Category Archives: Sustainability

American Leadership and the Need for Conservation

It is evident that the Obama administration has taken comprehensive measures to mitigate the damage of the Deepwater Horizon BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico. On May 12th it released this statement: “The President has been clear from the beginning: his Administration will not rest until the leak is contained and cleaned up and we will aggressively pursue full compensation for damages from BP and other responsible parties.” It is also worth noting that President Obama and several members of Congress withdrew their support for increased offshore drilling in the United States after the oil spill. Their actions were prudent, responsible and commendable.

That said, I believe we are experiencing a crisis of leadership. The United States influences how the rest of the world lives. The nation has a responsibility that comes with its privilege. Unfortunately, national leaders have failed to push for the dramatic change required to protect people, our economy and environment. We need to address the over-consumption of oil and oil byproducts (e.g. plastics) in America.

Whether we shift to a domestic supply of oil or continue to drill overseas, Americans have to face the hard reality that most of our lifestyles are unsustainable. We must begin to conserve and treat our resources as the limited and valuable inheritance they are.

Many officials have discussed the need for innovations such as smart grids, nuclear energy and improved photovoltaic panels. However, few have pressed for the clear and urgent need for conservation. Consuming less is not a popular topic among business or government leaders though it is a necessary one.

Innovation is very important but alone will not solve our problems. Creativity and inventiveness will offer us new and improved options for the future but today we must act with resolve and as stewards of a natural wealth by consuming and wasting less.

I hope more of America’s national leaders will take a stance for what is good for the people of the United States and the world by teaching conservation and shifting to a more sustainable lifestyle. We have done it before. In fact, after the oil crisis of the 1970’s, America curbed its use of oil for more than 20 years. Oil prices dropped as demand decreased.

In light of the recent environmental tragedy, it is time to pick a side of the fence and hold ground. Either we begin to conserve and design innovative sustainable practices or we continue with the same and label our destructive habits with green euphemisms. I trust that we Americans and our leaders will choose what is good over what is easy. NATALIA

To read more about current legislation to protect the Gulf visit click here.

Photo credit: http://www.cbsnews.com

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Design Futurist – joins World Economic Forum – Young Global Leaders

natalia-allen-design-futuristNEW YORK, NY – February 25, 2009 – Natalia Allen received an honor, bestowed each year by the World Economic Forum. The Forum recognizes and acknowledges between 200 and 300 outstanding young leaders from around the world for their professional accomplishments, commitment to society and potential to contribute to shaping the future of the world.

Drawn from a pool of almost 5,000 candidates, the Young Global Leaders 2009 were chosen by a selection committee, chaired by H.M. Queen Rania Al Abdullah of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, comprising 31 eminent international media leaders.

About The Forum of Young Global Leaders – Established in 2004 by Professor Klaus Schwab, The Forum of Young Global Leaders is a unique, multistakeholder community of the world’s most extraordinary young leaders who dedicate a part of their time to jointly address global challenges and who are committed to devote part of their knowledge and energy to collectively work towards a better future. Together the Young Global Leaders work to discover innovative solutions to today’s most pressing problems through various initiatives and workstreams as well as catalysing the next generation of leaders. Please visit the link for more information. Source: http://www.weforum.orgWorld Economic Forum announces Young Global Leaders 2009 http://www.younggloballeaders.org

Bionic Yarn

Beautiful, sustainable and durable. That’s the motto for Bionic Yarn and hopefully part of the fashion industry’s New Years resolution. 

Return Textiles Corp, a two-year-old New York based company, engineers and manufactures sustainable yarn and fabric made from recycled plastic bottles. The construct is made of a polyester core wrapped in recycled plastic and then depending on what the fabric will be used for, a combination of nylon, polyester or cotton will be wrapped around the recycled plastic in two different directions creating a tension similar to a Chinese finger trap. The durable fabric is used to make backpacks, luggage, handbags, active apparel, work wear, denim, footwear, home and outdoor furnishings.

Bionic Yarn Construction

 

According to Bionic Yarn it takes eighteen 1 liter recycled water bottles to make an average piece of luggage and seven recycled plastic bottles to make a pair of jeans. With 60 million plastic bottles from consumers being put into landfills daily, there is more than enough supply to continue developing these types of sustainable fabrics.

