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From buying organic fabrics to choosing vintage pieces, going "green" is easier than you think.
By
TODAY contributor
updated 4/22/2008 9:09:49 AM ET 2008-04-22T13:09:49

Having trouble keeping up with our increasingly organic, eco-friendly world? Let me be your guide! From all-natural makeup to the best in eco-conscious jeans, I will test and review the products and treatments that are best for you and the planet.

In celebration of Earth Day 2008, I’m going to look good. And I’m not going to feel bad about it for one minute. As young, innovative designers continue to experiment with sustainable fabrics and nontoxic manufacturing methods and personal care companies continue to produce luxurious — and effective — all-natural products for bath and body, environmental awareness no longer means frumpiness. I can look eco-fabulous with zero eco-guilt.

You can too.

A few easy steps will have you on your way to living a fashion-forward, perfectly groomed green life — one that considers both your health and the future of the planet without compromising your desire to look and feel your best.

And if you, like me, wish that you could instantly “environmentalize” your life, with an electric car parked in front of your solar-powered home, which contains furniture made of sustainably harvested wood and a closet full of organic cotton clothing, be easy on yourself and know that every step you take — whether it’s purchasing a pair of organic cotton jeans or trading in your usual tube of toothpaste for something more natural — is a step in the right direction.

Happy Earth Day!

Fashion

  • Update your undies : Begin your sustainable fashion transformation at the beginning. Seek out underwear made from organic cotton or sustainable materials like hemp or bamboo. Whether you’re into practical underthings with lots of support and few frills or sexy, lacy lingerie, there are many eco-friendly options for both men and women.

  • Rethink your jeans : Denim is the staple of almost every wardrobe across the globe. Make your jeans-wearing experience even more rewarding by tapping into the growing collection of organic cotton jeans available today. Organic jeans range from simple button-fly, straight-leg styles to skinny and even flared — the choice is yours.

  • Be open to unusual fabrics : With sea cell, bamboo, hemp, soy, PET and ramie, who needs organic cotton? (Actually, we all need organic cotton — and it’s especially wonderful blended with other eco-friendly fibers — but it’s important to explore other materials as well.)

  • Seek out reclaimed pieces: When it comes to fashion, adding a previously worn piece of clothing to your wardrobe is probably the most eco-aware step you can take. Hit your local vintage or used-clothing store or find designers who use reclaimed fabrics in their collections.

  • Accessorize accordingly: As you spend more time considering the life cycle of every piece of clothing that you buy (What is it made of? Where was it constructed? How was it manufactured? How did it get to my local store?), don’t forget your jewelry, handbags, belts and hats. They, too, can be made with environmentally conscious materials and manufactured without toxic dyes or glues.

Beauty

  • Start with your teeth : Look for toothpaste that contains natural flavors and no artificial colors or sweeteners. Essential oils are powerful flavor agents. Your breath will be minty fresh and all-natural with pastes enhanced with peppermint, spearmint or cinnamon essential oils.

  • Deodorize naturally : Though there is still no conclusive evidence, several of the ingredients found in conventional antiperspirants and deodorants have been linked to Alzheimer’s, breast cancer and even kidney and liver damage. Skip the antiperspirant altogether and look for deodorants that are free from propylene glycol and parabens.

  • Know the top toxic ingredients: Get in the habit of scanning the label of each product before you bring it home, and be on the lookout for the most common toxic ingredients, which include petrolatum, phthalates, propylene glycol, parabens and toluene.

  • Get your guy into the game : Organic and all-natural personal care is not limited to the ladies. Many naturally scented soaps and lotions can easily be unisex (though guys in search of more masculine fragrances should stay away from rose and geranium and turn to sandalwood and sage), and several companies have developed products specifically for men.

  • Color carefully : Make an effort to seek out salons that use natural, ammonia-free hair color; bring your own color to your stylist (purchased in a health food store) or request less dangerous processes like semipermanent color.

Marisa Belger is a writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience covering health and wellness. She was a founding editor of Lime.com, a multiplatform media company specializing in health, wellness and sustainable living. Marisa also collaborated with Josh Dorfman on “The Lazy Environmentalist” (Stewart, Tabori, and Chang), a comprehensive guide to easy, stylish green living.

Please note: Neither Marisa Belger nor TODAYshow.com has been compensated by the manufacturers or their representatives for her comments or selection of products reviewed in this column.

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