Greening or Green Washing Gucci!

Gucci's Green Range

My initial reaction to the launch of the Gucci ‘zero-deforestation’ handbag collection was a combination of disbelief and suppressed excitement. Excitement… if I saved enough I could possibly buy myself an awesome bag that is sustainably produced. Disbelief… nothing is ever as green as it seems, intentionally or unintentionally.

One of the biggest “issues” in my life is trying to balance my love for pretty-blingy-fashiony- baubles and my need to be sustainable and minimize my impact on nature…. This is not an easy issue to overcome… however, I try to not fall for the pretty things that the world throws my way by buying long-lasting classic items of clothing that are sustainably and equitably produced etc. Unfortunately, as we already know labels and greening campaigns etc are often nothing more than green wash and marketing campaigns that have little sustainable substance and tend to complicate matters.
So I set out to determine whether I could buy a bag from Gucci’s Green range without negatively impacting my ecocred.

On the plus side the range;
•Is made from zero deforestation-certified Amazon natural calf-skin leather hand-and originating in Brazil
•Is crafted with craftsmanship respecting important environmental issues such as traceability and anti-deforestation.
•Involves Gucci pledging to donate 50,000 euros to the National Wildlife Federation, an organization that works to promote sustainable, ecologically-sourced Brazilian leather.
•Only organic cotton is used in the construction of the bag inners.

On the negative side:
•There is no (know) independent non-fashion industry related audit or traceability process to prove that the leather is in fact Zero deforestation-certified. Each handbag comes with a “passport” that provides the history of the product’s supply chain going back to the ranch that produced the leather. There is no evidence to suggest that the passport is audited by a reputable organization etc
•We know that organic cotton is not necessarily good for the environment due to production processes, and agricultural practices including child labour, large water footprints and mono-culture etc (See previous ecocred articles on organic cotton and Victoria’s (not very angelic) Secret and the Levis article.)

So where does that leave me and my attraction to shiny-fashiony baubles?

Well… I like the idea and concept and applaud the effort. I would however like to see a more integrated and holistic approach to the marketing of the range of bags that discloses the fact that certain aspects of the bag may not be as sustainably produced as initially thought, such as the supposedly organic cotton. My reasoning behind this is that by being honest about the challenges that we face in creating totally green and sustainable products we are in fact increasing the knowledge of consumers and also making people realize that is it not a simple thing to produce 100% sustainable and equitable products. A product having some sustainably sourced and produced components does not comprise a sustainable product, if other unsustainably sourced components form part of the same product. Such knowledge could help consumers move to more sustainable consumption patterns and also better understand the complexities and challenges related to enabling a transformation to sustainable production and a sustainable economy.
Maybe, Gucci need to disclose the not so 100% greenness of the bag and use the opportunity to show how they intend to and hopefully eventually get to the point when they can truly say that they have a range of bags that is truly green. This would in my humble opinion be a more honest and credible and sustainable way of marketing the Gucci Green range.

So in conclusion, yes I would like a Gucci bag, though, I think I need to wait and save up for the bag as well as to see if the bag is in fact as green as all the hype!

References and additional reading
Ecocred Victorias Secret Article
Monga Bay
Luxury insider
Gucci Green Carpet challenge
Ecocred Levis article

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Victoria’s (Green Wash) Secret Highlights Why If You Want To Be An Angel You Need To Act Like One!

In the latest we didn’t know but we will be looking in to it story the Victoria’s Secret “Pesticide-free, 100% rain-fed cotton. Good for women. Good for the children that depend on them.” range has been exposed for using cotton that is not so good to children and not really Fair Trade. (For more information on this please click on the links at the bottom of this post!)

Victoria’s Secret LTD thought they were sourcing fair trade cotton… and so they thought they were being good global citizens…. As did the Victoria’s Secret die-hards (and a few not so die-hards) who thought that by wearing the Victoria’s Secret undies (and other little bits of lace and stuff) they would not only transformed into looking like a Victoria Secret Angel… but also be doing quite an angelic deed.

