I surprisingly discovered that several businesses have embraced environmentally conscious practices and/or provide eco-friendly services. And their success only means that, as a city, we are embracing more eco-sound options in our everyday living. Not that I didn't want to give the city some credit, but I mean, Tulsa's history is vastly influenced by oil and our economy is still deeply enmeshed with the oil industry, neither of which screams "I love the Earth." I thought Tulsa was more focused on black gold issues than "green" ones.
But when you think negatively, it's nice to be proven wrong. And more so, it's nice to see one sector of the city embrace this new way of thinking. I wanted to say "movement", but that sounds fleeting, a word I hope is never attached to the idea of making a positive impact on our planet.
The fashion industry in Tulsa has jumped on the environmentally-conscious train--ahem--I mean, light rail. Several of the city's young designers have made choices founded on leaving less of an imprint on the planet.
From Ra$pberry Grunt using reclaimed vintage clothing with a twist to NuSpun's t-shirt line made of bamboo and earth-friendly dyes. Many of the city's boutiques and fashion services offer fabrics, labels, designers and more elements of "greenness."
Multiple salons throughout the city carry product lines that are mostly organic. Babies and their green moms are certainly in luck with Lundeby's Eco Baby, a Tulsa store wholly involved in offering some of the most Earth-friendly options in town. For adults, there isn't a centralized location where we can find green everything, but throughout the city's boutiques are clothing pieces whose tags proudly state their high standards of production, everything from organic cotton (no pesticides) to being produced right here in the good ol' U.S. (not having to ship from overseas is a real carbon footprint reduction).
While you'll mostly see clothing that has a bold declaration of "organic," "sustainable" and other related words, one local store has found a new green product that will literally help remove our carbon footprint.
The boutique Alysha Elaine, formerly located in Woodland Hills Mall, has now moved to the Regal Plaza center in front of the SpiritBank Event Center, 105th and Memorial. In its new space, surrounded by an assortment of shops, eateries and service-oriented businesses, the store's up-and-coming space and location parallels the up-and-coming fashion trends it houses.
Offering more than dresses and tops by Green Dragon, a clothing line "committed to the environment with earth friendly practices: organic, bamboo, hemp, soy, sustainable," Alysha Elaine has also begun to carry recycled shoes. The flip flops by BC Footwear look like your average, higher-end flip flop with brown leather soles and multi-colored, almost patent leather-looking straps.
But, upon closer inspection of the sole, you'll find it stamped with the message, "I used to be a rice bag." The tag boasts that the shoes are made from recycled rice, detergent, and other storage bags.
BC has repurposed these industrial bags--originally destined for a landfill--by giving them new life in the form of shoes. When you purchase something from this collection, you are helping to reduce waste, energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions.
And, while some green items mean higher prices, the shoes retail for $29.
Jamie Barry, Alysha Elaine's assistant manager, said the shoes, which come in sizes six to 10, have been popular so far. While it would be difficult to pinpoint whether customers were lured by the cool look or by the green construction, these shoes, like many of the other green fashions, blur the line between being environmentally conscious and being fashionable.
While the BC shoes aren't available on the Alysha Elaine Web site, www.alyshaelaine.com, even if they were, you'd be eco-friendly to drive out and visit the store. It's always valuable to make earth-friendly decisions when shopping. Yes, industrial advances have increased holes in the ozone layer and the desecration of our forests and water resources, but our desire for mass consumption has also made a dent.
Beyond purchasing an eco-friendly article of clothing here and there, to further increase your gentleness to the Earth you can make small sacrifices.
First on the chopping block is online shopping. We praise this modern mode of consumption--anytime, anywhere, getting anything we want--but it leaves quite a mark. The packaging alone is enough to make you squeamish. Large cardboard boxes filled with plastics and papers to protect your items are using up finite resources. I can't even recall if shipping still involves those Styrofoam packing peanuts, but you'd have to have been living in a cave for the last few years to not know that Styrofoam is bad.
More than just wasted packaging, buying something online means shipping. Whether your new purchase is coming from a warehouse in Oklahoma City or Oslo, Norway, fuel is being burned. So, when you need something, take a cue from the farmers' market ethos and buy local. It's not always possible--Tulsa doesn't have everything--but if we do have what you need, go there instead of online. This also helps to keep your fellow Tulsans employed and boost our own economy, and you'll be lessening your carbon footprint on the planet.
When you get to the store, you can continue to decrease waste by opting out of using a bag for your purchases. For each store we visit and make a purchase, we all leave with one or more bags. Whether paper or plastic, they serve one purpose: holding our items until we eventually arrive home. From there, those bags are usually discarded.
If you're resourceful, you might use them to take out extra trash or for a sack lunch, but mostly they just end up in the trash. Opt out of the bag whenever possible. If you're on a shopping excursion and plan to purchase at multiple stores, get a bag at the first location and put other purchases in that original bag; you don't really need individual bags from stores A, B and C unless you're really buying a lot.
Ladies, let's also not deny that we carry ginormous handbags. If you can fit it in your purse without difficulty, why not just do that? Well, you know, after you pay for it.
By deciding not to use these bags, you're saving resources like oil (from which plastic is made) and trees...lots of trees since many stores have fancied up their bags with tissue paper. And, when it's offered, shell over the extra dollar or so for the reusable bags. Wal-Mart, Target, Whole Foods and even Urban Tulsa Weekly (call 592-5550 to get your UTW grocery sack. It's free!) have reusable bags available.
If, however, you still find yourself collecting bags on your shopping excursions, at least continue to collect them at home and then drop off a big lot of them at the bag recycling bins placed in most grocery stores throughout the city.
Sometimes we neglect doing more for the environment because it can seem overwhelming. But if each person made small steps--not getting a bag, purchasing one eco-friendly piece of clothing--we really can make a difference.
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