Why You Need To Know About These 12 Endocrine Disruptors

 image:positivemed.com

image:positivemed.com

We all know that exposure to toxic chemicals is bad for us and just as we stay away from a hot flame, we also learn to stay away from things that are hurtful to us.  But what if there are things that are toxic to us in our daily lives in small doses that we are unaware of?  This is the case of chemicals called endocrine disruptors. They are chemical compounds that mimic estrogen and have the effect of blocking our body’s receptors in doing the job they are supposed to do.  You got it, they have a lot to do with messing around with our bodies and especially our hormones.  Because endocrine disrupting chemicals are similar in structure to natural sex hormones they interfere with their normal functions.  According to the World Health Organization endocrine disruptors cause a variety of health problems from skin problems, reproductive and developmental problems, damage to the immune system, disruption to hormones, and cancer.  

There are 12 primary endocrine offenders:  BPA, dioxin, Atrazine, phthalates, perchlorate, fire retardants, lead, mercury, arsenic, PFCs, organophosphate pesticides, and glycol ethers.  Many of these are so common and prevalent in our daily lives that they would seem benign, but they are not.

BPAs: Bisphenol A is commonly found in plastic bottles, plastic food containers, dental materials and the linings of metal food and infant formula cans.  It’s also in thermal receipt paper you commonly get from vendors at stores and restaurants because the thermal paper is coated with BPA clay which allows for inkless printing.  Analogous to BPA is BPS, Bisphenol S is also found in thermal paper, plastics and personal care products.

Dioxin: It’s a by-product of industrial processes involving chlorine.  You can find it in chemical and pesticide manufacturing, pulp and paper bleaching, and waste incineration.  Currently banned in the US, it took 27 years for the EPA to release reports on Dioxin and unfortunately they are highly prevalent in our environment.  Most exposure to dioxin is through the diet and accumulates in animal fat.  Also, if you were to use a coffee filter that contained dioxin, 40-70% of the dioxins would leach into your coffee.

Atrazine:  Atrazine is an herbicide that is one of the most common if not the first chemical contaminant of ground and surface water in the United States.  It is primarily used on corn and lawns.  Banned in Europe, the safety of Atrazine remains very controversial in the US as people criticize the EPA for what constitutes safe limits.

Phthalates:  Phthalates is a large class of chemicals used to soften up plastics and vinyl to make them more flexible. Phthalates are also used as binding agents.  They are used in everything from plastic bottles, food packaging, household cleaners, fragrances and personal care products.   In 2008 some phthalates were banned in children’s products however remain unregulated otherwise.  More recent research has also linked these chemicals to asthma, ADHD, obesity and TypeII diabetes, low IQ, neurodevelopmental issues, along with reproductive, male fertility issues and cancer.

Perchlorate: Perchlorate is an oxidizer that is used in propellants in solid fuel for rockets and missiles.  They are also used in fireworks, highway safety flares, common batteries, and automobile restraint systems. It has been found in groundwater.  It is primarily toxic because it disrupts iodide uptake in the thyroid. 

Fire Retardants: PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers) are a class of compounds found in flame retardants used in plastic cases of televisions and computers, electronics, bedding, carpets, sofas, lighting, car components, foam cushions, clothes,  and other textiles.   These are persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in that they bio-accumulate and persist in the environment. They are difficult to get rid of and are harmful in product recycling.  PBDE concentrations have been found in food, indoor dust and sewage.  It is toxic to the liver, thyroid, and neurodevelopment. It has been shown to reduce fertility.  Some states have voted to reduce or ban the use of PBDEs.

Lead:  Lead is a toxic metal that is found in old lead based paints and walls of old houses and toys. It was banned in 1978 in the manufacture of paints.  Occupational exposure is the main cause of lead poisoning today.  Today lead poisoning is usually caused by long exposures to small amounts of lead in paint, the air, water, soil, food and manufactured goods.