So where does the blame lie? Does the blame lie solely with Victoria’s Secret LTD? Or with the fair trade certifying body? Or the consumer? Things to consider when buying / consuming …

  • Paying premiums for organic and fair-trade cotton has — perversely — created fresh incentives for exploitation (www.bloomberg.com). This applies to most areas where there has been a realization that there are profits to be made in the next big thing…greening, green wash… etc
  • A consumer cannot abdicate ethical, moral, green decision-making by leaving the “big, green, ethical” issues for fair trade certifying bodies, multinational organizations, politicians etc.
  • Just as not all that glitters is gold… not all that is labeled green/ good/ ethical etc is green, good or ethical.
  • Don’t be a gullible consumer.

The same principle applies to carbon credits, the green economy and the climate change COP17 discussions etc Just because the politicians, leaders etc fly around the world and meet to discuss things like emissions reductions, sustainable development and the green economy transition it does not mean that they are in fact guiding us towards a more equitable and sustainable future. We each have a role to play and leaving the big decisions to the worlds “leaders” is not going to get us any closer to an equitable and sustainable future.

Additional reading:

What Is Victoria’s Secret? Actually, It’s Child Labor

Victoria’s Secret to probe child labor claims

Victoria’s Secret Revealed in Child Picking

Extras, Ethical Consumption & My Paul Smith Handbag Crush

I think it particularly important that the extras, luxuries and nice to “haves” that one buys are the ones that need to go that extra mile not just to show value for money but also value for the environment and ethics.

The BAG! (www.paulsmith.co.uk)

(This post should have been or could have been entitled “I am no greenie saint….but I try in my own little way… now please can I have that bag!”)

Being a “greenie” and wanting make the greenest, most ethical and earth-friendly decisions is not always easy. In fact green decision-making and consumption is fraught with speed-bumps and pot-holes in the form of green wash, the misrepresentation of products as green, ethical, sustainable and or ecological friendly. Green, sustainability and environmental issues have been hijacked and often products are labeled as green/organic etc when in my opinion they are pretty far from green or good for the environment or the consumers. In many instances i try to buy green, ethical or sustainable products but end up buying products that don’t quite fit your/ or my idea of ethical, green or sustainable. A few examples are;

  • Organic produce that ends up having the most awful carbon miles, having been shipped/flown in from a far off continent.
  • Buying a natural, recyclable etc product but it has been made in a sweatshop with GM cotton or some other nasty type of raw material.
  • Using a natural face cream (that doesn’t harm animals) but has resulted in the monoculture and deforestation (resource inputs such as palm oil, shea butter etc) of large tracts if land which has negatively affected the biodiversity of an area.
  • Installing solar panels in your home in an attempt to reduce your carbon footprint only to find out that the panels are produced in a far off country that doesn’t really mind if you the solar panel factory is polluting the catchment within which it is located causing the ill-health and loss of livelihoods to entire villages etc….

And there I was thinking that I was making ethical consumption choices that would help the planet …. ??

So what is one to do….??  I guess in order to retain ones sanity and not over think each and every thing you end up consuming, the most logical thing make a difference where you can. The approach I take in trying to be a green consumer entails not blindly buying into advertising, green wash and misinformation etc by reading labels and using some logic. For me this implies (among other things)… trying to restrict my consumption patterns to;

  • Needs as opposed to wants.
  • Buying local, organic and ethical and making sure where possible that the claims about the product are not simply green wash.
  • Being logical about labeling and checking labels
  • Staying away from overly processed and packed products
  • Staying away from GM… though this can be very difficultly considering that GM produce is not always labeled etc
  • etc…

Sometimes my wants become needs… (often this relates to fashion items… which surprisingly have quite poor green/ethical track records…given that fashion is often regarded a luxury etc ) and then I try to find a “good green thing“ about the lust-have product that is hopefully not negated by a long list of really bad things about the product/lust have that is occupying my every waking moment.

