Monday, March 19, 2012

New Feature: Ideas for a Greener Lifestyle

 Don't blow it. Good planets are hard to find.
--As quoted in Time magazine


When raising their two daughters in the 1950s and '60s, my parents instilled in us a tremendous respect for the earth and its limited natural resources.

They taught us to respect nature, to use and reuse, to repurpose and to save. That nurturing made my sister and me who we are today. For as long as I can remember, my little sis and I have sought out other people's cast-off treasures and have repurposed them right along with many of our own well-worn but salvageable belongings.

And, in my family's household, we continually look for new and better ways to contribute to the greater environmental good and reduce our carbon footprint.

It seems a shame not to share some of the great information I stumble across when I'm out surfing  "green" blogs and articles. So, today I'm kicking off Re:, a simple little feature to share a variety of ideas about how we can all adopt more earth-friendly lifestyles.  I hope to provide a good mix of crafty and repurposing ideas, along with some more practical, everyday-type tips for saving money, energy and the environment.

My plan is to post Re: every Monday--hope I don't disappoint and can keep it up. And, I hope you'll be able to take away an idea or two to put to good use in saving our good Earth. Maybe you'll even save some money along the way.

Re: kicks off with an eye toward fashion. Refashioned fashion, that is.

Repurposing old clothing, linens and other soft goods is nothing new. Every day there are literally thousands of designers, artists and craftspeople who contribute to the green movement by rescuing items from the brink of the landfill and repurpose them into weird, wild and wonderful creations. The ingenuity of these talented people never ceases to amaze me.

Not only does repurposing help reduce the amount of material that ends up in landfills, it has the potential to save you a little of the green stuff (money, in this case). If you're inclined to be entrepreneurial, repurposing might even be a cash cow for you.

So, for this maiden feature, I thought I'd feature a couple of designers whose reclamation projects are especially clever and interesting.

Recently, I came across the website of designer Catherine Edouard Charlot, Himane Sustainable Designs. According to her bio, Catherine strives for creative, innovative, classy, earthy one-of-a-kind items that are locally made. Her primary "raw" material is the fabric from "found" and "retired" umbrellas.

A recent story I found on Earth911 quoted Catherine as saying she literally picks up a lot of the umbrellas she uses off the streets of New York City. The pickings are plentiful after a rainy day in the Big Apple, she says. Can't you just imagine her fetching mangled and tossed umbrellas from gutters, sidewalks and trash cans?

For a look at the wonderful bags, accessories and clothing Catherine creates, I hope you'll hop on over to her website. Check out the Earth911 article to be delighted by her stunning umbrella wedding dress.

As if clearing the New York streets of umbrella litter weren't enough, Catherine commits a portion of the proceeds from each item she sells to establishing a sustainable school for the children in her home country of Haiti.

Since about halfway through her first year of blogging, I've been following Marisa at New Dress a Day. Early in 2010, I stumbled across her fantastic website and her incredibly fun challenge to make a new outfit a day for 365 days on $365. That's a dollar a day. So, you guessed it--no clothes shopping at Gap, Ann Taylor or even Kohl's or Target.

Marisa, instead, did her shopping at local thrift shops and could spend no more than $1 per item. If that weren't enough to pique one's interest, what she did with those bargain-basement-priced items will knock your socks off and just might hook you as it did me!

Since beginning her project in 2009, Marisa's daily sewing projects have evolved, but the fun, surprise and delight continues in full swing. Most recently, Marisa is taking item donations from readers who seek to challenge her creative talents with the good, bad and ugly of rejected garments they contribute to the fun.

These two women--Catherine and Marisa--like so many of you who make a difference one reclaimed piece at a time, represent the "new environmentalists."

Yes, we all try to do our part recycling our newspapers and cans and plastic. We put our heat and air conditioning on timers. We turn off our lights when we leave a room. And, we keep our vehicles properly tuned to realize the best gas mileage possible.

But, for me, little is more satisfying than knowing I've kept a piece of furniture, a well-used kitchen item or an outdated article of clothing out of the landfill by turning it into something "brand new."

Ahhhh. That feels good.

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better.
It's not.
--Dr. Seuss, from The Lorax

Make it a great day!


  1. Oh Ann, I love this new Feature idea :) While I certainly try to practice the 3 R's {reduce, reuse, recycle} I've not seen the addition of "r-e-s-p-e-c-t" {sing it now!} before and that's perfect {maybe I've been hiding under a rock, I don't know!}. I have to go check out these blogs.

    I can't find an email addr. for you so I want to let you know I should have the nutritional info updated / posted for my ice cream / gelato recipe by mid-week. I should include that info for all my future food posts so thanks so much for asking for it.


  2. Nice post Ann! I loved both of the sites that you featured!! I'm so glad you were able to use some of my graphics for your Re post!

  3. Thank you for this great feature. We are coming up on Earth Day on April 22nd, so this is a great way to jump start our Brains!

  4. Hi Ann, this should be a fun feature. I am not totally green, but try and reuse and recycle. I love making things out of old items. I rescue plenty of junk that's for sure. My parents instilled in me a waste not want not attitude. I try to always look for bargains.

  5. Hi Ann,
    Thanks for sharing these ladies with us. I'll definitely head over there!

  6. What a great post! Thank you for sharing at Funday Sunday! Hope to see you next week!

    Lauren at The Crafty Cowgirl

  7. I like the idea of checking in each Monday for one of these Re posts. I'm off, now, to check the sites you mentioned.

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