Thursday, January 31, 2008

Could The USA Rock Organic Like Europe ?

I know that the US has great organic minded designers, who make plenty beautiful eco clothing (because I carry them @ The Oko Box) - but Europe seems to rock organic in such a no nonsense natural way. Is it possibly the difference in our social attitude towards organic & our bodies that I am feeling ? KUYICHI is a European organic clothing company, with a gorgeous selection of organic denim and tops. When I look lustfully at their collection, what I first think is - how can we get this in the USA - and secondly - why don't we already have stores like this ? It looks like American Eagle, but is fully equiped to save the planet with eco conscience fabrics & business practices. Part of being a modern consumer is now being a responsible consumer- and we all individually have great power to make this world a healthy and happy place. Simple everday choices make a huge difference when we all start making them together ! I was recently told by someone that we "need cheap stores like Walmart because it makes products available to the poor" - but what an oxymoron when buying cheap products from overseas creates horrible poverty in other countries. Are we partial to US poor only ? What do you think ?
To view the Kuyichi Collection :

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Gaia Conceptions Organic Clothing

"My desire has always been to find a place where my environmental and humanitarian values can become interwoven with my work as a designer and artist."

What attracted me to Gaia Conceptions was not only the brilliant earthy designs, but her concepts are brought to light with materials that are not only organic, but also local. "The Certified Organic Cotton - is grown in Texas, ginned in North Carolina, and made into fabric in South Carolina." She also designs with exquisite natural fabrics spun of hemp, raw silk, and organic wool - using only fiber reactive eco safe dyes to create a rainbow of colors. If that isn't cool enough, she will do custom orders to fit just your shape ! Check out her ESTY store full of organic dresses, skirts, tops, maternity, for baby, and more here @ .

Non Toxic Remodeling

Before I owned The Öko Box, I remodeled old (um, scary old with collapsing foundation ) houses. Remodeling non-toxic was definitely a learning process, but well worth the knowledge and fresh air. The EPA states that indoor air pollution is MUCH higher then outdoor air pollution, the main reason being that we fill our homes with toxic building materials that do out gas for many years to come. The first question I get from most people is Why Would They Sell It If It Was Really That Toxic ? And the answer is that most construction materials are regulated for safety - and that version of safety means that your house won't fall to pieces suddenly, that they are crafted to last, resist, & remain stable through this process of aging. As far as the air you breathe, this is highly unregulated and alot like mixing the wrong prescription drugs, remodeling may end up being one seriously toxic cocktail of substances that can make you sick. That paint can does not come with a warning like "do not apply during the same year as liquid nails, caulk, flooring glue, dry wall..." . The EPA has stated that new construction is dangerous to all children, elderly and chronically ill, but I would venture to say that anything toxic is toxic for us all, even if we are not frail or don't have developing brains. (Feels like mine is always developing !)
The first and easiest thing to start with is paint. This one is extremely important, especially if you are painting a newborn's room. It is now a widely accepted theory in Australia, that SIDS is caused by the toxic materials in a baby's room (new paint, new bedding, new furniture). I tend to agree with this, being that scientifically we know VOCS, formaldehyde, and fire retardants to be highly toxic substances which cause an array of serious health issues. Here is a *No VOC safe paint * list put together by Ideal Bite :

"Anna Sova - get good coat from a paint that's made from 99% food-grade ingredients and renewables.
American Clay - actually a plaster ($14/50 lbs).
Real Milk Paint - for that "adobe"-style look ($46/gallon).
Yolo Colorhouse - limited range of colors, but exquisite in all other ways ($37/gallon).
Bioshield - both matte and gloss finishes. Also check out their all-natural primer and thinner ($30-50/gallon).
Benjamin Moore Eco Spec - used by some of the top eco-builders out there ($25/gallon).
Olympic - low-odor, Green Seal-approved and widely available at Lowe's ($17/gallon).
American Pride Paints - great for people with chemical sensitivities ($22/gallon).
Ecos Organic Paints - for the UK (£15/1 L).
Paint Bucket Grid - save paint and eliminate the need for plastic trays with a paint grid that you hang over the lip of the bucket ($2).
Earth911 - find out where to recycle or donate leftover paint, and check out their paint calculators so you can buy just the amount you need."

