Friday, August 29, 2008

Goodwill Goodies

The other day I mentioned the awesome Goodwill Travelin' Vintage Trunk Show and all the goodies I brought home. Here are some pics for your perusal (did you know that "perusal" actually means "reading carefully with intent to remember"?). My beau and I had a fun photoshoot in our living room.

Mixin' up a little Givenchy with Michael Kors (on a budget while still paying attention to our environmental impact by purchasing vintage).

Dress: Goodwill (no label) $4.98
Pants: Faux leather; bought in the mid-90s in some discount store; stashed in my closet since; converted from boot legs to skinny fit earlier this year.
Shoes: MICHAEL by Michael Kors; bought at DSW for $60! (close-up below)
Hat: Bought in Milan while on a trip attending the UN climate change negotiations back in 2003
Chains: Vintage. Bought at the Clarendon Flea Market ($25 for those and 5 others)




Jacket: Chocolate Velvet YSL
T-shirt/pants: vintage


Monday, August 25, 2008

When Shopping Actually Helps the World be Better

We've all heard of Goodwill. That is often the place you go to donate the things you shouldn't have bought in the first place, right? But did you know that it is also an organization that provides job training and assistance to people with disadvantages and disabilities? By selling the things people donate, it makes money to help others. And for the eco-fashionista, Goodwill is fast becoming a major source of easy basics as well as killer vintage finds.

I have been a fan of Goodwill for a long time (did you notice the Goodwill logo in my blog header?) and have found pieces (both secondhand and vintage) that have withstood the test of time (and closet purging). I like to drop by the Glebe Rd store in VA every chance I get. Although I usually find something to buy on every trip, it is often hit or miss - I may find many beautiful things . . . or just a tunic made in Peru . . . or just a vintage bow-neck shirt.

But, Goodwill DC has recently launched a great new way to stock up on some one-of-a-kind vintage finds: the Goodwill Travelin' Vintage Trunk Show (which has been highlighted in the right hand column in my new calendar feature - check it out).

Ms. Goodwill Fashion (a very entertaining blogger, who also works for Goodwill) expertly curated the selection of vintage pieces that were featured, which she had collected from local Goodwill stores. And, let me tell you, garments (and shoes and hats and purses) were flying off the racks last Thursday at the Marimekko concept store in Silver Spring. I was incredibly disappointed with myself to have arrived almost an hour after the starting time - the things I probably had missed!

All in all, the beau and I came home with the following (pictures coming soon!):

- 1 men's dark brown silk velvet YSL blazer, slightly (but perfectly) worn at the elbows;
- 1 dark blue THE LIMITED suede blazer, cut skinny, with a skinny collar (essential rock and roll attire);
- 1 LBD with little cap sleeves that fit like it was made for me (I love when that happens);
- 1 Lou Taylor leather handbag (with fun, gold edges), big enough for my little laptop, with a mirror (for touching up my Korres Lip Butter) and a change purse attached on the inside;
- 1 pair of clip on earrings made from little dark blue balls.

It was also great fun to hang out with some of DC's best known fashion bloggers from Fashion is Spinach and Project Beltway. We tried on outfits and giggled at ourselves. Good fun.

So, if you hear a rumor that there is a Goodwill Travelin' Trunk Show headed your way, make sure you get there early, because Ms. Goodwill's eye is stylishly sharp, the prices just can't be beat, and you will be shopping to make the world a better place.

Here are some photos from the trunk show:






EDIT: I forgot to mention that although Goodwill provided plastic bags at the event, they were BIODEGRADABLE!!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Eco-Neurosis: Fixating on Cucumbers (Local vs. Organic)

I embroil myself in all kinds of annoying conundrums about living a green life. For instance, take my latest: I just found out that at least one of the farmers that I buy from regularly at my local neighborhood farmer's market is "conventional" - meaning that they use pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and all kinds of ickle agrochemicals.

