Thursday, May 28, 2009

Eco Fashion Friday: Follow-up With Jon Marro of Blend Apparel

As promised yesterday here is the interview with Jon Marro from Blend Apparel.

I've had the distinct honor of interviewing Jon a couple of times in the past and I keep reaching out because he's such a positive force in the eco-fashion world. Not to mention the man is just an all around open and honest business owner who truly cares about what he does and how he shares his passions with the world. 

Please take a minute to say hello or give him a virtual high-five at the end of the post!

It's been a while since we last spoke, how have things changed for Blend Apparel in the last year? 

Things are truly amazing. Orders are more consistent; we have a few new designs and discontinued a few others. We also have a super big-hearted and phenomenally devoted intern named Julz. So she's been really freeing me up with answering emails, doing product research, and shipping out orders and the corresponding love notes we send. This of course has allowed me to stay creative, and focus more on the visionary aspects of the company-which I am so grateful for. Basically, we've grown and broadened our "communi-tee" -some of whom
you can see on our website gallery

How has the economic crunch in California impacted you personally or professionally or both? 

Honestly we haven't noticed a difference at all. Things around here have been steady. Sure we have our good weeks and our not as good weeks, but overall-we can proudly say we're still doing really well. I feel at times like this people actually want to be a part of something transformative. Something that questions the ways things haven't been working so efficiently (whether it's the financial or political systems, expressing love, generosity, self-worth, or any other issue Blend tries to have its wearers and viewers consider). 

As an artist and human-I'm always looking at the whys of the way things are, and I try to offer up questions for different, more "heart-minded" views on life. Really it’s the famines, the wars, the recessions that really call me into action. I can see they are all results of some kind of fear or perceived scarcity. I'm acutely aware that there's no less money in the world right now. The money didn't go anywhere. It's all still out there-people are just holding more tightly on to it. Thus, it's not flowing. 

So yes. The economic crunch has totally affected me as someone who's sensitive to global issues. But this is the stuff that really fans my creative fire and gives birth to new ideas and images. Also, I feel it really gives us all an opportunity to shift our resource reliance on community versus bank or institution. 

Carpool, share groceries, clothes swap. Instead of "mine. mine. mine." It can become "ours." I truly feel the only way out of a lot of the knots we've collectively got ourselves into is by getting past our individual (and limiting) beliefs and [come] together in a unified stand for what best serves the whole.

Are you finding an increased awareness in the Green movement is also leading to an increase in understanding what Blend is all about?

Whether it’s "the green movement" or just people  starting to wake up-I'm so thrilled it's happening. People are becoming way more self-aware and privy to ways they can make a difference, and that our planet needs a difference made. I feel there's a cultural and I'd go as far as to say, global inherited belief that "I don't matter." So we have all these people running around the globe thinking they don't matter, what they say doesn't matter, and what they do doesn't matter. It's no wonder the planet is in the state it's in.

So for me personally, I think it's awesome that it's currently hip to be green. There's always been a green movement. I live in Berkeley, and I promise you it's still alive and well. I'm glad it's found some limelight through celebrities and the media.

I've also heard people say that green is just [a] trend and that it too is has been over-commodified. That now we'll have a new problem of a zillion METAL water bottles as opposed to plastic ones. And honestly, I can see their point. The green movement can become like anything else if we're not committed to creating a sustainable system for it. A system that naturally creates a future for us (and future generations) to live into, not just creating more products.

For us, we feel t-shirts and living more sustainably never go out of style. Our shirts are designed to really just teach ways of BEING. BEING more loving. BEING more generous. BEING more aware. So while I am
all for the green movement, our commitment is to who we're being about our lives.

It's my belief that the being gives way to the doing, and not vice versa. For example: using green materials (the doing) doesn't necessarily make you committed to the environment. BEING committed to sustainability and the planet's future will naturally transform the doing/using green resources. Again, this isn't "true" it's just the practice I feel gives me a powerful place to lead and create from.

Speaking of creating, now that more people are creating clothing from bamboo have you considered increasing the use of this fiber, or are you happy with the current, literal, Blend?

I love the feel of the material. The blend of 70% bamboo and 30% organic cotton that we're currently using, we've found holds up better. Being a product oriented company, we're completely committed to giving our customers the best product we can find with the greenest possible materials. I'm always open to new ideas, but really am more concerned with the footprint we're leaving then trendiness.

What is your favorite new design & why do you love it so much?

I love the reciprocity shirt. It's SO brilliant to me. You can't tell if the hand on the left is placing the love in the palm of the hand on the right or taking from it. It's this infinite give and take. A cosmic sharing.

What has been your greatest personal or professional achievement in the last year?

