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Behind the scenes at the Sustainable Apparel Coalition

Behind the scenes at the Sustainable Apparel Coalition

Article by Marc Gunther at Greenbiz.com: http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2012/07/26/behind-scenes-sustainable-apparel-coalition?utm_source=E-News+from+GreenBiz&utm_campaign=21c7056b94-GreenBuzz-2012-27-07&utm_medium=email

The story of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition begins with a letter designed to get the attention of even a busy CEO. At the top: the logos of Walmart and Patagonia. John Fleming, who was then Walmart’s chief merchandising officer, and Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia’s founder, signed the letter, which invited chief executives of some of the world’s biggest clothing companies–fierce competitors, ordinarily — to join together to develop an index to measure the environmental impact of their products.

Their pitch, in part, read like this:

Creating a single approach for measuring sustainability in the apparel sector will do much more than accelerate meaningful social and environmental change. Standardization will enable us to maximize sustainability benefits for all buyers without investing in multiple sustainability technologies and certification processes, and ultimately empower consumers to trust claims regarding sustainably sourced apparel.

Finally, as an industry, we will benefit from the unique opportunity to shape policy and create standards for measuring sustainability before government inevitably imposes one.

…The time is right and the need is great for the apparel sector to move forward now, without further delay, in unison, with strong partners like you.

It was a risky proposition. What if it turned out that a competing company had a better sustainability story to tell? Would consumers be given access to the index? NGOs? Regulators? Most big retailers knew that they had very little visibility deep into their supply chains. Did they really want to find out, for example, that a supplier to one of their suppliers, in a factory they had never visited in China or Vietnam, exploited workers or dumped pollution into a nearby river? Any meaningful index would require companies to ask tough questions and, eventually, face demands from others to share what they had learned.

The letter went out on October 1, 2009. Less than three years later, despite those risks, the apparel industry has made major progress towards creating a global sustainability index, the Higg Index, to measure and score products, factories and companies. A first version was released today by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, the nonprofit group that developed the index.

Its vision? Nothing less than “an apparel and footwear industry that produces no unnecessary environmental harm and has a positive impact on the people and communities associated with its activities.” The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) hired an executive director, Jason Kibbey, in January, and today it has more than 60 members, representing brands, retailers and suppliers who together account for more than a third of the global apparel and footwear industry.

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Eco Etiquette: How Do I Store Produce Without Plastic?

Here at MantraMeds, our scrubs are made from recycled plastic but we like to emphasize that making our planet a more sustainable place means practicing all 3 R’s: Reducing, Reusing & Recycling. Here is a great article from HuffPost Green on reducing use of plastic on all your fresh summer produce!

I started shopping at my farmers market this summer. I’ve noticed people putting fruits and vegetables directly in their totes, without taking the plastic bags some vendors offer. But how do you keep produce fresh in the fridge without the plastic?

-Raina

Not long ago, I asked myself that same question. I had recently invested in a large set of organic cotton reusable produce bags, and while I was feeling mighty proud of myself each time I ventured out to the market (look how eco-friendly I am! Who needs those wasteful plastic produce bags?), the scene in my fridge a few days later was less than pretty.

Stored in plastic, fruits and vegetables would have normally stayed fresh for at least a week. But left in my new reusable bags, all my beautiful produce fast turned into a wilted, spoiled mess. (Even the “crisper” bin seemed to do just the opposite, no matter what the setting.)

I’ve written before about the enormous environmental implications of wasted food; needless to say, my cloth produce bags were not coming close to offsetting the yearly 34 million tons of food waste to which I was now contributing.

But obviously, there were reasons to avoid the plastic bags, too (wildlife-destroying pollutionneedless oil consumptionendocrine-disrupting chemicals). They also didn’t seem necessary: After all, plastic produce bags only came into being in the 1960s; plastic grocery bags, a decade later. There had to be a way to keep my fruits and veggies fresh without them.

Enter Beth Terry. As author of the blog My Plastic-free Life and the recently released book Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too, Terry knows how to keep everything from persimmons to parsnips fresh with nary a plastic bag in sight: She’s lived plastic free (and not just in the produce department) since 2007.

Terry’s storage methods come largely from Ecology Center Farmers’ Markets in Berkeley, CA, which createdthis guide on how to store more than 60 kinds of fruits and vegetables. But being the plastic-free pro that she is, Terry of course had some suggestions to add. With her help, I’ve created a condensed version for you that includes her input, below.

*Note: While the Ecology Center guide occasionally calls for paper products, Terry tries to limit these; she opts for cloth bags or plastic-free reusable containers instead. (“While plastic is truly problematic, all single-use disposable bags and wrappers have an environmental footprint,” she says.) She suggests a variety of different bags and containers on her site.

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How Extended Producer Responsibility Could Revolutionize Recycling

This is a guest post from Tom Szaky, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of TerraCycle, which provides free waste collection, and then turns that waste into sustainable products. View our previous post about TerraCycle here: https://mantrameds.wordpress.com/2012/01/26/terracycle-outsmart-waste/

Widely quoted estimates suggest that 90% of the ‘stuff’ we buy is discarded within 6 months of purchase. What’s worse is that 10% of this “stuff” ends up going to some type of waste-to-energy facility, while the remaining 90% of America’s waste ends up in a landfill.

With over 360 million Americans and counting producing on average about 4 pounds of waste a day, it is clear that our recycling systems need to be expanded to accept a wider range of materials, and fast. Worse yet, even commonly recyclable packaging formats such as PET and HDPE plastic bottles are only recycled at an estimated (and paltry) 25%.

