry meat, but I wanted some bulk items they only have there. Whole Foods would have everything I needed in one place, but I felt kind of guilty shopping at a large chain – I really like the idea of shopping at smaller local businesses, especially in this economy. But then I figured Whole Foods is still keeping people employed, right? So I went to the video store, got my movie, and popped into Nabila’s. As luck would have it, they had Double Rainbow in French Vanilla! So I picked that up, as well as a few other items I needed. Then I headed to Whole Foods for a variety of things – sandwich bread, ground turkey, deli turkey, chicken, avocado (I can’t emphasize enough how lucky I feel to live in CA), ice cream, freshly ground almond butter, etc.

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So, here’s where the love part comes in. I brought one of my empty jars for almond butter and weighed it on the scale, which looked like it was 1/2 lb. I got confused when I wrote the tare down, though, and it came out to $10 when the girl rang me up, even though I had less than half a jar. She tried re-taring it and it was still $8 and she’s like, you know, that just seems like a lot for such a small amount of almond butter. So she gave it to me FOR FREE. I couldn’t stop thanking her. I mean, seriously, what a nice thing to do. I know it’s not her money to give away, but it was just such a nice gesture that made my day. In fact, it inspired me – I think I’ll do a homemade Pecan Butter giveaway in the near future. Money has been a bit tight lately, but I am not willing to sacrifice the quality of my food, so this just really made a difference to me. The other cool thing was I had this coupon from Valentine’s Day for a free 365 (Whole Foods brand) pizza with a $35 purchase (and really, can anyone get out of WF without spending at least $35? If so, I want to see your grocery list! ;)). I remembered at the last minute so I just kind of grabbed this one, but it looks like a fun treat to have in the future. Not something I’d normally buy – but who can turn down a free pizza, right? In hindsight, I wish I had grabbed a vegetarian one, because I don’t know where the chicken came from, but I will enjoy it and say a little extra thank-you to the chickens lost their lives to provide me with a meal.

Off to make homemade hot fudge and organic Straus whipped cream for book club sundaes!

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The Sushi Lover’s Dilemma

For years, I didn’t eat sushi, because I was afraid of the texture. I finally got hooked on it a few years ago – delicious! I didn’t know what I was missing. But as I’ve learned more about environmental issues, I faced a dilemma: many of the fish served at sushi restaurants are overfished, harming other ocean life, and causing other detrimental effects on the environment (c’mon, people – don’t you want your grandchildren to be able to eat sushi?). What’s a raw-fish-loving girl to do? Luckily, the Monterey Bay Aquarium came to the rescue! They publish excellent Seafood Watch Guides, suggesting Best Choices and Good Alternatives (and which choices to avoid) for fish in general, and they just came out with a guide for sushi using names you would see on the menu at Japanese restaurants. You can download the Sushi Pocket Guide here.

The Blue Ocean Institute also has general fish and sushi guides, and has a really neat texting feature. You simply text FISH and the name of the fish you are inquiring about (eg FISH TUNA) to 30644 and you’ll get a response to help inform your decisions. Here’s the response I got to the example above:

pole or troll caught (GREEN) very few environmental concerns; purse seine or longline caught (YELLOW) some env concerns, HEALTH ADVISORY: high mercury; bluefin tuna (RED) significant enc problems. HEALTH ADVISORY: high mercury

(Obviously, Green means GO, Yellow is a maybe – though I’d avoid it myself – and Red is an absolute No-GO. This response also highlights the importance of asking how your fish was caught, and where it is from!)

Lest you think eating sustainable sushi means you’ll be missing out, check out the offerings at this fabulous local restaurant in SF, Tataki. On a recent trip there, I had some of the most delicious, fresh sushi I’ve ever had, and it tasted even better eating it with a clear conscience! I realize I am very lucky to have access to a restaurant like this (gotta love the Bay Area). Hopefully the trend of sustainable sushi joints will take off, but if not, you can come prepared with your guide, order smartly, and leave these Become Aware and Thank You Cards at your favorite restaurant, encouraging them to start serving sustainable choices, or thanking them for already doing so!
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The Great Meat Debate

I was a vegetarian for a long time, starting when I was 13. My friend, Jen, said that she thought if she couldn’t kill an animal herself, she shouldn’t eat it, and I was easily influenced. My Dad also went vegetarian around the same time for health reasons, so it was an easy decision, and my little sister (now a pescetarian and my go-to sustainable resource) followed suit. Finally, when I was a junior in college, I started craving chicken. I don’t know if I needed the protein, or what it was, but I made the decision to end my vegetarian days. I’d be making plans to go out to dinner with friends, and when asked where I wanted to go, I’d say, “Somewhere that has chicken.” My friends were like, “Janet… everywhere has chicken.” Heh.

But until recently, I never thought that much about where my meat comes from. I eat red meat rarely (heh, no pun intended), though I like it. Mainly I buy chicken and turkey, but I had no idea about the horrendous conditions many of these animals were raised in. Honestly, it took the media attention around California’s recent Prop 2 to really enlighten me and make me think about where my meat is coming from. I’d been buying organic, “free range” chicken for awhile, but usually from Whole Foods, who sells Rosie Chicken, and I’d heard from friends who read The Omnivore’s Dilemma that the chickens are not actually living such a lovely life. What’s a meat-eating girl to do? I’ve been trying to research humanely-raised meat lately, and it can be really frustrating. I came across this great site, The Ethicurian, which is a good resource for finding sustainable, ethical food. Still, it’s not easy. I’ve been shopping at Bi-Rite for the last few weeks, as they carry meat from Marin Sun Farms, which produces pasture-raised livestock. And I’ve been buying chicken breasts there that come from Fulton Valley Farms after reading this post about their chicken farm. For turkey, I’ve been buying Diestel or Applegate Farms – Applegate has a few products that are Certified Humane, though they seem to only be their pork products – and I’ve been buying Niman Ranch Bacon (which Bi-Rite sells by the slice – sweet!). I also ordered a special heritage turkey for Thanksgiving – though it has to come all the way from Kansas. The great local/organic/humane debate rages on. I’ve been trying hard to research all these companies and farms, but there isn’t always perfect information out there. My sister says a good thing to do is to ask if you can visit a farm, but I haven’t gone this far at this point. I’m still not totally sure how I feel about the whole situation. Just because they aren’t certified, doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t humane, but there are also a lot of places that claim to be humane and ethical, but really aren’t. I don’t really know enough yet. I’m not willing to give up meat at this point, because my body craves it, but I’m doing my best to make smart, ethical decisions. I’ll continue to research and post about this topic and I’d love to hear from others who also care about this issue! Any great resources out there that I don’t know about?

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