How Would You Recycle 14,235 Rubber Bands?

If you’re New York architect Margarita Mileva, you’d weave together a gorgeous Bauhaus- and Klee-inspired cocktail dress.

See the full story on Ecouterre.

PHOTOS: Courtesy of Warren Chow via

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Great Quote

“Every morning I awake torn between a desire to save the world and an inclination to savor it. This makes it hard to plan the day.”

— E.B. White

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Just Another Friday Night

7:30pm, a Friday night in 2010

I destress from a busy workweek by checking out the sales along the SoHo section of Broadway. I buy a few shirts I kinda like, mostly because they’re cheap.

7:30pm, last night

I destress from a busy workweek by heading uptown to Strand, my favorite used (+1) bookstore, to pick up some new reading material. Normally, I go nuts when browsing books and pick up far too many titles, even though I have five unread books sitting at home. This time, I limit my purchases (+1) to three: Style, Naturally, by Summer Rayne Oakes; Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson; and No Impact Man by Colin Beavan.

8pm, a Friday night in 2010

While headed to dinner with friends, I realize that my eye makeup is a little dull, so I duck into a Duane Reade and pick up a $1 eye pencil.

8pm, last night

While headed to dinner with friends, I realize that my eye makeup is a little dull, so I duck into Sephora and sample (+1) their eco-friendly makeup lines. I try a brown-hued cream shadow by Josie Maran Cosmetics formulated from all-natural (+1) Argan oil produced by women’s cooperatives in Morocco (+1). Pretty.

8:30pm, a Friday night in 2010

I meet up with friends at a restaurant, usually moderately priced and somewhat ethnic. We order wine, and I inevitably overdrink. We order family-style plates, and I inevitably eat until a food coma hits.

8:30pm, last night

I meet up with friends at the Green Table, an organic farm-to-table (+1) restaurant I’ve been dying to try. We order organic wine from Spain, and I still overdrink, but just by a glass, and only because we’re celebrating what the new year holds. We all order hearty meals, and I eat until I’m comfortably full (+1).

10:30pm, a Friday night in 2010

It’s late, and I’m cold, so I hop into a cab home and pass out.

10:30pm, last night

It’s late, and I’m cold, but the subway (+1) really isn’t too far and walking’s (+1) good for digestion.

Good night.

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Three Good Things I Did Today (And One Bad)

1. Drank my water from a cup. My office has free bottled drinks. No mas. Glassware all the way.

2. Switched all my bills to paperless. I hate mail clutter anyway.

3. Limited my food intake. Though my office offers all-you-can eat lunch every day of the week, there’s really no reason to take more than will make me comfortably satiated.

But I did do one bad thing, and I almost wasn’t going to admit it.

I bought antibacterial hand soap.

And not natural, organic antibacterial hand soap, of which there are many, many varieties, if only I’d looked… but Bath & Bodyworks antibacterial hand soap, in “Rainkissed Leaves”. Two.

I was walking by a huge sale sign in the B&BW store window and had to peek. In the 75% off bin, I spied it, and I couldn’t resist the $1.25 discounted price tag. At the register, the cashier asked if I wanted more — “they’re only $1.25″ — so I ran back and grabbed a second. Can’t resist a good deal.

Thankfully, a look at B&BWs’ website reveals that their parent company, Limited Brands, professes a commitment to responsibility. But the point of this project isn’t to continue buying anonymous, mass-produced stuff and justify my purchases later with the manufacturer’s CSR policy. And the point isn’t to consume more than I need just because it’s discounted. That type of wastefulness is how I ended up with an apartment full of half-finished toiletries and disposable clothing I’ll wear five times before they fall apart at the laundromat… and it’s why I feel a profound sense of guilt when I consider how much crap I have compared to how much is needed in less fortunate parts of the world.

Gotta get stronger.

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How To Go Green (Even In Your Sex Life)

For those who are new to the whole “Green” thang (like, ahem, me) Treehugger‘s How to Go Green guides are a god-send. A series of “in depth, actionable articles to help you get off your duff and step into the green future”, these guides show how you can live more sustainably in areas like public transportation, laundry, skin care, and even sex. Don’t worry, they’re not suggesting this:

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Day 3: Sniffly, Sneezy, Coughy, Stuffy, Achy Head, Fever So You Can Rest Medicine

So it happened. That almost-cold that’s been chasing me for the past several days has finally caught up and exploded into a crazy disaster of a sniffing, sneezing mess. Kill me. Or at least pump me with so many antibiotics I can’t tell right from left.

What is the ethical, socially responsible thing to do in this instance? Research natural remedies and buy tissue made from recycled paper?

Um, no.

I did what I always do: head to the Duane Reade on the corner, fill my basket with every pharmaceutical that catches my eye, throw in a Puffs with Lotion, and vow to figure out the sustainability stuff later.

Only after I was cuddled back up in my warm bed did I try to assess the impact of my purchases. I didn’t find much.

Generic Duane Reade Cough/Cold — no information online.

Halls Throat Drops — owned by Cadbury, part of the Kraft Foods Corporation, which puts out an annual Responsibility Report detailing its social responsibility practices. Good stuff on a corporate level, but not too sure about what goes on in the actual manufacturing of the product itself.

– Airborne — again, no info online.

Puffs with Lotion — owned by Procter & Gamble, which has an impressive corporate sustainability plan (at least on the surface). Given that P&G is one of the biggest consumer product companies out there, and I encounter their products at least on a daily basis, I plan to dive deeper into the details… just as soon as I stop sneezing.

I’ll be honest — at times like this, the energy it takes to do the research necessary to make responsible purchases just ain’t there. I’m going to pop a Nyquil and hope for the best tomorrow.

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Resolution #1: Shop Responsibly

The idea of “ethical consumerism” or “conscious consuming” is a social movement based around the idea that people should be mindful of the impact their purchases have on the environment and the health and well being of the people involved in making those products.
Ethical shopping is an empowering and exciting concept. It operates on the principle that spending money is like voting. So, if you buy cage eggs, you’re voting for animal cruelty. If you buy certain brands of clothing, you’re voting for sweatshop labour. And if you buy a gas-guzzling car, you’re a fan of global warming.
— From Ethikl (an Aussie eco- and people-friendly marketplace)

One of my big resolutions for 2011 is to be more responsible with my purchasing decisions. I have to practice what I preach, right?

Today was day 1. Let’s walk through my purchases. First off, obviously, was coffee.

Since it’s New Year’s Day, a lot of the smaller, independent establishments I tend to favor were closed. So, with a bit of uncertainty, I headed to the big guy — Starbucks.

Despite being “corporate”, Starbucks is actually tremendously ahead of the curve when it comes to social responsibility. Their coffee beans are ethically sourced, they make efforts to minimize their environmental footprint, and their community projects make them pretty all right neighbors (don’t tell anyone in the LES I said that). Their website walks through the finer points of their commitment to being a responsible company.

Next, a shopping trip to Barnes & Noble to pick up some birthday presents for my roommate. She’s moving to San Francisco later this month, so I decided on a handy Moleskine City Notebook. Moleskine’s social responsibility practices include upholding ethics through aesthetics and quality (their factories in China are highly regulated to protect workers’ rights), environmental sustainability (notebooks are made with acid-free paper), and support for foundations that promote creativity and freedom of speech.

I also picked out a New York-themed birthday card, shot and designed by a local photographer out in Brooklyn.

Mission accomplished… but not without a dedicated effort. I realized how difficult it will be to keep this resolution in a city overflowing with so much anonymous mass-produced shit. It will take time, money, and a ton of digging around. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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