Eco-Fashion: The New Standard of Cool Innovative Clothing!

Eco-fashion is now mainstream. You only have to look at some of the world’s most celebrated actresses– Meryl Streep, Cameron Diaz, Penelope Cruz, Natalie Portman, Jennifer Aniston, Emma Watson, Salma Hayek and Alicia Silverstone – to know that sustainable fashion has arrived in a big way.

But what does “eco-fashion” really mean? And what kinds of eco-friendly materials are used by today’s eco-fashion designers? To begin with, eco-friendly fashion is a type of clothing or accessory that is created and produced in such a way to minimize deleterious environmental costs, social costs, animal welfare costs, and consumer health costs throughout the total lifecycle of the product i.e. using materials that have been recycled or are biodegradable or that have been grown without the use of pesticides and ensuring employees in the fashion industry earn fair wages in healthy working conditions whilst using these materials.

Examples of these eco-friendly materials range from plant fibers such as organic cotton, jute, flax, hemp, bamboo, soy, and wood pulp cellulose – to commonly known animal fibers (or animal hair) such as wool from sheep and llamas, mohair and cashmere from goats and silk from silkworms. But can some of these newer, lesser known, eco-friendly materials such as corn-based fibers, coconut-husk fibers, yak fibers and sour milk yarns be fashioned to meet our high expectations of beauty and performance? And what of synthetically-made discarded plastic soda bottles, used truck tarps and bicycle inner tubes? Can they too be turned into high-quality items of wearable and durable sophistication?

The answer is a resounding – “Yes”. Below here is a list of my favorite eco-conscious artisans, designers, and retailers who are doing just that – taking these materials from fibers to yarns to great fabric designs and humane and energy-conscious garment manufacturing processes – and bringing these very innovative eco-friendly collections of clothing, jewelry, and bags into your own home:

(1) Ecolissa ( – Online USA Retailer – Based in Massachusetts and launched in 2010, Ecolissa carries fashionable eco-friendly and vegan women’s clothing and accessories featuring such popular brands as “Ecoskin”, “Toggery”, “Stewart + Brown”, “Smartglass”, “Goodsociety”, “Indigenous”, “Spun”, and “Elroy”. Popular items include Yoga Capri Pants made of bamboo, “Bottled Up Designs Teardrop Earrings” made of reclaimed remains of antique blue mason jars and antique green beer bottles and an “Indigenous Riding Coat” made of 100% organic cotton from Peru.

(2) Green Tree Jewelry ( – Online USA Retailer – Based in San Diego, California, this company offers fun and affordable jewelry from renewable sources including “Kinetic Gear Earrings”, and “Block and Tackle Pulley Heart Pendant”.

(3) Juno and Jove ( – Online USA Retailer with Flagship Store in Sarasota, Florida – Juno and Jove carries a fantastic array of lifestyle products, gifts, and merchandise “selected for their construction, quality, design aesthetics, durability, material content, maintenance, and practicality” including women and men’s clothing, shoes, and accessories.

(4) Mission Savvy ( – Online USA Retailer with Organic Juice Bar and Café based in downtown Charleston, West Virginia – Mission Savvy not only offers a wide array of collections from ethical fashion designers who use sustainable and locally produced organic fabrics – but they offer workshops catering services, and a juice bar café and food truck featuring vegan, raw, and gluten free plates, snacks, and desserts. Five percent of their online store profits support animal rescue and wildlife conservation projects around the world.

(5) Walleska Ecochicc ( – Artisan & Online USA Retailer – Based in Dallas, Texas, Ecochicc carries an unusual array of modern luxury apparel, handbags, and accessories handcrafted from recycled aluminum can tabs melded with traditional crochet techniques and contemporary designs including their popular opera clutch and short kimono.

(6) NAUClothing ( – Online USA Retailer with store outlets in 37 states across America – Based in Portland, Oregon, NAU offers sustainable urban and outdoor apparel for today’s modern mobile lifestyle including men’s and women’s clothing, bags, packs, cases, wallets, deluxe travel kits, and café luxe kits.

(7) Amour Vert ( – Online USA Retailer – Based in Palo Alto, Calfiornia, Amour Vert carries sustainably chic, high-quality, high-fashion eco-apparel and accessories for women at an affordable price. Popular Items include Banago Woven Zig Zag Totes, Sprout Eco-Watches, Andean Tagua Bracelets and Necklaces, Striped Maxi Dresses, and Peacock Print Tunics.

(8) West Paw Design ( – Online USA Retailer – Based in Bozeman, Montana, West Paw Design carries the highest quality of eco-toys, apparel, bedding, for DOGS and CATS. Best-sellers are the Reknitz Dog Sweaters and Eco Slumber Beds.

In summary, eco-fashion is a lifestyle statement about ourselves. It’s a way of defining who we are and what we do – where we shop – how we shop – how we recycle – how we maintain our clothing – our pets – and of course, how we maintain our planet.

Multicultural Environmentalism At Work – The Preeminent Green Royals of Morocco, Monaco, and the Middle East!

