Happy Earth Day!

Today we celebrate planet Earth!

With the way the world is and especially since we’ve got people in charge who don’t care about protecting our planet, it’s essential that we don’t give up and continue to fight for a better world for EVERYONE.

So here are some posts for the occasion:

To learn more about today’s celebration of Mother Earth head over to the Earth Day Network site.

Here’s an article about Environmental Racism titled Trump’s EPA Concludes Environmental Racism Is Real written by VANN R. NEWKIRK II over at The Atlantic.

Visit Greenaction’s site to learn more about Environmental Racism and what you can do to stop it.

Here are two Earth Day related posts of mine for you to enjoy:

Infographic: Earth Day 2017 10 Facts About Our Planet

Living Green: 7 Tips to help you have a green home

Every year on this day there are usually musical festivals to celebrate so in the spirit of that I end this post with Michael Jackson’s Earth Song:

And remember:

 

A Guide to Sustainable Fashion

I originally wrote this for Uncanny Pop

Everyday, the environment is a topic that is discussed daily from how our actions can have a negative affect on our planet to what we can do to repair the damage and bring about change. One way that we can do that is by being environmentally conscious towards clothing. It’s important to know how and where the clothes on your back are made and that is what sustainable fashion is all about. Sustainable fashion is part of sustainable design and is where a product-in this case clothing-is created and produced with the consideration to the environmental and social impact it may have throughout its total life span which also includes its “carbon footprint.

Here is a guide of common natural and eco-friendly fabrics and a list of sustainable fashion lines that will help you create a wardrobe that’s not only eco-friendly but also fashionable.

Fabrics

Silk: Made by silk worms there is no chemical-based synthetic processing. The only drawback is that after creating the silk,  the worms are thrown into a vat of boiling water in order for us humans to get the silk fibres.  May vegans won’t wear silk due to this, but there is an alternative: peace silk or vegan silk. Clearly labeled, this silk is made from the worm casings that are gathered after the moths have emerged and flown away. In addition, look for silk that has been dyed naturally and is as local as you can get.

Cashmere: Be luxurious and eco friendly at the same time with this fabric which comes from combing out the under-hairs of Kashmir goats.  The fabric is also long-lasting but beware of cheap cashmere as it may have been treated with chemicals and dye with carcinogenic dyes. The fabric may also be mixture with other types like polyester. Real eco-friendly cashmere clothing is expensive but it’ll last a lifetime. As the saying goes, “you get what you pay for.”

Linen: Real linen is made from flax-a crop that requires very little pest-controlling chemicals. Look for this fabric in natural shades or natural dyes and make sure to purchase linen that’s from an eco-certified clothing or fabric company. Beware the linen blends or those that are cheap and chemically treated.

Alpaca: This fabric is from Alpaca sheep that are raised naturally. That means no hormones or chemical treatments. Since this fabric comes in over 52 naturally occurring colors, there‘s no need for dye! Alpaca also keeps you warmer than wool and is long lasting. The only downside is that the fabric most likely will have been imported.

Soy: This fabric is easy to care for and is made from the byproducts of soil oil processing. This fabric is great for underwear and bras due to its long fibres which make the fabric feel soft and silky.  Make sure that the soy products you buy are certified and try to avoid “soy blend” fabric. This fabric is less eco friendly and is a mixture of soy, polyester and inorganic cotton.

Hemp: This fabric is strong, durable and naturally wrinkle-resistant. Clothes made from hemp also offer the cool hand of linen and the softness of cotton. Requiring no chemicals to grow, hemp is often regarded as the ulitmate eco-friendly fabric.  However, hemp farming is not well regulated. There is no monitoring of where its grown nor what types of  chemicals the plant may have come into contact with it.

Merino: The softest of all wools, comes from merino sheep who are bred not for their meat but for their wool. It‘s extremely soft and lacks the itchiness of other wools, which means you can be warm and comfortable. Merino wool offers temperature regulation, moisture control and anti-microbial properties.

Organic cotton: This type of cotton does not have chemicals or toxins added to it during the farming and manufacturing stages. In fact the farming of organic cotton reduces the mass use of pesticides and chemicals. Organic cotton is also becoming more popular and has been seen in stores such as H&M and the Gap. The cons are that the organic cotton you purchase isn’t also assured to be fair trade. In addition, it could be processed using conventional dyes, or treated with chemicals to keep it from wrinkling when its sent overseas. That is why whenever possible buy this fabric in the shades that its naturally grown in: cream, pale, green, and light brown. Purchase clothes that have been coloured using natural or vegetable-based dyes, and look for credible labels that indicated that the product is certified organic, sustainable, and eco-friendly. One example would be be Eco-Cert.

Tencel aka Lyocell: A new fabric that has wonderful qualities. It‘s made with wood pulp from sustainable tree farms (which makes it biodegradable and recyclable) and created with nanotechnology. There are a variety of clothing made from this fabric and it‘s very comfortable. It has 50% greater moisture absorption than cotton and it has a smooth and soft surface. It’s also wrinkle-free. However not all lycoell fabric comes from sustainable wood so be sure to check the labels. Also try to find fabric that’s been dyed with a low-chemical or vegetable colourant.

Bamboo: It is great for both hot and cool climates-bamboo clothing offers built-in temperature control. It keeps you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. It‘s also a durable fabric that is antibacterial. Unlike synthetic fabrics, bamboo repels order. It‘s also anti-static so the static won‘t stop you! The only downside is that there is a toxic chemical aspect to the manufacturing of the fabric and that’s when the bamboo loses its eco status.

Ingeo: A new fabric requires almost half the energy it takes to make cotton-inorganic and organic. The only downfall is that the fabric is made from fermented plant sugars usually derived from corn. As  we all know, growing corn takes a lot of pesticides, water, and land.

