This week's issue It's trendy to be environmentally friendly, but what's just a fad and what's really doing good? Bamboo lingerie, biodegradable lipsticks, organic cotton T-shirts ... if you are looking for the latest trend in the fast-changing fashion world, green is the answer. While organic food was introduced to Hong Kong a few years ago, the 'green' market has hit a new high in Europe and the United States. It has already extended to textiles, cosmetics and luxury accessories. In this month's New York and London fashion weeks, environmentally friendly designs came under the spotlight. Teenagers' favourite jeans brand Levi's added a new 100 per cent organic cotton line - Levi's Eco - last autumn. H&M, which attracted huge crowds when its first branch was opened in Central in March, also included organically grown cotton in its spring collection this year. Natural and organic cosmetics are a thriving industry now. At least 200 natural beauty products have been launched this year, compared to 73 in 2006. With global warming being a hot topic highlighted by Hollywood stars and documentaries like The Inconvenient Truth, consumers have become aware about what they should spend their money on. Many people choose organic foods, although they are cost a bit more. Fashion and textiles are cashing in on the growing market for eco-friendly products. The British Soil Association estimates that the country's organic cotton industry would be worth #107 billion (HK$110 billion) by next year. What's more, innovative green products have emerged in the market. British retailer Spirit Of Nature offers bamboo lingerie, with a bra retailing at #23.95 (HK$377). Cosmetic brand Cargo is promoting the world's first compostable lipstick tube made entirely of corn. The packaging contains wild flower seeds that can be planted. The fashion industry consumes more than 25 per cent of pesticides used around the world. This damages the environment. There are still many types of synthetic material, like nylon and polyester, that are non-biodegradable. It may take thousands of years before they break down and are absorbed by the Earth. The manufacture of these synthetic products accelerates global warming. In processing nylon, for example, nitrogen oxide - a powerful greenhouse gas which has nearly 300 times more impact than carbon dioxide - is released into the atmosphere. Organic clothing materials, on the contrary, are grown without the use of pesticides or synthetic fertilisers. The most common fibres are cotton and hemp. For organic silk and wool, the animals are treated humanely according to strict regulations. Also, there is an ethical point. Labourers in developing countries who make the clothes enjoy reasonable working environments and salaries. Hence, it is understandable why organic products cost more. They are all naturally made and need more time to grow. They can help save our ailing planet and guarantee workers' benefits. However, critics say that green products have become the latest promotion tactic of the fashion industry. While luxury bands sell their chic designs, they neglect the genuine solution - to reduce consumption. Thanks to globalisation, cheap labour is available in many developing countries. This has resulted in an influx of cheap clothes into western countries. Some people throw away a pair of jeans after wearing them for a few months. A recent survey in Britain has revealed that every person discards 30 kilograms of textiles annually, and only 12.5 per cent are reused or donated to charity. Organic clothing might alleviate the damage to the environment, but the results will be limited unless consumption patterns are changed. Some critics are worried that organic fashion could make things worse. It might detract from the serious issue of global warming, and make people believe that money can compensate for the resources they waste. Opting for a new, organic cotton T-shirt won't do a lot to save the world. The best solution is to think twice before you buy anything. 200 natural beauty products have been launched this year, compared with only 73 in 2006. Manufacturing nylon, for example, releases nitrogen oxide, a powerful greenhouse gas which has nearly 300 times more impact than carbon dioxide. Spend meaningfully Many organisations now offer carbon offset services - a contribution to compensate for your carbon dioxide emissions. A return flight from Hong Kong to London, for example, creates 2,215 kilograms of carbon dioxide. But if you donate money to organisations like Green Footprint or The CarbonNeutral Company, they will plant enough trees to reabsorb the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide. US-based Conservation International, which has discovered dozens of new species, such as the waking shark in Indonesia, holds auctions to name the creatures. Proceeds go to research and wildlife protection. In 2004, a newly discovered monkey in Bolivia was named GoldenPalace.com monkey, after a US internet casino won a GBP400,000 bid for the name. Reading comprehension Word power 1 compostable --- 2 thriving --- 3 synthetic --- 4 accelerate --- 5 chic --- Fill in the blanks with the above words 1) Tourism is _______ in Hong Kong because of the large number of mainland visitors. 2) Cecilia Cheung is a fashion icon. She always wears _____ outfits. 3) Plastic is one of the most commonly used ______ materials nowadays. 4) The 2008 Olympic Games can ______ China's economic growth. 5) Wood is ________. It decays and is absorbed by the earth. a prepared or made artificially b speed up c attractive; fashionable d biodegradable e profitable; flourishing Language focus Adjective clause This is a dependent clause that modifies a noun. It is possible to combine two sentences into one with an adjective clause. The noun being described is always followed by relative pronouns, such as who, which, where or that. Below is an example from the passage. H&M, which attracted huge crowds when it opened it first Hong Kong branch in March, also included organically grown cotton in its spring collection. Combine the sentences as shown in the example below. The living conditions in Hong Kong are extremely overcrowded. Hong Kong has a total population of seven million. (which) The living conditions in Hong Kong, which has a total population of seven million, are extremely overcrowded. 1) Mary's mother always makes us cookies. Mary's mother is a school teacher. (who) ____________________________________________________________________ 2) I bought a skirt in Central last night. The skirt cost HK$300. (which) ____________________________________________________________________ 3) The relocation of Queen's Pier sparked protests in the city. Queen's Pier was originally built in 1924. (which) ____________________________________________________________________ Think about it 1 How much money do you spend on clothes and accessories a month? Do you really need the things you buy? 2 Would you pay more for organic clothing? 3 Do you think Hongkongers have become more concerned about environmental protection? 4 Suggest other ways of protecting environment. Answers Word power: 1. d, 2. e, 3. a, 4. b, 5. c; Fill in the blanks: 1. thriving, 2. chic, 3. synthetic, 4. accelerate, 5. compostable; Language focus: 1. Mary's mother, who is a school teacher, always makes us cookies. 2. I bought a skirt, which cost HK$300, in Central last night. 3 The relocation of Queen's Pier, which was originally built in 1924, sparked protests in the city.