Jason Mraz (part owner with myself and our other friend Jeff Goss) wore the “?eace” shirt on American Idol. There were 80 million+ viewers who watched that show and thus saw my shirt***. That's pretty amazing to think about. And to be honest to continue to have people such as yourself interested in what we're up to-lets me know we're up to pretty cool things. We've had people hand write us letters thanking us for all we do, and almost daily emails with similar sentiments. It's amazing.

***Editor's note -- At about :25 there is a sweet shot where Jason’s jacket opens on the way down the stairs & the shirt is in full view. Yippie!

How does it make you feel to see so many people send in pictures of themselves wearing one of your shirts, be it celebrity or everyday normal guy?

I love it. That’s the whole point of this crazy/foolish project. To plant as many seeds of love and awareness as possible. So that the wearers become beacons and seeds of transformation. Spreading smiles and ponderings across the land.

Honestly it's a dream come true. It's so cool-that I get to wake up everyday and walk into a world I helped create. I really am so proud of the work I do.

What is the furthest from California you have shipped a shirt?

We've had some Indonesia and South Korea [shipments] out there. Australia too. And Chile. We're on 5 continents so far. I'd love to get onto Antarctica without the help of global warming. It's not exactly t-shirt weather there so we may just have to offer some Blend parkas or mittens or something.

What kind of new stuff is on the horizon for the second half of 2009? Do you see the company growing?

New stickers. A few new tees. And it’s my goal to have a hoodie for the holiday season. I totally see the company growing and I had an insight recently, where I realized I've been waiting for Blend to "get big" or for it to be discovered some how. Within that realization I decided that I wasn't living very powerfully and am choosing to take on passionately inspiring and enrolling people in the possibility of Blend.

To invite our fans to take on spreading the word and help create the world we want to live in. I see this whole crazy experiment as my responsibility as an artist to fill the world with as many smiles as possible. So yeah, if I were to go all algorithmic on you, my calculation for 2009 would be something like this: more shirts + more smiles = more love.

Please visit Blend Apparel and help spread Jon's message of love!

Yes I Am Already Talking About Tomorrow

A few weeks ago on our second Eco Fashion Friday, I featured a company called Blend Apparel, owned and operated by the incredibly awesome and loving Jon Marro out in Berkeley, California. I discussed that Jon was gracious enough to allow me to interview him last summer when I was writing for another blog, The Organic Mechanic, so I contacted him to see if he would be interested in doing a follow up interview; a where are they now if you will. Not only was Jon receptive to the idea he was just about as overjoyed to get and respond to the questions as I was to create and send them!

This guy is one amazing interviewee so I wanted to somewhat pimp the interview in advance by sharing the fact that he was kind enough to take his time to do it.

Seriously, if there is only one Eco Fashion Friday you ever read, make it tomorrow.

I am also going to request a little help from readers tomorrow as well as a way to share in that love. When you get to the end of the interview, if your heart is swelled as much as I think it will be, I am going to ask for everyone to grab a copy of the thumbnail with the Blend logo and link back to the GLR interview post as a way to continue to spread that love all over the blogosphere! All of you fine readers have readers that I don’t have and I truly feel that everyone should be able to share in Jon’s words.

Yes I am serious, and tomorrow you will understand just what I mean.

Thanks Jon, I am greatly looking forward to posting all of your awesomeness tomorrow!


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The New Trend -- Turning Plastic Bags into Plarn

Knitting and crocheting have long fascinated me as I enjoy seeing the finished pieces but never had the level of patience required to sit down and learn the skill. My Mom, Photographer by day, is a knitting fiend by night and she has made everything from baby bibs to Afghans to extremely intricate and involved clothing pieces. For years she has been trying to get me to learn the fine art of working yarn over needles but it is just not me -- so instead I will write about it!

This growing trend to use old plastic bags as yarn is amazing. The name associated with this substance has been dubbed plarn in the crafting community. Just like wool is eventually turned into yarn on a spinning wheel, the grocery store bags must first be turned into skeins of yarn fit for the needles.

The following photos depict sellers on Etsy who are using plarn in all forms from skein to finished product (it is not just about purses anymore!). Please check out their shops to see even more amazing, fun items!

Copabananas is among a growing number of artists who create and wrap skeins of plarn. The color selections available are amazing!

Check out Misty Amber Art to see details on this awesome plarn hat created from more than twenty five bags.

I can barely contain my excitement to share La Bolsa Chica, from dog collars to garden items this is how to use plarn!

There are fun bags made from plarn like this one from The Plastic Baggery. It has beaded accents and is fabric lined for added durability.

Dava Eva Designs gets down on the floor with this rug that blends plarn and yarn for a fantastic outdoor welcome mat solution.