 Pharrell Williams

Pharrell Williams the Grammy winning musician and a new investor and owner of Bionic Yarn has incorporated the new material into his own clothing lines Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream.  Pharrell was quoted as having said he was fascinated with the technology and pleased with the softness of the denim as well. With growing concern for the environment Williams will be an ambassador to the company. As Pharrell says, “Our goal is to be the go-to fabric supplier. We want to provide quality fabrics that also happen to be sustainable. We want to do everything from high end luggage to high end denim, to university caps and gowns to Parks Department uniforms. It’s a plus that the fabric brings environmentalism to a whole new level.”

Let’s hope so Pharrell, let’s hope so.

Bionic Yarn

Billionaire Boys Club & Ice Cream

The New, Green Museum

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The California Academy of Science in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park has long been dedicated to the study of nature, and after 8 years and half a billion dollars in sustainable renovations, Italian architect Renzo Piano’s design is a pioneer in sustainable architecture. Unlike traditional theater museums, this museum is built inside the park, well underneath it to be more specific. The 2.5 acre living roof is the signature element. After walking the grounds in silence and observing the hills from a run down building, Piano sketched a simple rolling hill with a line underneath and with only his sketchbook, Piano beat the other five competitors.

Not only has Piano’s design been compared to Frank Lloyd Wright’s spiraling Guggenheim Museum and Frank Gehry’s titanium Guggenheim in Bilbao, the new museum is expected to capture the attention of the public with its design and green focus. Hoping to receive the highest ranking from the U. S. Green Building Council, a platinum LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, the living roof absorbs storm water and according to the museum will prevent 3.6 million gallons of polluted water from entering into the eco-system. The living roof is also home to wildlife and California wildflowers. It is said that the roof keeps the building 10 degrees cooler and turns carbon dioxide into oxygen.  Solar cells produce 5-10% of the museum’s energy as well. The structure is insulated by nearly 216,000 pairs of Levi’s jeans, paying homage to the native San Francisco denim company.

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Underneath the living roof, the museum houses the Steinhart Aquarium, Morrison Planetarium, Kimball Natural History Museum and includes a four story rainforest, a coral reef, a 100,000 gallon tank with Pacific coast marine life, a swamp, a habitat for penguins and exhibit on climate change and global warming.

Piano explains, “You almost never get a chance to build something in the middle of a great park, so it needed to be transparent…here you need to know about the connection with nature, so almost anywhere you are in this building you can see through to the outside.”

California Academy of Science: http://www.calacademy.org/
More on Renzo Piano: http://architect.architecture.sk/renzo-piano-architect/renzo-piano-architect.php

NANCY GANDRUD

Recycled Fashion

Believe it or not, the fashion industry is responsible for a large part of the world’s pollution. From manufacturing to shipping, tons of toxic chemicals, CO2 and greenhouse gasses are discharged, and huge amounts of oil and energy are consumed.  That said, where can one go for stylish, yet eco-friendly clothing?  Enter Goodone, a British label that creates hip and trendy clothes made from recycled garments. 

Founded by two Brighton University graduates, Nin Castle and Phoebe Emerson, Goodone takes second-hand or throwaway clothing and repurposes them into new garments that don’t look obviously recycled.  Their style has an urban and edgy vibe, with each garment being unique since all textiles and prints come from used clothing.  All products are locally hand-made from individually chosen recycled garments or sourced from textile recycling factories.  What is innovative about Goodone is that they are providing a creative and sustainable solution to counteract the damage that the fashion industry has been wreaking upon the environment.  By using materials that already exist, they don’t need to consume more energy or expend more toxic waste in order to manufacture new products.  And unlike some other companies that have hopped on the recycling bandwagon, Goodone’s garments are not only eco-friendly and fashionable, but also completely realistic and wearable.  Now that’s fashion with a conscience.  WU

Come Ride With Me

Rush-hour streets of New York

Rush-hour streets of New York

 

