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Green Chic Fashion Trends

From hippie to hip: “Green chic” isn’t just for tree-huggers

We, the people, love to shop. But on average, just sixth months after purchasing consumer goods just one percent remains. It’s true: 99 percent of goods bought by Americans is in the dump half a year later. Food, light bulbs, packaging, clothes, electronics – due to “planned obsolescence” and “perceived obsolescence” sooner or later all the products we buy go back into the ground to begin a much longer life of disuse, decay, and toxin emission.  

A sustainable approach to this problem is, of course, to break out of this cycle. But sustainability is a two-way street: we should produce and live off of only what we need and yet not pull the rug out from under the systems already in place. Luckily, an increased number of groups recognize the role of the consumer economy in the US and still realize the desperate need to break the cycle of production and waste, which violates the environment, fair trade, and even our own happiness as consumers. If shopping really makes everyone happy, then why do we live in Prozac Nation?

Well, don’t run for the bottle yet. You don’t even need to run for the off-grid hills. There is a way to participate in mainstream culture without creating waste – in fact, it meansconsuming waste. A number of companies are selling recycled fashion, accessories and home goods in response to the earth in crisis. Furthermore, the concepts of fair trade and organics are becoming more mainstream as consumers begin to realize the human and health consequences of their purchases. Here are some ways that we ourselves can go post consumer waste.

Bag it up

You re-use your plastic bags and carry your groceries in canvas totes. Great! Now try wearing your plastic bags loud and proud. Green crafters are figuring out ways to crochet plastic shopping bags into durable, washable, fashionable sacks. Crafty types can actually design and make their own bags by following these fairly simple directions. Since plastic shopping bags take about a billion years to decompose, these creations are sturdy enough to carry a laptop. And depending on the color selection at your local supermarket, bags can be designed in earthy brown, sea glass green, or simple white with ribbons weaved in.

For those who don’t-do-it-yourself, the green fashion industry has come out with scores of styles of bags made out of recycled inner tubes, newspapers, billboards, and gum wrappers.English Retreads proves that eco fashion doesn’t have to mean hemp and patchouli. This company takes used bicycle tire inner tubes and turns them into purses and bags that actually look like sleek black leather. Not only that, but English Retreads prides itself on recycled, animal-free products in production and distribution, fair wages and conditions, and it doesn’t offshore its work. Bags start around $60.

Melt it down

According to Alkemie, a jeweler that creates its pieces from reclaimed gold, the mining industry is the second largest contributor to greenhouse gases. Their designs combine the delicate and the funky, like Alkemie bracelet or necklace with gold leaves which combines a light, pretty gold design with the edginess of leather.

Designer recycled fashion wears a price tag, but green fashionistas advocate opening up minds and dumpsters to find the beauty within. Jewelry artist Linsy Carranza designs gorgeous jewelry out of Scrabble tiles, and Felicia Singkang creates classy rings out of vintage buttons. Neat designs like these can be made at the kitchen table with some wire, glue, and a good idea.

Roll it out

One minute you’re drinking from it, the next you’re sitting on it? Well, not so fast, but one of the coolest trends in eco décor is the recycled soda bottle rug. These rugs, which come in gorgeous oriental patterns and are perfect for patios, decks, and tile floors, are comfortable and washable and 100 percent PCW. 4×6 sized doormats are priced at just $32.95 onwww.goodcommonsense.net, with the 5×8 size at $70 and the 6×9 at $80. Similar rugs are available through eco-friendly outfitters at comparable prices.

As if a recycled rug weren’t enough, soda bottles are getting a second life in clothing, too. Perhaps best of all is the recycled soda bottle suit from Israeli-based Bagir. The ECOGIR Recycled suit is made from 100 percent PCW from discarded PET bottles. Bagir also sells the ECOGIR Oganic suit, made of organic cotton, bamboo and ecologically-harvested Tagua nuts for buttons, and the ECOGIR hybrid, made of 55 percent PCW.

For more ideas and products, check out http://www.recycle2art.com/ to turn trash into treasure and http://www.econsciousmarket.com/site/ where “giving is the new getting.”

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