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Archive for the ‘fashion’ Category

Treasured Trash for the Feet on The Beach

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

by Tao

We’re starting to shed layers here in NC. My whole body sighs a big Ahhhh, when that happens, but my feet are the most joyful this time of year. I spend yoga time barefoot, of course, but otherwise, I’m a wool socks and boots person for almost half the year. So, when warmth hits, I want to go as naked down, er, there, as possible. My latest pair of sandals came from and are made from hemp and recycled tires. Love ’em, but like most people, I usually gravitate towards the good old flip flops. (BTW – Rocket Dog has partnered with Soles4Souls to provide shoes and other relief supplies to Haiti.)

So, this art installation/shoe recycling project profiled by Oregon really floats my surfboard! Dawn Stetzel, Portland artist/entrepreneur, has been collecting lost beach footwear at beach clean-up events, making art, and now working on a line of “Beach Found Footwear”. Cleaned up and revitalized, this is definitely trash turned to treasure. Contact Dawn at

A People Towel to call your own – No more paper towel use.

Friday, December 4th, 2009

By Tao, Carrboro, NC

Remember my post about alternatives to using paper towels for hand drying? These 3 ideas are still echoed throughout the green community – nothing high tech or complicated: First, businesses can install hand dryers – they have an energy cost (solar options should be forthcoming??) but do save a lot of waste.

For those of us out on the street, the simple solutions are cost-free: my personal favorite is to shake well, then use the seat of your pants. Of course, the third choice is much more civilized – carry with you one of the many cloths you have at home – doesn’t everyone have a bandana tucked away somewhere? Or an old, soft t-shirt to cut up? Everyone uses backpacks, fanny packs and handbags to carry around a lot of stuff anyway – including a reusable shopping bag and water bottle, right? So throw in your cloth and, and voila, no more paper towel use. (I throw in two and have a reusable napkin, too.)

If you’re the type who likes things “official”, then check out PeopleTowels – a big square cloth that you can keep with you for drying your hands after washing! They are made from 100% organic cotton and come in some nifty colors and designs, so hanging it outside your bag is like an accessory.

Can I now say, I told you so? We don’t have to buy anything new to take up this eco-habit, but hey, I’m not going to argue with a great idea. So, whether you decide to go cowboy style, t-shirt, or are dying to fly your eco-freak flag on your bag, just say no to paper towels and napkins.

(photo from

Bicycling – Fashion Friend or Foe?

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

Bicycle commuting is on the rise. Tough economic times may be a factor, though in anthropological terms, I have a feeling style and the times have a lot more to do with it.

And what about style and biking? Is it possible to combine the two? Not much hope if you’re an actual cyclist. They definitely deserve our awed admiration as they move along – 50 miles at a stretch – at speeds higher than my town’s speed limit. But in all their aerodynamic sleekness, I would not call them stylish (I know because I’ve been there and I felt a lot of things while breezing along those country roads, but stylish was not one of them.)

So what happens to those of us who happen not to be a “cyclists”, but a normal person who happens to ride a bike? As I’ve mentioned here, somewhere along the line – consciously or not – I made the shift from cycling to bicycling, finally pawning off my lycra shirts and shorts on Craig’s List. And it’s much more part of my identity than it was in my past life. As a result, I prefer not to look like a geek on my bike, but like, well, my Fashionable Self.

Take a look at this video of riders in Copenhagen, where “there is no bike culture – all culture includes the bike.” And it shows, not just by the fact that 36% of the population rides daily, but because they look damn normal to me – normal enough that I can see myself as one of them. If you think of this same scene in the U.S., it is most likely not as inviting to the average plumber (I mean, person).

Will gearing up for the ride become a thing of the past? Will enough of us ride through our fair cities that bike paths and shelters will pop up everywhere? Will we embrace a sort of slow bike movement that will allow us to be more safe as well as stylish? (Notice that the riders in Copenhagen don’t feel the need for helmets.) Writer, David Colman explores those possibilities in this article and finds out how we can solve the tricky questions faced by 2-wheeled city commuters who want to look like they still “mean business” in no-other than our own NYC. (Interesting article and photos introducing the latest NYC “It Object”, the Dutch bicycle.)

That helmet thing – ? I realize I’m playing with fire here, but it may be the clincher that shifts the mainstream consciousness into a whole new gear.

O Christmas Tree (or not)

Monday, November 24th, 2008

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

Snow fell the other morning – those big, fat, quiet flakes. There’s no denying Winter’s approach – or the onset of holiday cheer and conflict. Some of us process the holidays more than celebrate them, but love it or not, it’s part of our culture – part of our life.

Greening the holidays has not been so painful – in fact, I’m hearing more about the way people are remaking their experience into one that is more quiet and meaningful than they’ve previously known. Less eating, less stress, less buying yet more giving  – less being more has not been an elusive concept to grasp.