Mercury: Mercury is an element which is toxic.  It’s found in the food chain mostly in fish from contaminated waters.  Industrial mercury pollution is often in an inorganic form, but as it finds its way towards rivers and lakes it is converted to its most lethal form,  methylmercury.  For many years it was a part of different medicines including diuretics and antiseptics and used in dental fillings.   Today mercury is still used in LCD screens, fluorescent lights, and thermometers.  You might find it in old appliances. Mercury is highly toxic and can greatly harm the brain and liver, and wreak havoc on the body in various ways.

Arsenic: Arsenic is a chemical element that is found in many minerals and is used in alloys.  Used commonly in the semiconductor industry, it is the second most used after silicon.  It is also used in the production of pesticides, herbicides and insecticides.    Arsenic contamination of groundwater is prevalent around the world and affects many people.

PFC’s:  Perflourinated chemicals (PFCs) are a group of manufactured compounds that are used to make things for resistant to stains, grease and water.  These are found in surface protectant clothing, non-stick coatings, and in contaminated water and food such as fish.   These accumulate in the body over time.    Health concerns include the liver, thyroid, pancreas, and hormones.

Organophosphate pesticides:  These are the most widely used pesticides serving as insecticides.  They are used in agriculture, the home, garden, pest abatement such as mosquito, and in veterinary uses.   Farm workers particularly suffer from cardiovascular and respiratory disease and cancer. These pesticides can cause permanent damage to a fetus.  Organophosphates can lower testosterone and alter thyroid levels.

Glycol ethers -  Glycol Ethers are a group of solvents used in paints and cleaning compounds.  There are two classes, the E Series and P Series.  E Series can be found in pharmaceuticals, sunscreens, cosmetics, dyes and liquid soaps.  P Series can be found in degreasers, cleaners and aerosol paints, solvents and adhesives, and are marketed to have lower toxicity that the E Series.   Although ethers are biodegradable they have shown human exposure to be harmful to the lungs, liver and kidney, and have resulted in neurological and blood effects including anemia, fatigue and nausea.  Some studies have shown that exposure to ethers is correlated to low sperm count.

endocrine-disruptors.jpg

The scale of exposure and the magnitude of the problem of being exposed to these chemicals is not known; data is scattered, problematic and many times debated between different lobbying groups. However debatable the scope, it is particularly alarming that many studies that have been done around the world show declining sperm count and semen quality over the last 25 years.  It has been referred to as the “silent sperm” crisis.

Whatever is happening,  and whatever state of denial we find ourselves in, it is pretty safe to say that endocrine disruptors are not good for us.   If you can mitigate your exposure, it’s a good idea.

It may take extra effort to stay away from these chemicals, but as the effects are often accumulative, what you do now will not only help you today, but will also help your future self and those around you.  We'll be looking at some of the ways you can avoid these disruptors on our next blog. 

Behind the Brand: Smart is Beautiful with 4 All Humanity

Behind the Brand: Smart is Beautiful with 4 All Humanity

On the Million Woman March we celebrate the empowered women, the strong women, the independent women and the men and women around the country who know that Smart is Beautiful!

2017 Is the Perfect Time to Switch to Clean Organic Beauty Products

2017 Is the Perfect Time to Switch to Clean Organic Beauty Products

5 reasons that you need to clean out your cosmetic cabinet and switch to organic beauty in 2017

A few Ways to Sustainably ring in 2017

The New Year is always a chance for a reset. A chance for a fresh start and a chance to reflect on what we all want to improve on over the months ahead. Here are 5 easy ways to commit to being more sustainable in 2017. 

1. Buy clothing that adds value not stuff to your life. 

We all have closets that are jammed with our clothes. How many of those pieces do you wear each week? Worse how often do you have to get rid of (hopefully you're using Modacycle) your new favorite top or sweater, because it wasn't made to last. Buying sustainable, well made clothing that you can proudly wear again and again is so much more rewarding than only wearing something once. Even that thrill of buying something new wears off if you don't really love it. Treat yourself to fewer, better made clothes that you know are not only special to you but good for your health, the environment and others as well. Modavanti's badge system allows you to search by what matters to you most. 

