Credit: Earth Take
I feel like that at times: where life feels like a delicate balancing act. In this case, I’m trying to balance out my product usage to get the most effective, non-toxic ingredients possible. Along with my current obsession with essential oils, Style.com’s Beauty Counter has some surprisingly interesting posts on green beauty. One of which led me to Alicia Silverstone’s lovely little blog. Many remember her as the lovable Cher in Clueless, but she’s also a fantastic advocate for going vegan and living green–not that I’d personally go vegan. Sorry cute animals but you’re delicious–without giving up taste, style, or creature comforts. A follower of her own advice and “The Kind Diet”, she looks fantastic at 34 years old (she totally looks like she’s in her early twenties). And I thought it best to let her explain the premise behind her blog:
But that’s not what I really want to post about. On thekindlife.com, I discovered EcoStiletto which is this lovely site by journalist Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff that embraces style and beauty without leaving a carbon footprint. And it was there that I discovered this lovely little list: The Big List of Things That Suck. It both informs the reader on common things we use everday and how to make it suck a little less :) Here are a couple bits that I liked:
Forget vintage. These days it seems that newly minted cashmere is everywhere: Americans bought 10.5 million sweaters in 2005—15 times more than 10 years prior, according to the Seattle Times, which asserts that the increase in cashmere production, primarily in China, is wreaking environmental havoc. As the herds of cashmere-producing goats grow, the grasslands are disappearing, leading to dust storms and a “plume of pollution” that reaches as far as Washington state.
Where you find it: Everywhere from Sam’s Club to Club Monaco.
Suck less: Vintage, upcycled vintage by designers like Deborah Lindquist, or Mongolian cashmere cultivated by traditional nomadic herders who laugh in the face of over-production. Mongolian cashmere is ridiculously soft yet incredibly durable—which will become immeasurably important when you watch that cheap cashmere wrap from Target start to pill up and lose its shape after one washing. See WOOL.
Not to scare you or anything, but we absorb 60 percent of what we put onto our skin. And, according to the Organic Consumers Association, the average woman
absorbs five pounds of toxic chemicals each year just from her beauty products. With that in mind, flip over your favorite concealer and take a look at the laundry list of unpronounceable ingredients like DEA—also known as diethanolamine (say that five times fast)—which disrupts hormones and can lead to birth defects.
These chemicals enter your body where they interact with the hundreds of other chemicals contained in the plethora of beauty products that you slather on each day.
Where to find it: Conventional beauty products.
Suck less: Read your labels, and look for “USDA Certified Organic” and “ECOCERT,” which means a product is government certified as 95 percent food-grade organic—zero chemicals or synthetics in it manufacturing or ingredients—in America and Europe, respectively. See ORGANIC (NOT).
So-called “fast fashion” has outsourced our $3 trillion a year apparel industry to countries like China, which exports ridiculous amounts of pollution—along with “disposable” clothing—to the United States. According to the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act, the United States has established a $35 billion trade deficit with China by buying goods despite the fact that the country undervalues its currency, underpays its workers and utilizes the least expensive (and most toxic) means of production in order to provide the American consumer cheap and disposable goods. Why does this matter? Economically, it’s bad business: U.S. government statistics show that since 2002, China’s textile and apparel imports to the U.S. have increased 263 percent while the textile sector in the U.S. lost 433,000 jobs.
Environmentally, it’s worse. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, when it comes to environmental pollutants in our air and water, the United States is directly in China’s line of fire. “Scientists estimate that thirty percent of California’s particulate air pollution comes from across the Pacific,” said Linda Greer, director of the Health Program at NRDC and creator of its Clean by Design program, in a recent video. “China’s textile industry’s contribution to this soot is more than three billion tons per year [causing] cities across America to be in violation of air quality standards. In addition, “more than half the mercury contaminating the fish that we catch off our shores and in our freshwater lakes comes from China,” she said. When it comes to the environmental impact of our biggest trade partner, “America is, unfortunately, downwind.”
Where to find it: Your closet.
Suck less: If you’re buying new, look for fair trade, sustainable frocks and frivolities that actually support the workers that make them—and don’t pollute the communities in which they were made. We also are interested to see what impact Clean by Design has on participating companies like Walmart, H&M, Gap, Levi and Nike. Clean by Design has set its sights on cleaning up the Chinese textile and apparel industry by establishing business practices that reduce water pollution and energy use to help plants run more efficiently. The logic behind this program, as well as the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act, is that if multi-national companies like these won’t pull out, then manufacturing in China must become more like that which takes place in the United States, with accurate currency valuation, fair wages for workers and environmentally conscious manufacturing. By enforcing these practices, the cost of doing business in China becomes more competitive. And manufacturing starts to come home. Sounds good to us.
Chemical sunscreens like PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid) and oxybenzone are absorbed into the bloodstream, break down in the sun and offer far less protection than their labels declare, according to the Environmental Working Group.
Where to find them: On the beach; at the pool.
Suck less: Zinc (best) and titanium dioxide (better) provide a physical barrier to the sun, and no longer leave you with big white splotches on your nose. See NANO.
While the list is not enough to make me stop wearing leather or flushing toilets, it does make me think twice about where everything I use and wear comes from. Moreover, I’m glad that she is calling attention to the state of our clothes and the materials used. I have been seeing cashmere everywhere this season. And it’s appalling because it is now scratchy cheap low quality shit that ruins easily as opposed to the luxurious durable material it used to represent (I had to search very hard for the Italian cashmere that I do own). I do not like to the see the deterioration of clothes as well as food and beauty & cleaning products. So now that my rant is over, check out the blogs and maybe it will make you reconsider things as well.