Eco-Friendly Finds - How to leave a positive impact on the planet, while staying trendy

Posted by: Candice Daquin

Even though you can pick up a vintage mink stole or eel-skin clutch purse on eBay for a fraction of the price a little boutique would charge, such frivolities are frowned on by the increasing eco-friendly warrior invading the fashion world en mass.

For girls used to chic without a conscience not quite ready to transition to Birkenstock’s but with good intentions,  this can be a little perturbing, how to combine a social conscience for the environment, without just paying lip service? Most of us walk somewhere in-between; wrestling between wanting to splurge on an extravagant pair of patent leather shoes and saving the planet. We don’t think individually we make a difference, but every choice we make, cumulatively is the choice between sending this planet into a tailspin or trying to change some of our unhealthy ways for future generations.

Many of us have seen Al Gores film An Inconvenient Truth and that use of ‘inconvenience’ sums up our attitude toward being EcoFriendly. Such reticence has led to the environment is being eroded and action is now not a luxury, it’s a necessity. How does the girl who wants glamour and conscience have it all? What do we have to sacrifice? It might be cool wearing Puma’s and Paul Frank on Saturday’s but what about when we want to put on the dazzle? Fortunately, the first thing I found out when I attempted to cut down on ‘bad’ products was how many companies have taken heed of the environment in recent years and what an array of great EcoFriendly products are on the market.

Firstly what do we mean by EcoFriendly?

Well that would be anything that can be recycled, reused, or comes from sustainable materials. Free-trade is good, items that can decay naturally, even better. In a world that makes too much, less is better, and can be a refreshing change from the rabid consumerism of every-day life. Even more exciting, once you really inform yourself about what’s out there, you realize many designers you love already make Eco-Conscious products, found all across Toronto malls, that include; Sam & Libby, Rocket Dog, Steve Madden, Sketchers and Diesel and the fabulous Montreal-based company Matt & Nat www.mattandnat.com/ who put Canada squarely on the Eco-Map with their widely loved cruelty-free vegan bags.

June 3 to 9 is Canadian Environment Week, but you can make a difference every day with little effort. Check with the city of Toronto www.toronto.ca./environment.days  for information about what you can do, and be sure to recycle as much as possible at home. In countries like Sweden, recycling has become so much the norm that houses are now built with three way trash bins, deliberately engineered to make recycling part of daily life. Canada excels in its implementation of recycling, compared to its US neighbor but it’s up to all of us to recycle habitually rather than when it’s convenient. If you live close to work you could cycle but short of that, use public transport, it’s faster than attempting to drive anyway and Toronto’s public transport system is less expensive and cleaner than many. Join the Toronto Green Community www.ntgc.ca/ and get involved, in an area of environmentalism that you feel is important.

Okay so maybe you’re not quite up to forest appreciation, but if you know someone who is, tell them to join Leaf Toronto, a group that does just that, www.leaftoronto.org meanwhile if the green life is beginning to sound dull, consider the vivacious florist www.ecoflora.ca  where flower buying no longer has to be a guilty secret, these florists are free trade and fully aware that the flower industry has been the subject of horrible abuses, the excellent film Maria Full of Grace being a good example. At Eco Flora you can indulge in the delight of flowers that are organic and grown locally, goodbye guilt-trips! At www.veg.ca – you can find out about vegetarian style, which while not synonymous with the Eco-Friendly movement, stands firmly hand-in-hand. Being veggie isn’t a prerequisite but considering what you eat and where it comes from isn’t a bad start. Organic meat can be found in abundance at The Healthy Butcher www.thehealthybutcher.com/about_us.html

If you want to be seen in the right places, head for a bite of delicious Asian-inspired food at Cafe 668 at 885 Dundas St. An addictive small chain for the health and taste conscious, offering a massive selection of mostly vegan food good enough to convince the most ardent carnivore the chain leaves horror stories of lentil burgers far behind in favor of exquisitely prepared dishes of little heaven, that set your taste buds on fire for more. If you want something trendy, you could drop in at www.livefoodbar.com, Canada’s premier raw food bar, and if that’s a bit too raw for you, try Dufferin Grove Organic Farmers Market www.dufferinpark.ca/market/market.html or one of the other organic markets cropping up in Toronto’s neighborhoods.

For staples and baby-products, household cleaners and the like, the excellent www.organicsonbloor.com has a huge range of organic produce and famous organic brands along with locally produced ones. Likewise www.grassrootsstore.com has a lot of locally made products that are biodegradable, non-toxic and organic, as well as catering to specific allergens. But if this definitely sounding a bit too tree, and not enough glamour, it’s probably time to visit the splendiferous Pure and Simple www.pureandsimple.ca the rapidly becoming ‘it’ spa with an organic and natural twist, offering excellent natural products for those of us sensitive to chemicals or just scared of them.

If a luxurious few hours of pampering doesn’t turn your head EcoFriendly then you haven’t tried their Lavere range of make-up, a German brand that like Dr Hauschka is free of all chemicals and perfect for those who get a rash just thinking about concealer. Likewise their excellent Surya henna not only colors hair but leaves it in better condition than pre-coloring and unlike most henna; it doesn’t turn carrot orange but comes in a range of realistic shades that slowly wash out.

All made-up, a savvy Torontonian EcoFriendly girl will surely realize that vintage clothing is perhaps a Eco-Warrior’s best defense after all, being not only second-hand but not using any valuable earth resources to obtain. Try the fabulous boutiques of Queen St W and Kensington Market areas swimming in both EcoFriendly awareness and vintage/second-hand clothes shops like the ever natty www.cabaretvintage.com/ or the equally divine www.gadaboutvintage.com/index.shtml

Drop off for a snack in Kensington’s Essence of Life (50 Kensington) or go for really endangered couture www.endangeredcouture.com/ a hip social environmental clothing brand and poke your head around www.freedomclothingcollective.com/ which gives the old meaning of ‘collective’ a very snazzy update.
By the close of such a blissfully Eco-Aware day you’ll probably be convinced that giving up a little bit of leather for much cheaper and equally stylish pleather might not be such a bad investment, although we hear Kate Spade’s begun her own line too. For a full list of companies who provide non-leather and fur alternatives go to www.peta.org/living/alt2.asp and check out http://www.torontoenvironment.org/ for the latest on how to do your part in Toronto.

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Jan 27, 2009 | joyasnaturales

I really enjoy many of the sites here! Thanks! I wanted to comment on a very interesting alternative for eco friendly jewelry: that made of seed and other materials found straight in nature, no need for processing, no pollution. Plus, seed jewelry is a great way to make people plant more seed producing trees to get the material they need to work instead of cutting them! Seeds come in many colors, shapes and textures, they are strikingly beautiful and some even have healing properties. Native tribes have always used them and in the Amazon many tribes depend on them for a living, if you contribute to buying seed jewelry you are helping protect the Amazon, home to so many animals, native communities, our largest water reserve and vital oxygen producing plants.

Submitted by:

Candice Daquin
London, ON, Canada

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