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6 posts from September 2010

September 26, 2010

Co-created Ready-to-Wear that's Good-to-Wear

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This month's Green Mom Carnival topic is on sustainable clothing [defined by the Global Organic textile Standard]. It's held on Diane's Big Green Purse and is a painful subject for me--it's hard enough to find something that is professional and flattering; adding the organic requirement makes it almost impossible to locate anything other than T-shirts and hoodies. 

I love yoga-wear, clothes that work with your body and made from hemp or cotton, but I can't wear them to work. We have to get beyond hoodies, T's and pants. Sweetgrass is a step in the right direction, but still has nothing that I'd wear to a board room. Maybe, that's the problem, we need more boardrooms with looser dress codes...

Then I found Mountains of the Moon, which puts form into fashion and bridges the gap between comfort of the gym and the brashness of a boardroom in a fresh, transitional way which any age group could feel comfortable wearing. The prices were reasonable as well, and the products are said to be made in a sweatfree, USofA shop. Most are of a hemp and cotton mix. 

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Screen shot 2010-09-26 at 8.44.38 AM This is exactly what I have been coveting, a dress that fits in a carry-on suit case, can be personalized with necklaces or scarves and I didn't have to stop eating for a month to afford or fit into them. I hope the fashion industry takes note. For the record, I'm the demographic that has money to spend. 

Still, as excited as I am for ready-to- wear that is also good-to-wear, I'm not seeing proof on their site that they are truly eco-friendly. 

Coral Rose posted an excellent introduction paper following the path of how a T-Shirt is made and all the impacts that simple garment has on the environment. GOTS mention above is the law of the free-market land for organic textiles, even Wal Mart pays attention to it. [See Coral at the Lenzing booth at LA's Textile show.] 

As a member of the business community, the decisions we make in our personal lives are just as important as the ones we make in our professional lives. China sends us billions of dollars of cotton clothing, 45% of the cotton it uses comes from the US, unfortunately it isn't green cotton. Who knew that the US and China were so woven together. Both sides are sinners in this exchange--the US for using so many pesticides on their fields and China for allowing their dyes to go directly into the watershed. Both sides can also be saviors, as decisions by individuals make the difference in co-creating a new, global market. 

Case in point, Coral was a change agent for green cotton while she was a Sr. Buyer for Wal Mart, her organic decisions were part of the reason that Wal Mart started down their path to sustainability. But her decision to put organic cotton yoga-wear in the stores would not have created such a stir in Wal Mart's boardroom if the other "buyers", women consumers, didn't purchase them.

We are all co-creators in this green market movement--we are the designers, the Sr. Buyers, the sellers, the consumer buyers, and the writers of sustainable textiles; a multi-billion dollar industry with global impact. What we do at each stage makes a huge difference in changing the world's economy into one that is good for us all.

Go girls. Walk the talk and wear it well. 

September 23, 2010

The Bigger Question is Why Wasn't This Done Sooner?

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This week Hillary Clinton announced a, “cross-cutting issue” that affects health, the environment and women’s status in much of the world. “That’s what makes it such a good subject for a coordinated approach of governments, aid organizations and the private sector.” 

The solution comes in the form of a not-so-everyday cook stove--one that on the $20 model is 50% more efficient, and with the "$100 model can capture 95% of the harmful emissions while burning far less fuel to produce the same amount of energy," according to NY Times article.  Smoke from open burning, "kills 1.9 million people, mostly women and children, from lung and heart diseases and low birth weight. Go here for the full article.

Clean burning stoves are an elegant solution to helping women, children and men have a carbon-free home, while not polluting the atmosphere from millions of fires and at the same time keeping more women safe as less fuel is needed and they don't have to forage as far in dangerous territories for wood. [thank you to good guy, John Broder for bringing the story forward]

But why wasn't it done sooner? It's such an easy and elegant fix for many issues; what held others from putting this idea from advancing? In a word, gender. That's not a criticism, it's a reality. If you don't touch the problem every day, you don't feel the issue. Around the world, cooking is women's work and because of that, it isn't on the top of the male mind to fix it. 

Hillary Clinton, a long champion of women's rights, is the spokesmodel for the issue along with Lisa P. Jackson from the EPA and others who have worked together to launch this project on a global scale. Granted, Hillary already admitted that she's not the type to stay home and bake cookies for her man, but she is sensitive to the issues of those who do and that's what makes the difference.

When gender is balanced at a partnership level, good things happen on a global level. Women's issues come to the forefront instead of overlooked. Under a "partnership" economic model, families thrive as well as business. In this case, nearly HALF the people on the planet use inefficient stoves in order to cook food. Providing clean burning stoves and replacing them every few years is a big economic boom to everyone in the supply chain.

