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Style, Naturally: The Savvy Shopping Guide to Sustainable Fashion and Beauty Perfect Paperback – December 24, 2008
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About the Author
Summer Rayne Oakes is a Udall environmental scholar, National Wildlife Federation Fellow, and United Nations U.S. Partnership Youth Emissary. Based in New York City, she travels the world modeling eco fashions, writing on sustainable style, and speaking on sustainable design and environmental activism.
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The book contains:
A Note to the Reader
Clothing and Acessories
Eco-fashion Tips of the Trade
Cosmetics and Personal Care
Eco-beauty Tips of the Trade
I recommend this book as a way to inspire and challenge yourself to help the environment, while still savoring the day!
Chapter three (Eco-Fashion Tips of the Trade p142) is the section where the type of information I was hoping to find starts. It covers tips for shopping for clothes and accessories, what to do with your clothes when you're downsizing your wardrobe, and cleaning tips. I found two bits of information in this chapter to be rather useful. The first is that microfiber is naturally water-repellent, which would explain exactly why cleaning with the microfiber towels I have never works well. The second was the section about shopping for vintage clothing. It's full of great tips for anyone who is new to it.
The section covering undergarments isn't so great. She lists only a couple companies that make more ecologically sound undergarments, and a few that are starting to incorporate organic cotton, but this topic is far more complex than what the scope of her book covers. She doesn't separate talking about underwear from bras, but bras are certainly a staple of many womens' undergarments. I'm not going to go into depth here because it is an issue I have with most books that discuss lingerie (whether the book is talking about sustainability or not), but most women aren't wearing the right size bra due to an outdated measuring system that's still in place and many companies don't offer a wide enough range to actually properly fit each individual woman. Generally speaking, most women find that they should be wearing a smaller band number and a larger cup size, often times falling outside of the range of sizes most commonly sold. So while the advice she offers is good, if you're going to use it in terms of bras then it's only going to be good if you happen to be one of the few individuals that properly fits into a very narrow range of sizes.
Chapter four (Eco-Beauty) has a few good points. It notes that you should always read the ingredient list which is the most important thing you will need for any beauty product and that the government doesn't require safety tests for these products. The author also brings up the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and has a list of chemicals that is a start on what you should avoid in your beauty products.
Chapter five (Cosmetics and Personal Care) covers hair, face, makeup, body, hands, feet, and nails. This chapter was very similar in how chapters one and two were set up so I wasn't impressed with it. Chapter six (Eco-Beauty Tips of the Trade) was short, but informative. It covered where to shop, what to look for, and sunscreen.
While this book is a good introduction into Natural and Organic beauty, I wouldn't put much stock in what the author showcases in terms of products. Always make sure to do your own research for what you put in your hair or on your skin. Many of the products suggested still have all sorts of ingredients that could potentially be considered harmful. Do your own research by going to your toolbar and searching for the Cosmetic Safety Database. They have some of the most in depth information on beauty products around. Depending on how strict you are about what ingredients are used, it can be a challenge to find ready to purchase products. DIY is a good alternative, but outside of the scope of this book.
The back of the book has information on resources, organizations, fibers, certification labels, further reading, and where to shop. I think the information provided in chapters one, two, and five would have done better had they been formatted and placed into this back section.
Overall I think this book is probably okay for someone just starting to look into sustainability, but it isn't great. I've seen other books out there that cover the same information in a better way. I think this is also a formatting issue. This would make a great blog if updated regularly. It just doesn't do well as a book.
But the problem is that this book was done by one person, and it shows in the lack of diversity of styles. With all the amazing eco-friendly fashion out there, it's odd to me that she only chose to focus on one narrow type of style - sort of boho-chic, only expensive. It's kind of what you'd expect to see in an eco-friendly book on style, a bit hippie-ish, and I was hoping for some introductions to a wide variety of new styles by eco-friendly designers.
While I give her kudos for the fact that I'd never heard of most of the designers, that's also a bad thing in the sense that these aren't clothes I can just pick up anywhere I normally shop. I'm not about to spend hundreds of dollars on a piece from a designer I have never bought from before, without getting to try it on and see the quality.
Now, the beauty section I have the opposite critique about. She seems to stick with brands that one can find at the local salon shop, and forgets about some of the boutique brands that are really hot. What about Lush, 100% Pure, Aubrey Organics, and the many cool brands at the local whole foods? Instead it's the same few "organic" brands found at salon shops and drugstores, over and over again.
Was the author gifted with a box of things from just a few brands and decided not to research further? I mean, Burt's Bees is nice, but for the hardcore eco-friendly, it's hardly a great choice, since it's owned by Loreal, which does animal testing.
This book was a really fun way to spend a few hours, and I did enjoy it a lot. I also learned a lot from the sections talking about materials and ingredients. But if anyone else uses this concept for a book, I hope they'll engage multiple editors and writers to ensure more than one viewpoint/ price range/ style is covered. This could have been so much more than it was.