All of these artists display innovation at its finest and a true love for the planet. The combined items above have saved countless bags from the landfill. Way to go!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Joining in the Fight Against Climate Change with Miley Cyrus

As everyone probably knows by now I am a huge music fan. Just about anything and everything will at some point grace my speakers so when I hear songs with an environmental message I not only listen, I stand up and cheer! Miley Cyrus has recently released an album and as a staunch environmental supporter she wrote a song specifically geared toward Americans leading the charge to better care for the planet. It is basically a lead by example anthem to be Greener. Enjoy these lyrics and let’s all take some advice from Miley Cyrus to take care of the Earth!

Wake Up America

Oh, can you take care of her?
Oh, maybe you can spare her
Several moments of your consideration
Leading up to the final destination

Oh, the earth is callin' out
I wanna learn what it's all about but
Everything I read is global warming, going green
I don't know what all this means but
It seems to be saying

Wake up America
We're all in this together
It's our home
So let's take care of it
You know that you want to
You know that you got to
Wake up America
Tomorrow becomes a new day
And everything you do matters
Yeah, everything you do
Matters in some way

Stand up, I'll try if you will
Wake up, it's not a fire drill
All she needs is a little attention
Can you give her just a little attention?

Oh, it's easy to look away
But it's getting harder day by day
Everything I read is global warming, going green
I don't know what all this means but
It seems to be saying
Come on

Wake up America
We're all in this together
It's our home
So let's take care of it
You know that you want to
You know that you got to
Wake up America
Tomorrow becomes a new day
And everything you do matters
Yeah, everything you do
Matters in some way

I know that you don't wanna hear it
Especially comin' from someone
So young
But in the backseat
Yeah, they wanna hear it (they wanna hear it)
So come on (turn it up)
Come on (turn it up)
So come on (turn it up)

Wake up America (wake up)
We're all in this together
It's our home (it's our home)
So let's take care of it
You know that you want to
You know that you got to
Wake up America
Tomorrow becomes a new day
And everything you do matters
Yeah, everything you do
Matters in some way

Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Memorial Day

Per Wikipedia:

Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May (May 25 in 2009). Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates U.S. men and women who died while in the military service. First enacted to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War (it is celebrated near the day of reunification after the civil war), it was expanded after World War I to include American casualties of any war or military action.

On this day where we get together with friends and family for cookouts or pool parties, go to the beach on the first unofficial day of summer and some of us enjoy our day off from work, let’s take a moment to reflect back on all the amazing men and women who have fought and died simply due to their dedication to their country.

To everyone out there in the United States, be safe and have a wonderful holiday!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Contaminated Without Consent

During the last Bennetts Brook Green Group meeting one of the organizers, Julie, shared a DVD with me about chemical contaminates called Contaminated Without Consent. With so many different subjects to cover we did not watch it that night but she sent the link and I was able to sit and watch this sixteen minute movie this morning. It is frightening to think how many chemicals are present in our bodies that have come from nothing more than our food, air and water. Especially our children, factory workers and people proximate to those factories. The information from the studies is as recent as two years ago.

By clicking on the picture below you will be taken directly to the video on YouTube but if you would like to learn more about the Organization and the studies they are conducting please use the above link to visit the Organization website here.

So what can we do? Researching the products we use and the ingredients they are created from is the first step in protecting ourselves from toxins and harmful chemicals but in reality we need to collectively stand up and say, hey, we are not comfortable with this so companies will remove these chemicals from the products we use; the products they create.

As an eye opener and awareness vehicle I am awarding this movie a Five Leaf Rating. Please take a few minutes and watch to start protecting yourself today.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Eco-Fashion Friday Featured Designer: ecoSkin

Very cool, sexy and yes eco-friendly, this one is only for the ladies as I review ecoSkin. Founded and run by Sandy Skinner this Los Angeles based company has been in business since 2007 when Skinner set out to prove that Treehugger and Hot could indeed fall in the same sentence. She easily pulls it off.

The ecoSkin spring 2009 collection is purported to be inspired by landscapes of the Earth, they make use of coconut & wood for all buttons and the fabrics are restricted to bamboo Tencel knit spandex and woven bamboo. Tencel is a wood pulp (sourced from sustainable tree farms). Bamboo is rapidly becoming a favorite fabric of clothing designers as it has some inherent properties which make it an environmentally friendly selection such as: rapidly renewable, sustainable, pesticide/insecticide/fertilizer free, biodegradable, 3X more absorbent than cotton, antibacterial, antifungal, antistatic.

The company HQ is in Los Angeles, California and clothing is sold in 28 states in a plethora of shops throughout the United States. Items are also sold in Australia (Victoria), Europe (Belgium) and Canada (Alberta, British Columbia).