There are a handful of royals right now who are using their unique sovereign status to draw attention to a variety of eco-causes. And in this article, we shall look specifically at the “Green Royals” of Monaco, Morocco, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia who are making a difference in “greening” their homelands – homelands with such allure and exotic fascination that many an old Hollywood movie has been aggrandized by using these places as the centerpiece of their story.

One of my favorites is “Casablanca”, a stirring wartime romance and adventure film set in northern Africa in 1942 featuring acting celebrities Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. Today, however, the city of Casablanca is now independent of French rule in the Kingdom of Morocco and its current king is Mohammed VI. And since 1999, his sister, HRH Princess Lalla Hasna, has been presiding over many an environmental initiative including the national campaign to protect the country’s 3,500 kilometers of Atlantic and Mediterranean coastline and most notably as Chairwoman of the “Mohammed VI Foundation for the Protection of the Environment” – the rehabilitation and reopening of “Hermitage Park” in Casablanca last year.

And for those of you who are adventure-loving moviegoers, who can forget the final climatic scenes of the action-packed 1989 Steven Spielberg film, “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” featuring the ancient cliff-carved monastery at Petra, Jordan? Lost for centuries, this rose-red colored city of stone is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. But not lost in the environmental annals of achievement is the present-day royal family of Jordan, five of whom are major players in the sustainable development of Jordan’s eco-tourism attractions and energy independency:

1) His Royal Majesty Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein is currently involved in one of the most ambitious eco-projects in world history called the “Sahara Forest Project” – an ambitious project to turn the deserts of Jordan into a verdant oasis utilizing saltwater-cooled greenhouses, a solar panel plant, algae cultivation facilities and halophyte or salt-loving plant cultivation units.

2) The king’s wife, Her Royal Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah, is both the Founder and Chairwoman of the “Jordan River Foundation” which empowers Jordanians – especially women and children – with economic opportunities realized thru the promotion of native eco-handicrafts i.e. baskets, mats and native furniture made of local banana leaves and cattail reeds. She is also a strong supporter of organic farming and her country’s plan to convert up to 5% of Jordanian farms by 2014.

3) The king’s step-mother, Her Royal Majesty Queen Noor, is the Co-Founder and Patron of “The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature” (RSCN) whose mission is to bio-manage the natural resources of Jordan and protect its wildlife species and the biodiversity of the wilderness regions of the kingdom. Her environmental achievements are many – 1) the establishment of twelve nature reserves, 2) the creation of more than 500 environmental school clubs throughout Jordan’s school system, 3) the integration of biodiversity concepts into school curricula, and 4) the socio-economic development of rural communities by creating job opportunities through eco-tourism, craft production, and other nature-based businesses. She also founded the “Aqaba Committee for the Protection of the Environment” and helped establish the Gulf of Aqaba’s Marine Science Station which houses an aquarium and carries out education and research projects. Internationally, the Queen is Patron of the IUCN, (the “International Union for Conservation of Nature”), the oldest international conservation organization in the world, and a board member of the WWF, ( the “World Wildlife Fund International”), the largest, privately supported international conservation organization dedicated to protecting the world’s wildlife and wildlands. In addition, Queen Noor is the Founding President and Honorary President Emeritus of “BirdLife International”, and Trustee Emeritus of “Conservation International”. Here in the USA, she is a director on the global board of “The Hunger Project” and an Ambassador for “Future Harvest CASA”, (the “Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture”) which promotes “profitable, environmentally sound and socially acceptable food and farming systems that work to sustain communities.”

4) The king’s uncle, Prince Hassan bin Tala, is a big supporter of a massive renewable energy project called “Desertec” which calls for the building of massive solar arrays throughout the Middle East and North Africa which could supply one-sixth of the European Union’s electricity needs. His aim is to seek energy independence for Jordan and to transition its people away from a fossil-fuel civilization to a solar-energy civilization.

5) The king’s aunt, Princess Basma bint Talal, is the Founder of both the “Royal Botanic Garden of Jordan” whose mission is “to preserve native plants and ecosystems, and promote biodiversity research and environmental learning” and the “Royal Marine Conservation Society of Jordan” whose mission is “to contribute to the conservation and sustainable use of the marine environment in Jordan through conservation programs, advocacy, education, outreach and empowerment”. She is also the chair of the Jordan Royal Ecological Diving Society and the National Environment Wildlife Society.

And who can forget acting royal, Grace Kelly, in Alfred Hitchcock’s memorable romantic thriller, “To Catch a Thief”, set in 1955 along the French Riviera? Today her son, Prince Albert II Grimaldi, better known as the “Green Prince”, is the Founder of the “Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation” whose commitment to sustainable and ethical projects around the world is reflected in his foundation’s mission: to combat climate change and develop renewable energies; to combat the loss of biodiversity; to combat desertification in Africa and improve universal access to clean water. Closer to home, one of the aims of the “Green Prince” is to have all future car races in the “Monaco Grand Prix” be fueled by biofuels and not gasoline. Towards that end, Monaco now has the highest state subsidies in the world for electric vehicles and hybrids as well as the highest concentration of electric-charging stations in the world for its land mass area of .7 square miles (or the size of New York City’s Central Park): 333+ stations for four-wheeled vehicles and 145+ stations for two-wheeled vehicles. Another innovation in new environmental technology applications that has come about under the auspices of Prince Albert is the Monaco-made invention of “Seawater Heat Pumps” which today produce 17 percent of the total energy consumed in the Principality of Monaco as well as the world’s first official fleet of electric “Smart Cars”.

