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Online Sustainable Shopping

It's important to know that we DO have eco-friendly shopping options and where we can find them. Sadly, most of them won't be found at the mall. So I did some investigating and checked out some sustainable online shops. Today I'll be looking at 2 stores:

Mountains of the Moon Eco-Fashion, Hemp, Organic Clothing and More

Variety/Availability: 6.5/10
- There are only a few designs in each category (being tops, skirts, etc) except for the tops, which have a somewhat decent selection. They claim you can get them in different fabrics, though I don't see any web options for that. They also have a small line of baby clothes. In terms of selection, it's no Wal-mart, but honestly that's probably a good thing. You can also find their lines at over 100 select retail stores through the U.S., Canada, Japan and the U.K
Cosmetic Appeal: 9/10
- Definitely some of the best-looking eco-clothes out there. Not just your plain boring old hemp t-shirts, the clothes are actually cut to be flattering. They mimic high fashion considerably well. They tend to stay only with solid colours though.
Pricing: 6.5/10
- Not cheap. Not horribly unreasonable either. Keeping in mind that organic materials often cost more to produce, this is because a lot of the work is being done by humans. So in essence, organic pricing actually reflects how much things should cost. Dresses ranges in the $68-78 range, tops from $24-68, bottoms
Eco-friendly: 8/10
- The clothes are made sweatshop-free in the USA. Additionally they are "Co-op America" approved and a member of Hemp Industries Association. Each design is available in a variety of colors and fabrics (all made from sustainable fabrics and colored with low-impact dyes). This seems to be a good effort to me.
Eco Fabrik

Variety/Availability: 6/10
- A very simple selection of basic casual wear. A dress, a skirt, a shawl, yoga pants and some basic tops. I do like that they have options for men though they are limited as well. I will say that in terms of comfortable clothing, they have all that you really need.
- Although they lack in a variety of styles, they do also have hats, towels, and a decent selection of cheap tote/gym bags. They also have more baby clothes than adult options.
- They are also available in Europe
Cosmetic Appeal: 8/10
- The clothes look nice enough. They look like normal clothes, unlike a lot of the hippie-wear boho hemp stuff I've seen in stores downtown. The website looks amazing. The pictures of the clothes they show sadly don't seem to be available for sale, something I found to be disappointing because they look quite majestic. All in all, there's nothing fancy here but what is available is cute enough given that they're comfort clothes.
Pricing: 9/10
- Very affordable with an average price of about $20. The bags go from $8.50 and up. Not bad for organic!
Eco-friendly: 9/10
- The main page boasts 3 organic seals of approval. They use organic cotton, and bamboo and hemp, the last 2 of which are even better sustainable options (see Big Green purse blogs)

Buying Locally Produced Foods

Did You Know?
The majority of the money spent on grocery-store food goes to suppliers, processors, middlemen and marketers. Only 3.5 cents of each dollar actually goes to the farmer. (approximately, I've read other figures but generally it's in this area) If you buy food from a farmers market or farm stand, you can be sure that most, if not all, of your money is going directly to the farmer.

Communities reap more economic benefits from the presence of small farms than they do from large ones. Studies have shown that small farms re-invest more money into local economies by purchasing feed, seed and other materials from local businesses,x whereas large farms often order in bulk from distant companies. Large factory livestock farms also bring down local property values with the intense odors they emit.

Food transported short distances is fresher (and, therefore, safer) than food that travels long distances. Local food has less of an opportunity to wilt and rot whereas large-scale food manufacturers must go to extreme lengths to extend shelf-life since there is such a delay between harvest and consumption. Preservatives are commonly used to keep foods stable longer, and are potentially hazardous to human health. Industrially-produced foods are also difficult to grow without pesticides, chemical fertilizers, antibiotics and growth hormones, all of which can be damaging to both the environment and human health.

A large amount of fossil fuel is used to transport foods such long distances. Combustion of these fuels releases carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter and other pollutants into the atmosphere, contributing to global climate change, acid rain, smog and air pollution. Even the refrigeration required to keep your fruits, vegetables, dairy products and meats from spoiling burns up energy.

A typical carrot has to travel 1,838 miles to reach your dinner table.

In the U.S., a wheat farmer can expect to receive about six cents of each dollar spent on a loaf of bread-approximately the cost of the wrapping.xiii
Farmers markets enable farmers to keep 80 to 90 cents of each dollar spent by the consumer.
Cheap energy and agricultural subsidies facilitate a type of agriculture that is destroying and polluting our soils and water, weakening our communities, and concentrating wealth and power into a few hands. It is also threatening the security of our food systems, as demonstrated by the continued e-Coli, GMO-contamination, and other health scares that are often seen nowadays on the news.
If you are concerned about genetically-modified foods, you can select local farms that grow food from heirloom seeds. And you can support organic practices in your region.