My latest lust have is a handbag. More specifically, a Paul Smith handbag. Not being a brand hag but really liking nice things…. I was initially quite confused by my need for this specific bag….. however, it seems that I have fallen hopelessly in love with the handbag.

It is a multi-colour, leather bag that would work with almost all of my clothes… in other words it is almost perfect. I would be able to wear it for a good few seasons ..(I don’t believe in blindly following the glossies or what the fashion gurus say is the it item etc so I don’t mind wearing stuff that is considered as being “ohh so five seasons ago)… so I think the bag would be a good buy. I could probably use it until it falls apart, and / or is recycled into something else or used by someone else. I could see myself being a little old lady and still using the bag…in other words I would be willing to commit to the bag….

It would seem that I have already justified the addition of the bag to my world…. But when I tried to research Paul Smith and their environmental/ sustainability policy, to try to shut up my conscience and make me feel better about wanting something that I don’t really need… I didn’t find any information!? Is this even possible? In this day and age surely I am not the only person wondering what this particular brand thinks/ does etc about being more ethical, sustainable and green?

Maybe they are taking the highroad and not green washing their products until they can stand by all their green and ethical claims…?  … or maybe the brand is just not interested in ethical or green consumption?

Please can someone tell me that I am wrong? I really would like to be able to find something positive, ethical or green about Paul Smith?  And I really would like to buy the bag…..

Touch Lightly This November: Three Easy Things You Can Do To Increase Your ECOCRED

Closet waiting to be recycled!

The following is a list of quick easy and good green things you can do this November that will contribute towards reducing your/our impact on our planet and saving you some money.

1. For the book-worms, you could go paperless and start reading ebooks (if you haven’t already). For those who say that the whole thing about reading a book is holding it and smelling it etc… I say try something new for the planet… I used to be one of those who needed a proper book to read from, however I gave ebooks (kindle iPad app and apple bookshelf app) a shot and found that the benefits are great and include:

.

  • Never losing your page. Whenever you reopen the book/file you will automatically find yourself where you left off. No need for bookmarks, dog-eared books and forgetting your spot.
  • The Kindle app has a thesaurus. This is great, even bespectacled book-worm like me (sometimes) need to check the meaning of words
  • You can highlight phrases and sections without permanently damaging the book and you can see what phrases etc that other readers have found interesting and highlighted.
  • You can have all your books with you are the same time without having to lug an entire library around with you. This is particularly great for travel!! And also for reference and when you forgets parts of stories.
  • Ebooks are often cheaper than “real” books.
  • you could also recycle all your old books and donate them to a library, charity or educational facility.

2. Recycle yours and other’s wardrobe’s. You do not always have to buy a new pair of shoes, item of clothing or jewelry. Simple changes in your wardrobe and fashion related buying habits can save a great deal of resources, energy and emissions etc. A few tips are:

Vintage Jewelry

  • Re-sole and re-heel your old pair of favorite shoes. I often get really upset when an old favorite pair of shoes starts to look a little worn or old or needs a new heel etc. Until I found a really good shoe repair place. I have just recently had one of my wardrobe staples re-heeled and re-soled and they are back to perfect and I didn’t have to worry about having them replaced!
  • Old jeans can be cut to make shorts or bermudas.
  • Maxi dresses can be hemmed or cut and turned into shorter summer dresses.
  • Shirts can be taken in or modified to suit the new season trends.
  • T-shirts can be dyed, tailored, and tweaked with the help of lace, glitter and paint (lead free of course) etc
  • Scarves can be used to accessorize outfits and change looks
  • Raid your aunt’s, uncle’s, mother’s, mother in-law’s, granny’s, sister’s wardrobes and jewelry boxes for vintage pieces that can be used to add a bit of flair to your wardrobe. I have found many a gem in my mother’s and mother-in law’s wardrobe!

