Tuesday 30 July 2013

I can create that style sustainably : Taylor Swift

Since I recently visited Nashville, I thought the next style I recreated sustainably should be a lovely lady with country roots and unique style - enter the whimsical Taylor Swift.

I'll admit I'm not a huge fan of her music, but I definitely have a girl crush on her after researching her style all day! Here's a glimpse at some of my favourite looks of hers and how to create them, sustainably.

Lips & Eyes
I just love the red lip that Taylor's been rocking for the past year or so and on her Red tour, and the wayfarer glasses help her own the vintage chic look she's been embracing of late.

To get Taylor's red lip naturally, try the new shade by Vapour Organics, Courage, described as classic cherry red.

Made with 70 percent certified organic ingredients, chemical free,
produced with windpower and comes in biodegradable packaging.
In addition, 30 percent of proceeds from this shade go to the
Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, benefiting veterans,
something I'm sure this all-American girl would celebrate.

Lucky for us, there are plenty of eco-sunglasses on the market these days, like the below by Proof.
These glasses are made of plant-based plastic, which is renewable and
biodegradable, and a portion of sales go toward charities
  in India providing cataract surgery to people in need.

Swift Stripes
Stripes are the perfect way to create a timeless look, and Taylor wears them perfectly onstage and on the street.

Here are some labels to help you earn your stripes, sustainably.

Chinti & Parker
Available for sale online at Chinti & Parker and Browns London, definitely a new favourite of mine!

Made with GOTS certified organic cotton.
Purchase online at Honest By (another new fave!).

People Tree
Both items made of 100% organic Fairtrade jersey cotton. Buy on PeopleTree.co.uk

80% Tencel, 20% Linen, a Made By label, improving ethics
of the label year by year. This shirt is made in Turkey
under fair working conditions. Available online at Ethics Girls.

Flirty Feminine Frocks
Taylor wears a lot of skirts and dresses, and I love her look all the more for it.

To copy this part of Taylor's style, head to a vintage or secondhand shop and go wild! So many dresses and skirts have designs to last the ages, and my best vintage finds have undoubtedly been dresses. My tip: buy larger if necessary, and make sure you have a fabulous tailor to help with any nipping and tucking.

Oxford shoes
It's no surprise that Taylor's footwear is right on trend; she's been spotted wearing oxfords with everything from dresses to denim to short shorts.

I was given some fabulous oxfords by a friend, and I think if you had a good rummage through your local vintage shop you could probably locate a pair. If you can't find any secondhand, here's the next best thing:

Handmade in Peru through a social-entrepreneurship label.
Buy online at Nisolo Shoes.

I just love these stripey oxfords by Osborn. 100% cotton uppers,
recycled tire heel cap,  and signed by the artisan! Buy online, and
check out some of the other colourful options for sale, too.


Loving these vegan shoes! Also loving the strong sustainability story
of the factory in Brazil.

Nancy Bird
I was so excited to see this Aussie label branch into footwear! Available
in a range of colours, these vegetable tanned, ethically created shoes are
on my wishlist - buy online at Nancy Bird.

Summer style
This past weekend the lovely lithe lady was spotted enjoying one of my favourite summer activities, stand up paddle boarding, in one of her favourite beach looks, the high waisted bikini.

To get this look sustainably, try either of these adorable high waist loving labels.

Pierogi Picnic
Pierogi Picnic makes suits from repurposed t-shirt cotton.
Each suit is made to the exact buyer's measurements,
and has a stretchy swim lining. The site also has great
vintage finds!

Fables by Barrie
Fables by Barrie creates wonderful retro pieces to make
women feel good - made in the San Diego offices,
guaranteed sweatshop free. A number of top and bottom
styles perfect for mixing and matching - FUN!

Well, thanks Taylor! I had fun immersing myself in your virtual wardrobe today. Keep rocking those fabulous looks, and give me a shout if you're ever in need of a sustainable shopping pal.


Sunday 21 July 2013

a green nashville fling

G'day y'all!

My accent is seriously confused following my week in Tennessee.

This was my first foray into the great American South, and I'll admit that at times I felt like I was in a foreign country. The accents, the music and the rich and troubling history felt about a million miles away from where I come from. Of course the charm and culture of the place quickly wooed me - I loved it!

After spending a couple days sightseeing in Memphis (I was enchanted with everything from the local blues music and Graceland to the powerful civil rights history) we headed to Nashville. If it's good enough for Nic and Keith it's good enough for me! (Even if I don't cherish the sound of much country music.)

