Going to college in California, I was expecting to come back as a hiking obsessed, green juice loving, tan and blonde beach babe. In reality, I became a full on tree hugger. I took two classes that focused on the environment and sustainability by chance – a freshman writing seminar focused on issues with sustainability and a general education environmental studies course – and to be honest, I was trying my best to switch into other, more interesting courses. I quickly learned about the extent to which we humans impact the earth just by living our everyday lives; cognitive dissonance, a state of acting in a way which conflicts with your personal beliefs, became a regular part of my day. Before I knew it, I was texting my mom things like “when we move we need solar panels on our new house” and “we need to start composting right now”. By November I was knee deep in a 10 page paper on how to fix the lack of sustainability in the fashion industry.
I watched the incredible documentary The True Cost and read just about every article about the social, environmental and economic problems of the fashion industry that the Internet could find for me. A majority of fast fashion factories are located in Cambodia and Bangladesh and the workers are monetarily exploited and are put at risk. Look at the Rana Plaza factory collapse in 2013; workers were locked in a building recognized by workers themselves and supervisors as structurally unsound and thousands died. Millions of gallons of toxic wastewater from Indian leather tanneries are dumped into the Ganges River each day. Roundup ready cotton, produced on tens of millions of acres of land by spraying fields with pesticides, is increasingly in demand. All of this in addition to the sheer amount of textile waste occupying landfills around the world told me that I had to change my shopping philosophy. I just can’t bring myself to purchase clothes that are made by the hands of exploited factory workers and contribute to the degradation of this planet I live on. So this is my New Year’s resolution of sorts.
In 2016, I will track each piece of clothing that I buy. I’ll keep a running list of how many items I bought, what stores I purchased them from, where they were made (if that information is available), and why I felt like I needed those items. Hopefully I’ll learn about my own purchasing habits and eventually change the way I look at fashion as a whole. You can stay up to date with this on the Sustainability & Style page.
In 2016, I will buy less clothing. The problem of textile waste in the world is unbelievable; the average American produces 82 pounds of textile waste each year, adding up to 11 million tons of textile waste in the US alone. The first and most important part of the three R’s of sustainability is reduce, and that is just what I plan to do. Next, is reuse.
In 2016, when I need to buy clothes, I’ll look first on clothing resale apps and sites like Poshmark. I’ll also continue sell my clothes when I’m done with them instead of just throwing them out. This puts some moolah in my pocket – and other peoples’ pockets, too – and helps slow down the accumulation of textile waste. I’ll thrift shop, too, because who doesn’t like finding cool vintage stuff and items to repurpose?
In 2016, I will only buy from brands that have a corporate responsibility statement, or have a sustainability promise. Sure, those companies may not be zero waste or may not be transparent about where and how their products are made, but if the company thought enough to create a statement about sustainability or corporate responsibility, that is a good enough start for me (this year, at least).
In 2016, I will continue to learn about sustainability in the fashion industry. I’ll read and research and think and share my journey on T&T with all of you.
I’m so excited to be starting this initiative and I hope you’ll ride with me on the pathway to more sustainable shopping (aka success (if you don’t understand this add DJ Khaled on snapchat right this instant)). I’ll be talking more about this all throughout this year and will be sharing fun sustainable stuff, like brands with impressive sustainability initiatives and information about the changing fashion industry, on twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #SustainablilityAndStyle. I hope you’ll follow along with me!
Peace n Sustainable Blessings for this New Year,