I love the smell of PVC in the morning…

I love shopping and playing dress-up in the fabulous fashions at Nordstrom and designer stores. I say “playing dress-up” because most of the time that’s as far as it’s gonna go. I’m not in the bracket to actually puchase real designer clothing. Our outlet stores give a pretty good quick fix, but I haven’t gotten very close to the real thing.

Now with the downturn of our economy, even those who can afford to splurge are cinching in their Prada corsets. Never fear! In last Sunday’s New York Times I read about the “Recessionistas”; those Fashionistas that are making do with what Nature never intended…polyvinyl chloride!Designers are designing for the masses (that means most of us) and thanks to Target and others you can get your designer fix. Knock-offs are nothing new, but I suppose they are on the upswing right now.

I’m sticking to my Hippocritical Oath! I too have an adorable PVC bag or two. I’ve got PVC stuff all over the house; laundry basket, coffee maker, coat hangers, mop, stereo equipment, computer, TV…anyone out there NOT have any of the toxic stuff? (I’d love to hear about it..nothing, really??) And to be sure, it is toxic. So, I’m just saying…let’s be aware. Read about PVC here. And some great alternatives for a healthy home here.

But I like the Recessionista idea a lot! I say take it a bit further and make it more about recycling. I was about to buy a new pair of shoes the other day, then decided to wait until I got home and do my closet switch over from summer to fall/winter. Lo and behold I dug out 3 pairs of brown shoes and others that were, yes! back in style again! Really, what goes around definitely comes around in fashion.

And how about a Swap Party? Organize a free-for-all with your friends (I would think men’s clothing could work too). More fun to share and sans the often musty ambiance of the local thrift store. Read about “how to” here.

I encourage you to visit http://therecessionista.blogspot.com Mary Hall’s got it down and is providing a great resource! And she’s been written up in the New York Times! The lady is living my life I tell ya! Big Smile! =)

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How to Find Fair Trade

A few of my friends have asked me what to look for when shopping for Fair Trade items. Basically you scan the package labels and look for a label such as posted here. This label “Fair Trade Certified” stands for Food and Drink products. It guarantees that food products were produced and purchased according to Fair Trade Standards. The certification is run by TransFairUSA. www.transfairusa.org But wait, there’s more! When shopping for crafts, gifts and Fair Trade Businesses, look for the Fair Trade Federation label. You can view the label on the site: www.fairtradefederation.org This Federation covers a wide group of craft importers and other businesses, including food and drink.
To keep up with sustainable businesses and all things Fair Trade and eco-friendly, I highly recommend Co-op America and all they have to offer. An annual membership can be as little as $25.00 To shop directly and learn much more use their National Green Pages, online or in print. www.greenpages.org That should get you off to a good start!

Bridging the “Gap”

I advocate for Fair Trade and using local merchants and services as much as possible. In doing so I don’t usually like to take a walk on the dark side; you know, digging up dirt about corporations, grousing about how awful everything is and belaboring labor laws. Just not my style; I’m more user-friendly, I like things warm and fuzzy. But to learn and get the concept of why Fair Trade and corporate responsibility are vital, you might want to take a peek behind the curtain. Kind of like knowing your favorite restaurant; such great food…what’s the kitchen like? I mean really?? Co-op America, www.coopamerica.org, has a new website called “Responsible Shopper”. Here’s the scoop from them: “We comb through reports from the news media, the government (from the EPA to the FDA), and our environmental and social justice nonprofit allies to compile comprehensive data on some of the largest corporations in America. Then, we put it together in our easily searchable Web site, so you can make informed purchasing decisions on everything from cosmetics to groceries to clothing and much more.

Through Responsible Shopper’s “Go Green” feature, we also link you to strategies for shifting your purchasing and investing to more responsible options.”

For me it’s a way to take a look and make an informed choice. I’m not organizing a march against The Gap, throwing things at innocent shoppers who cross the line. (The Gap? What about The Gap? I love their clothes!…sorry, take a look: http://www.coopamerica.org/programs/responsibleshopper/company.cfm?id=229 ) I want to support what’s working well, for all involved. It’s a learning experience.