What is your biggest question this year when it comes to your holiday re-processing? Gifts? Food? Travel? Or is it to tree or not to tree? In my eco-infancy years, I opted for an organic farm-raised tree – it was beautiful but expensive and still something that I had to watch wither away in the end. The year of the ice storm brought the opportunity for a wealth of fallen boughs, put in pots in every corner of the house and yoga studio. The next year, I covered two old wooden rocking chairs with lights and homemade decorations. I chose an outdoor tree last year and covered it with edibles for wildlife.

The Cardboard Christmas Tree is here and it’s not only recycled, reusable and recyclable, but it’s bursting with creative potential for family and friends. The cut-out pieces are included, in a variety of holiday shapes – ready for your creative touch. And, you have to admit, it’s got that modern-chic look! The Cardboard Christmas Tree was designed and developed by Cloud Gate Design, a Chicago-based design house founded by two friends, Dan Green and Nick Ng.

The tree is shipped flat and profits from sales of The Cardboard Christmas Tree are donated to Trees for America, where for every dollar, a tree is planted in a damaged forest. Purchase here.

(Photo from Sustainable is Good)

Rawganique…and Inspiration – a crooked path

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

There really are no coincidences. No mistakes, no accidents. This is how the journey happens, I promise. Just remember to keep your eyes, mind open.

There I was, in the woods with the dogs (again). We somehow disturbed a nest of yellowjackets – the dogs got the worst of it – those buggers burrow right into their fur. We got into a creek fairly quickly and I was pulling the stubborn bees off the dogs as fast as I could. I felt a few stings on my hands, but kept going until a bee found it’s way down the back of my jeans  – eek – sorry, girls, you’re on your own now! We finally outran the swarm and collapsed on the grass near the house.

BEE STING REMEDY: Within about 15 minutes, I was able to give the homeopathic remedy, Apis Mellifica, and a dose of baking soda dissolved in milk to all of us. (It works great if you can act fast!). Ayla’s eye swelled but went down again within 30 minutes of dosage and, as for me, I barely knew I was stung after an hour (I normally react to all bee stings with long-lasting pain and swelling). Moral of the story? Keep these remedies on hand, especially in the Fall, when some bees become more aggressive. But, the story has really only begun…

At this point, I realized I had thrown the leashes somewhere in the woods. I bravely returned to the scene of the crime that evening, but since the leashes were leather and the color of the ground, I couldn’t locate them. This is when the unfolding began. Need leashes…but I don’t want more toxic nylon or leather…time to search for more sustainable options. Of course, Hemp! I knew they were available, but I didn’t know how much I would learn and be inspired by the company which offered me the most simple, undyed version.

Rawganique made my day. Not just with the discovery of their many good for people and the planet products, but with their inspiring, hopeful and unambitious story of life and work. The founders of Rawganique, Touch Jamikorn and Klaus Wallner, former accomplished academics, set out to share information on sustainable living for humanity and the environment – and a way to live lightly and work mindfully. Living completely off-grid on Denman Island, BC, they co-founded a “human-scale” family business in 2000, replacing bad goods in the marketplace by offering products and clothing made of naturally organic and sustainable cotton, hemp and linen.

Their About Us page reads like a good book – one that leaves you hopeful and encouraged to find your own way to peace and balance in your life and in your work. They don’t take all the credit for finding their way to success, health and wholeness, but share the names and ideas of those who have guided and inspired them along the way. After all, this is how it works.

Watching. Listening. Sharing. Growing. Healing. All from a few bee stings~

Umbrellas are Forever – think Eco-Umbrella, think Recycling, think Fashion

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

It’s been raining – a lot – here in the Triangle area of NC. I’m deeply grateful to be officially out of the longstanding drought (for now). I hope the same for other areas still struggling by, but first, I’m going to simply enjoy getting wet! It’s been a long while since I’ve worried about raindrops falling on my head but it has brought my attention to umbrellas.

Have you ever had an umbrella that didn’t fall apart after a very short time? Me neither. Most rainy days in any city end with umbrella skeletons scattered in the streets. You could have caught me red-handed, throwing them in the trash when I lived in Seattle years ago, but I’m much more savvy about recycling and the whole trash/treasure thing now! Obviously, there are a lot of other broken umbrellas in the landfills (or on their way) and since they are made of polyester and plastic, doomed to stay there.

I’ve since given up on umbrellas and opted for a more permanent rain jacket and rain hat. But it’s understandable that umbrellas still serve a rightful purpose for city dwellers navigating a work day. So, buy to last and buy recycled. Here’s the scoop on an umbrella made from recycled materials from the online source, Eco-incentives:

The Eco-Brella is the first environmentally friendly umbrella! This 6-panel telescopic umbrella, when folded down, is just 15cm in length, and weighs a mere 181g.