*If you take a closer look at BIOSHIELD, you will see they have an array of less toxic products(like oils) - but I want to note here, less toxic may not really be non toxic and if you are chemically sensitive you may need to discern all the ingredients and begin to really think out of the box before buying. (I did a DIY experiment once with wood oil- by boiling olive oil, vinegar, and lots of salt then applied it to a raw wood table. It is still rocking that stain I made and looks beautiful.)
*AFM SAFECOAT has an array of awesome less toxic construction products, like caulking, weather proof sealers, 3-n-1 adhesive, roof guard , oils, stains and No VOC paints (look here at their list):

*Insulation is usually dowsed in fire retardants & formaldehyde to prevent it from spreading a house fire (although if your house is burning that intensely the fire retardant isn't going to stop it - it's more of a psychological application then one of reality). Unfortunately insulation out gases for a minimum of 7 years. Uhg- that is a long time ! The cheapest alternative which can be easily ordered through your local construction supply company is formaldehyde free fiber glass insulation. If you live in a humid climate this would be preferable to the new recycled cotton insulation- which should only be used in dry climates due to possible mildew growth. The newest (not cheapest) thermal management option is a single cell blown foam substance called Icynene. "Icynene® is the leading 100% water-blown foam insulation that minimizes air leakage for increased energy efficiency, creates a healthier indoor environment, reduces airborne sounds and offers greater design freedom. Icynene® maintains its performance with no loss of
R-value over time. It does not shrink, sag or settle. Icynene® adheres to most construction materials and is the perfect insulation for walls, attics, ceilings and floors."

* Flooring is one of personal aesthetics, and now there's a buffet of eco choices - sustainable wood flooring varnished in non toxic coating, bamboo flooring, beautiful cork floors, chemical free carpets, eco ceramic tiles - this is so endless, you will have to do an online search to find your personal floor fancy. :)

For a full and fantastic eco-home resource, try Ecological Home Magazine here @ ! This magazine is full of info and ideas .

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Eco Tips From Ideal Bite

Looking for cool eco tips, that make earth friendly living seem within reach ? Check out Ideal Bite- - chalk full of easy ways to green our lives and maintain a modern lifestyle. They provide real life tips, a personal story and links to the places where you can get started ! Super fun, and written with a sense of humor :) - plus it's free to sign up.

Can I Afford Ethical Footwear ?

This is a subject which I have a love hate relationship with - mainly because I LOVE ethical shoes, but hate that the average person scarcely can afford them. I understand that making ethical goods takes more cost, but sometimes these shoes seem priced so out of range it makes me want to weep. I have contemplated a shoe limit - like I will buy ethical made shoes but I will only have 2 or 3 pairs and no other shoes ( a boot, a heel, and a flat pair ). And of course, I will have to save up money for this venture. Terra Plana shoes can run well into $300 plus a pair, but mainly averaging around $260 . Which is why, it seemed a relief to find El Naturalista, who's created a wide range of less expensive then Terra Plana eco footwear for men and women. Less expensive does not equal affordable, but certainly more within reach- with some pairs starting around $80, and up to $260 for more intricate boot designs. One easy way to shop for them in the USA, is through Biz Rate : . You can also view the entire ethical shoe collection at the El Naturlista website @ !

Soy Wax Massage Candles

From the moment I discovered soy wax massage candles, I was fascinated with their magical powers to go from burning candle to warm yummy massage oil. But I have chemical sensitivities, and every place I found these brilliant inventions seemed to be smothered in artificial scents, like Mango Vanilla & Mojito Peppermint. The prospect made me think more of gagging then massaging. Unscented seemed to not be an option - but finally after many months of searching I discovered an unscented, safe massage candle for those with sensitivities/allergies ! The 100% soy wax candles are handcrafted by "Pomdee" , who says she started making them so that she too could have the unscented option. "By using soy wax, you don't have the toxins you get by burning typical candles (you know the black junk that comes off of them)" and because she uses a unique wood wick she says "you don't have the lead wick burning in your home that 99% of the candles use." To complete the circle of eco bonuses, the glass container can be easily washed and re-used as a cocktail glass.

Pomdee & The Öko Box are now collaborating to bring a naturally scented version of this candle, lovingly created with true essential oils that are commonly used in massage therapy.

Try them out @ ! Just look under the intimates section :)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Advice from Grist: Is It Green ?

This is an excerpt from Grist's "Is it Green?" Guide :

Buyer Beware: Greenwashing's Red Flags
Vague claims. Words like "natural," "green," "eco," "nontoxic," and even "biodegradable" don't mean much on their own. They're easy to slap on a product, and they're not currently regulated. Look for more concrete terms like "organic" and "recycled," which are overseen more closely by the federal government and can be verified with a symbol on the package. (And note that "recyclable" just means you might be able to recycle the product in your community, while "recycled" actually means the company has already incorporated some amount of recycled materials in the product.)

