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

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