Tag Archives: Sustainability

Dangerous Chemicals In Your Clothing

Did you know that the products you wear contain dangerous chemicals that have a proven harmful effect on your health? Not only do we have to give careful consideration to the food we put in our bodies, we must consider the clothing and shoes we wear. Worst of all, children are the most vulnerable to the negative effects of chemicals that are added to otherwise perfectly safe materials. Two-year-old children are being exposed to dangerous levels of hormone-disrupting chemicals in domestic products such as rubber clogs and sun creams, according to an EU investigation being studied by the government. So what can you do? Until these chemicals are banned, it is important to choose products certified organic.

Hormone disrupting chemicals used in household products

• Phthalates are used in the manufacture of rubber clogs, rubber boots, soap packaging, products made from PVC, bath mats and soft toys. They are also found in food products as a result of environmental pollution, according to the Danish study.

• Oestrogen-like substances, including chemicals known as parabens, occur in cosmetics, sun creams and moisturising lotions.

• Pesticides, such as DDT, dioxins and PCBs, are also known hormone-disruptors.

If you would like to lean about what the European Union is doing to regulate the this problem, please click here.

Transformative Design

Sustainability is an enabler of innovation and should be at the core of the design of products and services and the development of new business models – World Economic Forum, Sustainable Consumption http://ping.fm/RZlJH

Davos 2010: Design for Change

World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos –  Today, Paola Antonelli, Kigge Mai Hvid, John Maeda, Chris Luebkeman, Alice, Rawthorn, Jens Martin Skibsted, moderator Tim Brown and I, were Discussion leaders at the Design for Change plenary held inside the Congress Center to answer: What can we learn from the design community about the principles of design thinking to help develop solutions to today’s complex problems? http://tiny.cc/qnhH2

One Trillion Dollar Industry

FACT: Annually, the world’s consumers spend more than 1 trillion dollars worldwide buying clothes. And despite the global recession, spending has increased by .3% in 2009.

Why isn’t this good news? Businesses and governments are wasting and polluting limited natural resources such as water, minerals and land to provide more products for customer to consume. In fact, 20% of the world population consumes more than 80% of the worlds resources.With such an imbalance, how will meet the needs of a world population that is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050?

The world’s rising population is expected to be richer and demand the consumer products once limited to a few nations. In fact, more than 70 million people from Asia, Latin America and Africa will enter a global middle-class each year.

If we do not build transformative new business models that provide goods and services in an environmentally and economically sustainable way, we will have an unprecedented problem. Join me in helping create innovative sustainable businesses based on the values of wellness, prosperity and equity.

I believe that we have the creativity and capacity as a people, to redesign business practices and lifestyles that improve the quality of life for all. NATALIA

Nokia Designs that Save, Cost More

three-new-nokia-cell-phones-01

In the New York Times article, “Nokia Tries to Undo Blunders in U.S.,” journalist, Kevin J. O’brien interviews executives at Nokia, a Finnish company and the world’s largest cell phone maker, about its decline in the United States.

Nokia’s comments are best summarized by this quote: “Among its biggest blunders, analysts and former Nokia executives say, the company failed to design many of its phones to the tastes of American consumers, instead mass producing devices for the global market to save on production costs.” That move cost Nokia almost a 30% share of the American market. On Thursday, Nokia posted a 1.36 billion loss and a global sales decline of 20%.

Evident in this story: the value of good design, and the cost of short-term thinking.

Example, Nokia was slow to develop a smart phone that could compete with the iPhone, a consistently growing sector of the cell phone market. And refused to tailor merchandise to local tastes and demands, at a penalty. The cell phone industry is extremely competitive and good design is an important element to any business success story.

Now, “Mark Louison, president of Nokia’s North American unit, says the company is laying the groundwork for long-term success.” Long-term, is a word not often uttered in corporate America. That said, having a vision of the long-term, the future that is, will be critical to any company looking to thrive.

If  only more executives  would take the time to understand the long-term picture and build for local markets, we would all benefit from an environmentally and economically sustainable world. NATALIA

Carbon Fiber Textiles

Carbon fibers are a woven structure of thin carbon strands used to create a strong and lightweight shell for a variety of products from cars and fishing rods to cycling clothing.

The textiles are stronger than steel but much lighter. This decreased density is why the fibers are used to lower the center of gravity in cars, and create ultra light, durable clothing.

In some cases the fibers endure a multi-step process of heat and oxidization reaching several hundreds of degrees Celsius. The last phase for some of the fibers involves using a plastic resin changing the fiber into Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic. For military use in planes and protective clothing this multi-step, energy intensive process may make sense, yet it seems excessive for everyday clothing.

According to C&F Fabric Corps., the carbon fiber biking jerseys have extra absorbency to keep athletes cooler, cleaner and drier. Overall, the ecological impact seems too great to start mass producing clothing dependent on a process involving extreme temperatures and exposure to toxins.

– GANDRUD

History of the Bike Jersey

English Retreads

English Retreads

English Retreads is a Boulder, CO based company born from Heather English’s own desire for a vegan handbag. Heather, a strict vegetarian, was looking for a leather alternative handbag. One day while floating down Boulder Creek on an inner tube she got an idea to refurbish vintage rubber and made herself a bag with tools from the local company McGuckin Hardware. After producing her bag and a few for friends, the company was officially founded in 2001 and operated out of her basement. Now based out of North Boulder, English Retreads continues to collect used inner tubes from local bike shops and gas stations, reusing the rubber for everything from dog collars to purses and belts. The average inner tubes have traveled an average of 60,000 miles already according to English Retreads.

Aside from a personal commitment to vegetarianism, Heather had no formal background in design or production. The company’s philosophy is to create “one-of-a-kind, hand-crafter accessories that make a high-impact fashion statement and a low impact on the environment.” Eight years later the company offers its hip, urban, waterproof products throughout  local boutiques in the U.S. and Canada. Not only is the product committed to social and ecological consciousness, English Retreads is a member of Co-op America’s Green Business Network and offsets its carbon footprint.

The bags themselves are very individual since each inner tube has different markings and as of now the product is made by hand. Recently the line has expanded to include lined bags as well and the lining is made for PET, recycled plastic bottles. Of course the bags are sturdy because of the material and also a little heavy. English Retreads is a great example of a local business born from an individual need for a smart product.

English Retreads bags are only sold in local boutiques and the average cost is between$100 and $200, with the large Beetle (pictured above) retailing at $209. – GANDRUD

 English Retreads

McGuckin Hardware