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Articles by Mike Sabel

Mike Sabel is a freelance writer living in New York City and an editor for The Next American City.

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Watch a video of Summer Rayne Oakes telling you to donate to Grist.

It’s a strange scene: a sexy fashion model in skintight jeans, belly showing, telling a bunch of teenagers, “I studied sewage sludge and absolutely loved it!” Twenty-two-year-old Summer Rayne Oakes then confesses a fondness for bugs. From behind their desks, the students giggle and groan. The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City runs a high-school program for aspiring designers. Today, Oakes is the guest lecturer.

Summer Rayne Oakes.

Photo: Lois Anshus

The raven-haired beauty and self-described “eco-style expert” goes on to discuss failed attempts by manufacturers to produce durable organic cotton lace. Standing tall at 5 feet, 11 inches, Oakes explains the challenges of constructing slinky undergarments from organic cotton — the fibers wear out too quickly, especially when compared to the conventionally produced equivalent. But she predicts a bright future for sustainable lace and fabric production in general. One of the reasons, Oakes tells the class, is that “we can... Read more