So the conundrum is this: is it better for the environment for me to buy cucumbers grown organically at Whole Foods, even though they were shipped in from some other state (therefore creating greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation - more "food-miles")? Or, is it better for me to buy conventional cucumbers from my local farm (less transport emissions and supporting a small farm), but also supporting the release of toxic chemicals into my LOCAL environment from the farm's runoff?

Locally Farmed Conventional Cucumbers or Organic Cucumbers from California?

Some questions that come up:

- What is each cucumber's share of emissions when being shipped from California (maybe they ship so many things that, per product, the "food-miles" are minimal)?
- How far does my local farmer have to drive to get to my neighborhood farmers' market and what are the associated "food-miles" per cucumber of that?
- Since Whole Foods (and, ack, Wal-Mart) is now trying to buy more organic AND more local, maybe the organic cucumbers at the store are not from too far away? Does that make a difference?
- Would my thoughts on the matter be different if our Chesapeake Bay was not incredibly polluted from agricultural and industrial runoff? (The "soup" of fertilizer, pesticides and sediment that flows from farmland after rain or irrigation is very damaging to local waterbodies.) Read more here about agriculture's impact on water (from Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations).

Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

Below is some further reading, which I have not done yet. I am going to read through the lively debate of "local vs. organic" and see what I decide. Honestly, though, I think I am leaning toward organic.

Grist: Local vs. Organic

Time: Eating Better than Organic

BBC: Local Food "Greener" Than Organic

PS - Photo is of me behind a very large cucumber grown by a member of the local 4-H on Cape Cod. It was during the Barnstable County Fair.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Feeling Crafty, Like a Bastard.

I'm excited to share that I have been accepted to be part of the Washington CityPaper's annual Crafty Bastards event. You're probably asking yourself, what would a blogger do at an arts & crafts fair? Well, over the last 5 years, or so, I have also made jewelry. I had my own online store (until a month ago) and did a lot of custom work and sold my wares at various boutiques, markets and shows around DC. However, over the past 8 months I have been focusing more on my MBA and my "day job" (or lack thereof), so the jewelry has been on hiatus.

There was also another reason why I scaled down my jewelry work. In 2007, I went through the process of applying to the Fulbright Program to do research on gemstone mining and how to make mining projects more environmentally and socially sustainable. Even though I didn't get the fellowship, I learned a lot (more than I ever wanted to know) about how environmentally damaging - and unjust - the gemstone and precious metals supply chain is. I felt very selfish indulging my creativity in a way that was so damaging to our planet.

Oh, but it's such a complicated issue. Precious metals and gemstones are only a small part of what humanity mines out of the earth. We extract all kinds of other things from the earth (coal, steel, nickel . . .hello, OIL!) that we depend on every day of our lives without even noticing. Plus, mining projects can actually be beneficial (if done in the right way) to the populations that live nearby. More on that, too. But later.

Even though I felt guilty, the jewelry bug kept buzzing in my head. So, I decided to look for more sustainable materials to work with. It took a while to come up with something that worked for my design aesthetic and how I wanted to price my jewelry (so that you didn't need to spend your entire paycheck on it). I still use silver, brass, some gold and semi-precious gemstones, but I have also started trolling flea markets for secondhand and vintage materials.

Here are two pix of my new designs (both incorporating leather from a vintage handbag):

I am excited about being able to reuse old things to make new things. That is really the greenest way to live. I hope to continue increasing the amount of vintage and reclaimed materials I use in my designs.

Maybe I'll see you at Crafty Bastards?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

American Apparel Opens Vintage Stores

American Apparel recently opened several "brick and mortar" stores and an Ebay store featuring vintage apparel alongside AA pieces.

According to the AA site, "California Vintage is a new concept from American Apparel, featuring hand-picked vintage clothing from the 1950's through the 1990's alongside American Apparel pieces that you might not find at our regular stores."

Here are some looks from their Ebay Store. What do you think?







