What’s green, has two legs and makes soft footprints on the earth? It’s not the the Green Hornet, the Green Giant or an alien. It’s the Ecoista. “What the heck,” you might ask, “is an Ecoista?” Well, it’s a woman who recycles, is environmentally conscious and is ecologically concerned.

Why we’ve just gotta go green

Here are some eye-opening stats dealing with a few everyday items and how we use them — just to remind us how every action has a reaction.

Recycling paper doesn’t just save the paper itself. Producing a ton of paper takes 17 trees, 7000 gallons of water, 3 cubic yards of landfill space, 2 barrels of oil and enough electricity to power your home for five months. To further put this into perspective, it takes 500,000 trees to produce the Sunday newspapers each week. In the 50 years between 1950 and 2000, our population doubled, but our water consumption tripled.

Thirty-six states anticipate water shortages by 2013!

We use over 5 billion gallons of water each day just to flush our toilets, 70 gallons per bath, 30 gallons per shower and 8 gallons per tooth brushing when leaving the water running. Collateral damage includes using 56 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity per year for our water supply and treatment facilities.
We use 2,500,000 plastic bottles every hour and toss 25,000,000,000 Styrofoam cups every year. Recycling one plastic bottle saves double, since it takes twice as much energy to make one new plastic bottle. We use 100 million cans per day. According to one source, we throw away enough cans to rebuild our entire commercial air fleet in one month’s time. We can save 95 percent of the energy used to produce a new can by recycling. And there is no limit to the number of times aluminum cans can be recycled. Glass can also be recycled over and over. On the other hand, there is massive waste from mining, transporting and pollution of the air and water in the manufacture of new glass bottles. And it takes 4,000 years for glass to decompose.

I don’t know about you, but I’m now scared into recycling while searching for wine and other grocery staples packaged in recycled containers.

Eco-fashion predictions by industry experts:

Interest in greening will increase.

Consumers will become pickier as they look for value, quality and eco-friendly options. They’ll spend more on life-enhancing products that match their values.

Manufacturers will look at how they can streamline their supply chains, reducing manufacturing and transportation emissions and costs.

Economic times will still be challenging, creating more collaboration in helping to create stronger businesses and a more viable “green” fashion community.

A higher consciousness of cause and effect on the world will demand more “vegetarianism” and “veganism” within the fashion industry. This means more shoes and accessories will be made from organic cottons and vegetable-dyed products. Using leather and fur will diminish, not just for humane reasons, but because livestock, including poultry, emits 51 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. Sustainable fashion is the new buzzword, signaling the use of materials, manufacturing techniques and transportation systems that maintain the ecological balance in nature. Convertible outfits — clothes that can be worn in multiple ways — will be trendsetters. A recent magazine pictured a four-way sweater that allows you to remove the long sleeves and zip off 7 inches from the bottom, giving you the four looks. Another example was an all-season coat to wear in the winter with its cozy lining and a zip-off hood with removable faux fur trim or as a light jacket in warmer weather. The zip-out lining can be worn alone as a sweater vest. Then there was a beautiful clutch purse with a removable handle, which can — R U ready — be worn as a necklace. Another fabulous idea is the pair of short boots that convert to long boots by attaching the matching leg portion with a stirrup under the sole.

USA! USA! Buy American-made from new manufacturing companies that are predicted to arise to accommodate the green demand.

Consumers will increasingly keep in mind social and environmental conflict and responsibilities. For example, do you buy PVC or other non-leather products produced by non-fair-trade-labor in Third World countries?

In the past, style and eco-friendly fashion were not compatible. Clothes were made of stiff materials and were ugly, uncomfortable, expensive and not readily available. Today, comfort and style need not be compromised. Old is new again, fashion and accessories combine new fibers, natural colors, recycled buttons and zippers. Products are available which are recycled, refashioned, reused. They’re grown or produced in new, environmentally thoughtful ways or in ways that help provide jobs for poverty-ridden people and communities worldwide. Some use industrial waste such as recycled TV screens, tires, wood and cork, soy products, bamboo fibers, hemp, silk and organic cotton in very creative ways.

What about eco-beauty products?

