Mireya Navarro

New York Times Writer

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The Green White Gown

Did you watch ”Project Runway,” when Season 5 winner Leanne Marshall revealed during the finale that half the fabrics she used for her waves-inspired collection were made of sustainable materials? Even Nina Garcia, the toughest of the show’s judges, was impressed. Noting she had expected “granola,” she commended Leanne for being innovative.

Eco-fabrics made of bamboo, hemp, cotton and other fibers grown without pesticides, for example, are now a staple in the collections of many top couture designers. When I met Narciso Rodriguez at the 2008 Alma Awards (he was an award recipient,) in Pasadena, Calif. , a few months ago, he vouched for some of the fabrics and said he now often worked with them.

Clothes made with eco-fabrics are also commonly found in retail stores these days, and at major bridal salons like Kleinfeld in New York.

My husband, Jim, recently bought two shirts at Nordstrom on sale ; they were 5 percent organic cotton and 95 percent cotton. He appreciated the baby steps.

But eco-friendly textiles are only part of the equation (the energy spent producing the garment or how far the product has traveled are among the factors that determine environmentally soundness,) so as with many things green, consumers must beware of false or exaggerated claims. Checking out a designer or brand thoroughly for their green track record and reputation (through their website, articles written about them and so on) is one way to go while issues of trustworthy green labeling are worked out in the fashion industry.

But environmentally aware brides have even more options for the wedding dress: the vintage or heirloom gown, the multiple-wear evening gown or even the borrowed gown. I know brides who were immensely happy with their Craigslist purchase. (For more, check out “The Dress” chapter in “Green Wedding.”) I also met brides at one of the sales held by The Making Memories Breast Cancer Foundation, which raises money to grant the last wishes of terminally ill breast cancer patients nationwide. At the dress sale I attended in Anaheim, California, earlier this year, rack after rack of used dresses — in white, beige, burgundy and other colors — sold for as little as $99 despite a value of up to thousands of dollars.

For the green bride, the key issue is waste. Many told me they just don’t see the point of spending a small fortune on a dress that will outlive its function in a matter of hours.

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