Eco Geeks

Posted by Pete DeMola on 20. Apr 2010

BEIJING, Apr 20 - Accompanying this week's long-overdue green tendrils penetrating the city's cracked soil come shoots of grassroots activity to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, the international day designated to foster awareness and good stewardship of the environment.

Vintage fashion, swing dancing, electronic music and an introduction to freeganism will converge at Sanlitun nightclub Lantern on Thurs, Apr 22 for the Eco=Chic: Vintage Fashion Show, a fundraising benefit for local environmental non-governmental organization Friends of Nature.

Founded in 1993, Friends of Nature (FON) is the country's first environmental NGO. They work towards promoting environmental awareness, said event co-organizer Carissa Welton, by creating platforms for public participation in green decision-making and helping members proactively undertake their responsibilities and actions as green citizens and consumers.

In addition to raising FON's public profile, this month's Eco=Chic event, organized by local minimal tech record label Acupuncture Records and eco-awareness art collective Greening the Beige, should also prove to be a painless way for Beijing residents to rethink their commitment to Mother Earth without making drastic adjustments to their daily routines.

Welton said that one of the primary goals of this monthly event series is to shed light on what it means to be green and fashionable, as well as to offer sustainable designers a platform to showcase their ideas.

"We're using this as a meeting point and fashion forum to find out what eco-fashion means in Beijing and share with our community," she said, "and to reach out to a new green audience."

On Thursday, after a short presentation by FON, audience members will be invited to reacquaint themselves with maintaining sustainable lifestyles, in part, by imbibing and watching models strut by in between trips to the dance floor.

The evening's capstone event will be a fashion show featuring local boutiques and vintage shops -- including Gulou's Mega Mega Vintage (helmed by Liu Ke, frontman for local rock band the Molds) and Sanlitun upstarts Willow Willow -- and their new designs modeled by eight members of local dance performance troupe Swing Beijing, who will also be available to teach attendees the Lindy Hop or the Collegiate Shag via introductory swing dance lessons.

In keeping with the night's vintage theme, attendees are encouraged to don retro threads -- perhaps echoing the look of the shaggy-haired San Franciscan celebrants of the first government-recognized Earth Day back in 1970 -- at the accompanying RetroDANCE party.

Early arrivals will receive a complimentary green drink (choice of a lychee or cucumber martini) for their efforts.

Lantern, which is owned and operated by Acupuncture Records, will reserve 10% of the night's drink sales to the support of FON's new community waste management projects -- specifically the installation of compost and recycling programs throughout Beijing communities -- while Swing Beijing will contribute the entirety of their take from the evening (the suggested donation for the 90-minute lesson is 20 RMB).

A Green Garage Sale will run concurrently with the night's festivities, giving packrats a platform to unload their unwanted stuff, with a slated "freegan hour" wrapping it all up from 1-2am.

Freeganism, by the way, is an anti-consumerist lifestyle philosophy most well-known for its embrace of "dumpster diving," or the salvaging of discarded foodstuffs and household items from restaurant and supermarket disposal areas.

While it remains to be seen if the designated freegan hour involves a moonlit commando-style raid through the back alleys of Sanlitun (we really hope that it does), the organizers promise that all untraded clothes will be used in the next installment of the Eco=Chic series.

Eco=Chic: Vintage Fashion Show
Thurs, Apr 22
Lantern, 9pm, free

Image: Eco Geeks Gregg and Bekka strike a pose at the Eco=Chic launch party on Mon, Apr 19, 2010; courtesy of Peter Carney.

CORRECTION - Apr 21: An earlier version of this article stated that "Lantern... will donate 10% of the night's drink sales to the funding of FON's new community waste projects." It has been changed to read "Lantern will... reserve 10% of the night's drink sales to support FON's new community waste projects."


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