2013 is being hailed as the Year of the Woman Entrepreneur. Check out this info graphic from Intuit (in partnership with NerdWallet and Forbes) suggesting where we will see great women owned start-ups across the USA.
Need a gift for the scrabble addict or comic book collector in your life? Check out this line of upcycled bow ties from New York based designer, Wonder Lee. Lee crafts stylish bow ties out of found materials (anything ranging from LEGOs to New York city metro cards), and from what I can tell, has a lot of fun doing it. Operating in this very niche market allows all of her designs to be hand crafted, one of a kind and very cool.
If you are in the New York area, stop by and check out her goods at Manhattans's Sustainably NYC or Boooklyn's Rebelution. Not in NY? Not out of luck! She also has an online store.
Seattle Magazine recently published a list of the city's happiest neighborhoods. According to Seattle Magazine, each selected neighborhood "has a lively and individual urban village, good walkability, interesting homes, plenty of green space and a strong community identity." We are delighted to announce that GREEN EILEEN's new home, Columbia City, is among the best places to live, work and play in our great city.
GREEN EILEEN Seattle will host a grand opening event on April 20th. At this event you can meet the dedicated team who helped GREEN EILEEN come to life, drink a glass of local sparkling wine, and shop our collection of gently worn EILEEN FISHER clothing. Afterward, visit one of Columbia City's great restaurants or pubs. You'll be happy you did!
As many of you may know, GREEN EILEEN is opening a new store in Seattle, Washington. The store will open in April, in Seattle's Columbia City neighborhood. Everyone in the GREEN EILEEN family is excited to participate in this community as it offers the opportunity to serve a very diverse population of women.
Demand for another store means that we have been doing something right so far, but it also means that we need more donations in order to bring high quality, affordable clothing to even more women across the country. So, starting Earth Day weekend (April 19), all sixty EILEEN FISHER retail locations across the United States will begin accepting donations to GREEN EILEEN. As Earth Day approaches look for our newest campaign: We'd Like Our Clothes Back Now Thanks Very Much.
Follow us on Facebook for more updates on the Seattle GE store opening.
Oprah Winfrey is undoubtedly one of the most influential women of the modern era. In media circles many people suggest that Oprah's power is derived from her ability to empathize with "everywoman" and make her feel personally connected to Oprah's message. (Although in normal people circles her success is usually attributed to her fearlessness, persistence and intelligence.) Here is the story of Kim Cole whose company, Gleener, is proof of the transformative power of Oprah's words and encouragement.
Gleener is a garment care tool, specializing in depilling and lint removal. Check out this video: it is a great story and a great way to care for your favorite garments. After watching it, we immediately bought two for the Green Eileen recycling center!
There is a pattern to the way people adopt ideas, technologies and behaviors. In "marketing speak" this is referred to as the product adoption curve. According to the adoption curve, new ideas enter the mainstream through the following path of users: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards (a term I have always particularly enjoyed). The early majority market is the holy grail for firms who wish to gain a critical mass around their product or idea—and is crucial to determining a generation's environmental footprint.
At Green Eileen, we spend a lot of time thinking about how to promote a more responsible apparel industry—and upcyling has become a big part of our solution. While the concept of upcycling has been around for a long time (think dresses made from potato sacks or downed utility poles turned into flooring), upcyling is finally now ready to make the jump between early adopters and the mainstream. We are so excited to be part of the conversation about how to create new value from our post consumer waste and want to take a minute to celebrate the innovators and early adopters who helped bring attention, credibity and creativity to this movement. Here are just a few of the people, companies and ideas that have helped to revolutionize the way we think about our unwanted stuff.
Imogen Hedges recently blew us away with her pedal powered unknitting machine. While the machine is deeply innovative, it demonstrates how far upcycling has moved into the collective conscience. Her solution to old unwanted sweaters speaks to how many people are beginning to think "upcyling" instead of "recycling."
Nike's Resuse-A-Shoe is the example of an early, successful upcycling program. In the Reuse-A-Shoe program, donated sneakers (not just Nikes) are processed and turned into three different materials used in the construction of track and playground surfaces or cushioning for indoor and outdoor sports courts. Their slogan, "Turn your sport shoes into places to play," does a great job capturing the essence of upcycling: creating new value our of old, discarded stuff. This program was founded in 1993, and still continues to be a viable way of closing the loop on Nike's product life cycle.
