Best and worst green fashions for 2007

Photo: istockphoto.com/Lise Gagne

Our fashion correspondent, Victoria Everman, checked out the winners and sinners of green fashion in 2007 and found the top three.

BEST GREEN FASHIONISTAS
1) H&M Does Organic
Say what you will about the popularity of the "disposable" clothing industry, but when a huge retailer like H&M starts selling organic cotton clothing then we know that the green movement has made some big strides. Starting with their Spring 2007 line, the brand has since continued to use organic cotton in larger quantities with each following season (all of which have sold out in less than a month).

H&M also deserves attention for their fair trade practices, which are detailed extensively at their website. No, big business isn't perfect and it never will be, but H&M is on its way to being the most sustainable, mass-manufactured clothing company in the modern market.

2) Sharkah Chakra Organic, Fair Trade Jeans
There is no way around it -- London's Sharkah Chakra jeans are the most sustainable on the planet. Made with organic, fair trade cotton from Africa, each pair is hand loomed and sewn in India. The classic indigo color is achieved naturally, of course, thanks to the indigo plant, which is colored in batches and hung to dry in the sun.

Worried about your jeans traveling such far distances? Sharkah Chakra has offset the entirety of the company's carbon via co2balance -- the company even uses wind power for their office and features vegetable-dyed, FSC certified paper for its packaging. Bestowed with the honor of being the first denim label to receive certification by the Fairtade Foundation, Sharkah Chakra is as eco as it gets.

3) Noon Solar Bags
Some people still think that solar panels on a roof look terrible. Lots of great new purse lines came out this year, but only one was uber stylish AND had solar panels – Chicago's Noon Solar.

While I do feel a bit weird about putting a line that uses leather on the "Best" list, there is no doubt that these totes for men and women are high quality and long lasting. Using reclaimed hardware and sustainable cotton/hemp blends for the lining, Noon Solar's bags are the most stylish, sustainable bag on the market.

WORST GREEN FASHION
1) Anything Made From Bamboo

You're probably thinking, "Wait … bamboo? Really?" Oh yeah – bamboo. I used to be a big fan of the fabric, thanks to its moisture-wicking powers and incredible softness. That all ended when I investigated just how bamboo fabric is made [] for Green Living Online (How green is bamboo fabric?). The amount of chemicals used in the fabric's production is staggering. Bamboo's popularity is also leading the Chinese to clear old growth forests and use pesticides to grow even more bamboo to keep up with Western demand.

During a recent conversation with Karen Stewart of Stewart+Brown, the topic of bamboo came up and I was both impressed and surprised by her response: "We wouldn't touch bamboo textiles in their current state as it does not meet our sustainable criteria...in other words, don't believe the hype." Bamboo's not all its cracked up to be and, as consumers, we need to know this information in order to make informed, sustainable purchases. Personally, I'll be sticking to organic cotton from here on out.

2) Fur Is Green
When I first saw the Fur Council of Canada's "Fur is Green" campaign mentioned online amongst the green community, I couldn't help but laugh and then feel my blood nearly boil. They have to be kidding, right? Treehugger.com writer Lloyd Alter put it best when he said, "If you can get over the fact that animals are being raised in cages and electrocuted or trapped, drowned or beaten to death, one might be able to apply all the environmental buzzwords like "natural, renewable, recyclable, biodegradable and energy efficient." They have done their green homework and hit every buzzword. They even note that faux furs are mostly made from petrochemicals."

Of course, we can always depend on PETA to set the record straight, reminding consumers that, "It takes more than 60 times as much energy to produce a fur coat from ranch-raised animals than it does to produce a fake fur. Plus, the waste produced on fur farms poisons our waterways." New York's Loyale clothing company released the first 100% organic cotton faux fur jacket this year, providing that being chic and warm doesn't have to be cruel.

3) Anya Hindmarch's "I'm Not a Plastic Bag!" Tote
Bringing your own bag to the store (whether it be for groceries, beauty products, clothing, or anything else) is one of the easier "green" lifestyle changes. Thanks to Anya Hindmarch's "I'm Not a Plastic Bag!" Tote, millions of people learned about this important and wide reaching habit – but at a cost.

First, Anya's bags weren't made from organic fibers. Second, the popularity and obsession consumers went to just to get their hands one of her bags (some spent over $400 on eBay) only continues to drive our stuff-driven culture. You don't have to carry the "it" canvas tote to make a different – just grab a bag and bring it along!

Editor's note: It spanned a who sub-industry of funny and rude parody bags as well.

Be sure to keep up with all the green styles on Green Living Online and watch for our breaking news on the 2008 spring styles.

Victoria Everman is a freelance writer, model, on-camera personality and founder of the San Francisco Craft Mafia. She is a regular contributor to Green Living Online.