2. Switch to a non-toxic beauty routine

Like our food, conventional beauty brands in every price range- from top-of-the-line to the eye-liner in your local CVS are full of toxic chemicals. Everything from shampoos and conditioners, lotions, face washes to wrinkle serums, deodorants, sunscreens and perfumes are loaded with chemicals that get absorbed through the skin. The average person uses 10 different kinds of products daily, which amounts to absorbing almost 130 different chemicals in your body. To make matters worse, there isn't enough research that shows us just how much these chemicals, some which are carcinogens, affect our health. That's why it's equally important to switch to non-toxic, organic beauty products. If you are unsure what ingredients are in your products or are looking for an easy source to find safe products, you can shop Modavanti and visit Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database to use their toxicity rating system (http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/).  

3. Give up meat a few times a week and make sure your fruits and veggies are organic

According to Emmy Award winning documentarian Shawn Heinrichs, giving up meat once a week is the shocking equivalent of saving the equivalent carbon emissions of 3.2M cars driving daily. If you are a big environmentalist or animal rights activist, it's one of best acts you can take to lower our carbon output. However, if you still love your steak, make sure to accompany it with organic vegetables from the farmers market. Non-organic fruits and vegetables are sprayed with as many as 60 types of harmful pesticides that their thin skins, and ours, easily absorb.

4. Get involved with an environmental organization 

There are so many great groups that are doing critical work to defend our environment and wildlife. Getting involved with an environmental organization like Sierra Club, World Wildlife Fund or Greenpeace is a great way to learn about environmental problems and be part of the solution. You can find local organization by state here: http://www.greenpeople.org/EnvironmentalOrganization.cfm
 

5. Yoga and Meditation 

Yoga and meditation are great outlets to find peace and quiet that have huge health benefits. Whether it's relieving stress and anxiety, decreasing blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, increasing production of the anti-aging hormone DHEA, increasing your flexibility or improving sleep, yoga and meditation are excellent natural ways to set yourself up for a healthy, happier 2017.  You might be a beginner at yoga, but you can look like a seasoned pro with Modavanti's athletic wear collection: http://modavanti.com/women-activewear/

8 Must-Read Books on Where Our Clothes Come From

8 Must-Read Books on Where Our Clothes Come From

What's better than laying in the sun on a warm summer day (or killing time on the subway) with a good book. Whether you're just beginning...

Fashion Faux Pas: How is The World’s 2nd Dirtiest Industry not a Topic at Climate Week?

Imagine going to an Italian restaurant and not seeing pasta on the menu. Or going to a parent-teacher conference to learn that math and science aren’t part of your child’s curriculum. Or signing up for a healthcare plan and discovering that none of your prescriptions are covered.

Welcome to Climate Week. With over 90 different sanctioned events throughout New York City, there is a gaping hole in the critical discussions taking place. Climate Week has failed to address the world’s second dirtiest industry: fashion.

Over the past 8 years since Climate Week was set in motion, fashion has barely registered, taking a back seat to finance, food, even faith.

It’s as if the whole industry is still recovering from fashion week. Important conversations on the future of green tech, impact investing, and smart cities are all ongoing while fashion sleeps off its hangover and silence emanates on the role it can play in igniting its potential to help solve climate changes.

Given its size and scope, environmental transformation of the fashion industry is the most under-reported and under-valued piece in achieving the UN’s climate change objectives. While fashion is currently the world’s second dirtiest industry as measured by the effects of its pesticide usage, toxic dye runoff into waterways, the sheer volume of waste (both manufacturing waste and post-consumer waste), and destructive water and land usage among other factors, accelerating the potential of fashion as a force for good could solve many of the environmental challenges being discussed this week while at the same time make the importance of climate change relatable to millions of consumers.

