Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Sustainable Fashion

Picture via my wonderful talents in Microsoft Paint
Ah April...the flowers are blooming, the bees are buzzing, the APs are racking up and I have no time to enjoy the great outdoors. Bummer. 
I can’t really boast to be the biggest environmentalist or the most outdoorsy person at all. Probably the most I do to actually aid the environment is use a reusable water bottle. And I drive everywhere (#suburbanlife). But April is Earth Month (and the 22nd was Earth Day), so I feel like I should at least encourage myself and others to do something that’s good for the environment.
Like other girls my age, I love shopping. I think my mom deeply regrets giving me a credit card because now I can go online shopping from my own bed. The problem with shopping is that it’s incredibly wasteful. Fast fashion companies, i.e. stores like Forever 21 and H&M that make low quality, cheap pieces, are high school closet staples, yet these businesses wreak havok on the environment. Cotton alone is responsible for 2.6% of global water use, and 20% of water pollution comes from textile dyeing. Furthermore, fast fashion is fast, and as pieces go out of style, and estimated 85% of them end up in landfills. All in all, that neon green crop top you bought for that summer music festival and never wore again slapped Mother Nature in the face.
So how can you be a sustainable fashionista, one might ask? Well, I have a few tips.
Reuse, reuse, reuse! There are many ways to reuse clothing, whether that means repurposing a sweater into a handbag or simply choosing to wear old garments again. The easiest change you can make is to buy a trendy tote/shopping bag, a trendy water bottle, and a cute lunchbox along with reusable food containers and use those to carry your water, food, clothes, or whatever you need, to eliminate waste. Going further, try shopping at thrift stores like Goodwill, Buffalo Exchange, and Salvation Army. Especially at stores like Buffalo Exchange and Crossroads Trading Co that cater to a college-age audience, you’re bound to find quality, cute clothing at a fraction of the price while saving these garments from ending up in a landfill. Finally, if you know how to sew/are a DIY guru, repurpose your old garments. Websites like Craftgawker and A Beautiful Mess have wonderful DIYs that you can make out of old clothes or fabrics.
reusable food/shopping
Swell Water Bottle ($25-$45) modcloth lunchbox ($25), sloth bag ($40), book tote ($20),Connox Lifefactory Waterbottle, plastic lunch set ($14)
Stop buying fast fashion! This is key to making the fashion industry more sustainable. Stop buying things in bulk from stores like H&M, Forever 21, Charlotte Russe, etc. Most likely, whatever you buy there won’t be in fashion in two years anyways and you’ll need to go buy a whole new wardrobe. Focus on purchasing pieces that make you feel good, are closet staples, and that are quality garments. Instead of buying a basic white t-shirt from F21 for $10, buy one from J. Crew Outlet or Madewell for $30, and I guarantee you that it’ll fit better and last you way longer. In the long run, you’ll end up saving money by buying the select pieces you love, and you’ll also help put an end to unsustainable fashion practices.
Buy from sustainable fashion companies! Not gonna lie, lots of sustainable fashion companies can be expensive, but for key garments like shoes and purses, the quality is worth the splurge. Sustainable fashion companies oftentimes use fabrics made out of hemp, flaxseed, and bamboo, which require less water to grow than cotton and are less wasteful in general. Some of my favorite eco-friendly brands include Simple Shoes (which is gearing up for its 2015 relaunch), H&M Conscious Collection (even fast fashion brands are trying to reform), Elroy, and Loomstate.
Donate your old clothes! Instead of assuming that your clothes is out of style and no one will wear it, donate it! Trust me, someone will wear it, and it won’t end up in a landfill. Donate to a thrift store or to a donation box. Or, just swap clothes with friends! I’ve given clothes to my friends or to their younger siblings, and they’ve given me their old clothes! (P.S. this works especially well with prom/homecoming dresses). 

Sustainable shopping is healthy for both you and the environment. For me, trying to shop sustainably has meant focusing on developing an idea of my long-term identity, and then buying quality pieces that I can wear for years to come. It’s also meant poring over racks at Goodwill for a rare vintage find. For the Earth, sustainable shopping means the ending the exploitation of the Earth’s natural resources such as water. It’s a win win, so why not go for it?

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