My Biotiful Bag

I love canvas bags.

Handbags, beach bags, grocery bags, you name it.  And if the bag is made from 100% organic cotton, I go a little bit crazy for it.

Several weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting with Ragnhild Greve-Isdahl, one of the founders of the My Biotiful Bag brand–aka my new favorite canvas bag supplier.  My Biotiful Bag (pronounced either beautiful or bio-tiful) is a line of consciously produced, GOTS certified organic cotton canvas bags that come in a bevy of colors and styles.  I first learned of the brand when I attended the MIA Green Conference & Expo last month, at which Isdahl had a booth set up.  It was there that I purchased my own Biotiful Bag, and ever since I have been carrying my green portfolio around practically everywhere.

(I added a little felt & bead leaf to personalize my bag : )

The line was founded in Paris by Isdahl and her business partner and friend, Colette Guigue, in early 2010, and it has already seen immense success both in Europe and the states.  Isdahl told me that the concept for My Biotiful Bag “Started with our desire to create a fashion brand that was sustainable.  A brand with a vocation to give back and raise awareness for the environment [and] the organic cotton industry.” Such statements are becoming more common with the ever-growing Green trend, yet not too often are those statements backed up by someone with a true passion to their commitment.  Isdahl is one of those rare individuals who possess a healthy balance of wit, wisdom, honesty, and unmistakable passion, and when she speaks those qualities radiate from within her.  I think that was the main pull for me towards this brand–the thoroughly refreshing lack of BS.  These two women are out to create well-made, beautiful, versatile bags for people who care about how and where the products they buy are made.  People who care, period.

Which brings me to the question I always, always ask when I look at a new garment or accessory to purchase:  Where was it made? Usually I avoid items that were manufactured in China, and try to buy things made in the USA whenever I can.   My Biotiful Bags are in fact manufactured in China, but when I asked Isdahl about the reasons, she didn’t shy away or try to change the subject.  In fact, she gave me a completely straight-forward answer:  “We made the conscious choice to start producing in China because that is where we have cultivated 25 years [of] experience and key relationships with our two main partners in the industry.  The suppliers are regularly audited and conform to all local labor laws on working conditions and safety, prohibit child labor, allow unions and do not discriminate.  We are committed to the best quality, [and] our Chinese partners can guarantee and surpass our quality controls.”

So there you have it.  A brand with eco-awareness, style, function, and sincerity– a brilliant mix of all the right ingredients.


 

*Last two photos from My Biotiful Bag website*

MiaGreen Conference 2011

A couple weeks ago I attended the MiaGreen Expo & Conference in Miami, and here’s my review of the show…

Nearly 3,000 attendees turned out for the show, visiting some 120 booths in the showroom and 60+ speakers for the conferences.  Truth be told, I can’t give a very thorough review of the entire event because I only walked the showroom, and skipped out on the conferences.  But, I did get to see some cool products, discover new companies, and meet some wonderful people!

Most of the show was geared towards the building industry (engineering, architecture, construction), with a variety of innovative materials on display.  Solar panels, LED lights, water-saving adapters for toilets, recycled flooring, and energy-saving insulation.  Very good stuff, but I was on the lookout for more consumer type products.

The most exciting find for me?  The My Biotiful Bag booth!  It was like discovering a pair of Terra Plana heels in a closet full of work boots (albeit very cool, sustainably produced work boots!) The brand hails from Paris, and offers a full line of versatile day bags and purses in a host of scrumptious colors.  I was lucky enough to have lunch with one of the brand’s founders last week, and I will expound on this fabulous label in a later post!

Two more companies I found that don’t require a contractors license to get excited about: Elu-Zen and Aussan Natural.

Both brands offer all-natural cleaning products, but Elu-Zen impressed me the most.  The formula for their products is made from a blend of 100% nontoxic, biodegradable ingredients, and is safe enough to drink–literally.  Aussan Natural also claims to be 100% natural, botanical, and nontoxic (“Made with Food Grade Ingredients”), but I didn’t get a chance to test any of their products.  I will be on the lookout for them popping up in my local Wholefoods!

I tested Elu-Zen’s hand sanitizer (which is just as effective as Purell, yet without the reeking smell) and was informed that the essential base ingredients in that product are used in all their other products as well–face wash, pet spray, insect repellent, shampoo, laundry detergent, floor cleaner, and industrial-strength hand soap– which made me think that if you can put basically the same product on your face as on your floor, and still get the job done, then it must be worth a try!  But so far I have only sampled the hand sanitizer, so I can’t endorse the effectiveness of their other products.  I may order for myself some of their Sunburn Soother (for those long-exposure beach days coming up) and their Tile & Bath Cleaner (because I’m sick of using nasty Tilex!)  Will post my reviews if said purchases take place in near future   : )

All-in-all, I’d say the Expo was well worth the $25 entrance fee.  Next year I’ll make sure to sit myself down and soak up the conferences as well!

Green Day

I nearly forgot about St. Patty today!

It wasn’t until I walked down to the corner store an hour ago that I realized it… when I saw a troupe of jolly (Re:  tipsy) spring breakers all sporting kelly green T-shirts and various other green accessories.  SO… a little list of “green” green things in honor of the day.  : D

♣     ♣     ♣     ♣     ♣

 

images from Lonely Dinosaur website

 

Clever T-shirt from Lonely Dinosaur

“100% USA-grown Organic Cotton, and the shirts themselves are stitched, designed, and printed in the United States.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

image from West Elm website

I really love this 100% GOTS certified organic bedding from West Elm! Color shown is Cactus.  (230 thread count, oh heaven.)