Fashion is uniquely positioned to unleash enormous social and environmental good. It is the only global industry that could affect change for almost all of the UN Millenial Development Goals including reducing waste and pollution, protecting lands and cultures, empowering women, ending slavery, promoting fair labor, and restoring biodiversity in our fields and waterways.

 Photo credit: Levis Strauss

Currently, cotton, chiefly grown for fashion, uses 22.5% of the world’s insecticides and 10% of all pesticides, while only accounting for 2.5% of agricultural land. The majority of these pesticides are laced with harmful toxins and cancer causing carcinogens. Within 20 years, the biodiversity of the sprayed fields are wiped out. Rivers and water sources surrounding cotton fields are often too toxic to drink from. Humans too, are affected. Between 25 to 77 million agricultural workers worldwide suffer from acute pesticide poisoning.

Organic cotton only accounts for less than 2% of global cotton production. Increasing that number even 5x would go a long way toward saving the earth and its people by protecting huge swaths of land and water biodiversity.

So too would decreasing the amount of toxic dyes in our clothing. As many as 8000 synthetic dyes, hundreds that are toxichttps://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/dyeing-textile-sector-water-risks-adidas, are known to be used in fashion production resulting in 17 to 20% of industrial water pollution worldwide. According to the UN, water pollution and water scarity are the two biggest impediments towards defeating extreme global poverty. Facts like that make the 1,800 gallons of water used to make a pair of jeans seem almost criminal.

Fortunately, companies have taken significant steps to address pollution and water usage. Levi’s has developed “water-less” demin production (a process that has been adopted by other denim brands) saving tens of millions of gallons of water per year. Companies like Color Zen are developing new ways to dye fabrics with minimum to no environmental footprint. Vegetable dyestuffs are now increasingly gaining market share.

Nevertheless, progress will be limited unless we tackle fast fashion and its insatiable marketing of consumerism that fuels the 1.2 trillion dollar a year clothing industry.

In 1950, 98% of Americans clothing was made in the U.S.A. Today, that number has been flipped. Only 2% is made here. Meanwhile, adjusted for inflation, the price of your average t-shirt and jeans has dropped almost 8x in that same time frame. It’s no wonder that when the shirt at an H&M in Soho is the same price as a burger down the street, we as a society no longer value the integrity of our clothes. This has led to a throw-away culture that acquiesced to Americans tossing 10.5 million tons of clothing a year into landfills (which accounts for 8% of all landfill waste).

Photo Credit: Bionic.is

Companies like Bionic yarn, which has created a stronger thread made from plastic water bottles, and Recover, which is able to recycle cotton, offer hope. So too does the rise of the slow fashion movement.

As long as fashion is not included in climate discussions, change can not fully occur. Until the industry and climate activists alike demand action, fashion’s potential as a force for good will be spun as a tale of regret.

5 Killer Jeans Companies That are Made in America

Donald Trump talks a lot about "making America great again,"  yet that famous hat, with that very slogan on it, isn't made here on our shores. When asked why not, his reply was that "it's very hard to have apparel made in this country," and nobody is willing to make stuff here.

Well, what Donald Trump says turns out not to be true. Here are 5 incredibly authentic, high-quality denim brands that are proudly making America great again. 

1. Baldwin Denim

A relatively new brand that's not even a decade old, Baldwin Denim has already made its mark with high praise and top marks from GQ and Vogue. Worn by the likes of JZ and Jason Sudeikis, Baldwin Denim is proudly made in factories in Kansas City and Los Angeles. You can find pairs for both men and women on their site starting for about $200

Baldwin Denim: http://baldwin.co/

 

2. BLuer Denim

A favorite of Row+Rue, Bluer is not only made in America, every piece of the jean is sourced here. From the cotton, to the recycled buttons to the zippers, everything is designed, handcrafted and constructed here in the USA. With offices in Portland and factories in L.A. Bluer is certainly making America great again. What's even better is that for a starting price of $90 these jeans are downright affordable. Grab your pair here:  http://www.bluerdenim.com/

