Oakes serves as a model for going green

With a name like Summer Rayne Oakes, a calling as an eco-advocate is almost predestined, but the model and author of  "Style, Naturally: The Savvy Shopping Guide to Sustainable Fashion and Beauty" (Chronicle Books, $24.95), took her passion for the environment in a slightly different direction.

Though trained as an entomologist and environmental scientist, Oakes soon eschewed the hiking boots and travel pack for the runway, hoping to use fashion and style as a means to spread her mission.

"Part of what I’ve always wanted to do is bring environmental issues to a wider audience," Oakes said, noting that the biggest misconception people have about living a more eco-friendly lifestyle is that it is not accessible.

"We think about consumption, but sometimes it is just about efficiency and doing things differently around the house," she said. "It doesn’t always mean buying the latest eco-chic garment."

Oakes addresses many of these ideas in her book, which serves as a guide to sustainable fashion and beauty brands while also offering tips on how to incorporate sustainable practices into your lifestyle. She admits that it isn't always easy to do if you don't have a passion for saving the planet.

“It makes it that much more difficult," Oakes said. "We are products of where we have grown up and our current value system. Part of the journey is figuring out what defines us and what makes us truly happy."

She hopes that as the green movement grows, through the tons of information on the Internet and blogs, as well as the development of more meaningful industry standards for organic and natural products, that more people will discover the same passion for the earth that she did as a young girl growing up in the great outdoors of northeastern Pennsylvania.

"It's hard," she said. "I look at some folks who have grown up in urban environments and haven’t experienced being out in nature so that it is part of their lifestyle. You have to appeal to folks where they are at."

So here, direct from the resident expert of Discovery Network's Planet Green channel and Treehugger.com, are five easy things you can do right now to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle:

  1. Simplify. We use a large number of personal care products each day. Oakes says simply reducing the number of products can help the environment. "You don't have to purchase an organic product which may cost more in the end, but use products that have simpler ingredients that are still effective," she said. Beauty products are lovely, but look for the products that have multiple uses to help cut down on the overload.
  2. Hydrate responsibly. Drink lots of water and install a filter in your home in the kitchen faucet or in the shower, Oakes said. A kitchen filter will prevent you from buying bottled water, while a water filter in the shower will help eliminate contaminants such as chlorine and heavy metals that make skin and hair look dull and lifeless.
  3. Use a more eco-friendly detergent. "That is a big one to me," Oakes said, having studied the impact of detergents on our country's water supply. She likes Seventh Generation and Ecos laundry detergent.
  4. Wash your clothes in cool water. "Eighty to 85 percent of energy used in washing clothes comes from heating the water," Oakes said. Using cooler water will save money on energy as well as reduce carbon emissions.
  5. Set your thermostat back in winter and up in summer. We've all heard this one a few times, and yet, it is the one thing that many people don't do. Oakes is planning to install a ceiling fan in one of her rooms to cut down on heating and air-conditioning costs. "That is one thing I am actually looking into," she said.

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