The only drawback I could find with this company is the price of current collection items as the average price of spring collection 2009 dresses is around $150 (keep in mind however that the more bamboo that is turned to fiber, the less expensive it will become over time). There are however some amazing deals on the fall 2008 collection in the ecoSkin sale section so for those interested in giving bamboo clothing a try this is an excellent place to start.

Due to their strong Earth connection, yet moderately out of reach for the average eco-gal price tag, I am granting ecoSkin a Four Leaf Rating!

I am overly impressed with this innovative and feminine inspired company ♥love♥

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

President Calls for Higher MPG and Lowered Emissions

Yesterday President Barack Obama stood out on the White House lawn and addressed members of his cabinet known as his “Energy Green Team”, representatives from the auto industry, environmental advocates, key Governors from a few states, the residents of this nation and others.

He made the announcement that for the first time in our nation’s history we will now have a policy in place for all new cars and trucks to increase fuel efficiency by an average of 5% each year from 2012 - 2016 to a new national standard of 35.5 mpg (average) and a decrease in emissions which would be equal to taking 377 million cars off the road over the next six and one half years. Taking California’s stringent requirements, working with members of the auto industry and environmental leaders this policy will be fully enforced on US auto makers by the year 2016.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Unconventional and Eco Friendly -- Animals

From art to clothing more and more people are surfing the environmental wave and locating products that are a benefit to the planet. My research on all things Green always leads me down some truly fun paths with amazing discoveries that I love to share with everyone here. In the past couple days I have come across some truly wild finds as related to animals in both the art and clothing categories. Prepare to be amazed!

Yes the gal in the photo above is indeed wearing a fur coat. Yes it is an environmentally viable solution. How is that you might ask? The fur is reclaimed hair from the pet standing next to her. Oh yes, I am quite serious.

I came across an old article on the blog If Its Hip, Its Here with regard to owners saving the hair that their pets shed and then sending it out to be cleaned and spun into yarn then turned into all sorts of clothing items. A couple of the ladies featured on the blog make hats, scarves, wraps, jumpers, sweaters, coats, anything conceivable that can be worn.

I would ask my Vegan friends and readers to please let me know if this is something that would be within the realm of possible for your lifestyle. Please feel free to discuss in the comments.

Known as Buck Jr., these laser cut deer heads are created from cardboard. But not just any cardboard; 100% recycled material for the added environmental benefit. The item is extremely lightweight and a fun, kitchy alternative to actually going out and knocking off a real deer.

Cardboard Safari does not just carry flat packed, ready for assembly deer heads however. The shop is chock full of moose, bison, trees, wreaths, full rhinos and a myriad of other funky recycled trophies for your wall or desktop. Talk about a conversation piece! The prices are extremely reasonable but just remember this is a do it yourself kit which they ship to you with all cut pieces included.

Monday, May 18, 2009

An Oldie but Goodie -- The Story of Stuff

Written and narrated by Annie Leonard, The Story of Stuff is a twenty minute movie which takes viewers through the entire lifecycle of, well, stuff. All kinds of stuff. This movie was first released in November of 2007 after Annie had completed about ten years of research into the concept. Her information is in your face but well worth addressing and her reasoning is solid and sound.

Annie describes to viewers in great detail how our stuff goes through the total cycle:
extraction => production => distribution => consumption => disposal
and how it relates to our planet and its resources.

Please click on the picture below to be taken directly to the movie site then just click on Play to watch this incredibly insightful video. Whether you have seen it before or this is the first time you are viewing it I promise the statistics and information related to what we do with our stuff will be astounding.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The First Lady Gives a Heartfelt Commencement Speech

Please watch all three of the following videos to see First Lady Michelle Obama’s beautiful commencement speech given at the University of California, Merced on May 16, 2009. This speech was presented to the first full graduating class as UCMerced. Her words are not only moving but humorous and well stated.

Part I

Part II

Part III

Friday, May 15, 2009

Eco-Fashion Friday Featured Designer: Off the Hooks

For a couple weeks now I have thought it might be nice to include a hat maker in our Eco-Fashion Friday series so when I came across Off the Hooks I knew they would be a perfect candidate for a review! Off the Hooks is a Canadian based shop who indicates they use “handspun & hand-dyed yarn, and eco-friendly goodies using locally-sourced, vegan, and upcycled materials whenever possible” and they also ship internationally. They carry fingerless gloves, legwarmers, booties, bags, scarves, home accessories, yarn and those funky hats.

With a range of colors and styles many items in the shop are universal to men or women and both can afford to own one of these fabulous hand knit hats with the average price point at roughly $21. Making use of organic fiber, cotton, wool, reclaimed fiber and even some vegan yarn they are certainly Earth minded. Not to mention they give tips for how a cotton hat can even be worn in the summer to keep us cool.