 

 

3.  Buck Mason

Buck Mason was founded with the ideals of Americana at its heart. Their selvage denim is sourced from mills in North Carolina while their style eschews fashion trends for timeless design and durability. What makes Buck Mason’s so special is the simplicity with which they design their jeans. Constructed in L.A. Buck Mason is quickly solidifying its reputation as one of the best American Made denim choices on the market. Head over to Buck Mason's site to try a pair on: https://www.buckmason.com/

4. Taylor and Stitch  

Much like Bluer Denim, Taylor Stitch can proudly boast of a completely American Made supply chain. Each design is hand sewn in California with fabric sourced from Greensboro, North Carolina, hardware from Lawrenceburg Kentucky and leather from Curwnesville, Pennsylvania. This handmade approach means that Taylor Stitch brings an almost nostalgic personal touch to its designs. If you want to really feel throwback, you can go to one of its "workshops" to get an even more personalized denim experience. Another similarity to Bluer Denim is their matching killer price points. A pair of Taylor and Stitch will only set you back $100 further proving that American manufacturing can still compete! 

Taylor and Stich: https://www.taylorstitch.com/

 

5. Tellason Unlike almost every U.S. made jean company where the denim is made in L.A., Tellason is made in San Fransisco and the brand seems to capture the mix of bold innovation and imagination that defines the region. For founders Tony and Pete launched attention to detail and quality were indispensable. Eight years since launching Tellason, it looks like they are on to something. Unlike the others on this list, Tellason jeans are more of an investment with most pairs well above $200. However, if you can afford the luxury, you won't regret it and you'll keep these bad boys for years. 

Tellason: https://www.tellason.com/

Raise A Glass To This Smart Innovation From Saltwater Brewery

Raise A Glass To This Smart Innovation From Saltwater Brewery

Raise a glass to Saltwater brewery who has developed a new six-pack case that is biodegradable and safe for turtles to eat!

Fashion Designed to Help Refugees

Fashion Designed to Help Refugees

This fashion designer created the very definition of "fashion for good."

7 Organic Products to Solve Your Summer Beauty Emergencies

7 Organic Products to Solve Your Summer Beauty Emergencies

Most of us love the warm, sun-kissed days of summer - when we don't have to look cute, that is. Stepping outside into the humid, sticky...

Up Smart Your Morning Routine (and Save the World)

Up Smart Your Morning Routine (and Save the World)

We talk a lot about bettering yourself here at Row+Rue, but sometimes we forget to mention just how important your environment is...

7 Reasons Organic Cotton is Better for Our Health + The Planet

It's great to see so many millions of Americans reject the nasty pesticides and chemicals in our foods. But what about our clothes?

Pesticides from regular cotton have been known to show up in mother's breast milk as well as have been linked as the main source of cancer in thousands of American farmers each year. If these pesticides can get into our blood stream, than how is it different than if we were to ingest them in our food. It's not. Organic cotton is critical to our health and that of our planet.

Here are 7 ways that organic cotton is better for all of us.

 

1. Organic cotton has less pesticides

Conventional cotton accounts for only 3% of the world's farmland but as much as 25% of the world's pesticides and insecticides. That's nasty. The cotton industry gets away with it because we don't think these toxins can harm us if we don't ingest them. False!

Meanwhile, Organic cotton must be pesticide free for 3 years before it can be certified organic.

2. Organic cotton uses less water

Not only does organic cotton pollute our waterways 98% less than conventional cotton, organic cotton also uses less water period. This is because organic cotton is a rotation crop meaning in order to protect the soil (see above) farmers rotate organic cotton rather than plant it year after year. Rotational crops help the soil maintain its nutrients which allows the soil to better absorb and hold water. After 2 crop rotations, organic cotton will need less water than conventional cotton.

