Monday, 9 July 2007

Ethical fashion goes mainstream with the Daily Mail

The Daily Mail, one of the more conservative and traditional newspapers has an article today entitled ‘Meet the eco stylists’. Not something I would normally expect to see in the Daily Mail. The article features three of the UK’s top eco-stylists, Dawn Mellowship, Elizabeth Laskar and Jocelyn Whipple talking about ethical fashion and its importance to today’s woman. Mellowship is also the UK's first online eco stylist and will style a complete wardrobe or a single outfit. With prices as low as £5 for one styled outfit, anyone can afford to be ethically styled. The fact that the Daily Mail is running this article shows how far ethical fashion has come in the last few years.

Ethical fashion has not only improved in quality and style, but its image has changed dramatically from the realms of the eco-warrior look to more haute couture and high street fashion, with the range and choice increasing all the time. The benefits of ethical fashion to the environment and to the poorer communities that are usually exploited by the fashion industry are immense. Hopefully articles like this will take the message that ethical can be fashionable to many more people. Eventually we may even get to the point where men’s ethical fashion actually goes beyond ethnic baggy trousers and slogan T-shirts and actually becomes stylish and fashionable.

Hydrogen powers car trial in Norway

In a sign of how far ahead of us many Scandinavian countries are when it comes to climate change, Norway has set up a project called HyNor. Over 40 organisations are involved in the project, including Statoil, Norway’s largest oil company. The project is aiming to have hydrogen filling stations along a 360 mile stretch of road along the south coast. HyNor is using thirteen hydrogen powered Toyota Prius cars to evaluate the feasibility of hydrogen powered vehicles. The advantage of hydrogen powered fuel cells is that the only waste product is water. There are no harmful chemicals or toxins or CO2 emissions.

There are two ways of extracting hydrogen, one is to extract it from fossil fuels, the other is by the electrolysis of water. With either method, electricity is needed to extract the hydrogen. Opponents point to the CO2 emissions created by the electricity generating plants, as this is an energy intensive operation. What they fail to point out is that getting oil out of the ground, transporting it and manufacturing petrol from the oil also produces CO2 emissions, even before the petrol is used in cars. The better option is to use electrolysis. This only requires water and a ‘clean’ electricity supply to make the operation carbon neutral. In Berlin for example, hydrogen is being extracted at a plant using electricity from a hydroelectric plant. This technology has lots of potential, but there has to be more progress on renewable electricity as well.

Imitation Is Life vegan fashion show

Marc Bouwer is one of the worlds leading fashion designers. He is well known by the Hollywood set as the man that dresses celebrities like Angelina Jolie, Paris Hilton, Shania Twain and Mariah Carey, his creations add glamour and style to many red carpet events around the world. He is an influential designer in the world of high fashion, so, when he decides to go ethical and stop using any animal skins or products in his designs it’s big news. Bouwer stopped using fur, leather and wool from his collections once he became aware of the horrific conditions the animals were kept in. Thanks to PETA (People For The Ethical Treatment Of Animals) he saw videos of animals being subjected to the most painful and barbaric treatment, such as conscious cows having their hooves and lips cut off.

This is not an unusual practice in the world of animal farming, this is not some rare occurrence, animals are routinely kept in conditions that cannot be described in any other way but torturous.
Bouwers 100% animal-free clothing line ‘Imitation Is Life’ premiered at New York Fashion Week. Bouwer proved that fashion does not have to be part of the animal trade, fashion can be as glamorous and exciting and beautiful without the cruelty. Hopefully more designers will follow and distance themselves from cruelty and make an ethical statement as well as a fashion statement.

Fairtrade men’s clothes at Marks and Spencer

In my quest to find stylish and fashionable clothes, I have found my way to high street favourite Marks and Spencer. They have a limited but growing range of certified fairtrade clothes that actually look pretty good, and are quite normal. By normal I mean the kind of clothes I would wear rather than the hippy/ethnic type stuff that looks like a throwback to the 60’s. They may not be at the cutting edge of fashion, but they are pretty wearable. They have a Harrington jacket for £39.50, which I quite like. It looks stylish and well made, and equally as important, it looks like a normal jacket. Having the fairtrade certification means that the jacket is manufactured in a traceable chain, which has set standards of care for all the workers in the manufacturing process.

Are Biofuels the 'Holy Grail' for transport?

For many people, biofuels are the perfect choice for a greener transport system. They give us independence from the Middle East and all its problems and they are a green alternative to petrol and diesel. That is one side of the story. Like all stories there is another side, a darker side. Some people paint an altogether different picture. Biofuels are creating third world hunger, hardship to farmers and causing the destruction of the world’s remaining rain forests. This is pretty much the reality of the rush to make money from the boom in biofuels. Once again ordinary people are being sacrificed in the stampede for profit. The EU leaders and Brazil’s president joined forces to urge for an international market to ensure biofuels are produced in an ethical and environmentally sound way.

What is needed is strict and enforced regulations to ensure the rise in demand for biofuls does not lead to more of the worlds rainforests being destroyed to make way for biofuel crops. The saving in CO2 from cars using biofuel would be more than offset by rise in CO2 from the deforestation. The other and equally important point is how the biofuel crop producers, the farmers and farm workers are treated. The whole process needs to have standards in place to protect workers rights, to ensure fair pricing and to ensure biofuel crops do not displace food crops and increase hunger in poorer countries. Whether such a policy can be enforced or even agreed remains to be seen.

[Via The Guardian]