Me and Elvis. I got at least 4 compliments on this
Lalesso skirt that day - style & sustainability in action.

I took the opportunity while in Nashvegas to investigate some sustainable shopping options for the fine folks of Nashville - and they are lucky folks indeed. East Nashville 5 Points district was a mini-mecca of sustainable options, but there are a couple other areas of note as well.  Here's where we explored.

We started Sunday morning with a couple espresso coffees from Bongo Java Roasting Company 5 Points. The good news: delicious coffee, certified organic and fair trade, and they have local bagels from Bagel Face. The not-so-good news, they put my 'have here' latte in a paper cup, even though my hubby's cortado was in a ceramic mug. Worth emphasising if you stop in for a drink.

Delicious sustainable coffee, bike rack, local paper - heaven.
Next stop was Goodbuy Girls and their little brother, Hello Boys (amazing names!), both located in the Ideas Hatchery market on Woodland Street, also in 5 Points.

Goodbuy Girls had a fabulous collection of vintage, pre-loved and some refashioned items. If I had unlimited space on this roadtrip, I'd have stocked up on the ironically bedazzled faded music t-shirts and vintage denim. Instead I opted for one purchase, this divine vintage dress for a mere $30. I felt like I fit right in the South once I had this little number on.

Needs a little tailoring up top, but I love the poof sleeves!

So many treasures hidden in this tiny shop!

Hello Boys is my dream come true as the eco-minded wife of an equally eco-minded husband. This impressive collection of vintage menswear, from casual to preppy to proper, puts most vintage shops' menswear to shame. To top it off, shop co-owner Jeremy was a delight and made us feel incredibly welcome in the shop and in Nashville.

Fabulous branding!

Great merchandising and an interesting collection.

Ties, cowboy boots, jackets - what else does a sustainably stylish man need?

Around the corner is The Green Wagon, a one-stop eco-living shop. This small, inviting space stocked a little of everything: handmade local soaps, a small selection of vintage wear, natural makeup, a filling station for natural cleaning supplies, bags, frames from local reclaimed timber, even eco-dental floss! I picked up some floss - you know I care about my teeth - and a great unworn vintage western top that has been the perfect 'toss in my purse in case it's cold indoors' layer ever since.

Charming house-turned-shop!

Fantastic reusable bags made from upcycled materials.
Wearing my vintage Loretta Lynn layer (also wearing
vintage scarf, Gorman dress and secondhand shoes!).
Full disclosure: photo taken in DC.

A few blocks away is the Turnip Truck - a locally-owned natural food store. Fabulous selection of natural, organic and vegan products, and the first bulk bins I've seen in awhile (we made sure to stock up on muesli).

I told you it is all happening in  East Nashville!

The next day I wandered further afield to Franklin, about a 30 minute drive from downtown Nashville. It's a lovely historic town, and if you look hard enough you can find some sustainable options.

There were a number of 'antique' stores, but many of the items were made-to-look antique as opposed to being the real deal. Buyer beware!

My favourite stop was Avec Moi - though not all goods were antique, the selection of silverware, glassware and china was so impressive, and all items were clearly labeled whether they were new or antique. Thank you!

I'd been tipped off by my mother-in-law to make a stop in Philanthropy - and what a delight it was! This Anthropologie-style shop has ethics at its core, donating a minimum of 10% of all sales to a number of charities, totaling over $335,000 since 2007. To my dismay not all of the brands sold in the shop were ethical labels, and many items were not made with sustainable materials, but there were some good finds if you took the time to read the labels.

I love all the plants in front of the store! The owner requested
no photos inside, so check out the website instead.

Also in Franklin I went on the hunt for Prophetik - a sustainable fashion label out of Nashville - which is stocked in Posh, but I learned that it is only carried in one particular Posh store, and not the one in Franklin. Designer Jeff Garner designs with sustainability front of mind, and has used a number of creative techniques including using organic dyes from the garden, softening hemp with baking soda and recycling plastic bottles into fabric - it's no wonder he was named the 2010 Eco Designer of the Year by London Fashion Week. This is certainly one to watch! I'd love to own one of his gorgeous creations.

There are a couple spots I didn't get the time to visit in person, but if you have the time you should definitely pop in (and report back, please!).