 

 

image from Jam website

Ever since I discovered Jam Paper & Envelope in New York City a few years back, it has been my favourite source for gorgeous paper and envelopes.  Yes, I said gorgeous.  I like paper.  A lot.   And these Green Recycled Brite Hue Envelopes are no exception!

 

 

image from "aplacefortwiggs" shop on Etsy

I am a HUGE lover of Etsy, and I have written about the great online handmade/vintage goods store several times before on this blog.  This rather green fine art photograph struck me as both lovely and friendly (Beetles are such affable looking cars, aren’t they?)

(this piece, named “Mrs. Olive Green”, can be found in aplacefortwiggs shop on Etsy)

 

image from Neverland Jewelry's store on Etsy

 

What is St. Patrick’s Day without shamrocks?

Sweet handmade four leaf clover necklace from Neverland Jewelry’s store on Etsy.

Green Miami Events- Springtime!

Everything starts happening in March, it seems. As though the year was taking a much needed nap in January and then spent all of February trying to wake up.  As soon as March hits, it gets its cup of coffee and starts getting things done!

The first thing on its agenda?  Attend a Green expo.

Downtown Miami skyline (photo by me) :D

Or maybe that’s the first thing on my agenda.

Tomorrow kicks off the two day MiaGreen Expo and Conference in my local town of Miami, and it will be my first time attending.  Although I didn’t spring for the expensive VIP tickets and access, I will be going to check out “Innovative Products and Technology” in the main exhibit hall!  I wonder if I’ll get to test-drive a Tesla

March 31st-April 6th brings along Sustainatopia, which appears to be a veritable festival of various green/eco experiences.  Music, fashion, movies, lectures, food & parties… oh yes, I’ll be there!

Earth Day 2011 is coming up on April 22nd, and Miami is celebrating with the Miami Goin’ Green Earthday Festival on Apr. 23rd.  This is another new local event for me, held at Bayfront Park in downtown, and it looks like it won’t disappoint.  This year’s schedule isn’t yet up, but last year they had a clothing swap, e-waste collection, live music, and a kid’s mad science lab!  (I’m hoping there’s no age limit on the mad science lab.)

I will post a follow-up of the events, and hopefully have plenty of great photos to share!


Lovely Music

Vegging out on TED again, I came upon this trio’s performance.  Passionate musicians and lovely music… (made me want to dance and then weep)

 

Uncorporate Tees

Spotted on Springwise:  These T-shirts look comfy and quirky at once, with great cuts and real knots at the neck which make for a lovely trompe l’oeil effect.  On top of that, they are made made in the USA using organic cotton (which is grown in the USA!)  Americans can still make good stuff.

image from Formalitees.com

from the Formalitees website:

“The Tie Tee was invented by Bjorn Borstelmann and Kelley Sharp, two twenty-somethings who’re sick of the wastefulness of business as usual.

The Tie Tee combines the casual comfort of a sustainably produced T-shirt with the timeless icon of a necktie, creating a new symbol of professionalism – one that’s as substantial as the symbol of servitude it replaces is shallow.”

www.formalitees.com

Animal Waste as Renewable Fuel

It’s time to get back to writing!

I spent part of this summer studying abroad in the lush, verdant country of Costa Rica.  And it was there, at a women’s cooperative in a little village called Hone Creek, that I discovered that pigs can power a kitchen.

a Senora sweeping the pig waste into the capture area

 

Happy Pigs

…Or at least their manure can fuel a gas stove.  How did I not know about this before?

Oh sure, sure, I know about cow patties standing in as fire wood, a practice that goes way way way back.  But animal biomass being converted into biofuel (or, more specifically, biogas) was a new one on me.

My friend Johanna and I took the weekend off from studying español to visit the women’s co-op, called El Yue, (pronounced “el jway”) which is located on the Caribbean coast, about an hour northwest of Puerto Viejo.  It’s a place that is difficult to describe.  Small yet endless, simple yet immensely diverse… walking into El Yue is like walking into a magic jungle.

The early-morning stillness gets you first.  Like a big, quiet space… until you notice that everything is moving.  Tiny creatures dart and fly and twitch and crawl… leaf-cutter ants, poison dart frogs, toucans, howler monkeys, some kind of crazy blue lizards… and there is a coating of dew on all the green life that sparkles in the sun and makes you feel like you are walking in some kind of dream.  Then you get 17 mosquito bites on your right leg and walk face-first into a spider web and remember that you are here to document what some incredible women are doing in this village out in the middle of no where.

Johanna on the property - El Yue

 

The women of El Yue are an anomaly in Costa Rica.  Seemingly the only women’s co-op in the country, El Yue is a mini oasis of female brilliance amid a male-dominated society.  They have an organic medicinal herb garden, a school room, a library, a kitchen and lodging, and soon will also have a functioning arts and crafts building.  And of course they have those pigs.  Two adorable pigs, which provide the fuel for the community kitchen.


Flor

So how do they do it? To be honest, I’m not entirely sure.  What I know is that one of the women sweeps the dung from the piglets into a catch, and then the gas is captured in a sort of plastic tube, and piped into the kitchen.

A great link if you want to learn more about it: Animal Waste:  Future energy or just hot air?



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