4 good reasons to be eco-friendly (that keep you chic at the same time)

What if everyone put the same amount of effort into reducing their carbon footprint as they did into reducing their waistline?

Our environmental problems would be considerably lessened.

I’m not going to waste any time pretending to be the most eco-conscious girl on the planet – I’m not. I do make an honest effort to pay attention to what I’m consuming (as I am sure most people do regardless — Green Is Sexy, ya know!): I never use plastic water bottles, I buy local produce when it’s in season, I turn out the lights when I’m not in the room, etc.

But I always find it difficult to find innovative and fashion-friendly solutions geared towards making our planet cleaner. Even the term “eco-friendly fashion” is usually a cringe-worthy phrase for the most stylish of us. Which is precisely why I’ve put together this list. It’s not going to tell you ways to be eco-friendly – it’s going to tell you why (and how). So yes, there are “ways” involved, but there’s solid reasoning behind them, and the solutions are meant to be simple and feasible. You won’t find “Oh, get some solar powered lighting” or “Just get a Chevy Volt!” here.

1. You can grow your bag collection.

Everyone knows the eco-friendly tote – the one you’re “supposed” to take everywhere (and replace your beloved Prada or Chloé with on shopping trips – yeah right), and use at the grocery store instead of the traditional paper & plastic. Let’s be honest here: those bags can get pretty ugly. Besides, no one wants to carry a canvas bag around when they already have plenty of gorgeous bags amassed. But how about setting one aside as your “work” tote? There are chic options out there. For example, One Language makes simple and lovely 100% natural canvas totes that are super-study, come with laptop sleeves, and are personalized with a lining covered in handwritten quotes from the designers, two sisters based in New York City. You can buy the bags online at their site or at Nordstrom. I especially love these two choices: the Haute Bag for a more fashion-oriented approach and the Banana Bag (picture above) for those who want to spread the message: “Eco-friendly is CHIC!”

Another great option: Feed bags. You’ve heard of them; you’ve seen them around. You can purchase them at Lord & Taylor stores – they have plenty of fabulous options available now. I’m loving the blue Feed Guatemala bag and the Feed Haiti bag.

2. You can help get rid of harmful toxins in your body by upgrading your beauty routine.

Why practice a little green beauty? It’s better for you! It can also be quite cost-effective – there are many DIY organic beauty tips that you can try at home with ingredients you can find in your kitchen. Unfortunately, the problem with the beauty market right now is that it’s almost impossible to tell whether or not what you’re purchasing is actually green – and hence better for you. In The Story of Cosmetics (an important video by Story of Stuff creator Annie Leonard), Annie points out that, in the cosmetics industry, words such as “natural” and “organic” have no legal definition – therefore, any company can put them on their products, no matter how many carcinogens are in their shampoos or how much lead is in their lipsticks (Click here for a quick list of 12 ingredients to watch out for). Organix shampoo is one of the farthest things from organic. (Which is why support for the Toxic Chemicals Safety Act of 2010 is crucial!) Of course, it’s completely impossible to avoid all toxic chemicals (I’m certainly not giving up my favorite perfume at this point, nor my lust for Chanel’s “Paradoxal” shade), but adding some green to your beauty routine is great for your health (especially if you can replace a few dangerous products). Here’s a quick and dirty list of some ideas to help you do it:

  • Green manis & pedis. Not many spas specialize in these (and they tend to run on the expensive side), but nail polish is one of the most harmful products out there. Why not indulge in one if you’re near a green spa? See a list of spas offering this service here (scroll to bottom of article). Or, you can always give yourself one at home with some eco-friendly polish.
  • Get your Sephora fix. Duh! I’m hopelessly addicted to Sephora just as much as the next girl. There’s something that makes me so wonderfully happy to spend exorbitant amounts of money on teeny bottles of beautifully-packaged products (I’m a total sucker for packaging). Their Naturally Sephora logo (the green circle you’ll see pop up on their site) makes it easy for you to spot natural and organic beauty products (like Juice Beauty, mmm). Granted, not all the products with the logo are 100% natural, but many are still a whole lot better for you (you can read Sephora’s standards for the seal here).
  • Do it yourself. Believe it or not, there are a bazillion ways to get in your daily pampering using your own homemade beauty products – usually you can find everything you need right in your kitchen (or garden). Did you know putting extra-virgin olive oil on your face can actually help prevent breakouts? (Read the article here!) Ever wanted to make your own lip gloss? Or perfume, perhaps? Check out Planet Green’s extensive archive for homemade beauty products – they have some amazing recipes, including body scrubs, cleansers, and more.