Thistle Stop Cafe sells Nashville-based and Fair Trade coffee and tea and healthy food choices, run by graduates and residents of the Magdalene, a centre for woman who have survived trafficking, prostitution and addiction. TheMagdalene also produces a natural body product line.

Imogene & Willie - locally produced denim, made the old-fashioned way (thanks to great lessons from the owners' grandparents!) and a handful of 'one-off' antique and artisan items. Next time!


On this dedicated eco-shopping trip I realised a couple of things I'll need to keep in mind as I adjust to USA-style eco-living:
  • The distances are much longer than in Sydney, and frequently a car is needed to access the shops with sustainable goods (thank goodness for my hybrid - more on that later).
  • There are a lot more eco-options available in all categories, but it's harder to find the solid options. I think I'll need to be more cautious than ever about reading labels and asking questions, as greenwashing (intended or not) is rampant in the sustainable-living marketplace.
More to come soon, I'm sure, as I continue to explore the wide-wonderful-world of sustainability with (USA) style.


PS - A special hello to Elise from Memphis who spotted me on Broadway in Nashville. It was lovely to meet you and your hubby, and I hope the concert was amazing

Tuesday 9 July 2013

a green walmart fling

You read that correctly. Walmart.

You see, I'm currently in small-town USA. You know that song by John Cougar Mellencamp, "I was born in a small town"? Well, I'm in that exact small town (Seymour, Indiana), hanging out with my in-laws and enjoying the heartland. The only problem with the heartland is that the nearest Whole Foods is over an hour away, and I've just run out of shampoo and mascara.

I love Whole Foods - it's on the list of 'pros' for the continuing US vs Australia debate - but, like me this week, most Americans don't have access to this natural products wonderland. On the other hand, 90% of Americans live within 15 miles of a Walmart, so Walmart, here I come!

 For the record, if I was in Oz I'd quickly replace with my favourite Sukin Organics and Musq, respectively. I still love them both!

I still love you!
You too!

Typically I avoid the superstore at all costs because of its support of overconsumption and a number of other questionable social and economic factors (see this scathing article on the giant for details). And call me crazy, but I just don't think those stars-and-stripes ball caps marked down to $2 could have possibly been made ethically. But, considering the accessibility for nearly all Americans, and the aspirational (if vague) sustainability page on Walmart's website, I was willing to give it a go. I remain determined to show that it is easy to go green once you're armed with information!

I went to the hair care aisle first, and spent about 45 minutes looking at every brand that looked even remotely natural. I compared the ingredients to my 'Ingredients to Avoid' list, noted the greenwashers in the group (there were plenty!), and put Aveeno Active Naturals in my basket. It was sulfate-free* and paraben-free** and had a relatively short ingredients list. It wasn't as great as Sukin Organics, but was an acceptable replacement outside of a health food store.

Next I wandered over to the makeup department to look for any natural brands, and after walking down all 4 aisles of cosmetics came across an 8-foot wide eco-oasis called 'Natural Products' in the last aisle. This section was stocked with familiar natural brands including:

So, Aveeno Active Naturals went back on the shelf and I came home with Avalon Organics Nourishing Lavender shampoo, containing 70% certified organic content and vegetarian ingredients and not containing synthetic fragrances, sulfates, phthalates or parabens. As an added bonus the bottle is made of 100% recycled content.

I also found a mascara to replace my beloved Aussie Musq mascara - Organic Wear by Physicians Formula. It has EcoCert approval, the first ever US line to be recognised by this well-established European certification group, 100% natural ingredients, 47% organic ingredients, and all the 'expected' things excluded, not to mention a recyclable wand.

My one complaint is the overpackaging, both in terms of the large size of the tube and handle as well as the plastic shell inside the carboard box. Upon first swipe it seems good! Physicians Formula also makes a mineral powder that was very healthy - without Talc (found in most mineral makeup products but a synthetic, irritating, clog-poring nightmare!) and naturally SPF 30.

So, there you have it, successful eco-beauty shopping at Walmart!

Any other great drugstore brands available in the US that I should know about? I'd love to hear about them and try them for myself.


PS - I have a list of ingredients to avoid compiled from from Gorgeously Green and Musq, but this is a super-short list on Ecouterre that is easier to remember when you find yourself in a pinch.

* Sodium Lauryl Sulphate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate are both known irritants and cause other problems when combined with other chemicals, but are very common in body products because they produce excellent bubbles.
** Parabens are known carcinogens, and I really don't know why these are still allowed in personal care products.