3. Organic cotton is higher quality

Conventional cotton growers use harvesting machines to harvest the cotton. These machines often mix together the seeds and oil of the cotton, producing an impure crop that is then cleaned with harsh toxic chemicals that and dyes (some which contain heavy metals) to give it the shiny white color we have come to expect. Organic cotton on the other hand is often still handpicked. In addition, even when it is machine harvested, organic cotton farmers must replace traditional toxic dyes and bleaches with mild natural detergents. Besides being healthier for the consumer, the natural detergents are also much better for the cotton as the harsher dyes often weaken the cotton fibers leading to tearing, pulling and stretching of the fiber.

4. Convention cotton uses more land

Unlike conventional cotton, organic cotton farmers are required to farm their fields in a responsible manner. Top soil must be preserved and other methods must be implemented to conserve the soil.  Meanwhile there is no such stipulations for conventional cotton farmers. Worse, the traditional methods ravage the earth because of all the pesticides and force farmers to consistently expand their land in search of more fertile fields.

5. When you buy Organic Cotton, it won't come with flame retardant. 

Flame retardant is a known ingredient that has been known to be mixed in with conventional cotton shirts. Enough said.

6. Organic cotton is non-allergenic

Have a bad case of the allergies? It actually might not be allergies at all. 1/8 Americans mistake sneezing, wheezing and coughing for allergies, when really they are allergic to the pesticides in their clothes!

7. Organic Cotton Protects our farmers

As many as 10,000 U.S. farmers die tragically (and needlessly) each year from cancer related to pesticides from... you betcha, conventional cotton.

Moral of the Story: Organic cotton is better for you, better for the environment. You can do your part in protecting our earth by switching to organic.

 

Talk Dirty To Me: Explaining Ethical Fashion To Friends

We came across this story from a friend on Facebook. She already gets it (you'll figure out what in a little bit). Anyway, this story is so good and covers basically our eternal life struggle that we had to share it in its original form.

Here's the intro (below). Please read the whole article here from Remake.com For those of you in the sustainable fashion, you'll get this. For those of you not, take notes. Enjoy:

"Remember when, a long time ago, the words “organic” and “GMO” were big downers, and instead of being cool and eco, organic food lovers were seen as hippie weirdos? Whole Foods wasn’t always filled with sexy, yoga-pants-wearing kale eaters. At some point in our recent past, granola and kombucha were super strange, and the people who consumed them were even weirder.

Now think of a bright and sunny display of organic fruits and vegetables, a wall full of coconut waters, and a packed grocery store filled with reusable bags and glass water bottles. Welcome to 2016! This is what the people want! According to the Organic Trade Association, organic food sales have increased from $3.6 billion to over $39 billion in the last ten years. (That’s a lot of kale, people). What changed was simple economics: consumer demand drove the trend and now all of a sudden it’s really cool to be that kombucha-loving weirdo.

But for anyone who has tried to approach their friends to talk about ethical fashion (as we have!) thinking surely this will be the next organic food, here’s an interesting fact: people don’t like the truth. Shocking, we know, but a number of recent studies including one by the Harvard Business Review concludes that not only are people uninspired by conscious fashion, they are downright annoyed by people who do care. Finding them to be weird, unfashionable and boring.

Sharing the truth behind the true cost of our fashion is important. But it’s as important to practice how to talk about it. Here are 3 tips to rock sustainable talk without coming off as preachy and being tuned out."

Curious? Read author Allison Doyle's tips here. 

 

 

 

BEYONCE, WTF?!? The Queen No More?

Queen Bey could do no wrong... or so we thought. The whole elevator fiasco after last year's Met Ball? That was all Solange. Her performance at the Super Bowl? Screw the critics. That was raw, heartfelt and powerful. Lemonade? That's Jay-Z's fault and he better get in line.

After all, there's a reason she's the Queen. But reports coming out that Beyonce used sweatshop labor?!?!

Beyonce are you kidding us?!