Local Food: Where to Find It, How to Buy It
This 30-page booklet was developed by the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture for consumers who are interested in supporting rural communities by buying locally grown food, but don't know how to begin. You can get the full free PDF version here:


The Big Green Purse! AKA The Sustainable Shopping Bible Pt. 4/4

Pt. 4 - Sustainable Food Shopping, and Other Notes


  • Styrofoam used to store food (i.e restaurant leftovers) can't be recycled or reused after its been tainted by food or coffee. It is also classified as a possible carcinogen by the U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services
  • The EPA cautions everyone (especially kids and pregnant women) against eating tuna, due to contamination from mercury that precipitates out of air pollution generated by industrial smokestacks
  • Avoid American BEEF - the European Union officially does not accept meat from the US because of large amounts of growth hormonoes used in the cattle
  • Choosing Sustainable Seafood
    • Shop for seafood sold under the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) label - certifies those fish come from sustainable sources
    • Avoid large predator fish when dining out (i.e. shark, tuna, swordfish) bc they play a critical role in marine ecosystems, and also concentrate the most toxins. Therefore best to pick smaller fish i.e. tilapia


  • Rainforests - Disappearing at a rate of 6 soccer fields a minute
  • 40% of Central American rainforests have been converted into pastures for beef production, 90% of which is exported to the U.S. primarily for use in the fast food market or pet food.
  • Chapter 6 focuses on ways to trim meat from your diet as a way of protecting rainforests from the grazing that leads to their destruction
  • According to Environmental Defense, the burning of tropical forests accounts for at least 10% of the greenhouse effect Forests in North America
  • According to the Center for a New American Dream, U.S. paper consumption is the world's highest, devouring 12,340 sq miles of forests each year.
  • Saving paper o The Center for a New American Dream estimates that recycling one ton of paper saves 17 trees, 7000 gallons of water, and 380 gallons of oil
  • According to a U of Washington study, women are more susceptible than men to air pollution and the heart problems it causes bc among other reasons, our blood vessels are smaller.

Air Pollution

  • Everyone is susceptible to asthma from air pollution (I have asthma so this is a big issue for me)
  • Environmental Protection Agency: we all may suffer as many as 554,000 asthma attacks each year bc of air pollution

Remember: The Big Green Purse Shopping Principles:

1. Buy less 2. Read the label 3. Support sustainable standards 4. Look for third-party verification 5. Choose fewer ingredients 6. Pick less packaging 7. Buy local

As a supplement to these notes, please visit for a guide on smart environmental shopping choices.

The Big Green Purse! AKA The Sustainable Shopping Bible Pt. 3/4

Brief notes on how to go Green with your clothing choices, and some things you didn't know...

What most of us don't know:

  • Manufacturing nylon creates nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas at least 300x more potent than carbon dioxide
  • Dry cleaning relies on a toxic solvent ("Perc") to get the job done - which is known to cause headaches, nausea, and dizziness. It is also linked to reproductive problems. More info in the Big Green Purse


  • One of the most pesticide-intensive crops in the world
  • Cotton seeds contain residues of tons of toxic chemicals, is fed to cattle and pressed into oils = we EAT the toxic residue!

Some eco-friendly clothing fabrics as alternatives to conventional cotton:


  • Naturally resists pests so you don't need any pesticides!
  • Needs little bleaching
  • Needs 1/20 as much water to grow and process as cotton


  • Naturally resists pests and many bacteria
  • Antimicrobial


  • Much stronger than cotton = lasts longer
  • Generally uses far less pesticides than growing conventional cotton

Some eco friendly online clothing retailers:

The Big Green Purse! AKA The Sustainable Shopping Bible Pt. 2/4

Pt.2 - Cosmetics and Personal Care Products

Do we really need to slather our bodies with 10 or 15 products every day? Or have the manufacturers of these commodities simply convinced us that we do?”

consider the notion that we have possibly been brainwashed to believe we need to douse ourselves in chemicals to make us "beautiful" - whatever!

Some Sad Facts:

  • Cosmetics are among the least-regulated substances in the marketplace
  • A U.S. research report showed that 89% of 10,500 ingredients used in cosmetics have not been evaluated for safety
  • Cosmetics manufacturers do not require FDA approval
  • Evidence is mounting that women face risk of breast cancer due to cumulative exposure to the chemicals in these products
  • Only 10% of breast cancers have been linked to known risk factors like smoking and heredity
  • The cumulative use of cosmetics and care products may also be contributing to asthma
  • Wastewater treatment systems cannot remove many of the chemicals they contain when they are washed down the drain.
  • Check out , a reliable and informative safety guide to cosmetics and care products, run by the Environmental Working Group (thanks Ashley!)

The Big Green Purse! AKA The Sustainable Shopping Bible Pt. 1/4

The Big Green PurseEveryone should read The Big Green Purse by Diane Maceachern, whether or not they carry a purse! I have made it my personal mission to take note of several things I have learned from reading this book, in order for us all to use our spending power to shift to a greener market. Even one person can make a difference when you think about how much money you actually spend in a year, and the more this attitude accumulates, the more power we have to push for change. Not only that, but you can learn just how bad all the products we buy really are. I was appalled and saddened by some of the truths I learned, but trust me, these are things you will want to know.

