Things I (sort of) Love Books: Green is the New Black

I just finished Green is the New Black: How to Save the World with Style by fashion journalist and Telegraph's style director Tamsin Blanchard. I bought a used copy from Amazon and couldn't wait to read it: it seemed like a stylish, conscious, compassionate guide to eco-chic living. And in part, it was.

This book offers tips on how to make your everyday style choices greener - and explains why it is important for all of us to work towards a more eco-friendly lifestyle, including our wardrobes. Tamsin covers topics such as jewelry, shoes and bags, sustainable style, and environmentally friendly vacations. At the end of the book you can find the Little Green Book, a really helpful directory of addresses, phone numbers and websites to some of the most interesting green companies. Famous faces such as Stella McCartney, Laura Bailey, and Anya Hindmarch have also lended their voices to this book, explaining their views on eco style. The foreword by Lily Cole is great and the artwork is beautiful (I can't find who it's by!).

...and this is what I love about it.

I really liked this book. It's insightful, well-written (except for when Tamsin refers to Shirley Manson as the "Rubbish" singer. That would be Garbage.) and offers lots of interesting info, much of which I had no idea about before.

This doesn't change the fact that there are some no-nos on these pages.

First of all, I would like to know what Tamsin was thinking when she dedicated several pages to persuading us all to get on a waiting list for an It bag as an "environmental" thing to do. Could it be that her fashion editor background made it natural for her to push the big brands instead of the Zara and Primark that we all know and love? Of course, as a broke writer, I am more inclined to go for a leather-free H&M bag than say "what the heck" and put my name down for a Birkin. As a vegan and animal rights activist, I think Hermés' crocodile farm is cruelty (and as a person with my own taste, I happen to think Birkins look like old lady bags. There, I said it). Sure, buying one quality accessory and keeping it for years is doubtlessly more "green" than buying five cheap bags every three months. But most of high fashion's fickle consumers have the cash to match their dash and splurge on new Hermés or Chloé arm candy on a yearly basis. And being that the $1,000-and-up It bags cost the environment just as much as the Zara knock-offs (if not more...designer brands often use exotic skins of endangered species - something Topshop or Asos would never do), where's the "eco-fabulous" thinking behind getting a new It bag every season? Let's not forget that It bags are It bags for a reason. They come and go, just like trends generally do and just as fast fashion does. There's nothing greener about a Fendi bag.

 I think Tamsin was too quick to label fast fashion as "evil". H&M have reached huge success with their Conscious Collection, which was even worn on the red carpet by several celebrities, and low-cost fashion chains are picking up on the eco trend. Plus, many of us reading this book have financial issues to take into consideration as well as environmental ones. Translation: we can't afford the Chanel jacket instead of the Zara one. I think Tamsin should have put her efforts into plugging small, eco-friendly brands instead of big designers. Which she does, but to an extent.

I was also a bit outraged at the notion that fur was a "choice" and a "debate", "which side are you on?" This is what one might expect from a fashion magazine, but you'd think that a book on green style would be clearly, fiercely and proudly anti-fur. The argument that "if designers want to use fur, it's up to them" seems washed-up and a bit empty. What does that even mean? If I want to be an alcoholic I guess it's up to me as well, but that hardly makes it a commendable choice. I really liked Taupe Hynde's view on fur in the book, though. Especially vintage fur.

The same goes for leather: Tamsin brings up the fact that leather production is extremely unfriendly to the environment, then names some cruelty-free companies that make beautiful leather-free accessories. So I think, great!
 Then, out of nowhere, she comes out with, "but if you can't resist, here are some really great leather companies!" WTF? If you "can't resist" (and if I can, you can) maybe you should be reading a different book? It's like a vegan cookbook with a section of meat recipes "for those who can't resist". It makes no sense. Also, animal well-being isn't taken into consideration in the chapter on leather. Nowhere does Tamsin mention the horrible ways animals are treated in the process of making a Mulberry bag, which makes me wonder if the eco edge of this book comes from the heart...or just from the desire to jump on a growing trend.

All in all, I enjoyed the "let's-save-the-world" attitude of this book and its innovative tips. But I found it a bit one-sided and not always with nature's best interest at heart. If you ask me, this "green style" book is more style than green. But still, it's a fun, info-packed read. If you can get it for €4,99 like I did, it's sure worth it.

Also: I LOVE this drawing and very much want this t-shirt.

Me in a nutshell - at least the person I want to be.

I'll leave you with a lovely quote from the book by Stella McCartney (which you can also find on the Coffee and Heels Facebook page) on animal-free fashion:

"It's suprising to me that people cannot get their heads around a non-leather bag or shoe. They already exist out there, but unfortunately designers feel they have to slap a leather trim or sole on them. People need to start looking at the product, and if they like it, that's all that matters. If it has an ethical or ecological edge, that's a huge bonus. We address these questions in every other part of our lives except fashion."


  1. Si troverà anche in italiano? Vado subito a dare un'occhiata su Amazon :)


  2. Alessandra: sí, c'é anche in italiano!


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