A bid to make 'green' fashionable

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'Chic" may not be the first word that comes to mind when thinking of the United Nations' hulking bureaucracy. But that's the thrust behind a new UN program to promote things green - lifestyles that preserve rather than pirate the environment.

As part of that effort, the UN's Environmental Program announced this week it's working on a new initiative called "shopping for a better world." Though that sounds uncannily like the Bush administration's encouragement to spend our way out of a slump, Klaus Töpfer, the UNEP's executive director, says, "What can be more modern, more fashionable than caring about our planet?"

And some hip fashion retailers have signed on to the idea. On lucire.com, a cutting-edge clothing website, a photo of an owl-eyed model with only a hint of clothing sits next to a UNEP Fashion Industry Partner symbol. Click on the symbol and you leap back into UN territory.

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A site called youthxchange.com, jointly run by the UNEP and UNESCO, picks up on teen lingo to encourage saving the planet: "You dump, it lumps," says one catch phrase, and the site offers a ghastly example: the Fresh Kills landfill, serving New York City, which overtook the Great Wall of China in 1991 as the world's largest manmade structure.

Our cover story today examines America's shores and oceans, which are looking a little trashy themselves.

The ocean has long been viewed as an enormous sinkhole for an endless flow of waste. But our watery garbage dump seems to be getting clogged. Public awareness, like a huge ocean liner, is very slowly turning toward recognizing the need to protect and preserve.

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