I found my Birkenstocks from college recently. I took them out of the closet and stared at them a while. Then I got to thinking about footsteps, and eventually, footprints, and how a few years ago, a carbon footprint was something you might have thought was a fun thing to do at the beach. Now, the messages are out there widescreen. Save the Planet. Global Warning. Everywhere, it seems, we are surrounded by reminders on how to make green choices in the way we live, work, and play. Organic soaps. Electric cars. All natural clothing. No matter where you look, it seems like the latest accessory is a social conscience. While the first Earth Day was in 1970, it’s really Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth “ that has gotten the environmental ball rolling lately, and now there’s a domino effect. Vanity Fair and Town & Country both recently published “green” issues, and The New York Times regularly features articles on organics, including a recent story about Park Avenue socialites having the equivalent of Tupperware parties in their penthouses to launch new organic cleansers. Daytime talk show hosts are having on air “green fests.” Scarlett Johansson, Gwyneth Paltrow and Julia Roberts all drive a Toyota Prius to show they take CO2 emissions seriously. It’s not only mandatory, but outright chic, to be green. You might have even noticed a new lingo out there—“ecostyle,” “ecorazzi “(ecoconscious celebs) , “ecocert” (certified ecological), “ecotecture,” (New York Times architecture section, May 20,2007).
Everyday decisions can have a huge impact on the environment. The government recently launched a new web site, http://www.epa.gov/stewardship/, with tips to help your business be more sustainable. But if you want to go beyond the “basic green” and also have some fun, here are tips that prove that ecofriendly and chic can go hand in hand.
First, whether it’s your home or office, get cleaning! If you think for a moment this is unglam, take a look at who is setting the trends these days. Actor turned eco chic entrepreneur Ed Begley, lately called the “greenest man in Tinseltown,” is touting an all purpose cleanser, “Begley’s Best,” with ingredients like olive seeds and fermented sugar cane roots, and of which are biodegradable. This is something to consider, when the average household contains anywhere from 3-25 gallons of toxic materials, most of which are in cleaners.
Second, treat yourself to organic skin care, the latest trend in eco chic self-care. Stella McCartney recently launched “Care,” a unisex line that features the first luxury fashion label to launch a skin care line. Yes to organic lemon balm and apricot—goodbye petrochemicals and silicones.
Third, go clothes shopping the eco chic way, and buy environmentally friendly garb made of organic hemp and other natural fibers. Interest in buying organic fashion products increased to 18 percent of consumers in 2006, from 6 percent in 2004. The recently launched “Big Ideas for a Small Planet” on Robert Redford’s Sundance Channel, featured a story on Linda Loudermilk and other designers who focus on eco chic fibers and clothes. Other companies like Patagonia allow customers to bring in their old clothes so they can be recycled into new polyester garments. Good bye pesticides, hello bamboo.
Fourth, buy and eat organic. There’s nothing like the boom in Whole Foods Market to reflect the change in public perception that health food is more then granola. In fact, according to the Organic Trade Association, organic produce sales are expected to grow 7 percent by 2010. Want dessert? Indulge in organic Fair Trade chocolate. You’ll be in good company – the organic chocolate and candy market grew 49 percent in 2005, with sales totaling $49 million.
If all this “ecosampling” leaves you ready for a vacation, just try one of the many ecofriendly destinations and travel packages that are booming across the country. From Costa Rica to the Galapagos Islands, eco-friendly practices are being embraced across all levels of tourism. Even the Marriott hotel chain is walking the walk, opening up ecoconscious resorts and showering customers with green tips. So pack up your hemp eco-luggage, and don’t forget your Birkenstocks. I finally tried on mine just this morning, and I was pleased to see they still fit me pretty well. Almost just like new.