Tuesday, October 28, 2008

More Tips on Green Halloween Costumes from Around the Interwebs

Wear your green heart on your sleeve.
Make a statement about the future of the ocean.
Or, just find something to do with that broken umbrella.

Check out these sites:

  • Choose from "Global Warming", "Green Business" and other green issue costumes at this helpful site (no pix though).

  • Martha Stewart always comes up with interesting ways to create unique costumes that are not that resource intensive. Her focus is on small details that create the character. I especially like the black umbrella bat (I am sure there are plenty of broken black umbrellas around since its been so rainy and windy in DC the last few days.)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Off With Your Heads!! (and Other Thoughts of a Green Halloween)

Halloween has always been the unofficial kick-off to my favorite time of the year - celebrations with family and friends (my birthday), fancy dresses (and costumes!), good food . . . and the opportunity to do it all in the greenest way possible. I love the challenge of entertaining and gift giving that maintains my commitment to style AND (eco-friendly) substance.

We just held our Halloween party last night. Like all of our parties, I worked hard to make it as green an event as possible, while still creating a fun atmosphere for our guests. Its a little more complicated with Halloween, because I always want to decorate the house - plus, there is that whole costume thing. This makes the event more resource intensive than just having some people over for food and drinks.

Here are some of the things I did to make our Halloween get-together green, without being "crunchy" (and without spending a freakin' fortune):


Queen of Hearts Costume:
Dress (Ebay); Gold Cord; stick-on felt for hearts on dress.
Found: plastic water bottle for crown.
Owned: fishnet stockings; vintage red boots; 2 small crown brooches.

Mad Hatter Costume:
Bought: Poster board for hat; plaid pants from Goodwill (not shown)
Owned: all other clothing; material and ribbon to cover hat; stuffed mouse

(Note my friend Mike's creative use of sunglasses, a paper bag and white paper. Brilliant!!)

  • Be creative - a little goes a long way!!
  • Try to buy as few new things as possible!
  • Use what you already own, just purchase a few key details.
  • Borrow a costume from someone.
  • Shop at Thrift stores for costume-y pieces.
What I did:

Our "theme" (although all of our friends usually ignore my fruitless efforts to actually have a theme) this year was Alice in Wonderland. Instead of buying my costume, I constructed one out of various secondhand, craft materials and things I already owned. I know, some people will say "I'm just not crafty - I can't do that" - but it is actually much easier than you think. Here is what I did: Since I went as the Queen of Hearts, I bought a used red prom dress on Ebay. With a few quick hand sewn stitches, two pins that I already owned and some stick-on felt hearts, I was done. I constructed my crown from a discarded plastic bottle (which I actually picked up from the gutter outside of my house - love DC), gold ribbon and some wire (I hope to post a tutorial at some point). The boots I wore are vintage and were purchased almost 6 years ago at Eastern market (I just KNEW there would be an opportunity to rock them!) I already had the fishnets.

Mark's Mad Hatter costume was basically a combination of various pieces of clothing from both our closets. The plaid pants were from Goodwill and I constructed the hat from poster board and fabric (luckily, you can't see my sloppy glue gun effort . . . btw, my glue gun is the best $4.99 that I ever spent. It's great for fixing hems, fixing things around the house, all sorts of crazy craft projects . . . ) I used this great tutorial for the hat. I had the small stuffed mouse.

  • Reduce waste (don't use disposable plates, glasses or utensils).
  • Use recycled and biodegradable products.
  • Buy organic and local food and alcohol.
  • Recycle and compost whatever is left.

What I did:

Partyware: First of all, we never ever ever use disposable plates/glasses/or utensils . . . and not because it isn't the greenest way to go, but because its effing TACKY. Seriously. You are a stylish person, you live in a well decorated house, you're wearing an expensive dress, why would you use Dixie plates? Is loading the dishwasher an extra time really that much of an effort for you? Some people may say, well, I just don't have enough plates, etc. for an entire party. What I say is, there are plenty of ways around this!! First of all, you can easily load up on party ware at your local Goodwill stores for just a few dollars. There are LOADS of serving trays, dishes, fancy glasses, pitchers, etc. there for sale (and no, it does not have to match!) You can also BORROW partyware from friends. Lastly, why not ask your friends to bring a dish with them when they come? Don't be shy to share your reasons for this request - green is so hip right now, you'll be given extra props for doing it the right way.

