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April 20, 2014  |  Login
Three Rs Chic
By Marie Oser

The best way to start living green is to practice the 3Rs: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.  But 3R Living is not just for households anymore; a number of innovative designers have taken the 3Rs to a whole new level creating stylish accessories from recycled and reclaimed materials. From Haute Couture to Bravo’s hit show Project Runway, fashion designers are breathing new life into candy wrappers, denim and newspapers, turning trash into trendy tote bags, purses, jewelry and more. It’s estimated that over one million tons of textiles are discarded, annually most from household sources, at least 50 percent of which can be recycled. Textiles present particular problems in landfill. Synthetic fibers will not decompose and decomposing wool produces methane, which contributes to global warming.

Couture Re-Fashions

Parsons School of Design-trained Deborah Lindquist creates stunning couture re-fashions and is among the most sought after eco-designers in LA. Using recycled materials and vintage fabrics her collections fuse a passion for design with environmental responsibility, gracing both the runway and prime time television. “Queen of Recycled Eco-Couture,” this savvy Hollywood designer has dressed A-listers, Gwen Stefani, Christina Aguilera, Demi Moore and Charlize Theron.

Lindquist’s ready to wear line features new eco-blends, recycled vintage cashmere, linen, and lace, kimono and sari fabrics.

Bravo’s Project Runway took contestants to Waste Management Recycle America in Newark, NJ. ‘Waste Not, Want Not’ challenged the fledgling designers to create an outfit from piles of recyclable materials like burlap, bottle caps and newspaper. Winner Michael Knight made a graceful skirt from a burlap peanut sack and a cute top out of gold mylar.

Bags & Accessories

Ecoist makes uber-stylish bags and accessories that fuse fashionable design with social and environmental consciousness.  Ecoist partnered with Luna Bar, Coca-Cola and Aveda to create handbags from misprinted and discontinued packaging. Their signature look, the colorful Confetti Collection is a mix of candy wrappers, food packages and soda labels. Celebrities such as Cameron Diaz, Lindsay Lohan, and Petra Nemcova have been spotted with these funky eco-fashion accessories. Ecoist bags, some of which are one-of-a-kind, average from $30 to $180.

WeBe Bags’ H’Oat Couture eco-conscious bags are fashioned from recycled moneybags and agricultural coffee, rice and flour sacks. Positioned as moderately priced accessories for a sophisticated clientele, WeBe Bags were the Official Bag of the American Pavilion at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival.  When WeBe rolled out at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, Rapper 50 Cent ordered 50 US Money Bags, saying “Cause nothing says BLING like the US Mint!”

Organic & Recycled Denim:

Del Forte Denim is an eco-chic label by Tierra Del Forte, a line made with 100 percent organic cotton in Los Angeles. “Organic is a win-win for everyone. Customers love it, ecologically responsible mills are rewarded, organic farms profit and I get to feel good about the fabric I use.” Non-organic cotton accounts for 10 percent of global pesticide use and it takes 2/3 of a pound of pesticides to make one pair of jeans and 1/3 of a pound to make a single T-shirt.

Project Rejeaneration invites customers to return their used Del Forte jeans to be recycled into Rejeaneration Denim. The consumer gets 10 percent markdown on their next purchase and the denim is reborn in unique styles embellished with vintage fabrics and trims. All these inventive initiatives represent style that sustains its resources. From Haute Couture to urban street wear, fashion reflects changing times. The trend to reuse materials and reinvent fabrics is positively the most fabulous fashion to hit the runway.


Allen Woodburn Associates Ltd./Managing Resources Ltd., \"Cotton: The Crop and its Agrochemicals Market,\" 1995

House Committee on Science, Energy and Environment Subcommittee
Leslie Wong, Director, Greenhouse Gas Programs Waste Mgmt, February 24, 2009

Organic Trade Association, 2006 U.S. Organic Production & Marketing Trends

Waste Online, Textile Information Sheet

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