Here is pt. 1 of a brief summary of my notes. For the full downloadable version of ALL my Big Green Purse notes, Click Here

Of course, you could pick up a copy of the book yourself 🙂

The Big Green Purse Notes Pt. 1 - Coffee, Tea, Chocolate

Buy Shade Grown!

  • Full sun methods used by these companies instead of shade-grown are accomplished by cutting down massive amounts of rainforests (I will discuss rainforests later on)
  • Of the 50 countries in the world with the highest deforestation rates from 1990-95, 37 were coffee producers

Decaf is BAD for you!

  • Chemical solvents are almost always used to decaffeinate coffee and tea:
  • Methylene chloride, a suspected carcinogen
  • Ethyl acetate, may lead to skin problems

Blood and Children are making your chocolate

  • the Ivory Coast produces 40% of the world’s cocoa, where hundreds of thousands of children are enslaved on cocoa farms
  • Hershey's, Nestle, and M&Ms/Mars Inc. are some of the big companies who buy from those farms. From now on I take my cravings elsewhere

Some Fair Trade Teas and Coffees:

The key to change: If you want to change a company’s behaviour, spend your money on a competitor’s more desirable offerings.

Making the Shift to Earth-Friendly Jewellery

Even when buying jewellery, it is prudent to make the most eco-friendly choices. Most metal mining has a devastating impact on the environment, when there is plenty already mined (old jewelry) to satisfy industry demand:

- Shop at antique stores, estate sales, yard sales, and specialty shops for used jewelry that can be polished to look new
- Ask for diamonds mined in Canada where human rights of miners are protected and diamonds mines under stricter environmental laws
- Choose gems that meet Kimberley Process Certification
- Consider alternatives to diamonds, i.e. moissanite
- Buy jewelry at crafts fairs from artisans who work with locally available materials

(some info thanks to D. MacEachern, author of the Big Green Purse)

Four quick tips on reducing your packaging

You can save barrels of oil, lower manufacturing costs, and help the environment by shifting your spending to products that use minimal packaging:

  1. Buy products sold in recyclable or reusable containers that can be recycled again once you’re done with it
  2. Purchase meat directly from the butcher wrapped in paper rather than foam meat trays
  3. Instead of instant soup, buy fresh ingredients or soup stock in the bulk section in cellophane packaging
  4. Carry a reusable mug or cup for coffee, juice, etc.

Tons more info coming up when I discuss sustainable shopping and The Big Green Purse!

A Revolution of Values

Fourty years ago, Reverend Martin Luther King echoing his mentor, Mahatma Gandhi, took to task materialism in the same breadth as the racial oppression he had been fighting his whole life. King knew that materialism, or more accurately, consumerism, was a slow acting poison that once entrenched, would forever control the destiny of his people. Furthermore, he foresaw how it had already taken root in American society along with the militarism that was then subjecting Vietnam to hell on earth:

"if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a "thing-oriented" society to a "person-oriented" society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered." (April 4, 1967)

José Ramón Machado Ventura, First Vice-President of Cuba’s Council of State, reiterated this same prophetic theme in his address to the 5th European Union / Latin America and Caribbean Summit meeting in Lima, Peru, on May 16-17. In a session on “Sustainable Development: the Environment, Climate Change and Energy,” Ventura remarked:

"Sustainable development requires a revolution in our values and in the way we confront the inequalities of today and the challenges of tomorrow. We must launch a global energy revolution, sustained by savings, rationality and efficiency."

Cuba has stood for this alternative world free of King's giant triplets of racism, militarism, and materialism. In doing so, its people have made enormous sacrifices, going without for the greater good of all citizens and countries around the world who have benefited from the small island nation's famous generosity and humanitarian aid. Sadly, Fidel Castro recently had to remind Barack Obama of Cuba's record of international service, as American politicians of all stripes have become used to heaping calumny on a country that has dared to resist and retain its dignity.

Personally, I too have long believed that only a revolution of values can begin to address the challenges of sustainability. For as long as our lives are measured by material success and possessions, there will always exist powerful pressures to consume upwards. This is stoked by our consumer society that consumes us by engaging in the limitless production of wants and desires (a Buddhist nightmare for sure), all in the name of driving a capitalist economy based on borrow and spend. Moreover, the peer pressure is exerted from generation to generation. How many of us have been judged by the size of our house or car? (And if you rent and use public transit, forget about it!)

The consumption in turn serves to displace higher pursuits and to fill the yawning spiritual void in our lives as noted in the whimsical yet deadly serious road documentary "What Would Jesus Buy?" Channeling the theatrics of evangelical holy roller preachers, Reverend Billy of the Church of Stop Shopping takes on the "Shopocalypse", which has turned the holiday season into debt-engorged consumer armageddon. The message of this "church" however resonates with both believers and non-believers alike, as the plague affects us all. In this regard, King and the Cuban Vice-President are also one in calling us out of our Koyaanisqatsi.

Local Fish…

Taking the local movement one step closer to home...or rather your living room. Artist Mathieu Lehanneur has conceptualized and developed the Local River...a spin on the old fish-tube where people can enjoy watching fish from the comforts of their home while picking out tomorrow nights dinner, fish!