– Frame made from Recycled Steel and Aluminium
– Canopy and Case made from 100% Recycled Polyester
– Notch/Runner/Ferrule made from 100% Recycled Nylon
– Handle made from 100% Recycled PET (plastic bottles)

Even a recycled umbrella may reach an early demise, so then what? Think fashion, function and fun! Dresses and skirts made from umbrellas made it onto the runway (and into a few stores) years ago, but you can also make your own by following these DIY instructions on ReadyMade. Here’s a young designer who constructed a dress and handbag. TreeHugger reported on an umbrella house. My own ideas include a sleeping bag cover, book bag, and covers for a bicycle seat and panniers – both things I’ve really needed as I continue to commute on two wheels, computer in tow.

IdealBite helped me find one resource for umbrella recycling – a fashion store in Brooklyn, NY, called Ai Ai Gasa, collecting umbrellas to recycle into designer clothing. I’m thinking of taking up a collection around my neighborhood and sending them a box full (maybe I’ll get a dress out of the deal). Melanie, from Ai Ai Gasa, responded to my inquiry and will happily accept umbrellas by mail. She says it’s easier and cheaper if you cut the fabric from the metal skeleton (including the spoke ends if you can) and recycle the metal (or they can). Send to:

ai ai gasa
c/o melanie mcclintock
59 4th ave, #4R
brooklyn, ny 11217

Good Humans Make Lists

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

Do you like lists? I do. A to-do list is like cliff notes to a good book, only the book is your life. Each time I look at my list, I’m reminded how much there is to do, to share and to be. Even if I don’t “do” everything on my list, the things that drop off most often lead me to another place, idea or action. Lists also help me remember the more mundane things that make up daily life, you know – chop wood, carry water – which is, of course, what brings balance to life and helps you stay humble.

And I like looking at other people’s lists, just in case there is something I haven’t thought of yet. (Ever found one in the street? You can’t help looking at it, right?)

I came across several lists today worth sharing. One is from my favorite eco-blogger, No Impact Man. He and I have both posted several green-minded lists over the last year – his new list of eco-steps is up to 40. He must like lists, too.

The other is a compilation of lists on Although this site is supposed to be known for being a family owned and operated leading retailer of environmentally responsible products, lists make up much of their site. They call their steps, “Guidelines” and cover every topic I could think of. Each section has a very long list since it is an interactive site where you can add your own, which is a cool idea since there’s always something someone hasn’t thought of yet. Or, maybe we have, but never wrote it down. Writing it down is always a good idea for humans like us because we tend to be not all that aware in the moment. I’ll tell you the topics so that you will be enticed to go visit soon:

Clothing, Education, Entertainment, Gardening, Government, Health, Household, Housing, Nature, Personal Finances, Pets, Relationships, Transportation, Travel. It’s interesting that the topic with the biggest list is “Relationships” – reaching 141 -  which must mean that the most important reminders we need are to be kind and realize that we are all in this together.

The lists don’t skip the obvious things, but I think it’s a good idea to write down things like, “Tip street performers, Let the cocktail waitress through the crowd, Wash and reuse the plastic cups after keg parties, and, Be nice all the time”, so that we remember that the little things really matter.

Instant Messaging – Wear it Well

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

Words matter. What your read online, in the news, in magazines and books, what you see on signs, or scrawled, graffiti-style, on brick walls. It all becomes part of our consciousness and eventually, part of our belief systems and actions, whether we know it or not.

Now, we can wear our messages on our chests (hearts?) since the printed t-shirt is still alive and well. Here are some favorites that I like to wear, but it’s my sister who sports quite a collection of green and other message T’s. She wears them when waiting tables early mornings in Tahoe (where she works to support her singing and acting habit) and says they prompt customers to strike up interesting conversations (and sometimes extra tips). Beth thinks it gives everyone the opportunity to talk about things they may not be aware of yet.

That’s the important part – being aware. Being Awake. And now there’s people out there making T-shirts to inspire us to do just that. My Time To Wake Up says to Be Aware or Beware”, one of the many reasons they offer these cool mens, womens and childrens t-shirts made from organic cotton and bamboo. Supporting the organic textile industry is a wake up call in and of itself – as we try to conserve water, and save nature, wildlife and ourselves from dangerous pesticides – but their web site offers much more than that. Some of many inspirations from :

“Our goal is to do our part in bringing about urgently needed change in our world by highlighting the need to Wake Up to the problems that exist, but more importantly to Wake Up to the need to take action.

We humbly look at our earth friendly clothing as small beacons of light. When you wear it you are saying that you woke up and got involved in something that you believe in that helps your fellow man and that you are urging others to do the same. A small effort by many can mean a huge change for all.”

(The shirts in the photos are not from MyTimeToWakeUp. To see their shirts, go here. Be A-Wear!)

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