Is it possible to be both sustainable and fashionable? Can you put on a pretty face without putting on the phthalates? Is our disposable consumer culture ever going to change? If these questions plague your ability to run with wild abandon through Nordstrom’s glass cased hallways, you aren’t alone. Eco-alert women across the country are all asking themselves these same questions, and luckily, they’ve offered up some solutions to help you make a stylish step in the right—or rather, green—direction.
1. Second Hand is (and Saves) Green
Buying vintage and second-hand clothing puts the three Rs into practice: it recycles by making something used into something new; it reduces consumption and the demand for cheaply made goods; and it reuses precious resources. But the most rewarding R comes at the cash register—rebate! Second-hand clothes are almost always less expensive than new ones.
2. Repurposing is Resourceful
If I had the patience and time to sew, I would make all my own clothes (and grow all my own food, and build my own house, and make all my own beer, etc., etc.). But I don’t. However, I can make old clothes new by adding personalized accents, like using grandma’s old buttons to create a cute new tank top. With broaches, pins, or a few nips and tucks, learn how to improve upon imperfect thrift store finds and create unique stylish looks.
3. Learn to Share
Your tired old coat could be your friend’s new winter wardrobe addition. To reduce the amount of new clothes you purchase, consider sharing clothes with friends or holding an informal clothing swap in your community.
4. Wear Green on Your Wedding Day
The big day can often result in big consumption, but it doesn’t have to. These green wedding tips will help you cut down on waste when heading to the altar.
5. When Giving, Give Green
Holidays and special occasions are often times when we buy things just because we feel we have to; as a result, we end up giving Zen gardens and beer chess sets. Instead, try choosing from these ten green gift ideas, or give something that will help a friend or relative become more environmentally savvy. And people always love to receive coffee, chocolate, and tea; just make sure yours is Fair Trade.
6. Make up Your Own
Ever look at the ingredient list on your beauty products? They usually contain a host of chemicals, which take a host of other chemicals to produce, not to mention the energy involved in packing, producing, and manufacturing that little jar of exfoliant. Try concocting your own hair masks, face and body scrubs, and even your own cures to zap zits without zapping the environment.
7. Think Twice About the Hype
Women are constantly bombarded with messages telling us were not pretty enough, not young enough, and not thin enough. Enough! Marketers are just trying to sell us stuff, much of which is unnecessary consumables. Read how one woman resolves to be naturally beautiful, and another questions why she spends so much time and money trying to “airbrush the real me away.”
8. When You Do Shop, Shop Smart
I must say I’m a bit cynical on the whole “green” shopping thing, especially when big, cheap, disposable fashions outlets like Gap and Target claim they’re doing something good for the environment by selling an organic cotton shirt or two. However, it’s naïve to think all shopping will cease, slow, or do anything but increase because the polar ice caps are melting. So, if you’re going to buy something, might as well make it from one of these ten companies or these good sources that carry organic and/or recycled goods, or from places like Patagonia, which offer a lifetime guarantee on their products and donate money to environmental organizations. In essence, try to ensure your clothing has a conscience while you try to be a more conscientious consumer.
9. Shop Without Plastic …
At the grocery store, drug store, mall, it’s now totally cool to BYOB—bring your own bag. And author Marcia Brixey encourages women to stop and think before using the plastic in our wallet, lest we get our planet and ourselves into an inescapable debt.
If you’re not convinced that you can do without what’s behind those department store windows, watch The Story of Stuff.
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