Pretty packaging. More and more products, especially cosmetics and household cleaners, are adopting a "natural" look, eschewing the bright colors of old and replacing them with a cleaner, softer design. Is your laundry detergent really made from flowers, or has it simply added 1 percent flower oil to its chemicalicious mix? Read the ingredients to find out.

Nontransparency. If a company doesn't have the space on its product to explain its green claims, it should make the information available on its website or through its customer service department. Look for a phone number or web address on the package -- if you can't find it, or if it's hard to track down more details once you contact the company, there's something fishy going on.

Big promises. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Can you really make up for a year's worth of driving by paying a carbon-offset surcharge when you buy a car? Can a biodegradable diaper really biodegrade if it's smooshed into a deep, dark landfill? (Doubtful, and no.) Companies want to ease your mind with such promises -- but try not to make purchases based on emotions. Instead, learn as much as you can about the realities behind the claims.

Discount Organic Denim

Organic Denim does not always have to carry a $200 plus designer price tag, if you buy last season's design ! I am an organic clothing bargain hunter, and this find has gotten me a few awesome pairs of affordable organic jeans. is not an ethical store, but a designer discount outlet that happens to carry the beloved LOOMSTATE organic jeans - for prices between $43.99 - $89.99 ! Yippee ! Deals that good make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside :)
PS - When you get to, just put "loomstate" in the search to get an array of styles and colors.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


G Ö T T I N D E S G L Ü C K S is surprisingly the first eco designer to come from Austria. I will be carrying 2 items @ the oko box from this spring collection, including the organic champagne glass dress (black) in this pic. Most of G L Ü C K S clothing is adorned with prints of witty (nearly feminist) writing and beautiful line drawings. To view more about this designer go to . Look for these designs in April '08 @ !

My Organic Olive Tree

My organic olive tree from is already making blooms ! This is amazing considering it is growing indoors- but what really amazes me is the way the tiny closed flowers look just like micro-olives :) mmm ! (See pic to the right ).

The Organic Style store was formerly the Organic Bouquet- they have now expanded to have organic gifts o' plenty - including cool bonsai trees, organic food baskets, organic pet supplies and organic clothing. And of course, great organic olive trees. If you want a really spectacular (more expensive) organic olive tree, visit . Viva Terra has Topiary Trees (Olive, Lemon, Hibiscus), that can be ordered in handcrafted tree root pots.

FYI : Olive trees require a minimum winter temperature to bloom in the spring. Global warming may some day hit the olive industry as temperatures definitely affect crop set and size. A local winter temperature rise due to development around the tree such as buildings and asphalt which act as a wintertime heat sink, can inhibit fruiting.


Saturday, January 26, 2008

Australian Organic Intimates

Australian Designer Madonna Bain creates simple, soft organic intimates - the rare kind you can look sexy and feel relaxed in at the same time. Madonna says of her designs "My pieces are all about organic luxury - intimates which are soft on the earth and even softer to the touch. Designed to fit with the modern lifestyle, feminine and stylish lounge wear which is easy wear and comfortable."
You can find her Australian organic cotton collection at , where she says new color choices are coming soon !

PS- Looking for something more? Find organic intimates, vintage lingerie, french organic cotton undies, organic camisoles, and organic pajamas @ The Oko Box!

Eco On Etsy







This unique hemp and organic cotton blend dress, is made by one of the many awesome eco-conscience designers on . Do a search on organic clothing, recycled materials, or eco to find a plethora of fantastic planet loven' items. The Johansen Wrap Dress (featured above) can be found at "Makool Loves You" store @ .

Pollution Causing Diabetes ?

In my opinion, our exposure to high & varying amounts of pollution absolutely causes health problems - eventually this will be as accepted as the once rejected theory the world is round. (I mean, who wants to eat the food sprayed with the stuff that guy has to wear that protective bio warfare suit for !) Until then there will be studies and debates on whether pollution effects our health.
New types of blood tests have been implemented in scientific research, which measure the amount of pollutants in human blood. There is now proof that things we are exposed to on a daily basis are becoming part of our inner workings, as scientists find various types of plastics, heavy metals, pesticides, fire retardants, and other toxic substances floating about the average persons blood stream. This is because these substances are coming from common house hold items- we eat, drink and store everything in plastic, heavy metals are in our nail polish, lipstick, and house paint, pesticides are on all non organic food and garden plants, fire retardants are on our mattress, furniture and children's toys. They have yet to say that this causes a definite disease such as Diabetes, only claiming there is a "correlation" and not a "causation"- but think about blood in it's most rudimentary form, it is what keeps us alive, gives us energy and nourishes us. And I don't think it is far fetched to guess that plastic, heavy metals, and other toxic substances will weaken the veins over time, causing heart disease and other tissue related damage.

