My name is Kathryn, and it’s been said I have a lot of clothes. And we’re not talking a lot of clothes like most girls have a lot of clothes. For example, in high school, I literally never wore the same outfit twice. Today, my New York apartment is pretty much one giant closet – and that’s not because it’s small. While traveling the last few months, I’ve brought some of my wardrobe here to Dallas in about 15 large boxes.
But that’s only half my story.
Along with taking fashion risks since middle school, I’ve also led a 100% plant-based lifestyle since 2006. Even working as I do in the luxury fashion world, I don’t buy leather, reptile skins, or fur. Through my new series for DFW Style Daily, My Life In Stellas, I plan to prove that leading a sustainable, animal-friendly lifestyle isn’t just granola anymore. Like slipping into a striking pair of Stella McCartney heels, compassionate choices can be at the forefront of fashion.
. . .
As the new girl on the block, I want to start this journey on an honest foot. Truth? Sustainable, pleather, hemp, and vegan – these terms don’t conjure images of highbrow style. I’ll give you that. But there’s more to the story. Truth again? Our minds are filled with misconceptions when it comes to these oft-abused buzzwords.
Now for the first step. It’s time to strap on your plant-based, animal-free training wheels. Not all terms are created equal, and there are plenty of fashion imposters out there. Today I’ll set the record straight on the top buzzwords you’ll find when shopping green. You can only kick your “wearing the wild” habit and be a friend of the environment if you are well informed.
And, hey, don’t let the word vegan frighten you. In the end, it’s simply about showing compassion for all parts of the environment. Whether clothes, shoes, home, food, car, or beauty products, if you can incorporate one compassionate item into your daily routine, you’re making a bigger impact than you think.
…As for your cheese addiction, well, we’ll save that for another time!
Green Buzzword Glossary
Animal-Friendly: Eschewing animal products where harm is done, but respecting the animal’s contribution.
Biodynamic: Taking into account all of the earth’s elements, with respect to the land and animals.
Carbon Neutral: Wherein no new carbon emissions are added into the atmposphere. Any carbon added in production, transportation, etc., is accounted for and offset.
Cruelty-Free: Sometimes represented by the Leaping Bunny, it signifies a pledge to abstain from animal testing in any stage of development. From initial ingredient sourcing to the final product, no animals have been used or harmed. Pictured below, Zoya Nail Polish is Cruelty-Free.
Eco-Friendly: Living and practicing a more conscious lifestyle that does as little harm to the environment as possible.
Green-Washing: Using common buzzwords to create an image of benefit or respect to the environment, though little concrete facts may be offered. See also Natural and Ethically-Sourced Leather.
Ethically-Sourced Leather: (a) Often a case of Green-Washing, this term can be misleading. In my opinion, there is no way that killing an animal for a hide is ethical. (b) In other cases, as with the Gucci Green Carpet Challenge, in partnership with the Rainforest Alliance, if you’re still buying leather, it can signify a more responsible choice.
Fair Trade: (a) Noting fair wages for workers, most likely in developing countries, in order to enable development of sustainable businesses and improve quality of life. (b) Paying what the item is actually worth (fair market value).
LEED Certified: Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council and internationally recognized, LEED Certification is third party validation that applies to green building projects as a whole. Buildings are awarded points for their positive environmental impact, including energy and water conservation, reduction of harmful greenhouse gas emissions, and the reduction of waste sent to landfills.
Local/ Made in the USA: (a) From start to finish (crop to thread to material), an item made in the region to which it is credited or in the United States of America as a whole. (b) Note that a product may claim to be made in the USA if at least the major final consumer components have been made and constructed here, though the actual origins of those components may be overseas. Pictured above, clothing by The Lady & The Sailor is Made in the USA.
Low Impact Dyes: (a) Often petroleum-based, though utilizing less water in the dying process, which is then often able to be recycled. (b) These dyes retain color longer, and more color options are available than with natural dyes.
Natural: (a) This term might mean nothing at all. While the common belief is that “Natural” products do not contain chemicals, pesticides, or other contaminants, there is little-to-no regulation of the term. See Green-Washing.
Natural Dyes: (a) Sometimes known as vegetable dyes, these products use considerably more water than Low Impact Dyes, but they are not petroleum-based. (b) Color options are fewer, fade more easily, and are often harder to maintain.
Organic: Foods, fibers, and other crops grown without the use of chemicals or pesticides.
Plant-Based: Also known as Vegan. Signifies an animal-free product, food, or overall lifestyle. Often, said products are also less processed and free of additives, harsh chemicals, and preservatives.
Sustainable: Living harmoniously within nature, not consuming excessive resources, and taking environmental impact into consideration.
Tencel: The registered trademark name for a type of lyocell, Tencel is a 100% biodegradable fiber made from wood pulp farmed from sustainably harvested trees. While petrochemicals are used in manufacturing Tencel, almost 100% of the waste is recyclable.
Upcycled (also Recycled and Repurposed): The reuse or repurposing of an existing item (i.e., giving your old jeans to charity; plastic coke bottles transformed into fabrics and handbags).
Vegan: An individual who neither eats nor wears any animal product or by-product. In addition to diet, vegans eschew beauty products, shoes, and clothing sourced from any part of an animal. Pictured above, shoes by Stella McCartney are Vegan.
Vegan Leather: (a) Often notes a petroleum-based fabric. While friendly to animals, not a friend to the environment. (b) New environmentally responsible techniques are being developed to craft Vegan Leather from recycled tires, plastic bottles, and other more earth friendly materials.
Vegetarian: May include many different subsets and interpretations. A 100% vegetarian, however, consumes no animal products or by-products. Individuals may wear leather or other animal-sourced fabrics, and use cosmetics that contain animal by-products.
VOC’s: Off-gassing chemicals from a variety of natural and man-made sources, such as paint. Some are suspected to contribute to short and long term adverse health effects.
On a final note, new buzzwords pop up daily, so this list is ever evolving. Check back often for updates, and if you have any specific questions, email me through our Contact Page.
All text and definitions herein represent the informed opinion of DFW Style Daily contributor Kathryn Knox.
(Kathryn Knox, pictured at top, wears a tee by Michael Kors Collection, shorts by Escada, and shoes by Stella McCartney. Photographed on location in New York by Rochelle Ovitt-Brodin.)