And lastly, who can forget the Hollywood 1962 film classic, “Lawrence of Arabia”? Although Director, David Lean, shot this epic adventure in Morocco and Spain, the spectacular sand dunes shown across the big screen might as well have been the Arabian desert of Saudi Arabia in the eyes of many a westernized viewer. Today Saudi Arabia is proudly ruled by King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al Saud, who two years ago, decreed that a new renewable energy city be built called the “King Abdullah Economic City” along with the “King Abdullah University of Science and Technology” whose prestigious research facilities are focused on both solar and nuclear technologies and environmental issues.

Thus finding innovative solutions to key environmental and energy-related problems now has “royally green ambassadors” actively committed to ecologically-responsible alternatives.

“A Reef! A Reef! My Kingdom for a Reef!” – If Only Shakespeare’s King Richard III Could Scuba Dive!

It’s almost summer when my thoughts automatically turn to sand, surf, reefs and this year’s scuba diving venture in the Florida Keys. Yes, I am a “wreck trekker” at heart but I am also a reef enthusiast – both artificial and natural – and enjoy its many attractions for marine life and recreational fishing.

But perhaps most fascinating of all is the work that is being done in “building” and “restoring” reefs in the USA. Often called the “rainforests of the seas” and “the medicine cabinets of the 21st century”, coral reefs are now being grown in several “underwater nurseries” from Fort Lauderdale thru the Florida Keys to the U.S. Virgin Islands. And in New Jersey, a multi-talented artist/marine biologist/scuba instructor is making a 48-foot-long, 25,000-pound concrete sculpture of a horseshoe crab for use as an artificial reef off the New Jersey coast near Mantoloking. Let’s see then how well you know your reef-making trivia through the last twelve years.

1- Which state in America sponsors an artificial reef program that is the largest rigs-to-reef program in the world?
2- Which state in America is home to the “Ewa Deepwater Artificial Reef” sunk in 300-420 foot water which consists of two barges, two drydock caissons, 1073 tons of concrete pipes, a 43-foot cement structure, and 8000 tons of miscellaneous concrete pieces?
3- Which state in America is home to “Redbird Reef”, an artificial reef located in the Atlantic Ocean covering 1.3 square nautical miles of ocean floor made of 714-plus retired New York City subway cars, 86 retired tanks and armored personnel carriers, 8 tugboats and barges, and 3,000 tons of ballasted truck tires?
4- Which state is home to the largest artificial reef in the world made by the sinking of the aircraft carrier “USS Oriskany” on May 17, 2006 and now considered to be one of the top ten wreck diving sites in the world?
5- Which state is home to artificial reefs made mostly of quarry rock ideal for schools of rockfish, sand bass, and surfperches – and occasionally sunken light poles, pier pilings, concrete chimneys, and old streetcars?
6- What two endangered ‘deer-sounding’ coral species are being transplanted to degraded reefs in the waters off the coasts of Florida and the US Virgin Islands in what is the largest restoration project of its kind?
7- Can you name at least three causes of coral population decline due to either natural or man-made stresses?
8- There are three types of coral reefs around the world – atolls, barrier reefs, and fringing reefs. But how many types of coral are there in the world? A- Over 10,000 B-Over 100,000 C-Over 500,000 D-Over 1 Million
9- What combination of odd man-made objects have been sunk to create an artificial reef? A- Concrete Igloos & Cones B-Outdated Bridges & Docks C- Surplus Army Tanks & Navy Submarines D- Obsolete Airplanes & Helicopters E-All of the Above
10- Coral reefs are a source of food and shelter for a large variety of species including crabs, shrimp, oysters, clams, sponges, sea urchins, sea anemones, sea snakes, snails, jellyfish, and turtles. But what are corals? A) Plants B) Skeletons C) Minerals D) Colonial Animals with Limestone Homes

So whether its wrecks you wish to explore or the remarkable sea creatures hidden within brilliantly displayed coral reefs – you are guaranteed a dazzling show of aquatic magic like no other terrain in the world. If only Shakespeare’s King Richard III knew how to scuba dive—he might have thought differently about giving up his kingdom for a horse!

Answers: (1) Louisiana (2) Hawaii (3) Delaware (4) Florida (5) California (6) Staghorn and Elkhorn Corals (7) Hurricanes, Earthquakes, Disease, Pollution, Warmer Sea Temperatures, and Human Touch (8) C-Over 500,000 (9) E-All of the Above (10) D-Colonial Animals with Limestone Homes