Look for natural ingredients without chemicals, dyes, parabens or synthetic preservatives and for “no animal testing.” See if the packaging is recyclable. Many companies producing these products support foundations, charities and other organizations benefiting women and children. Some state that X dollars or X percentage of sales go directly to specific causes. Examples include EDUN ethical fashion label’s joint venture with Sephora to sell EDUN for Sephora palettes of colors for eyes and cheeks made with baobab oils. (EDUN was founded by Ali Hewson and her husband, Bono, of the band U2.) Another example is Burt’s Bees Replens Lip Balm with pomegranate oil and other natural ingredients. Thistle Farms lip balm gives proceeds to its foundation that helps women recovering from sexual abuse, a life of violence or prostitution. Physician’s Formula New Organic Makeup, called Elocert e.l.f. minimum makeup, costs only $5 and is made of natural minerals with no chemicals, dyes, parabens or animal testing and is packaged in 100-percent recyclable materials. And the company supports many charities. L’Oreal Bare Naturale products have all natural ingredients, are 100-percent preservative- and fragrance-free and screen UV rays. In this season of giving, you can match your spending choices with your values: Put your money where your beliefs are. Great green gifts can be found on many websites and at local stores offering green, sustainable and fair trade items.

Ideas for “save the earth” gifts:

Bags, including purses, makeup or messenger types made from recycled rice bags by Gecko Traders. This company provides employment for needy people in other countries, while also being mindful of the environment. Use them as gifts or to contain gifts. And more bags. Ecoist has pretty, fun bags and purses made from recycled candy wrappers, Coca-Cola labels, M&M wrappers and pull tabs from cans. You’ll also find bags made from bar codes (yes, like on the products at grocery and other stores), newspapers, magazines and New York subway maps.

Typochkin Paperwallets are made from beautiful, wildly colorful paper designed by Alexander Typochkin of Moscow. They’re described as “a small, slim, durable, expandable and lightweight wallet made from a tear-resistant, paper-thin and elastic fabric called Tyvek®.”

These Paperwallets are also water-resistant and 100-percent recyclable. They cost $20, including free shipping, and you can return your worn-out Paperwallet to be recycled and receive 15 percent off your new Paperwallet.

Green-friendly clothing is becoming more available. Really. Just look online, using words like green, planet, eco-friendly, earth, sustainable, organic, natural, environment, etc. Or check out popular stores like Target and Macy’s. Even baby clothing is readily available.

As for jewelry, you can find eco-glam or at least eco-fun “green” jewelry locally — we have a thriving art community here in San Antonio — or from many other sources and other countries. One online source features beads made from recycled paper and fashioned into jewelry by Achoi tribal women in their homes in Uganda. There are also beads from natural materials found in a rainforest in Ecuador. The tagua tree furnishes the leaves used for thatched roofs. The tree pods have an outer shell used to feed the tribe’s livestock, and the inner nut is processed for beads to make jewelry. Other natural materials used in their jewelry making are coconut shells and seeds from various plant sources.

P’lovers, the Environment Store from Canada, is now in San Antonio. You’ll find items for the home such as bamboo and organic cotton sheets, buckwheat and organic millet and wood pillows, along with clothing for men, women and children.

P’Lovers publishes its guidelines for choosing products. They would be good buying guidelines for all of us:
• Can this product reduce consumption, be reused or be recycled?
• Is this product made from natural, renewable or recycled substances?
• Are the contents nontoxic, biodegradable and cruelty-free?
• Is this product responsibly packaged?
• Does this product help protect the environment and save money in the long run?
• Does the product enhance one’s appreciation of nature, threatened environments or mindful living?
• Whenever we have a choice, having satisfied the above criteria, our preference is to support local suppliers.

Sources of eco information

The www.ecofashionworld.com newsletter is an informative, fun and interesting place to dwell. It contains articles about green events and news from all around the world. It’s a resource for designers, brands, types of clothing and a whole lot more.

And www.livinggreenmag.com is another site offering information about conscious life choices. It refers you to other websites for just about any type of gift that appeals to you. You’ll find gifting ideas supporting the Rainforest Alliance, the Sierra Club and so forth.

At www.abchomeandplanet.org ‘s Gifts of Compassion, you can contribute to saving polar bears, building post-Katrina homes and the like.

At www.GoodShop.com, you can shop 700 retailers such as Apple, Target, Best Buy and Barnes & Noble, enjoying the same prices quoted on their websites. The incentive? For every search, a penny is donated, and up to 37 percent of your purchase price goes to your designated cause.

Rookie Ecoistas, take heart. Environmentally conscious pros say it gets easier because one change leads to another. To change the world, you start by changing your world.
So this year, go crazy. Spread the green stuff around. Throw a low-flow showerhead into that eco-friendly sock. After all, it is the thoughtfulness that counts.