Feature

LA story: A guide to shopping green in the Hollywood scene

G Magazine

Could the plastic fantastic Los Angeles really be an eco shopper’s haven?

Avita Co-op

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If you're headed to Los Angeles, chances are your credit card will start burning a hole in your organic-cotton khakis the moment you touch down at LAX. You want it? It's here.

Whether you're looking for a new life, a new body or simply a new wardrobe, this is a city where anything and everything goes.

The upside to the world of unfettered excess we associate with Los Angeles is that a market exists for everything, including the greenest shopping.

Temporarily ignoring the fact that 'green shopping' is an oxymoron (we'd be better off focussing on reducing consumption rather than buying more stuff), it's pretty exciting that 'green' is so mainstream in LA you can shop yourself silly and still feel eco.

Getting around

The first question is how to get around the infamous tangle of freeways. With pedestrian sightings about as common as waiters who aren't aspiring actors, transport is a priority.

It's hard to beat public transport in the eco stakes and happily, LA has one of the cleanest, greenest bus fleets in the USA.

More than 90 per cent run on natural gas, but while it's cool for the planet, it's not so cool for locals - they still prefer their cars.

Those joining the daily gridlock can go green: Prius rentals are available from California-Rent-A-Car or Hertz, while Bio-Beetle has 100 per cent biodiesel rentals.

But in a city where looks count, nothing says LA more than a limo. EcoLimo's luxury fleet is a hit with Hollywood types, but they'll deliver anyone to their destination in style.

So if you've got the cash to spare, sit back and be chauffeured around the best of LA's green shopping spots.

Hollywood haunts

If your best eco outfit didn't fare well in its trip across the Pacific, LA is the place to refresh your look.

Serious clothes shoppers should avoid the malls and start with a visit to trendy West Third Street.

A favourite with celebs, West Third harbours two eco-finds that prove just how far green clothing has come in the past few years.

Much like its owner, designer Amanda Shi, everything inside Avita Co-op screams 'chic'. The store is decked out with casually elegant offerings from Shi and other eco-friendly designers, with enough outfits in bamboo, organic cotton, or recycled cashmere to satisfy the most stylish of green shoppers.

Nearby, The Little Seed is a non-toxic kids haven - organic clothes and bedding are artfully arranged beside bamboo cots. As a bonus, there's a Hollywood touch: Soleil Moon Frye (aka Punky Brewster) is one of the new mums who created this eco find.

Break for an outdoor lunch at the historic Farmers Market on Third and Fairfax, and then get serious by heading back to Hollywood proper for an afternoon of vintage shopping on Melrose Avenue. It's a shopping mecca, but hit the wrong end of Melrose and both your wallet and the planet will feel it.

West of La Cienaga is extremely high end - think Fred Segal and Marc Jacobs rather than trinkets and treasures - it's the secondhand finds east of La Cienaga that will keep you occupied for hours.

Wandering up La Brea is also worthwhile; try stopping in at Jet Rag, a vintage outfit known for its reasonable prices and its Sunday morning dollar-an-item carpark sale.

Be warned: to survive the sale you need to approach it like the locals. Arrive early, wear tight clothing (no changing rooms), and bring 'singles' ($1 notes) - the sale is exact change only.

If you've still got some spending oomph left (or a celebrity-sized credit card limit), Ameoba Music is worth the walk up to West Sunset Boulevard. Described as the "non-corporate, hip Wal-Mart of music", this huge store in the heart of Hollywood has such a good reputation that even a bag from there has serious street cred.

Of course, new records and discs aren't green (although there is surely something eco in supporting independents), but happily, Ameoba also buy and sell secondhand.

Finally, remember, in LA, sex sells, so switch mindsets and detour to Coco de Mer emporium to spice up the end of your day.

The self-described "sensuous sex boutique", housed at the pricey end of Melrose Avenue, is run by Body Shop founder Anita Roddick's daughters.

Coco de Mer is more an erotic museum than a store: changing rooms feature 'peepshow' windows, so take a shopping partner you like to look at!

Eco shoppers can justify their visit by picking up Fair Trade wooden spanking paddles, phalate-free vibrators or paraben-free lube.

Bag a beach bargain: Santa Monica and Venice

Ditch four wheels for two, and rent a bicycle for a day-long jaunt along LA's best known beach boulevards.

Rental outlets abound in Santa Monica and Venice, and a super cool cruiser can be yours for around US$15 ($16) a day. Ask for a lock - there are plenty of shopping spots to explore en route.

If the bike doesn't help you blend in with the locals, a spray tan certainly will. At Chocolate Sun in Santa Monica, your bronzed look can be green.

Yes, LA tans come organic, sunless, and custom blended to the colour of your choice using DHA (a naturally occurring sugar). In just 10 minutes you'll be ready to pedal across to El Naturalista for designer shoes made from, amongst other things, tree sap.

Their eco policy promotes using recycled materials where possible, a commitment El Naturalista enforce along their entire chain of supply.

After you terrific tan, cruise along the super smooth beachfront bike path down to Venice beach, taking in the atmosphere en route.

It's an eclectic mix of muscle men, artists selling on the sidewalk, and rollerbladers, skaters and cyclists all vying to see who can look more beachside cool. The occasional op shop is jammed in among it all, but stay focused and head for Abbot Kinney Boulevard, an up-and-comer on the LA shopping scene.

Filled with galleries, antique stores and restaurants, Abbot Kinney offers a myriad of green outlets. The best eco buys are found at Ten Women cooperative. Running since 1994, the co-op has ballooned out to 22 members, all selling their eco-designed sculptures, paintings and jewellery.

The most savvy greenies know when enough is enough - put your feet up for the planet by ending your shopping blitz at Peponi Nail and Skin Care Lounge. Soy mud pedicures or facials are on offer, and nails get the eco treatment with formaldehyde-free polishes.

As you're sipping a complimentary beverage, all that's left to do is express gratitude that many flights to and from the US still allow a whopping two bags of luggage at 23 kilograms each, depending on the airline. (You did carbon-offset your flight, right?)