LooptWorks and Ricicli both make new fashion garments out of post consumer waste. While Ricicli (who we featured in a blog post last September) repurposes previously worn garments to construct new children's clothing, LooptWorks uses construction excess from other garment manufactures to create a limited edition clothing line. This way of using material harkens back to when people were forced to innovate out of necessity (again, the potato sack thing), but their success highlights how eager consumers are to support upcycling initiatives.
I never understood dry cleaning: you drop off your clothes at a windowless office in a commercial park, wait two days, and take home your magically cleaned clothing with complimentary hangers and elusive chemical odor. What happens to my clothes in that room? How did they get that nasty stain out without using water? And, seriously, what is that smell?
It turns out that the answer to all these questions is the same: chemicals. If the whole secret behind dry cleaning is the application of toxic chemicals, then what in the world is "green" dry cleaning? In my search to uncover this mystery, I first had to learn exaclty how the conventional dry cleaning process worked.
Perchloroethylene or "perc" is the dry cleaning chemical used in 80% of dry cleaning operations in the United States. Despite what the name suggests, dry cleaning is not a dry process. Perc is a liquid chemical used for industrial degreasing and deodorizing that first won preference among dry cleaners for its ability to clean fabric without shrinking or fading. Clothes brought to the dry cleaner are submerged in the liquid solvent and then ironed—making your silk blouse ready for another wear.
According to the perc fact sheet from the New York City department of health, "People who are exposed to high levels for many years are at risk for damage to the nervous system, liver, and kidneys, certain cancers and reproductive effects." Other known side effects of perc exposure include: dizziness, nausea, unconsciousness and death. Yikes.
As consumer preference for "green" solutions grew, and as more information emerged about perc's toxicity, more perc alternatives arrived on the market. Many of these alternative methods claim to be "organic," "all-natural" or "green." However, research shows that only four are truly non-toxic. Here is a brief description of each:
CO2 cleaning-Liquid carbon dioxide cleaning is a method that uses pressurized liquid CO2 in place of perc. In this process, clothes are placed in a specialized machine where the liquid CO2 dissolves dirt, fats, and oils in the clothing. At the end of the cleaning cycle, the liquid CO2 is pumped back into the storage tank to be reused again, with some amount inevitably escaping into the air. This method is endorsed by the EPA.
Silicone cleaning- Referred to as the GreenEarth system, silicone cleaning is similar to conventional dry cleaning. It uses GreenEarth's patented Siloxane D5 solution (currently licensed to over 1,300 dry cleaners worldwide) to remove stains and odors from fabrics. While there is some debate about the saftely of the silicone based D5 chemical, it is not a classified air contaminant nor is it linked to any chronic illness—making it a popular green choice.
Wet cleaning- A more sophisticated version of laundering in which garments are cleaned with water, special detergents and high-tech machines and then put on tensioning equipment to reshape them. This method uses roughly the same inputs as your home laundry machine, and is also endorsed by the EPA.
K4 System- German dry cleaning technology that is not yet popular in the US. Kreussler, the creator of the K4 System, is currently seeking a patent on K4 so little information is available about the technology. However, it is said to be "designed in such a way that, when properly used, it does not pose a risk to air, water, human beings and soil." Marketing speak? Maybe, but the Classification, Labeling and Packaging Commission (a strict European consumer protection agency) has labeled K4 safe to humans and the enviornment. Keep an eye out for more K4 cleaners in the future; if the Germans are as forward thinking about dry cleaning as they are about making cars, then this system is well positioned to change the landscape of the American dry cleaning market.
Before doing this research I was conflicted about whether to choose a green cleaner over conventional cleaning. Now I know that choosing one of the above four methods is truly better for the earth, dry cleaning industry workers, and our health. But (there is always a but), the ultimate solution for the long term wellness of the earth is to launder our clothes less often all together. Read our Earth Day "Tips for going Green" post to learn ways to care for your clothes while caring for the planet.
Thank you to everyone who joined us at last Saturday's 'Hats with Attitude' workshop. We had a ton of fun meeting new friends and turning our unused EF clothes into fun and fashionable new hats!
Check out our Workshops page to learn about upcoming workshops and ongoing programming. We look forward to hosting more successful events, building new communities, and lots of fun.