For the better part of the last decade, millions of us have looked up to Beyonce as a singer, performer, leader of pop culture, feminism, black power. But now... Reports are coming out that her her new athletic-wear line, Ivy Park, was made by women hailing from rural villages in Sri Lanka earning pennies an hour. Essentially, sweatshop coerced labor. Essentially, these young women were paid $6.17 cents a day for 10 hour shifts, six days a week. That works out to .60 cents an hour. What's worse, the Sun reported MAS Holdings factory in Sri Lanka, uses “poverty-stricken seamstresses” who are "exploited and treated like slaves.

What makes it particularly bad, and the salt on the wound, is that when Beyonce launched Ivy Park earlier this year, her stated the aim of the clothing line was to “empower women who want to look and feel at the top of their game.”

“My goal with Ivy Park is to push the boundaries of ­athletic wear and to support and inspire women who understand that beauty is more than your physical appearance. True beauty is in the health of our minds, hearts and bodies,” Beyoncé reportedly said while launching the brand. “I know that when I feel physically strong, I am mentally strong and I wanted to create a brand that made other women feel the same way.”

Somehow Beyonce's vision of empowerment seems limited to her consumers.

As one employee at the MAS Holdings factory in Sri Lanka told the UK Sun Newspaper, "the talk of female empowerment is just for the foreigners. They want the foreigners to think everything is OK.”

In a statement, Ivy Park stood by what it called its “rigorous ethical trading program." (Something we don't believe for a second and will be investigating further).

“We are proud of our sustained efforts in terms of factory inspections and audits, and our teams worldwide work very closely with our suppliers and their factories to ensure compliance,” a spokesperson for the clothing brand told the Sun. “We expect our suppliers to meet our code of conduct and we support them in achieving these requirements.”

We've heard this before.  The sad thing is, that in this case Ivy Park/MAS Holdings Factory is likely not breaking any laws. In fact, the minimum wage in Bangladesh is $68 a month. The current salaries the women are being paid are close to 3x that amount, which speaks more about the problems with Bangladesh's labor laws than MAS Holdings Factory or Beyonce.

Of course, paying $180 a month isn't exactly empowering young women either.

As a team that has long revered Beyonce, we are particularly stung by this revelation. We have long been advocates of the beliefs Beyonce has espoused: progressivism, equality, feminism. But our work lies in promoting and advancing sustainable fashion and here she has failed greatly. Exploiting child laborers doesn't take away from Beyonce's past accomplishments but it does make them ring hollow, at least the part about empowering women. 

Shouldn't we as leaders aim to empower all women and not just those we deem consumers that can afford what we are selling? Shouldn't good business practices be progressive values? And shouldn't Beyonce know better? Pleading ignorance doesn't work anymore. Whether we've spent years on tour or years researching labor rights or anything in between, we all know that exploitation in the fashion industry is happening. How else can you make a t-shirt for $10 (for the record Ivy Park's prices are higher and again she through Top Shop/MAS Holdings is paying 3x minimum wage). How else can you find jeans for $20? Only willful ignorance could hide you from this truth.

Ultimately,  Beyonce's the boss. Ivy Park might be sold in TopShop and produce by MAS Holdings Factory in Bangladesh but Beyonce makes those calls. If she wanted the line produced in the US or made by hundreds of brands that faithfully and fairly employ artisan women as a source of empowerment and not vassalage, she could have made it so.

But she didn't. And to us, you can't speak about women's empowerment if you choose to wear something made by "poverty-stricken seamstresses” who are "exploited and treated like slaves."

We have always rushed to Beyonce's defense in the past, but on this, we won't. Instead we hope that the fallout will make future stars that enter fashion think twice about where they make their clothing.

Make Your Home More Sustainable With These Must Have Items

Who couldn't use a little brightening up around the house this time of year.  Throwing holiday parties and family gathering, it is always nice to have a new look that brings the whole room together.  Now I'm not talking a whole new make over, extreme style, though wouldn't that be nice.  I am talking about three pieces you can add that not only catch the eye of any visitor, are a breath of fresh air to your kitchen, living room, etc., and they make you feel good as well as look good. I know sounds like a lot of work for such a sublet change, but these are not your ordinary room accents. 

