The Clean Hippie

Seeking the sustainable life in New York City

Get These Sunglasses! July 1, 2010

Needing a new pair of sunglasses, I decided I wanted to splurge on some high quality frames that are – what else – sustainably made. I thought I remembered seeing some cool bamboo frames, so I searched around on the internet, a search which yielded me these:

Kayu Sunglasses in Gaya style

Adorable, right? Here’s their creds (from creator Jamie Lim):

With each collection, I strive to keep our core principles of craftsmanship, ecology, and ethics in mind. All our products are handmade and feature natural materials. In addition, we remain committed to bettering the community by sponsoring one sight-restoring surgery for every pair of glasses sold…

Other creds?

  • Natural, renewable, sustainably sourced materials
  • Handcrafted by indigenous artisans in China, the Philippines, and Cebu (wherever that is…)

Can’t argue with that! I got myself a pair, and have been sporting them around the city and to the beach with pride.

wearing Kayu sunglasses More importantly, everyone LOVES these sunglasses. I get a compliment every time I wear them. Every. Single. Time. Last night I slipped them on to go up to the roof at work for drinks, and the creatives were absolutely obsessed. One Williamsburgian ended up outdoing me with his over-sized vintage frames, but he still seemed disappointed that Kayu only makes sunglasses for women. When your sunglasses help you network, you know they’re good.

They have a bunch of other styles, and (I just found this out and I’m so pumped!) they have adorable clutches too in materials like straw with turquoise snaps, shell, and mother of pearl. Kayu has a Toms-like thing going, donating a backpack and school supplies to kids in developing nations for every clutch sold.

They retail for about $180, which is a little steep, yes. But if I can just manage to hold on to this for more than a summer, I’ll consider it a great investment. Much better than the $5 plastic things I got off a street vendor last year….

[Update: In response to my post, Kayu has posted a pic on their website of a very suave-looking guy wearing their glasses… not bad!]


EcoSalon Shops! (And so Does Alden) June 8, 2010

Friday night my friend Agatha and I went straight from work the the EcoSalon Shops! event downtown. Things got off to a rough start, when a sign on the front door of the address directed us around back to a grimy alley covered in graffiti. (And not the artsy kind.) Agatha and I looked at each other, the dark alleyway, and each other again, wondering what to do.

Luckily another girl was waiting, and she assured us it was the right entrance to Green Spaces, an eco-friendly Coworking space where the event was being held. The heavy metal doors creaked open and we boarded a freight elevator that rumbled slowly up and up. “I bet this place has asbestos,” Agatha mumbled.

“What are you talking about??” the operator of the elevator exploded. “You are here to go to an event, not make unfounded assumptions about whether or not there is asbestos. Every building in New York City is required to be asbestos free….” he went on and on, while Agatha stood mute. Finally we reached the top and he pushed open the doors, still fussing at us. We escaped with relief into a long room packed with racks of clothing, boxes of shoes, tables laid with jewelry and accessories, and fashionable ladies milling about, drinks in hand. I grabbed a glass of wine and went to work perusing the offerings.

Lara Miller

Agatha and I were especially taken by Lara Miller’s hand-loomed pieces, which could be switched around to be almost anything you wanted. Lara modeled this… well, I don’t know what to call it exactly but it’s pretty darn cool. For myself I picked up a simple cream t-shirt with a draped front.

Agatha got into a deep conversation with Lara, so I wandered over to look at….


T-Luxe features beautiful underthings made of organic silk, cotton, and soy fabric. I had read up on the line beforehand, and was already excited to check it out. Tiffany Phipps, the designer, was nice enough to chat with me a bit while I perused her offerings.

“So how does this look under a t-shirt?”

“Not good,” she admitted, “it’s really just loungewear. All that ruching…”

Well, I can dig that. Sometimes a girl just needs to feel pretty, and I can’t think of anything more adorable in which I can beat the summer heat while I “lounge” in my sauna of an apartment. I snagged the panties, the matching bralet, and a camisole as for $95, which is a steal for such high quality stuff! I hope you’re ready for some half nakedness in the apartment, Vicki.

Feisty Elle

We loved the simple and high-quality nature of these laser-cut felt earring from Feisty Elle. While I didn’t get a pair for myself (I have too many earrings that I don’t wear) I could easily see integrating the bright colors into an everyday wardrobe. Leslie Young, the Californian designer, was a sweetheart too! Check out the website, because my pictures just don’t do them justice.


How lovely are all of these pretty baubles from Sara Brancato of Miasunta? All of her materials are either vintage, or sourced from the leftovers in manufacturing processes: extra chains, leftover metals, and vintage keys complete the look of eco-friendly charms.

Fair Vodka

Ever heard of vodka distilled from quinoa? Neither had we, but it is exceptionally smooth. I can say that with confidence because I drank it straight, having come too late for the chocolate martinis that everyone was raving about. You better believe that next time I’m in the market for vodka, I’ll be picking up some of this Fair Trade certified hooch. Luckily enough for me, it’s sold in nine New York City locations including 94th street, only two subway stops from my apartment. You can find a comprehensive list of purveyors here.

