Saturday, August 27, 2011

Cheap and Conscious Clothing and Shoes

Did you know that there are 'eco-friendly' clothing options available at retail stores? I know a lot of this is old news for some people, but I think it's important to revisit the idea, because these stores have continued to manufacture goods with consideration for the environment.

For clothing, H&M offers a few options made with organic cotton. They've also made clothing out of tencel, which is the trademark name for Lyocell, a fabric textile made from wood cellulose. It is more biodegradable than cotton, feels a bit like rayon (though not always), and it resists wrinkling. I own a pair of shorts and two shirts made from this fabric, and I've found that they also have wicking properties, which is nice in the summer. H&M also produces clothing made from recycled materials, and have recently incorporated hemp, a sustainable fiber. They also mark their 'conscious' products with green tags, so they're easy to spot in the store.

Every spring, it seems that H&M comes out with an environmentally conscious line; last year it was the Garden Collection and this year it was the Conscious Collection. However, they do offer some organic cotton choices during the off-season in the form of t-shirts, long-sleeved v-necks and scoopnecks, and dresses.

I recently purchased a pretty navy v-neck tee with flower detailing for about $13, and it is currently one of my favorites. Also, the t-shirt I'm wearing in the site picture is also from H&M and made from organic cotton. While I don't think organic cotton is the most environmentally friendly material in the world, it's a good start for a big company like H&M.

Here are some examples of what they've done in the past:

For more information about H&M's Conscious initiative, please visit

For shoes, Payless has a line called zoe&zac, a collection of cute and comfortable shoes made with recycled rubber and organic cotton. In the recent past, they've made boots, flats, and sandals, all while attempting to adopt sustainable practices. They don't contain formaldehyde, which is a suspected carcinogen, and are manufactured with low heavy metals (some of which can bioaccumulate within the body and cause lung cancer). Plus, they're adorable! If you've seen the site picture, you'll see that I'm wearing the silver flats in brown.

zoe&zac also makes accessories, like bags, scarves, and socks. I currently own a black satchel from this line that I purchased over a year ago and it is so versatile, I've been using it ever since. I only change when I have more to carry and irrationally want to lug everything I own around. The prices of these shoes range from approximately $20 to $36, and when Payless has a BoGo sale, it's a decent deal. As you can see, I'm a little obsessed:

Another great thing about this line is that it was co-created by Summer Rayne Oakes, a Cornell University graduate, gorgeous model, and environmental scientist. She made a name for herself by working only for designers who use sustainable and low impact materials, and adopting 'values-based' modeling to generate environmental awareness. She wrote a book called 'Style, Naturally', which is a 'shopping guide for sustainable fashion and beauty' ( It has introduced me to brands and products I didn't know existed (A bag made from recycled seat belts that actually looks attractive? Hold the phone!)

Knowing that her expertise was taken into consideration in the creation of these shoes gives me some assurance that Payless is making strides in adopting sustainable business practices. For more information about zoe&zac (or to buy their cute-ass shoes!) visit:

While shopping is a form a therapy for me (and I'm sure I'm not alone), it's better to reduce and reuse before recycling; that way you'll have already reduced your footprint before you've made a purchase, while saving money in the process. I am absolutely NOT perfect when it comes to this concept, as you can see from my pile o' shoes. However, by being aware of businesses that adopt sustainable fashion ideals, I can attempt to satiate my shopping cravings while saving money and being (at least somewhat) environmentally aware. Hopefully this gives you some ideas and perspectives on what to look for when you shop.

Until next post,
- Jessica

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