It's proof that going green is a good thing for the economy even on its most basic level, and that the leadership for this change will be come from those who touch the issues everyday at home--women.

For more information contact Leslie Cordes, Senior Director of Partnership Development, Lcordes@unfoundation.org and check out www.cleancookstoves.org.





September 21, 2010

Changing the World and Picking up $100,000

Congratulations to all the recipients of this year's Heinz Awards; each received $100,000 to further their work. The foundation also directs a grant-making program that is active in a wide range of issues, principally those concerning women’s health and environment, health care costs and coverage, as well as pensions and retirement security. 

Women value, what they value and therefore, they earn the post position from In Women We Trust. 

Gretchen Daily, Ph.D., Stanford University and the Natural Capital Project (Stanford, Calif.) For her achievements demonstrating the financial value of natural ecosystems.

Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker, (Williamstown, Mass.) For her groundbreaking environmental journalism and devotion to informing readers.

Lynn Goldman, M.D., George Washington University (Washington, D.C. and Silver Spring, Md.) For promoting regulation of dangerous chemicals and expanding citizens’ right to know about pollution in their communities.

James Balog, Extreme Ice Survey (Boulder, Colo.) For his dramatic use of photography to document the devastation of global warming.

Frederick vom Saal, Ph.D., University of Missouri (Columbia, Mo.)  For uncovering health problems linked to the chemical BPA.

Cary Fowler, Ph.D., Global Crop Diversity Trust (Rome, Italy) For establishing the Global Seed Vault to conserve genetic diversity of the world’s food plants despite climate change.

Terrence Collins, Ph.D., Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, Pa.) For using “green chemistry” to detoxify hazardous chemicals and training the next generation of scientists.

Daniel Sperling, Ph.D., University of California, Davis (Davis, Calif.) For advancing sustainable transportation policies and accelerating the transition to low-carbon alternative fuels nationwide.

Michael Oppenheimer, Ph.D., Princeton University (Princeton, N.J. and New York, N.Y.) For assessing the impacts of global warming and air pollution, and working for policies to prevent future harm.

Richard Feely, Ph.D., National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (Seattle, Wash.) For his extraordinary efforts in identifying ocean acidity as global warming’s “evil twin.”

For a full write up on each go here.






September 14, 2010

OMG, are we really this bad?

When Humans Ruled the Earth from Stephen Ong on Vimeo.

Is Compassion Linked to Cash?

Will we be less compassionate of each each other when we earn more money? A study by researchers at University of California, Berkley call it the Scrooge Effect

Lead researcher for the study, Dr. Paul Piff, has an interesting interpretation of the findings. He suggests that compassion is a survival tactic; a tactic that only the lower class needs to cultivate as a means of maintaining their community. Then, when hard times happen, lower class folks have each other to lean on until conditions improve.

When we no longer need each other for mutual survival, emergency baby-sitting, shared housing, food... or our time to chat is limited, will our generosity as a gender go south as well? I wonder if the research would say the same thing.

September 07, 2010

A Reality Show, by Women for Women

I became a bit player in the In Women We Trust "reality show" the past two weeks. In the book I explored why women turn to each other for advice. In the real-life "show" last week i experienced the answer again and again as to why we are forming our our gender-specific groups at a time when we should all be "equal".

Screen shot 2010-09-07 at 4.11.13 AMFirst up, the Sales Shebang, where 25 female sales professionals came together in Chicago to share ideas and synergies. The women were gracious, giving, and very funny. 


A few days later I found myself in Pasadena at the Women in Green Forum with 300+ of the most engaging women leading sustainable practices in the Los Angeles area. 


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The realty is, it's just plain different when you have a room full of women talking or a room that's dominated by male discussion. The female style is more open, authentic and -- well -- real, real to me anyway and that's the difference on who I felt I could trust with information and who I couldn't. Because my guard was down, I was more open and didn't feel that anyone was holding back on me, either.  

At the Sales Shebang, trade secrets were exchanged as easily as emails. During the Women In Green Forum connections that would have taken months of cold calls were made in minutes. 

The big takeaway from both -- network convergence. Dots are being connected between the silos of disciplines. We may work in one sector, but we share with all.

By now everyone knows that women dominate consumer spending decisions. We are also moving into corporate positions for sales, marketing, purchasing and sustainability (congrats to Andrea Thomas) We may not be at the very top of the corporate food chain, but more of the decisions which effect that corporate bottom line are being made first by us -- that's a reality show worth watching.