Drinks: Each time we entertain, I think that I am going to invest in a keg for the occasion. It is probably the greenest thing to do: kegs are made from steel, which is N. America's most recycled material. There is also no waste from bottle and caps - and no resources necessry to make them in the first place! Unfortunately, I am much too much of a beer connoisseur to have only one type of beer at my parties. But, we do recycle all the bottles that are used (you would be amazed at how many parties I've attended where there was NO recycling!) Although I had wanted to buy some organic brews this time around, they were just a bit too expensive for our underemployed household.

Food: We purchased food from the Takoma Park Co-op. This included cheese made without hormones and antibiotics, from cows that were ethically raised; organic fruit; and various other organic and natural ingredients for some of the things we made. For napkins, we used Seventh Generation paper towels folded into napkins. We composted anything that we could including used napkins (yes, I actually picked through the trash to find the ones that were thrown away since I forgot to mention to people not to thrown them out) and any veggies.


(Note playing card garlands! AND, note Mike's cotton ball bunny tail . . .)
  • Use things that you already own.
  • Re-use decorations saved from other events.
  • Borrow decorations from friends.
  • Make your own with easy on-line tutorials.

What I did: Of course, the best part of the Halloween party for me is the decorating. I LOVE decorating - it really helps to set a festive mood. First of all, I used tissue paper streamers that I had saved from a Valentine's Day party several years ago. Then, I found some old packs of cards (that we never used), punched little holes in the tops and used hemp twine to make streamers. I have to admit that I did purchase 6 plastic flamingos on Ebay that were probably made in China (I know, I know, but I HAD to have them since this was an Alice in Wonderland soiree). Instead of having a table centerpiece, I made a mobile of printed out Alice characters. (I got the illustrations from this blog). I also had meant to make a big banner that said "Off With Their Heads!!", but we ran out of time. Oh well. Next time.

So there it is. I hope that this helps you make you Halloween just a little bit greener.

Have fun!

As always, special thanks to Mark Silva Photography. And check out his blog here.

Monday, October 13, 2008

More Press For Our Little Blog, Baby!

Secondhand Savvy

2 Shoppers Hit 5 Thrift Stores in 1 Day. Do They Discover Deals, Or Duds?

Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, October 12, 2008; Page N01

"Unless you've been buried under a mountain of summer clothes, you know that the economic forecast is not sunny these days. And no matter how you spin it, a half-off designer dress isn't really a bargain if it's not in your budget. Intrepid shoppers that we are, we decided to apply our skills to the world of thrift shopping.

But be warned: Neither of us are experienced thrifters, able to spot a vintage Dior dress amid a rack of musty polyester blouses. We're at opposite ends of the enthusiasm spectrum, too. Holly is drawn to the challenge of digging for sartorial treasure; Michelle cops to being "too prissy" to comb through castoffs. Still, we'd heard heaps of praise for secondhand shopping: You'll often find more high-quality, long-lasting items than at H&M et al., and it's easy on the wallet and even easier on the Earth.

"Making something new takes a lot of resources, creates a lot of waste and has serious environmental impacts," says Maria Fyodorova, who writes the local blog Righteous (re)Style, which promotes eco-friendly shopping. "You will get many more style points from wearing unique, often one-of-a-kind pieces than you would get from buying everything at a mass-market chain store."

read more here!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

More About the House of Sweden

Read more about the House of Sweden event at Foto Vida blog - here.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Eco-fashion Stops by DC - Part One: Lost in Translation?

On Friday night, I attended the lovely House of Sweden for a party and fashion show for Nudie Jeans, a Swedish company that is getting way hot in the US and, to my great interest, has committed to a corporate mission that takes into account its corporate social responsibility. [As a matter of fact, on the day before, I had attended a very interesting seminar – also at the House of Sweden - that focused on “Clothing and Conscience” (more on that later on my other blog: The Good, the Bad and the Tacky)] Back to the part-ay.

For a few short hours (before the untucked button-down crowd rolled in), stylish Europeans mingled with DC’s hipster crowd on the roof deck of the House of Sweden (which also serves as the Swedish Embassy). They enjoyed the setting sun and looked at reproductions of t-shirt designs that Nudie Jeans commissioned from various artists and designers to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to benefit Amnesty International. The night progressed with a fashion show highlighting Nudie’s jeans and t-shirts for fall, and 4 or 5 pretty amazing designs that were made from reclaimed vintage denim. Unfortunately, most of the attendees (at the least the ones I talked to) had expected to see a show that mostly highlighted the recycled denim designs, which didn’t end up being the case. As for the rest of the fashions shown . . . well, at this point, I would like to say that I am not a fashion writer, nor do I play one on TV. I am just a writer who happens to have an interest in fashion and a passionate awareness of how things we do affect the living world around us. So, for the fashion side, all I will say is that the line seemed rather um, uh . . . urban . . . ? T-shirts and jeans and plaid shirts and peacoats and hoodies . . . you can only be moved somuch by a skinny guy strolling past in a pair of skinny legged jeans (sliding off his butt) and a t-shirt. And the emotional impact decreases further with each passing skinny guy in skinny legged jeans . . . It would have been nice, as Rachel commented, to have been able to get a close-up look at the jeans and to feel the organic cotton t-shirts.