With fuel prices on the rise and the effects of global warming becoming more apparent each day, many commuters are turning to greener ways of transportation.  In New York, cab sharing is becoming a popular and cost-effective way to get from place to place.  Websites such as RideAmigos.com allows New Yorkers to search for fellow riders with common destinations and arrange to share a ride.  In Washington D.C., a program called SmartBike DC allows commuters to rent bicycles by the hour to efficiently get around the Capitol.  In Paris, a similar bike rental program, called Velib, allows Parisians (and tourists) access to public bicycles, creating an effective alternative for reaching destination points between Metro stations.  Swedish home furnishings giant IKEA takes the concept of rental bicycles one step further by providing “trailer bikes,” bicycles equipped with carts, as an eco-friendly way for shoppers to transport their flat-packed goods back home. These innovative methods of alternative transportation are gradually beginning to take off in many major cities.

Velib bike rental station in Paris

Velib bike rental station in Paris

In New York, a crowded city where traffic congestion and delayed subway trains are a daily nuisance, it would be refreshing to find other (greener) means of transportation. However, a recurring problem is that most urban roads were not designed with cyclists in mind.  The lack of separate bicycle lanes in many cities heightens the risk of accidents for cyclists, and also deters many from considering biking as an alternate form of commute.  This trend for sustainability is still relatively new, and many people are only slowly beginning to adapt to the mindset of a sustainable lifestyle.   Thus, predictably, it will take a while before cities such as New York are able to fully embrace change for a more sustainable society. WU

Première Vision Inquisition

Premiere Vision: The Premier Textile Workshop

July 17, 2008 – NEW YORK
Today, I visited Première Vision’s “Preview New York.” Held in Chelsea’s Metropolitan Pavilion, textiles companies from around the world gathered to present their finest fabric samples at this textiles tradeshow. I was looking forward to this event. While stuck in traffic en route, I speculated on all the wonderful new things I would find. Like Indiana Jones on a treasure hunt, I was eager to discover some avant-garde, never-before-seen textile, or a radical new way of producing fabric from recycled tires.

After receiving my visitor’s pass, I checked the guidebook to plan my course of action. The exhibitors were categorized into four “style universes,” with the names Seduction, Distinction, Relax, and Pulsation. There was also a catering table, but the lack of a cocktail bar narrowed down my options. No matter, I decided to start in the universe of Relax. Streetwear is my field of expertise, so I was immediately drawn to the stone-washed, sand-blasted denim booths. I struck gold at my first stop, a Turkish company called Birlik Mensucat. The manager informed me that their cottons were 100% organic, even the dyes and production process were certified eco-friendly. Sounds good to me. We traded cards and I moved on, encouraged to find more organic textiles.

I wandered through the various textile universes on the hunt for innovation, making stops here and there. One of the more noteworthy visits was at Hasegawa, a Japanese textile manufacturer. Their tissue-thin silk/cotton jerseys were the finest I had ever seen. I was also intrigued by a platinum-colored jersey, which, upon inquiry, discovered it was actually metallic ink printed on fine-gauge silk jersey. I immediately ordered a swatch book.

Premiere Vision Preview New York

Premiere Vision Preview New York

After a couple dozen booths, I realized that the majority of the gorgeous fabrics that I had seen were simply not organic or sustainable. In fact, sustainability didn’t even seem to be an issue, since there was no indication of it anywhere on the maps, booths, or trend displays. It was becoming tedious to have to enquire whether or not every company I visited produced eco-friendly textiles. Just as I was ready to admit defeat, I spotted a shirt with the words “100% Organic Cotton” hanging outside a booth. The booth belonged to French company Siat & Lang. The manager showed me some beautiful shirting fabrics, all 100% organic and made in France. I ordered some last samples before heading out.

During my cab ride back to the office, I reviewed all the companies I had visited. Unfortunately, I did not find as many interesting textiles as I anticipated, and was hugely disappointed by the lack of eco-consciousness in the overall exhibition. Perhaps there is a separate textile show out there specifically for sustainable materials. However, I think that if Première Vision wants to continue labeling themselves as “the premier textile workshop,” they should expand their vision and look at current issues of sustainability that are increasingly relevant to the world of fashion. WU

All photos courtesy of Première Vision. http://www.premierevision-newyork.com/