Four Fashionable Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rebel

lunchbag peace girl photo

The Rebel Green collection includes the ubiquitous reusable tote and t-shirt, but also reusable produce bags, and even veggie wash. The kid's line includes a Free Bird bib and Peace Girl reusable lunch bag. While the snappy designs caught my eye, I thought, What's with the army helmet and peace symbol? Ali Ruvin and Melina Marcus of Rebel Green are on a mission "to motivate a shift in thinking about the impact on the planet." Sounds good, though not revolutionary. Then I read their website and heard some feisty eco-drill sergeants state their case. I'm guessing they know some climate change deniers and are ready for combat: Here's the message:

infant onesie rebel green photo

The baby onesie blows a bubble message.
Style has power and our goal is to get people to become fashionably eco-conscious...Not cutsie bags with polka dots, hempy looking sacks with preachy green slogans, or worse, the dreaded polypropylene bag shouting "Buy Local" though the inner tag says it's made across the ocean. How we live, what we buy and what we throw away has ripple effects on the world around us. Therefore, we are dedicated to creating goods that are as much a fashion statement as they are a principled choice. We believe consumers can be change agents, and inspire others to rethink their habits.

Ali and Melina are determined to design chic, edgy, rebellious, and eco-friendly products for men, women and kids. Quoting Coco Chanel: "Fashion is not something that exists only in dresses. Fashion is in the sky, in the street; fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening."

youth tshirt princess photo

Aesthetics and ethics

To achieve their goal, the collection is made of sustainable materials, 100 percent organic cotton with low-impact inks and with a sassy attitude. Armed with their points, they're loud and clear, and spunky:

1. Cotton: conventional cotton farming is damaging to the environment. Cotton is the most pesticide dependent crop in the world. It takes approximately 1/3 pound of pesticides, herbicides, and defoliants to grow enough cotton to make just one conventional cotton tee shirt.

2. Printing that's done with traditional methods leaches harmful PVC's into the environment. So, we've gone with low-impact water-based printing on our apparel, using soy-based inks on all of our paper.

3. Laundering: A tag tells people how to clean apparel conscientiously: Use eco-friendly detergents in cold water and line-dry. It's the right thing to do for your skin and the planet.

4. Packaging gift items is minimal. Smart people know that less is more. Our boxes are made from 70% post-consumer recycled content, tissue is 100% post consumer recycled, and ribbons are from renewable, biodegradable cotton fiber, processed with water-based dyes and without chlorine bleach.

5. A percentage of sales is donated to clean water initiatives such as Charity Water, Great Lakes Water Institute and Growing Power.

tote bad habits image

Preachy slogan, suggestion or command?

While I've got a hefty collection of totes taking the place of paper and plastic bags between my wall and the fridge, and could get another for just a buck at the grocery store, do I want to advertise the market or support these women? As they say: "Your money talks and every time you make an eco-friendly purchase, you send a message to those savvy marketers--being eco-responsible matters." Rebel Green is out to win the battle against climate change one onesie at a time.

More on eco-fashion:
2010 Eco-Fashion Forecast
Why is Eco Fashion So Expensive?
What You Need to Know About Eco-Fashion: A 60-Second Primer

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