The only drawbacks I could find were a lack of selection in the hat department (only 9 currently available), they only listed measurements in centimeters, and cost to ship is a bit pricey on some items but overall these folks really impressed me as professional and seem very easy to work with so I am granting them a Four Leaf Rating!

Keep up the great work Off the Hooks! ♥love♥

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Housecleaning and a Question for Readers

Good morning friends of GLR! Those of you who stop by frequently will notice a few changes over here, specifically over in the right sidebar. In an effort to add to the growing list of links that I love to visit, (and hopefully you do too) I have removed all thumbnails in favor of a link list. It looks cleaner and to me seems easier to navigate since it is now in alphabetical order.

The next change I am thinking of making is beginning to sell advertising space. This amazing blog has definitely been steadily growing for the past six months and although it is great fun, there is definitely a good deal of work involved to keep it going daily. So with that said I have put a little poll over on the right regarding thoughts on cost of advertising. If everyone would be so kind as to click a selection over the next week I would greatly appreciate it! Also, if none of those numbers sound reasonable I would love a comment to let me know what might work better and why.

The final bit of news is still in the works and I do not want to jinx it. But…I assure you it is pretty cool and I will be revealing all in short order!

I hope everyone is having a lovely day and has a chance to answer the poll! Thanks everyone you totally rock!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Word is Spreading!

More and more concerned citizens are standing up to do their part for a better planet especially in the areas of proper disposal of electronics, reduction in consumption of fossil fuels and increased consumption of organically grown produce.

Keeping e-waste out of landfills is critically important in order to prevent leeching of harmful chemicals (primarily mercury) into the soil and proximate waterways. In an encouraging news story it seems that the National Center for Electronics Recycling has indicated a rise in collection of e-waste by seven percent over the numbers submitted in 2007. Every little bit helps!

We have all heard the term hybrid vehicle and understand the definition to be “a vehicle which requires at least two sources of power to go”. In hybrid cars those sources are likely gas and electric or diesel and bio-fuel. In 2007 the number of hybrid cars sold increased by 38% over the prior year. As more manufacturers are looking for ways to bring revenues back, and more consumers are looking for ways to save money at the pump, the number of hybrid vehicles will surely increase even further.

As summer rolls around we begin to think of farmer’s markets and fresh, pesticide free produce but by eating organically grown produce the rest of the year we ensure chemical free farms are supported and possibly right in our own region of the country. Even big box stores not especially known for this type of product, such as Walmart, reported a growth in sales of organics over the past few years. Stores like this actually anticipate sales to hold steady or even increase in the next year. Don’t forget to take your reusable tote!

Although these efforts may appear more difficult to complete, or even costly, savvy environmentalists understand it is nothing more than a change in attitude. The more often the practice is put into place and the more people who do it, all those concerns quickly fade away. Spread the word about how easy it actually is to live a Greener lifestyle by sharing your stories about the little things you do!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Is This “Back to the Future” or the Real Deal?

Doc Emmett Brown (Christopher Lloyd) was leaps and bounds ahead of the curve by building a car that ran on food scraps being placed into the flux capacitor. Written by Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis, the movie Back to the Future really has nothing on today’s story about a Formula 3 car that is actually built from veggie scraps!

The car has the logo “WorldF3rst Racing” emblazoned on all sides and indicates it is “A force for sustainable motor racing”. They really mean it too as the vehicle has made use of potatos in the wind mirrors, carrots in the steering wheel, soy based foam in the driver’s seat and recycled and/or sustainable material everywhere else. The coolest thing of all is that they took Doc Brown’s idea and ran right over to the chocolate factory to collect their waste products; the car essentially runs on chocolate bio-fuel.

With all of these green initiatives one might think the car would never run but in truth the engineers are currently working on getting it up to speeds of 150 mph. Unfortunately, due to regulations within the racing industry, the fuel source is not approved as of yet for actual racing so it might be a while before this vehicle makes its way into the competitive track.

The innovation of these folks is really blowing me away. Check it out for yourself in this video. The car scoots around the parking lot blowing smoke but remember, that smoke might just smell like an environmentally delicious piece of candy.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Eco Options for Our Pets

So many of us have pets. They are part of the family. As such why would we consider doing things for our pets that will not be a sound decision for the planet? Well now we do not have to!

There are a bunch of fun items available through Etsy that are eco-friendly for the dogs in our life. Here are six of the fun finds I discovered.