3. Instead of buying fresh flowers to brighten up your office or home grow your own flowers. Cut flowers even though regarded as “natural” have a significant impact on the environment. One has to look at cut flowers from a holistic perspective and consider things such:

Roses

  • Carbon and ecological footprint of the cut flower industry
  • Water use for growing and storing the flowers
  • Costs and emissions associated with the refrigeration and transport of the flowers.
  • Costs associated with maintaining the optimal temperature for the growth of the flowers (if grown in hothouses)
  • The use of Genetically Modified seed
  • The reduction of biodiversity in areas that grow the flowers often in mono-culture fields or hot houses etc.

However, one should also bear in mind that the cut flower industry does in fact provide employment and economic benefits to the areas in which the flowers are grown. As a result the issue is not the kill the industry but rather to nudge the industry towards greener production methods. So until the cut flower industry is able to reduce its negative impact on the environment you could reduce your consumption of cut flowers by the following:

  • Grow your own indigenous flowers and use the flowers to make your own flower arrangements. The indigenous flowers in your window box or garden will use less water and attract pollinators as well as increase the biodiversity of the area.
  • Grow your own indigenous plants and have statement pot plants placed strategically throughout your home or office. The indigenous plants will also contribute to the biodiversity of the area while creating an aesthetically pleasing focal point.

    Indigenous Austrailian Flowers

Getting you hands dirty by growing plants and gardening is also a great and cost-effective way to de-stress and get/ stay in touch with the nature.

Have a great November!

Green Fashion, Educated Choices and Levi’s Waterless Jeans?!

"Levis Water<less" jeans

I was looking into what makes an item of clothing green/ greener/ good for the environment/ sustainable etc… and came across “Levis Waterless Jeans“. My first thought was “Greenwash.” My greenwash train of thought focused on the following issues;

What about:

  • The water and energy used in the production,packaging, transport and sale of the jeans
  • The monoculture cotton plantations and the impacts on biodiversity and water
  • The (very high) possibility that the denim is produced from Genetically Modified (GM) cotton
  • The dyes that go into the dying of the denim. What dyes do they use, what are they made of etc….
  • The water used to wash and dispose of the jeans….

My list could go on forever……

But then I decided to have a look at what Levi’s said made their jeans waterless and therefore better for the environment… and these are my thoughts:

  • It seems that even though the product is not entirely green or perfectly waterless…. it does at least start to engage with the issue of water and sustainability. Maybe “WATER<LESS” is a bit of an exaggeration in this regard?
  • Hopefully the product will start to get customers asking the right questions about ethical and green fashion and consumption.
  • The campaign provides some facts and figures about the production process and also links the issue of water conservation with people who live in water scarce areas.
  • The campaign did not adequately tackle the issue of monoculture, biodiversity and water. This is a key flaw in the campaign as the production of the cotton for the denim is a very large part of the water use debate as is the impact of monoculture agriculture on water catchements, ecosystems and our water resources. One should however note that Levis has aligned with the Better Cotton Initiative. However, I was unable to determine wether the initiative supports GM Cotton or not. The biodiversity impacts and GM issue are a key issue for me!
  • The Levis Waterless Jeans are one product in the Levis range… what about the other products?
In conclusion, I think that the Levi’s Waterless Jeans are (for me) not the amazing eco-fashion answer to eco-friendly jeans, though they are a step in the right direction and will (hopefully) get consumers asking questions about issues of sustainability, sustainable consumption and how our consumption patterns affect the natural environment.
It is very important that we consider all the aspects related to our consumption patterns and don’t simply buy into every headline and green marketing campaign. We may not be perfect but every informed decision we make is a step in the right direction.

Levis Water<less jeans lifecycle

*Please note that this is my opinion and that I am not endorsing any brand or product.

Stella McCartney To Launch An Eco-friendly Sunglass Line!

Great news for eco-friendly fashionistas!! Apparently Stella McCartney has been involved in the research and development of an earth friendly range of sunnies which should launch in 2012!


Nothing finishes off an outfit like the perfect pair of sunnies that are stylish and not harmful to nature! Super exciting! I can’t wait! I just hope that this isn’t another case of greenwash and the sunnies are in fact not harmful to out planet!


Check out this link for more information.