I'm in week six of an eight-week journey to try to get greener and face my secret environmental foibles.
Well, one of my biggest downfalls continues to be cheap clothing. In Graham Hill and Meaghan O'Neill's eco-living primer "Ready, Set, Green," Week Six is devoted to clothing and personal care. Since I'm not much of a shopper, I thought I'd do very well in already having conquered many of the tips that come at the back of each chapter of the book. And in some ways, I did. I wash in cold water with eco-friendly detergents and get away without the dryer about 75% of the time. I long ago gave up dry cleaning. My pairs of shoes still easily fit on my small closet floor, and I LOVE to buy vintage.
And in the personal care section, I think I've made some good changes - I finally gave up hair highlighting and toe-nail painting, and I've slimmed the skin care routine down to two bottled items - Ballard Organics liquid soap (lasts forever) and moisture lotion with sunscreen. I use baking soda for skin scrub, occasional tooth polishing and deodorant. Hair care is down to two items - solid shampoo bars from Lush and liquid conditioner used very sparingly.But while I don't buy much, and I am willing to splurge for eco-cosmetics or green personal care, when faced with buying routine clothing items for myself or my family I still feel unable to pay full retail for eco-friendly items.
Giving up on sustainable socks
Take my recent quest for sustainable socks. I spent an hour or so searching on the web for kids' socks. I needed at least six pairs for each of my two sons, who through their school days, sports activities and just general living use up a pair quite quickly. I waited until they had just two hole-free pairs each. But the search was pretty fruitless. I went to Green Maven and Greenzer, and found a lot of entries, but drilling through them turned up few that had 'tween sizes for anything near approaching a fair price. In the end, I bought them each a bag of Fruit of the Loom socks from the grocery, six pairs for less than six dollars, and resigned myself to sock guilt. Some squeaky, sockless TreeHugger is sure to give me grief, but I'd really like to hear from heads of family who have solved the green sock dilemma...frugally.
Green T-s Are Getting Better
While socks were difficult, t-shirts were a little bit better...at least for adults. Organic Style's bamboo long-sleeved Scoopneck T was a hands-down winner, closely followed by the Thermal Shirt. T-s and long-sleeved t-s for the kids were more difficult, however. While organic and Fair Trade babywear abounds, what do manufacturers think happens when the kids get to be a bit older? The choices are paltry, to say the least.
In the end, on the positive side, we found cool secondhand pairs of shoes for each of my sons for the first day of school, and we rounded up and sharpened enough pencils by searching through the house to last until at least Christmas. They will use old pencil cases and binders. On the negative side, they got one new pair of jeans and one long sleeved T each, non organic. All in all, perhaps a good trade off.