1. Biscuits
2. Reversible coat
3. Pet bed (cool for cats too!)
4. Dog leash
5. Tug ‘o war toy
6. Dog collar

Cats should not be left out of the environmental movement either. The pet bed above, possibly the collar for larger felines and even some harnesses would work for these pets. Of course nothing is more “cat” than a huge fabric square loaded with organic catnip (also includes bamboo fiber & reused fleece scraps for filler). Click the photo to be taken directly to the shop.

Wild Wings carries certified organic bird seed so we do not potentially harm the lovely winged animals that come to visit our yards by feeding them seed which could include pesticides. Click to go right to the website.

Dogs, cats and birds are the most popular domestic pets but I am sure there are so many more options out there and other furry creatures inhabiting our homes. What interesting animals do you live with? How do you ensure they live an eco friendly lifestyle along side you?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother’s Day!

Here in the northeast United States it is a sunny day, a little windy and just the right temperature -- the perfect day for Mom! I hope the sun is shining wherever all the Moms are on this great day and if you are a mom here are a few fun, funny and moving quotes to enjoy. To my own Mom, I can not wait to have you over for brunch in a couple hours, thanks for popping me out so we could celebrate with you on this lovely day!

My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it.
- Mark Twain

The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found.
- Calvin Rillin

Working mothers are guinea pigs in a scientific experiment to show that sleep is not necessary to human life.
- Author Unknown

I thought my mom's whole purpose was to be my mom. That's how she made me feel.
- Natasha Gregson Wagner

All mothers are working mothers.
- Author Unknown

Sometimes the poorest mother leaves her children the richest inheritance
- Ruth Renkes

Remember that behind every successful a basket of dirty laundry.
- Author Unknown

The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new.
- Rajneesh

Have a happy Mother’s Day everyone

Friday, May 8, 2009

Eco-Fashion Friday Featured Designer - Green Is Black

Summer. Cabanas. Warm weather and fruity drinks by the pool or seashore. Suntan lotion and surfing. Ah yes, and in every one of these scenarios the all important bathing suit creeps in. While on the search for environmentally conscious swimwear I came across Green is Black, a company who carries just about any type of clothing imaginable (up to and including Vegan footwear) for both men and women. On their homepage I was immediately impressed as they boldly state to provide “Liberation from the burlap clichĂ©”. In reviewing their entire collection it is clear they mean it!

With swimsuit season on the way my intent is to focus on this particular collection but for the guys out there please do not be disheartened! There is an entire line of clothing for men including pants, shorts, T’s (really cool graphic ones at that), vests, jackets and even button up collar shirts. Check out the men’s line here. For the ladies who dare to bare all in a bikini this summer, read on for my review of Green is Black’s swimwear.

The company offers the above bikini which really impressed me as it is created from repurposed denim outer and the lining is made from both organic cotton and bamboo fibers (known for antibacterial and absorption properties). The company is Canadian and the item is made in Canada, reducing emissions for transportation. What I was happy to see on this item is the availability of sizes in small, medium and large as I discovered on many of their items (both men’s and women’s) there is only one size available. The starting price point for this bikini was $78 but it has been marked down to $68. In doing a little research I had a difficult time finding any swimwear made from or including bamboo fiber or organic cotton. Denim was also somewhat difficult to track down; I wanted to do a realistic price comparison. Instead I opted to review specialty swimsuit sites and it became clear that the cost for the suit by GiB is well within reasonable for a custom design as I found suits anywhere from $50 - $280!

Overall I am fairly impressed by Green is Black and if I had the bod to pull it off I might even consider donning this baby on the beach this summer. For their strong environmental efforts and decent price as well as total company eye on ethical treatment of employees I am granting their swimwear line a Four Leaf Rating!

I might not be able to work your bikini but I will definitely be back to check out the rest of your amazing eco-friendly fashions! ♥love♥

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Healthy Living Is Possible Even with a Busy Life

Over the past few months my best friend and I have been trying our best to get back in the swing of a healthier lifestyle. We meet up at least three times a week and work out, the meals we cook are lower in fat and higher in veggie content and I only have a few days left until I quit smoking forever. We are both very busy gals -- she has twin eight month old boys and their crazy schedules, I write all day -- so we struggled over how to fit a better lifestyle into our lives, but in the end we both decided the only way to do it was to simply do it!

Our workouts are not long but they are intense. During her boy’s morning nap we spend about a half hour on the rowing machine, recumbent bike, ball or Bowflex. This allows us to get a good heart rate going as well as burn off a few calories and tone at the same time without sacrificing any time with the kids or keyboard.