3. You can get healthier by adding more organic foods to your diet.

And forget pricey chain grocery store costs, too – buy local at farmer’s markets (you’ll be supporting your local economy, saving money, getting fresher food and produce, and helping cut the amount of gas it takes to transport organic produce to grocery stores in your area). Check out Organic.org to search for farmer’s markets and organic stores in your area.

Oh, but wait – there is another option. Growing food yourself. If you have the time – and overall willingness – to commit to gardening, you can try growing your own food. Seriously, what’s better than a fresh salad that was picked minutes ago in your own backyard? Nothing gets fresher than that (speaking from personal experience: it’s always delicious). If you’re a novice gardener, here are a few resources to help:

4. You can revamp your wardrobe.

The term “eco-friendly fashion” almost unfailingly brings images of hideous and ill-fitting (albeit global-warming fighting) clothes to mind. And most typical eco-friendly clothing (that you would want to wear, that is) can be ridiculously expensive. A few options I like are:

  • WantOrganic™ for J. Crew – some chic accessories and laptop cases; especially loving this bag (on sale!)
  • Prairie Underground – how cute is this romper?
  • Beklina – an eco-boutique, stocking a bunch of eco-friendly designers (including Prairie Underground)
  • 28 Crash! – if one-of-a-kind vintage pieces are your thing, 28 Crash! offers hand-picked vintage finds that are individually altered for a more modern silhouette.
  • Black Velvet Circus – (*if you can’t read their site in German, click the British flag at the bottom of the screen) the same concept as 28 Crash! I first heard about Black Velvet Circus on Style Bubble. They have some wonderful finds at good prices; although, unfortunately, they currently only ship within the European Union.
  • Archive Vintage — just heard about this site on Sea of Shoes the other day. Check it out if you haven’t already — tons of gorgeous vintage clothes and accessories and they have Chanel.
  • Juno Says Hello [update] — another fabulous site I heard about from a fellow blogger, Alex from Alex Loves. They have some beautiful finds!
  • Etsy – because supporting small businesses is chic and sustainable. And you can find lots of vintage clothing here too – try Yellow Jacket Vintage, Lux Lux Vintage or Melvilles for vintage jewelry.
  • Green My Style — okay, so this isn’t exactly an eco-fashion retailer. But it’s a great resource, seeing as their blog features FABULOUS green clothes, shoes, accessories, and makeup as well as cool style deals and steals.

I guess the major theme here is that, yes, organic cotton clothing is wonderful if you can find cute options at affordable prices, but “eco-friendly clothing” encompasses so much more than that. Vintage and consignment shops are basically clothing (and accessory) recycling stores. Try the FashionDig vintage/consignment store finder to find shops in your area, or see if a Buffalo Exchange store is near you (Marc Jacobs dresses for $30…I’m not kidding). You can also try organizing a clothes swap with friends – just make sure to invite people who are similar sizes and have everyone bring 5-10 pieces of good clothing to avoid any disasters.

Now, if you actually took the time to read this entire post, I applaud you.

Keeping it chic, classy, and sustainable is the future of fashion. You can still shop at your favorite retail stores and get your weekly manicures and hang on to your beloved Prada shoes, but hopefully you’ll have an awareness of what it means to stay “eco-chic” and make smart choices in the fashion and beauty world whenever possible.

{ Source: Images in collages from onelanguagelabel.com, sephora.com, downintheholler.com, tassienaturals.com, dailymail.co.uk, greenmystyle.com }

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6 thoughts on “4 good reasons to be eco-friendly (that keep you chic at the same time)

  1. this is a serious issue… fashion really does have a great impact on people, and the message could break barriers here, i think a whole bunch of people are going to be taking notice. make up and clothes can definitely go for a complete green convert. to take it a step ahead, i don’t use silks or leather… this is conservation. i don’t think our luxury accessories need to come from a dead animal. i really get mad at people who buy expensive leather bags and boots. and in India, it is brain wracking to see all the silk splurged around.
    chemicals are so harmful, not only to your body, but when you use shampoo etc with carcinogenic stuff in it, you forget it washes down to the soil and pollutes everything under the ground…
    it really is time to start taking notice of all the things we are spoiling… dump extremes. moderation is what we need…

  2. Thank you for your lovely comment. Wow, this post is great. You wrote so many options. I have to say that I’m not very eco-friendly in terms of clothes and accessories, but this was a big inspiration to start working on that subject! xxx

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