[This was written by Fran Siebrits and published online by Hy-Se-Sy-Se www.hy-se-sy-se.com/brown-paper-vs-plastic-marie-claire-shows-their-greener-side, 2011]

Packaged in a brown paper bag, as opposed to the usual plastic, the June issue of Marie Claire appears to be an impressive environmentally friendly edition. But is a brown paper bag good enough to get the point across?
To celebrate the international year of forests, the “Earth Issue” of this month’s popular glossy fashion magazine, Marie Claire, is guest edited by Vivienne Westwood who needs no introduction to the world of glamorous success.

The pages of this “green” issue still explode with adverts for environmentally unfriendly beauty products. For example, according to the Green Peace organisation, palm oil is a key ingredient in many cosmetic products, but is partially responsible for the deforestation and habitat destruction in areas such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Columbia, Ghana, Benin and Kenya, among others, as well as the increase greenhouse gas emissions.

But I suppose the magazine would not have reached us, the readers, if it weren’t for revenue from such adverts. So, to be fair, the focus of this review remains on the editorial content, ignoring the chemically enhanced cosmetics in between.

“Be Green and Glam” is Marie Claire’s 24-paged exclusive environmental supplement, printed on recycled paper and delightfully filled with the fashionable side to nature. There is the usual information on how important rain forests are, although (Mother Nature and heaven forbid) this may be news to some. And there are the obligatory few pages dedicated to ol’ Viv and her stand on climate change … all good to hear, I suppose, but nothing new and fresh.

Then there is the article on a tribe of women who risk their lives to save a vanishing forest and way of traditional life. This piece manages to be informative and interesting to a wider audience than that of the usual readership, no mean feat. Instead of supporting the consumer culture and hence increasing our negative impact on the environment, the fashion pages encourage re-using clothes and a minimalistic approach. Followed by an article on a recycled-waste art project, the overall supplement inspires as well.

However, this green issue lacks a list of what to actually do to minimise our impact on the environment. There’s no information on shortening shower time, recycling kitchen waste, taking public transport, etc. This kind of info may appear to be obvious to some, but you’d be surprised at how those of us who are already environmentally concerned take such knowledge for granted. And anyway, it never hurts to reinforce such basic fundamentals!