Here is an excerpt of a current study on the connection between Diabetes and pesticides:
"In the journal The Lancet, Drs. Oliver Jones and Julian Griffin highlight the need to research the possible link between persistent organic pollutants (POPs, a group which includes many pesticides) and insulin resistance, which can lead to adult onset diabetes.
Dr Jones and Dr. Griffin cite peer reviewed research including that of Dr D Lee, et al, which demonstrated a very strong relationship between the levels of POPs in blood, particularly organochlorine compounds, and the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Interestingly, in the Lee study an association between obesity and diabetes was absent in people with low concentrations of POPs in their blood. In other words, individuals were more at risk of diabetes if they were thin with high levels of POPs in their blood than if they were overweight but with low levels of POPs.
It is well documented that significant exposure to POPs can cause negative health effects. The US Environmental Protection Agency states that the pesticide Chlordane, for example, can cause cancer, can lead to behavioral disorders in children if exposed before birth or while nursing, and harms the endocrine system, nervous system, digestive system, and liver."
If you would like to learn more, go to for a full report.

Friday, January 25, 2008


Here is a social commentary blurb on consumerism (aka Walmart-esque shopping) created by BUDDHAGOUDA PRODUCTIONS :

This video is not recommended for the easily offended or for those who lack humor ;)

Women earn 1.7 cents, per Harvard Hat

"In Bangladesh, women earn 1.7 cents for every baseball cap they sew with a Harvard logo and 5 cents for every Disney T-shirt they sew that sells for $17.99."
-National Labor Committee

Imagine you are that worker, committing yourself to hard labor in a dark unhealthy factory, to still live in poverty. No benefits, no human relations, children working beside you - and then you hear that for the 5 cents you made sewing that t-shirt, it was sold for 35.98 X's what you made. Think of the fat white men in suits, flying all over the world & sipping their bloody mary, off slave labor profit.

*"Today, organic and Fair Made clothing constitutes a niche market, but with your support we can ensure that at least 30% of all clothing in the USA is Organic & Fair Made by the year 2010. Help us reach these goals by participating locally in the Clothes For a Change campaign:
Campaign for your school district or university to begin purchasing only organic and Fair Made clothing and fibers. Campus clothing represents is a $6 billion a year industry.
Get a resolution passed in your town mandating organic and fair made fiber purchasing for municipal contracts.
Buy your new clothing from socially responsible businesses who can certify that their products are organic (not genetically engineered) and Fair Made.
Fax the Gap and ask them to meet our demands!
Help us ensure that every exhibitor at Earth Day festivals and May Day Rallies are selling only fair made and organic clothes.
Organize a leafleting event and demonstration outside your local Gap!
Ask the manager of the local store where you purchase your clothes if they can guarantee that the fibers they use are GMO-free and organic and if the workers who made the garments were paid a living wage. "*
VIA : Organic Consumers association, Clothes for a change,

Organic Trade Association

The Öko Box is proud to annouce that it is now a member of the Organic Trade Association ! "OTA’s mission is to promote and protect organic trade to benefit the environment, farmers, the public, and the economy. OTA envisions organic products becoming a significant part of everyday life, enhancing people's lives and the environment. OTA is a leader in advocating and protecting organic standards so that consumers can have confidence in certified organic production. With input from its diverse membership, OTA continues to develop and refine organic standards for emerging product areas. OTA monitors the work of government agencies, takes positions on legislation that affects organic agriculture and products, and represents the industry to regulators, elected officials, and international bodies."
* To learn more about organic standards, and find all the organic products you need go to :

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Walmart Goes Green

Here (in the link below) is an article, all about the ways Walmart is going green - from cutting emissions spewed by their massive trucking fleet, to carrying organic sheets & sustainable shrimp...
What do you think of Walmart's greening, when it's corporation is well known for it's insane profits due to slave labor and environmental destruction ? I found it interesting in this article, that Walmart saves multi-millions through their greening program, yet there was nothing mentioned about donating these savings to anything but their own bottom line. (So greedy !) But then again, what if every mega monopolizing company was to go green !? What a huge impact it could have on the earth & collective mind of society.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Eco Designer Showcase : MACHJA