That said, I am excited by Nudie’s commitment to its social and environmental responsibility. During the seminar on Thursday, the founder of Nudie, Maria Levin, spoke rather eloquently about her company’s commitment to the people who help make Nudie jeans (the cotton growers, the indigo makers, the tailors, etc.) and to the surrounding environment. There is nothing I love better than a hip company that is also aware. They are few and far between, kids.

But, there seemed to be a bit of a disconnect between what the company was saying, and how they were presenting themselves that night. Image is everything in the US and first impressions count. Although the party was laid-back cool with hot dogs and American beer (um, ick?), there could have been so much more done to communicate the message of what Nudie jeans is doing in their supply chain to the party’s attendees. Small changes, like serving a few organic beers or offering meat alternative hot dogs (don’t laugh, they’re yummy!) would have been a small, but memorable way to show the attendees that Nudie “walks the talk”, as we Americans like to say. And the slideshow – did anyone even mention anything about the slideshow being projected on the wall?? Companies that are trying to operate responsibly are tasked with a dual burden – revising their own approach AND educating the consumer on why they should care that the company is revising their approach. Nudie missed an opportunity to get the guests at the party to understand the real attraction of buying a pair of their jeans – its not the perfectly faded denim or the fact that they used models with tattoos or that (according to the denim buyer from one of the NYC Bloomingdales) Nudie jeans always sell out – it is that by investing in a pair of Nudie jeans, you are helping a company change the way things are done, one pair of saggy-butted, skinny-legged jeans at a time.

We should all support companies like Nudie – who publicly stand up and talk about change. And maybe its like reviewing a restaurant within the first month of opening since Nudie is just so new to the US market. In any case, if you need a new pair of jeans, consider heading over to the Denim Bar or Barney's Co-Op to get yourself a pair (esp. if they are one of the 20 styles made from organic cotton, yo). This blogger approves.

Now that my blabbering is done, here are some photos.

The Show

The Crowd

Look for more photos here soon.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Trashy Style, Yo

I love this bag from YSL:

But with a price tag of almost $2000, I am guessing it is NOT made from old zippers. But why not? It could be!! Here are some awesome bags made from things that would otherwise end up in a landfill:

Ashley Watson makes all of her AMAZING bags from reclaimed leather. $345 (Buy here.)

Another Ashley Watson Bag. $104 (Buy here.)

This great bag is made from scraps of Knoll fabric that would otherwise end up in the landfill. Made by Ouno, available via Etsy here. ($140)

This sweet little clutch is made from reclaimed vintage upholstery (prob. from an old sofa cushion or something). Avail. on Etsy here. ($120)

This eco-friendly handbag is made from 2 layers of factory excess industrial wool felt
and has a zipper sewn around the edges. Get it here (via Elsewares, a very cool site). ($115)

These last two are made from some thing I never expected . . . wait for it . . reclaimed car upholstery from the 70s and 80s!! Find them at Kim White Handbags. $95 and $105.

Righteous (re)Style Gets Press. Niiiiice.

From the Washington Post's Express:

"What's old becomes very new again, thanks to Yuppie Decor, an Arlington-based furniture rehab business that sells its pieces at Georgetown's Maison Living (2601 P St. NW; 202.337.1731). "Antique furniture is better built, has better lines and is more stylish," says Aaron Hase, who co-owns the company with his wife, Shannon (both pictured). "But a lot of it doesn't fit peoples' style today. So, we take antique and mid-century furniture and revive it in bold style." This often means painting Grandma's chair or tuffet a high-gloss black or white and reupholstering it in a punchy textile. Think an old Hollywood-style chaise covered in a modern black and white floral ($550) or a black antique boudoir bench upholstered in a bright green print ($115). It's all very Tory Burch goes to Palm Beach, but Yuppie pieces would play well in both modern or traditional interiors. And, really, "purchasing secondhand furniture is the greenest way to go," says D.C.'s Maria Fyodorova, who runs the popular Righteous (re)Style blog. "It gives you a unique piece that no one else will have."

read more here . . . .

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