Divine Chocolate

Next to the vodka was Divine Chocolate, another component in the chocolate martinis. If you are in Whole Foods and jonesing for some chocolate, you have GOT to pick up a bar. It’s co-owned by cocoa farmers in Ghana, and – most importantly – it’s outrageously delicious. I mean… yeah. It’s amazing.

A Perfume Organic

Lately I’ve been hearing rumblings on how conventional perfume contains harsh chemicals. I’m loathe to give up my Dior perfume, but this stuff made a serious case for the switch. The woman working the A Perfume Organic table encouraged me to rub my fingers on the plants to pick up on the scented oils, then test the corresponding perfume. Each perfume contained several notes anchored by mint or other natural base notes. Who wouldn’t want to smell like a summer garden?

Study NY

I picked up this matching bolero and skirt set from Study NY, which I plan to wear to work sometime soon. Keep a look out!

Rebekah Froberg

Agatha said she was “obsessed” with the pretty gemstones in Rebekah Froberg‘s collection, which are handmade from recycled metals and stones like diamonds, tourmaline, sapphires and topaz.


Agatha loved the beaded detailing and tiers of eco-friendly fabric in this shirt sold at MissionSavvy, and store that donates 5% of profits generated to “a select group of animal welfare and conservation groups.” While we decided the shape of the tank favors those who are a little less endowed in the upper region (it’s hard being us, for sure) you should check out their website, as it seems to have some of the most pretty and practical sustainable pieces I’ve seen in a while.

There were a lot more booths there, that I just can’t cover them all. Here’s a list of designers, stores and products I didn’t particularly care for, but may suit your style:

H. Fredriksso

Feral Childe


Doucette Duvall

Cri de Coeur

Buddha Nose



Zhena’s Gypsy Tea

Juno & Jove

Most of the designers I talked to said their stuff can be found at  Kaight, the eco-friendly and sustainable boutique on the Lower East Side. If not there, you can check out their websites for a list of stockists, and some of them even sell direct on their website.


A hippie’s dilemma: eco-friendly presents October 28, 2009


So you might have noticed lately that I’ve been trying to pare down my life a bit. I’m avoiding buying anything that isn’t necessary, which has served me well. (Exhibit 1: losing my umbrella but borrowing one from the roomie until I could snag one off the mom. Win!)

But now my birthday is creeping closer, and then a month later, Christmas. The whole point of presents seems to be either to ask for something you can’t afford yourself, to ask for something super boring you need, or to ask for something that you would never buy for yourself.

We all know the latter is always the most fun option. I remember reading a piece in Vogue a while back where the author said that you should always pick out something for a friend that is beautiful and a little impractical. “Skip the ever-useful black gloves and go for the baby blue!” she said. It’s an adorable thought, but goes against everything I’m trying to achieve. And with my luck, I’m sure I would get something expensive that I will never, ever use, but can’t get rid of because it would be insulting.

As for the second, boring option…it goes against my personality. And the first option, well, none of my friends make more money than I do, and I feel bad – after my sister’s big wedding this summer AND my graduation present – making my parents shell out for something extravagant.

Ok, so, what do I ask for? Let’s brainstorm stuff that doesn’t require a lot of resources but is fun:

  • Movie, concert, symphony, or show tickets
  • Entrance to an exclusive gallery opening or party
  • A spa treatment
  • four-wine
  • A delicious bottle of organic vodka, gin, or wine
  • il_fullxfull.93697757
  • Anything from Etsy earth
  • A homemade batch of organic cupcakes
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  • Fair trade organic chocolates
  • Dinner at a restaurant that serves  organic or local food
  • A wine tasting
  • A donation to a good cause
  • Or something that plays off a friend’s skill! (Elisabeth, I’m looking at you! <-awesome scrapbooker)


Raise your hand if you have, like, a bajillion t-shirts. I know you do. They take up a full third of all my drawer space. But I just can’t stand to get rid of any of them! They remind me of concerts and music festivals, parties, clubs and causes, field hockey, 10k runs, and Greek life. I must have at least 30 of them. So even if I didn’t do laundry for a month, and worked out every single day, I still wouldn’t run out.

Solution! I asked Mum to make a blanket out of them. I’ve been wanting a yummy blanket, and now I will have one that means a lot to me, one that reminds me of all my most funnest times in college and even high school. She’s already started crafting her plan of attack. (“I’ll get your sister to help me design it, and borrow Sharon’s surger…”) Win! (If you want to get a place to make one for you, check this company out.)

Now, what do I ask for from my boyfriend? Ah, I always pity the boyfriend who has to pick out a present for a girl. Senior year of high school, Scott actually yanked a handful of roses out of a plastic grocery bag and handed it to me. ::Sigh:: He’s a bit more mature now, but I have super-picky taste in jewelry and clothing, and he knows that. Hmmm, think Alden!

(Wow, I’ve been thinking for ten minutes here!)

Got it! Ok, so while I was home for a couple days, we knocked around the idea of  going to a rock climbing place in Maryland called Earth Treks. So this is what I want: an intro lesson to rock climbing, so we can spend the day together belaying each other up the indoor facility’s walls. (Yup, a girl can belay a heavier guy too!) After a hard day of burning calories (900 per hour, apparently) I want a dinner at a good, organic restaurant. That’s a low-impact, high-fun way to spend the day. Perfect.