The Emerald City goes green

Written by: Ashley Ann
Seattle mayor Greg Nickels is well known for being fiercely protective of the environment, and it seems that he is determined to drag his city to the forefront of the green frontier. With his help, more and more of Seattle is becoming aware of the benefits, pitfalls, and general idea behind “green,” or eco-friendly, changes to the standard of living. Clothing stores, restaurants, and even grocery stores are beginning to hold up the flag of a clean, organic lifestyle that endeavors to diminish the ecological footprint of all people who call the city home. Green clothing stores are hardly a new phenomenon; many organic clothing merchants have been running their business for years. However, as more and more people start embracing the idea of having a wardrobe that hasn’t had insecticides anywhere near it, the eco-friendly clothing business is beginning to boom. Kate Quinn Organics is an example of a new green clothing line, which was launched on the basis of selling children’s clothes. The designer, Kate Quinn, is careful to use only purely organic cotton. On top of this, she insists on cotton that is grown using sustainable farming practices in which the soil is replenished without the help of chemicals or fertilizers. With all of these requirements, Quinn mentioned in early 2007, merely selling the clothes was easy; finding enough cotton to supplement her rapidly growing business was another story entirely. Despite the growing interest in the green clothing business, there are still some who believe that eco-fashion’s time hasn’t yet come. Charlotte Drew, a student at BCC, commented that people are far too invested in fashion to sacrifice their aesthetic preferences for green clothing. “I don’t think it’s a bad idea,” Drew said. “Just that it’s not going to do very well. It’s not impossible, just improbable.” Restaurants that cater to the green audience have been around for a while as well, but only fairly recently have they come to the greater public’s attention. It, too, proves to be a rapidly growing business, and even has the Green Restaurant Association (GRA) to provide guidelines that prove a restaurant’s eco-friendliness. These guidelines encompass a variety of things that most casual diners don’t even think about. Not only does the GRA require sustainable, organic food, it goes on to necessitate green power, energy efficiency, and even a GRA-issued book for the staff to read! The food is, of course, a little pricier than the average restaurant, but most green diners can and will assure that having chemical-free food is well worth the cost. In Seattle, the difference is less marked than in other states, since the prevalence of green restaurants keep the competition from getting too fierce. If the public isn’t aware of the societal enormity of everyone’s growing awareness of all things “green,” they will surely be by 2009, which is when Mayor Nickels’ proposal to charge shoppers with a “green fee” of 20 cents per bag is scheduled to start. The purpose behind this is clear; plastic bags have long been known as the cheapest, least environmentally-friendly things any grocery store can carry. They go straight from the store to the trash, and there isn’t a way to recycle them, so they are put into a landfill and forgotten. The obvious solution to this would be to use paper bags. However, a recent local study has suggested that between processing and shipping, paper bags are actually worse for the environment than plastic bags. Although most cities that have banned plastic bags still allow the use of paper bags for free, Mayor Nickels is once again ahead of the game and taking the green mindset to a new level. It is hoped that the cost of the bags will start forcing people to bring their own bags to shop with and thus lessen the impact on the environment. Although the canvas bags provided by the grocery store are not as cheap as the plastic ones, they are durable and are sure to last any shopper for a long time, in addition to being a lot more comfortable to grip when one is hauling $200 worth of food up the stairs of an apartment building.