 

1. First off we have the pillows. Pillows can be added to any sofa, chair, or window seat and add instant color, comfort and be a great topic for discussion.  

The Decorative pillow covers in Mod Pod Green Apple, Pumpkin Orange and Teal by Tilonia  has artisans who handcraft their designs to deliver a one of a kind product because they are hand made each varies slightly from one to the next.  All of the profits fund the educational training programs for the artisans who create these amazing products.  

2. Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the most conscious of them all?

We all know Americans are the most vain. We might pretend that "mirrors add more light" or that "mirrors add depth to the room," but reality is that we really just like looking at ourselves. Guess what? There is nothing wrong with that. If we are going to put mirrors everywhere why not hang mirrors that fit your values. Try these recycled/sustainably crafted mirrors from one of the coolest home goods shops Bambeco: Antique Blue Medallion Tin Mirror, Antique White Floral Tin Mirror, or this Reclaimed Wine Barrel Ring Mirror.

 

3. You can never run out of ways to use bowls and baskets throughout the home. 

Indego Africa and the artisans who hand make their products truly have a skill for creating these bowls and baskets. The Hanging Flower Pot in Pink - Peace Basket Triangles - Silver Plateau Basket - Geometric Gold Plateau Basket - Orange Burst Plateau Basket are all unique features that instantly change the scenery they are placed in. All of the profits fund educational training programs for the women who handcrafted these pieces. 

 

 

Pharrell Williams On Doing Good Through Fashion and Philanthropy

 PHOTO: COURTESY OF G-STAR RAW VIA REFINERY29.COM

PHOTO: COURTESY OF G-STAR RAW VIA REFINERY29.COM

A music icon, Pharrell's journey into doing good through fashion, started with his first major investment in Bionic Yarn, a company that creates threads from recycled PET - plastic water bottles. As Pharrell's role in the company expanded to creative director, he realized the unfathomable amount of plastic that we throw into our seasons each year, and the potential of his fabric. This lead Pharrell, to get involved with G-Star Raw helping them to launch the company's sustainability focused line, Raw for the Oceans. So it only made sense that Pharrell would become co-owner and head of imagination of the brand this past February.  

After integrating Bionic Yarn into G-Star Raw's denim production in 2013, Raw For The Oceans was born a year later. “We decided, let’s do it, let’s make the first jeans ever, in the world, made with recycled ocean plastic,” said G-Star Raw CMO Schaeffer. “We had a radically short research period — it’s not like you get a nice, clean package of plastic bottles; we had huge containers [of ocean debris], filled with Barbie heads and lighters, and we had to figure out how to turn that into jeans.”

“Here’s the thing" adds Wiliams. "We’re not shoving it in your face — if you’re wearing it, you’re supporting our issue to be sustainable — [the cause] in the clothes,” Williams told Refinery29 “We think the best billboards for people aren’t the ones up in the air, because those get changed out. It’s the ones you’re going to keep for a long time: You keep your denim. Even when you’re not thinking about it, when they’re hanging in your closet, that’s a statement right there in your closet." 

Since Raw For The Oceans launched two years ago, there have been four collections, which have been comprised of approximately 10 tons of plastic per collection. Last year, the brand used an estimated two million plastic bottles and 1,000 tons of plastic debris in its products. 

Talk about impact. As for what's next for Pharrell. Well he hopes to incorporate Bionic Yarn more fully into all the G-Star Raw collections and to get it into the hands of other brands. 

After that? Who knows, the sky is the limit for this socially conscious rockstar. Stay tuned. 

In the meantime, click here to shop the Raw Collection:

Moral of the Story: Doing Good and Looking Good has never been easier. Look around you. There's a ton of waste. Now go figure out a way to turn it into something good. 

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