As far as food goes this has surprisingly been the simplest area of health for both of us. Since we are both the Reluctant Domestic Divas it was imperative that the addition of healthful meals was super simple; and it was! Each night she puts together a nice side salad full of yummies like baby spinach, carrots, tomatos and avocado as the main issue in their household was skipping veggies. For us dinner was not the problem but my food consumption over the course of the day had become lax. When I am inspired to write I tend to not leave the keyboard for hours at a time so I would grab things like entire boxes of Cheez-its for lunch. Now I have started getting back into the swing of making fruit smoothies for breakfast and accompany it with a piece of 12 grain toast and a multi-vitamin. My skin and hair has never looked so good! The extra few minutes it takes each of us to infuse our bodies with something better for us has made all the difference in ours and our husband’s attitudes towards food.

Although neither of us would ever claim to be health nuts or better living gurus it is obvious we both have a highly increased level of energy and are feeling so much better about ourselves; and it only takes about an hour a day total to bring about the change. The positive outlook keeps us motivated and it becomes a vicious circle of awesomeness! As the summer months arrive she will be walking more with the babies and I intend to up my workouts to include two days a week (at least) of yoga (great article here on how yoga helps with depression as well). Little steps everyday really add up quickly and I barely remember what I did with the time before pursuing this healthier lifestyle.

How long do you spend in a healthy way each day? What do you do for exercise?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Whatever You Do Try Not To Forget the Corsage!

I have fallen in love with the eco-fun tutorials over at Threadbanger’s YouTube channel! As a mid thirty-something I do not plan to attend a prom anytime in the near future but for all of you younger gals (or guys!) who are handy with the machine, like to save a couple bucks, want to feel good about upcycling and are looking for something kind of unique or rad to add to your outfit this prom season, here is a quick tutorial on how to make your very own corsage out of some simple fabrics.

Have a safe and enjoyable prom!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

One Sweet World

As many of you know, music is one of my very favorite forms of media. I have always felt that a songwriter can convey as much, if not more, emotion in three or so minutes than any television program or movie because of the written words and accompanying melody. I love to hear bands play songs that teach us how to celebrate our planet, especially when the band is a huge proponent of treating her kindly.

A group of musicians which I listen to often, Dave Matthews Band, falls into this category of love for Mother Earth. They spend a goodly portion of their time and efforts in supporting organizations and causes that benefit our planet and its many residents such as the Bama Works Fund (which they founded), NYC public education and parks, San Francisco Bay area charities (specifically for the homeless and children), Clean Air-Cool Planet (a 100% CO2 offset initiative to “back pedal” to their 1991 tour), Vote For Change, AIDS research and a slew of other causes far too vast to list in this blog.

One of my all time favorite songs by this talented band is called One Sweet World from their 1993 release Remember Two Things. Their love for the Earth shines through in the lyrics and the melody makes me so happy I just want to go plant trees and flowers! I have seen DMB live only twice in the past eleven years but will see them again this summer, front row, in Hershey, PA. Until then I will enjoy this video of One Sweet World (from Farm Aid performance in 2001) and I hope all of you do too! I have included the lyrics below as well. Have a sweet day everyone! ♥love♥

Lyrics to One Sweet World

Nine planets 'round the sun
Only one does the sun embrace
Upon this watered one
So much to we take for granted

So let us sleep outside tonight
Lay down in our mother's arms
For here we can rest safely

If green should turn to grey
Would our hearts still bloody beat?
And if the mountains tumble away, river dry
Would it stop the stepping feet?

Oh, let us sleep outside tonight
Lay down in our mother's arms
For here we can rest safely

Take all that we can get
When it's done
Nobody left to bury
Nobody left to dig the holes
And here we can rest safely

One Sweet World
Around this star is spinning
One Sweet World
And in her breath I'm swimming
And here I will rest in peace.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Paper Water Bottles

Yes you read that title correctly! A few days ago one of my favorite foodie bloggers Karen sent me a link for Paper Water Bottles. I was completely intrigued as I had never heard of or seen anything like this before and I dove into researching this bold concept to see if it was even viable because my initial reaction (as I am sure many of yours) was ‘how can paper hold water?’. What I discovered is that the 306 Paper Water Bottle by Brand Image is an innovative and feasible product, but it is one I seriously question the need for.

Brand Image is a marketing company and as such wants to ensure their literal image is seen by as many people as possible. Since this concept is seemingly so impossible it will likely receive a lot of press which ensures a vast public viewing. The thing with consumers these days, especially those who are eco-conscious, is that they are savvy and no matter how “cool” the concept is, if it is not a solid contribution to the planet, they ain’t buyin’. The 360 has pros and cons.

When compared to a plastic water bottle the life span of the 360 is much shorter. The bottle is lined with a sugar based polyester (PLA film) which is fully biodegradable but will also break down quickly meaning each bottle will likely only get one go round. Some experts say a plastic water bottle should not be used more than once, however it is actually possible to do so without a breakdown of fibers. Also as a plastic bottle has a screw on cap, the 360 has a snap off top which is said to reseal but if the paper (or other natural fibers such as bamboo, etc) begins to break down, the cap will not secure tight enough for transport.