"Le coton biologique, une matière première de qualité"

Machja's Certified Organic Cotton is produced by 300 farmers in India, who are paid fair wages in advance for their rare crop. Organic Certification guarantees that the crops grown to create this niche fabric are free of any pesticides, therefore preserving the earth's natural biodiversity. Being that conventional cotton culture is one of the most polluted businesses in the world, and thousands of people die each year of air quality related respiratory disease - switching to organic saves more lives then that of microorganisms. This is why going organic feels so dang good !


Machja has now spearheaded a new innovative fiber, made of milk ! Milk follows a process of extracting the milk protein: "impurity elimination, dehydration, and écrémage to subtract the fatty matters. Once this step is completed, the protein by 'polymerization' becomes fiber, thus being able to be spun into a milk fiber all ready to knit !" (That is so awesome !) Of course this fabric will not be well accepted by vegans, but innovating new fabrics free of harmful chemical processing is an earthy step in the right direction.

Machja has been tauted as the Organic "Gap ", but the designs and ethical goals far exceed the quality of The Gap. Corsican designer Sarl Machja has created simple, luxurious designs that carry a whimsy of romance. His line has extended from day wear & denim, to a ZEN collection which includes pajamas & yoga gear. Machja is available all over Europe, and in the USA only @ !

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Not Victoria's Secret

The Ultimate Eco Lingerie Guide
There are some snazzy, sexy, quirky, fun intimates being created ethically, luscious fabrics of hemp/silk blends, pine, organic cotton, and bamboo. Here's some lingerie worth lusting after:
As seen in the picture here, ENAMORE creates unique gorgeous sustainable lingerie, using hemp/silk blends and vintage fabrics. Including a white wedding camisole, knickers, garter and matching naughty eye mask !
Designer Rene Geneva designs sustainable corsets with formaldehyde free silk, hemp, organic cotton, and even hammered tree bark ! Her stunning use of colors and flattering
cuts will inspire you to shower yourself with love .
This is the type of high end eco-lingerie that melts your heart on sight ! Fantastic luxury fabrics like 100% eco silk- including soft sheer camisoles & knickers with patterns so relaxing, one night in these may equal a week with your massage therapist . Sigh.
Innovative eco-lingerie made from the luxurious new fabric spun of pine fiber. The designs are simple and geometric, yet lustrous, colorful & sexy. This designer also has made the very first eco-thigh high stockings- in the same bold colors !
*If you are looking for something more casual, and made of 100% Organic Cotton, then check out - which has a growing organic intimates section !

Good Green Washing ?

Is there such a thing ? If you are not a giant corporation falsely claiming to be "greening" the office, but instead you are scrubbley bubbling your happy home with safe non-toxic green cleaners ! That is good green washing. Those regular ole' stand by cleaners, usually grabbed off the shelf for price and familiarity are harmful to our health. There is a reason they recommend calling poison control if you took one deadly sip (remember what happened in "Heathers", when Heather #1 sipped Winona's Drano hangover recipe ! Yowsers !) Although breathing the mist of ENDUST won't send you face first through your glass coffee table, over time these unregulated chemicals can cause serious health hazards. According to the Cancer Prevention Coalition "home products like cleaning agents, aerosols, air fresheners, and disinfectants contribute to the problem. These products may contain hidden cancer-causing ingredients." The EPA is now involved in a 3 year long study "Cleaning Products Project Pilates", to find out what the real chemical cleaning effects are for indoor air pollution- (how it could take three years to decide chemicals are less healthy then nature made products, I wonder ?) The EPA already has declared indoor air pollution 5 X's the amount of outdoor pollution, so why not start reducing the chemicals in your home environment today !

Try these kits :
"Green-kits takes the guesswork out of choosing the most effective earth friendly cleaning products. We've done the dirty work. You just pick the kit that's right for you."
(Note : Green Kits even has a starter kit for babies ! I gave it as a gift to my friend Natalia who said she and her newborn loved it.)

"Everything you need to give dirty the boot and evict toxic cleaning chemicals from your home, so you can reclaim that space under your sink once and for all."
For those DIY folks, here is a simple guide to making your own cleaners, from scratch ! Plus there's a quick fact sheet about chemical cleaners, to help motivate you :)