Polyester: The normal version of this fabric is made from petroleum and is way of the map in terms of eco-friendliness. However companies are finding ways to create the fabric out of recycled plastic bottles and recycled polyester fabirc! Until then, the only green polyester is vintage and let’s face it, vintage is always in style.

Now that we’ve talked about the fabrics, here’s a list of eco-friendly fashion brands.

Fashion Brands

Jonano: the clothes are made of certified organic bamboo, hemp, and their popular ecoKashmere blend-at an affordable price. The clothes are made using Fair Labor practices, their fabrics use low-impact dyes, and their packaging and mailings are printed on recycled paper.

Loomstate: isn‘t inexpensive; they‘re reasonably priced. You can find bargains on their clothing by going to websites like Greenloop and Bluefly.com

Levi Strauss: has been in the jean making business for a long time, so who better than them to lead the way in eco-friendly denim. They use organic cotton, recycled zippers, buttons, and natural indigo dye. They also donate to environmental causes on a regular basis. Levi also encourages their customers to treat their clothes in an environmentally responsible manner. In 2010, their clothes began to carry new tags that encouraged people to wash their clothes in cold water and dry them on a line. When the clothes are no longer needed, they donate them to Goodwill. Levi also works on worker rights, HIV/AIDS, Equality, and Community Engagement.

American Apparel: has clothes for the whole family at affordable prices

To see more list of eco-friendly fashion brands, click the links below:

Buzzfeed’s 13 Eco-Friendly Fashion Brands For A Cruelty-Free Closet

Elle: 7 Eco-Friendly Fashion Labels To Know Now

Eco Fashion World

Living Green: 7 Tips to help you have a green home

I originally wrote this for Uncanny Pop.

Having a green home gives you a lot of benefits. You‘ll save money, you‘ll have a healthy place for you and your family to live, and it‘s good for the environment. So here are a few things that you can do to fight high energy bills and climate change.

1. Check your insulation:
Insulation is important in that it keeps your home from losing heat. If you live in a house, make sure that there are no areas in your attic floor that have inadequate insulation. Follow the Department of Energy‘s recommendations.

Photo courtesy: https://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=home_sealing.hm_improvement_sealing
Photo courtesy: https://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=home_sealing.hm_improvement_sealing

2. Use Low-VOC products:
Always check that the paint you‘re using is a low-VOC or a no-VOC paint. When purchasing paints, you should look for the green seal. Also when you clean your home use non-toxic natural products or make your own green cleaning products!

3. Make Your Own Green Cleaning Products: Here are a few recipes courtesy of PathNet.org!

  • All Purpose Cleaner:
    Add 1/2 cup ammonia and 1/3 cup washing soda to a gallon of warm water. Use to clean floors, tiles, and painted walls.
  • Window and Mirror Cleaner:
    Put 1/4 cup white vinegar in a spray bottle, and fill to the top with water. Spray on desired surface, and rub with a newspaper or a rag. Squeegee dry.
  • Toilet, Tub and Tile Cleaner:
    Mix 1/2 cup borax and add enough lemon juice to make into a paste. Wet the sides of the surface and add the paste. Let stand for a few minutes, then scrub off and rinse.
  • Rug Stains:
    Dampen stained area with water, and rub in borax. Vacuum when dry.
  • Oven cleaner:
    Mix 1 cup of baking soda with enough water to make a paste. Apply to surface and let stand for a few minutes. Scrub the surface with a scouring pad. Do not use this recipe in self-cleaning ovens.
  • Drain cleaner:
    Three words – Use a plunger. A hand plunger used every time the drain slows down will take care of almost any problem. In you need a cleanser pour 1/2 cup baking soda down the drain, and then 1/2 cup
    vinegar. Let it fizz for a few minutes. Then pour down a teakettle full of boiling water. Repeat if necessary.
  • Mildew:
    Make a paste from salt and vinegar and rub into affected area.
  • Furniture polish:
    Add 1/2 cup lemon juice to 1 cup vegetable or olive oil. Apply with a soft rag.
  • General air freshener:
    Simmer a pot of water with cloves, an orange peel and cinnamon.
  • Natural Pesticide:
    To naturally keep ants and other insects away, add a few
    teaspoons of orange oil to your green cleaning products. To kill
    ants that are already around, just spray them with diluted orange
    oil.

4. Plant a Tree:
No you don‘t have to wait for Earth Day or other holidays such as Tu B‘Shevat or Arbor day to plant one! Planting a tree can lower your cooling costs by up to 25% while reducing heating costs by 20%! They also make your home even more comfortable and provide a habitat for birds. Trees and shrubs that are placed properly can act as windbreaks shielding your home from the cold winds.

Photo courtesy: http://www.clipartbest.com/tree-planting-clip-art
Photo courtesy: http://www.clipartbest.com/tree-planting-clip-art

5. Optimize Your Water Heater:
If you don‘t have one, purchase an insulative jacket around your water heater. The jackets cost between $10-20. You can also insulate the pipes around the water heater. You can purchase pipe insulation for less than a $1for six feet. Lastly, turn the water heater down to 120 degrees. This will save you money
and prevent scalding.

6. Program Your Thermostats:

thermostat
When you set your thermostat back when you‘re not home or while you‘re sleeping, you can save 10% on heating and cooling costs. Program your thermostat to 78 degrees F or higher during the summer and 62 degrees F or lower during the winter. You can even recycle your thermostats. For example the state government of Maine has a program. Check online to see where you can do this.

7. Change Your Bulbs:
Replace those incandescent light bulbs with CFLs bulbs. The CFLs might cost a little more than the incandescent bulbs, but you‘ll save $100 per year with them while using less electricity!

cfls
CFLs, photo courtesy of the Department of Energy