Both a plastic bottle and the 360 can be recycled which is definitely a pro but unlike a plastic bottle which is only partially (if even) created from recycled materials, the 360 is created from 100% renewable resources.

Where the 360 has plastic beat is in both its total design and reasoning behind its creation. It comes in six pack or larger and every bit of the packaging for transport is the same material as the bottle itself which ensures full recycling capability. The reasoning behind its creation is to ensure that the 86% of plastic bottles thrown into landfills each year is transformed into a biodegradable material instead. I must admire the innovation there.

Overall I am back and forth on this concept where on the one hand it would be great to find a use for all the paper we toss each year but on the other I question why we can’t just make use of a travel mug or aluminum bottle. Due to its innovative concept and environmental consciousness I am granting the 360 a Two Leaf Rating.

Thanks for thinking in the right direction Brand Image!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Coffee, the Elixir of Life, Just Got Even Better

Call it what you will -- café, java, joe, high test, cahfee (the Bostonian pronunciation), cawfee (the New Yorker pronunciation) -- to me this lovely bean creates the one and only thing that will wake me up in the morning and cradles my personality into one that others want to be around. Well, that is, once my morning cup has been ingested.

While reading through Yahoo today I came across a lovely list of stuff we can do with all of those grounds left over after we brew up the bitter goodness. It excites me to learn there are more uses than simply aging paper or putting in the compost pile.

The transcript of the article is below, or check out the original post here.

Recycling your used coffee grinds
By Huddler's Green Home Community
Posted Mon Apr 27, 2009 2:25pm PDT

Did you know that the average American consumes about 3 cups of coffee a day? That’s a lot of used coffee grinds going into the trash.

There are actually many ways you can recycle and reuse your old coffee grinds to help preserve the environment and maintain your health. And for other ways to green your caffeine, check out the wiki all about having an eco-cup o' joe or maybe even look into drinking organic coffee!

A Cup of Joe Goes a Long Way

You’d be surprised at just how many different methods have worked for people:

* Touch up furniture and other wood scratches with grounds and a Q-tip.
* Sprinkle around areas where pesky insects, slugs and snails dwell to drive them away.
* Mix with soil as a natural fertilizer for plants.
* Dye clothing or paper.
* Rub into your dog as an organic flea dip.
* Fill old nylons and hang in your closet or fridge to repel odors.
* Use to fill old pin cushions.
* Scrub away grease and grime from pots and pans.
* Throw on ashes before cleaning out the fireplace to reduce dust from spreading.
* Feed to worms to help with your garden.
* Rub on your hands to eliminate odors.
* Mix ¼ grinds with one egg white and massage onto face like a mud pack.
* If you’re not an avid coffee drinker but you live near a coffee shop or cafe, you can always ask them for the old grinds. Places like Starbucks actually give bags of used grinds away to people who use them for their home and gardens.

Recycling is just one way that we can help maintain the natural beauty of our environment, so next time you drink a cup of coffee save those coffee grinds for future use.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Feeling is Good Society and the Word Is Denim

Its eco-fashion Friday again, where do the weeks go?! In my quest for eco-fashion this week I inadvertently stumbled across an organization called Good Society and what I discovered about these folks really impressed me. They have a few divisions including: Pathos Water, Deconstruction Reconstruction, Fannypack and the division I will be reviewing today -- Sling and Stones which is all about denim for both men and women.

What sets the company Sling & Stones apart in the world of denim is their use of American grown, handpicked organic cotton to make their Supima denim, as it is a rare but natural fiber. In addition to the organic fiber, the indigo dyes are all natural and ozone friendly washes are utilized to finish each piece. The fiber is hand loomed at a small Japanese mill and the jeans are then constructed back in Seattle. Oh and did I mention that the rivets are created from 24K gold?

This should lead into the cost quite nicely (and it is the only draw back I could find because the company supports charities worldwide), each pair will set you back $260 - $350. The price is steep but if you are a lover of soft, easy to break in, last forever, high end denim, then the price will be well worth it knowing the environmental benefit each pair possesses.

With their efforts to employ workers in Peru, donate to such charities as suicide prevention in Japan and their use of organic and Fair Trade materials, Sling & Stones is on the cutting edge of eco-fashion awesomeness. I am granting the company a Three Leaf Rating simply due to the price point which would be out of reach to so many.

I will be keeping my eye on both Sling & Stones as well as Good Society as trail blazers in the eco-fashion world. Keep up the great work! ♥love♥