Thursday, August 7, 2008

What I Learned at the Baltimore Aquarium: Take 2

Besides seeing amazing frogs and looking at rays swimming gracefully in floor-to-ceiling windows (here is a little video of the rays):

video

I also learned about the huge piles of plastic trash that are floating around the ocean, killing marine life. Contained by the ocean's natural currents, these piles are almost like huge islands of plastic trash. The largest of these garbage swills is known as the Pacific Gyre, or:

It is roughly the size of (hello!) Texas, containing approximately 3.5 million tons of trash. Shoes (those jelly shoes end up somewhere!), toys, bags, pacifers, wrappers, toothbrushes, and bottles too numerous to count are only part of what can be found in this accidental dump floating midway between Hawaii and San Francisco.

Even though there are dozens of marine life and aquatic organizations working to do something about the plastic gunk, amazingly, there is no effort underway to clean the mess.

Things you can do right here in DC to reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in the ocean:

Use less plastic!!!!
  • less plastic shopping bags (use a reusable bag for carrying),
  • less plastic sandwich bags (use a reusable wrap),
  • less plastic bottled water bottles (use a SIGG water bottle and filter your own water),
  • let your vegetables co-mingle (don't put each vegetable in its own plastic bag; I usually just throw the vegetables in the cart/basket - nothing will happen to your vegetables if they co-mingle and the talented check out people understand to weigh all the peaches together. They are smart like that.)
Pick up the trash!
  • If you see plastic trash in the street, don't just walk by, silently cursing your neighbors . . . pick that sh*t up! and throw it in the trash or your recycling bin (if the plastic can be recycled). No, it is not that gross - just wash your hands before you put them in your mouth again. What? You don't put your hands in your mouth? Well, then you have even less to worry about.
  • Why? Because a major way that plastic trash gets out to the ocean is through municipal (yes, urban) sewers. Besides, when trash collects in catch basins, it can cause the sewer system to overflow. Read more about overflow here.

What I Learned at the Baltimore Aquarium

Last weekend, my beau and I drove up to the Baltimore Aquarium to see the amazing frog exhibit. There were a number of reasons I wanted to check out the frogs.

First of all, I heart frogs. Frogs have been around for a long time - the earliest known frog appeared about 190 million years ago, during the late Jurassic period.

Frogs are also very important for the environment. Since they are very vulnerable to pollution. toxics or change in temperature in the environment (since they breathe through their skin), they are considered a "canary in the coal mine'' for environmental damage. The canary was used for detecting toxic or explosive gases in coal-mines, before there was a better way to do it. More sensitive to such gases than humans, they would collapse long before the miners were affected, and a collapsed canary was therefore a signal to the miners to get out immediately, and to management to look at the problem and clean up the mine. Frog populations around the world have showed increasing signs of stress in recent years. Some species have disappeared, and others are decreasing. There has also been an increase in deformities (extra legs, etc.). These are definitely signs that something is wrong.

It was amazing to see the frogs from all over the world. Here are some pictures:






Read more on frogs here.

Organic Fast Food? Oh, yes, baby!

Last week, I attended the opening of Organic to Go, a "fast-food" style eatery that just opened in downtown DC.

Quick facts about the cafe from their site:

- Based in Seattle, Organic To Go is the nation’s first fast food cafĂ© chain to be certified as an organic retailer by the USDA.
- Locations in four geographic regions: Seattle, Los Angeles, San Diego and Washington DC.
- All Organic To Go fare is made with organic ingredients whenever possible and is always natural, free of harmful chemicals and created with care."


I love seeing beautiful, fashionable folk out to support Washington's new green establishments (we are getting more and more every day!). So we took some pics! Beautiful people eating organic food and drinking organic beer makes for a perfect evening.

For all the photos, go here. (Thanks to Mark Silva for photography services.)






Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Vintage Goes Mainstream

Washington Post Express recently ran a story on vintage and secondhand fashions. Our e-friend, Ms. Spinach, worked on the story and got to style the cover image (great job!). Plus, she hunted through racks of vintage and secondhand items and found . . .wait for it . . . a vintage DVF dress for under $10!! Brilliant. Let's raise a glass to pretty fashions that are easy on the environment (and the pocketbook!).

Here is Ms. Spinach's outfit:

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