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Don’t Just Get Better, Get Superbetter

Great article from Organic Authority’s Lacy Boggs Renner

http://www.organicauthority.com/health/superbetter-video-game.html

What happens when Jane McGonigal, one of the world’s preeminent alternate reality game designers and experts in game theory, suffers from a traumatic brain injury? Well, she designs a game to get better, of course.  And not just better; Superbetter.

Superbetter is an online, social game designed to help you build up resistance in four categories: mental resistance, emotional resistance, social resistance and physical resistance. And by building yourself up in these areas, McGonigal believes that you can overcome just about anything, from depression to obesity and anxiety to PTSD. In other words, this is few steps beyond playing Angry Birds or Draw Something.

Superbetter is an alternate reality game, which incorporates online and real-world tasks. So, for example, if your quest in the game is to lose weight, you might battle a bad guy after dinner every night—namely, mindless munching in front of the TV. Whenever you defeat your personal bad guys (I’ve nicknamed mine Evil Dr. Chocolate Bar), you can log that on the game website and earn yourself points.

It’s definitely a fun way to think about working towards a goal, but does it actually work? In a word, yes.

In 2009, McGonigal had what seemed at first to be a minor accident, but which quickly morphed into a concussion with serious repercussions. Her brain injury sent her into a bout of deep depression, social isolation and anxiety. When her doctor told her that she might never get better if she didn’t see improvement within a year, she turned her passion for game theory and the psychology of positive emotions into a game for getting better. She became the hero in her own quest, enlisted friends and family members as allies to give her challenges and award her points, identified the bad guys that were her triggers, and made healthy choices that were her power-ups.

Today, she is completely recovered.

The SuperBetter website provides a framework, based in real science, for anyone to follow McGonigal’s strategy to work on their own quests. Although there are some common quests pre-programmed with challenges and bad guys, like losing weight or even working on a positive body image, the program is extremely customizable, making it an amazing free tool for every hero out there looking to slay a few personal demons.

 

6 Tips to Avoid Food Poisoning this Summer

As August nears, we’re all scraping to hang onto these final weeks of summer. Thinking about taking a picnic to the park, packing a lunch for a hike, or hosting an outdoor bar-b-q? Careful, with the heat wave being experienced all over the US, it doesn’t take long for the warm air to spoil your food. Organic Authority gives us 6 helpful tips to avoid getting food poisoning this summer.

picnic

Written by Lacy Boggs Renner

You only need to have food poisoning once to know how incredibly awful it can be—and to become committed to doing everything possible to prevent further foodborne illnesses. The Centers for Disease Control estimate that every year, 48 million Americans—nearly one in six—will get sick from a foodborne illness.

We’ve rounded up our six best tips to keep your summer picnics and barbeques safe and healthy. Read about them here: http://www.organicauthority.com/health/tips-to-avoid-food-poisoning.html

Sustainable or Gross? 7 Tips to Re-wear Clothes Before Washing

In this article, Organic Authority brings you 7 deciding factors for what to wash and how often. A twist on sustainable clothing! Enjoy

View full article here: http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/1xK9Sj/www.organicauthority.com/sanctuary/7-tips-to-rewear-clothes-before-washing.html

clothes line

Image: Magic Madzik

Someone had to ask, right? Is it sustainable or just plain gross to re-wear outfits before washing clothes?

The average American household does some 400 loads of laundry per year, using as much as 40 gallons of water per load, according to the Consumer Energy Center. With fresh water becoming a seriously scarce resource, that’s a huge number to take into consideration, especially when clothes are frequently and unnecessarily washed. In the not-so-olden days just a century ago, it was a given that clothes were going to be worn several times, if not dozens before washing. And even then, they were low-impact hand-washed and air-dried.

The home washing machine drastically changed all that in the 1950s. Suddenly, we could have clean clothes with little effort—a necessity that became a luxury—but in our modern efforts to decrease our consumption of resources and our impact on the environment, it’s important that we choose to develop new habits. We didn’t always look at the bottom of containers to determine whether or not they were recyclable, now it’s a habit for many of us. So is shopping at local farmers markets to support our regional economy and decrease the distance between where our food is grown and our mouths. But what about what we wear? Is just using an environmentally friendly detergent enough? Check this list of tips on re-wearing clothes to decrease your impact on the environment and make your clothes last longer:

View the 7 tips here: http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/1xK9Sj/www.organicauthority.com/sanctuary/7-tips-to-rewear-clothes-before-washing.html

4 Foods that Prevent Sunburn—from the Inside Out

4 Foods that Prevent Sunburn—from the Inside Out

Written by Lacy Boggs Renner   Organic Authority.com 

We all know that it’s important to do our best to avoid sunburn altogether, but it seems inevitable: at least once a summer you end up forgetting your sunscreen and… ouch.

But, if you bulk up on these foods even before you set foot outside, your body could be better equipped to prevent sunburn (and heal when you do get burned).

Green tea

Studies have shown that drinking two cups of green tea per day could provide your body with (a little bit of) sunburn-fighting abilities! The catechin compounds in green tea are thought to help protect the body from the sun’s radiation. Bonus: the tannic acid in tea can help fight sunburn pain, so put cool teabags on a sunburn to feel better after the fact. (Click here for more natural sunburn remedies.)

Pomegranates

This wonder fruit is packed with ellagic acid, and a study from Texas A&M University found it can help protect skin from cell damage caused by UVA- and UVB-rays.

Guavas

Nothing says summer better than tropical fruit, and this one has up to five times the amount of vitamin C—a skin-healing antioxidant—than your average orange. In fact, working any vitamin C-rich foods into your diet could help add an extra layer of protection.

Tomatoes

These summer gems are jam-packed with lycopene, which can help protect you from sun damage. In one study, volunteers who ate five tablespoons of tomato paste showed 25 percent more sun resistance!

Image by chrisjohnbeckett

You can follow Lacy on Twitter @lacylu42

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