Posts Tagged ‘eco fashion’

posted by | on , , , | Comments Off on 7 Ways to Make Sustainable and Ethical Fashion a Wardrobe Staple

By: Camille Bangug

The first time I Marie Kondo-ed my wardrobe, I remember the sheer horror I felt at the pile of clothes sitting in front of me. What was I going to do with all these clothes? I couldn’t just throw them out, and even if I did, where would they even go? 

After a frantic Google search to figure out what happens to discarded clothing, I found myself falling down a dizzying rabbit hole as I learned about fashion’s impact on the environment and its history with labor abuse and exploitation. Fashion is responsible for producing 20% of global wastewater, 10% of global carbon emissions, and 92 million tons of textile waste annually. On top of that, the industry is guilty of some of the most horrifying modern workers’ rights violations including the 2013 Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh and rampant wage theft due to COVID-19 disruptions resulting in millions of garment workers around the world struggling to survive.

My first reaction was to research my way out of the problem. I spent hours trying to find ways to make more sustainable and ethical purchases. I scoured secondhand retailers, developed lists of ethical brands and potential clothing rental sites, and tried to educate friends and family members. After years of finding piecemeal solutions, I realized I was not addressing the issue’s root cause: unchecked consumerism. To be truly sustainable, I needed to completely rethink my mindset, rather than rely on finding alternative ways to overconsume.

To save you from your own Google rabbit hole, I’ve compiled some tips I’ve learned along the way to help you support a more sustainable and ethical fashion industry:

1.       Love what you have

The fashion industry spends billions of dollars each year in designs and marketing to convince us that our current wardrobes are outdated.  However, the most sustainable wardrobe is the one in your closet right now. (Even those fast fashion items!) Take care of the clothes you already have, including the ones from fast fashion brands, and they’ll have the potential to last you years to come.

2.       Learn to mend

Learning to mend my clothes has been one of the best lessons I’ve learned in quarantine. Even my fast fashion items that seem to tear easy can be easily mended by learning just a few stitches. Although there are no shortage of online tutorials on how to sew, one of my favorite sustainable fashion non-profits Fashion Revolution, has multiple ‘How To’ guides on how to mend clothing that can be found here.

3.       If you want to wear something new, try to borrow or rent first

While I’ve missed having excuses to get dressed up in quarantine, in the pre (and post!) pandemic world, dressing up doesn’t have to mean buying a new outfit. Borrowing from friends or renting from sites like Rent the Runway or Nuuly can help give you a standout, trendy look without having to buy something new.

4.       Can’t borrow? Try secondhand first

Visit local consignment shops, charity shops, or even thrift stores to find unique, gently used clothing. Some of my favorite sites in the DC area include Current Boutique (14th St or Clarendon locations), Frugalista, and Meeps Vintage. If you don’t feel comfortable going in person, sites like ThredUp and Poshmark make secondhand shopping much easier online, allowing you to sort by brands and your sizes.

5.       If you buy new, buy clothes that you know will last

If you need a new basic item, consider investing in an item that you know will last. Sustainable shops can be great options to buy those longer term, investment pieces. Good on You, for example, is one of my favorite online sources to find high quality, sustainable brands that replace common fast fashion brands.

6.       Remember that donations are not a dumpster

Although the clutter of unused clothes can be draining, remember that donations are only helpful when they satisfy a real, community need. Sort out your items in great condition and consider selling to consignment shops or donating needed items to mutual aid groups and non-profits in your neighborhood. Facebook Marketplace and Buy Nothing groups are also great places to give your clothes new life elsewhere. For older, poor quality items that you’ve worn to their full life, visit this article from Trash is for Tossers for potential options on where to recycle old items (disclaimer that some of these may be better than others – H&M’s textile recycling program has often been accused of greenwashing)

7.       Don’t sweat the occasional fast fashion purchase, but take time to learn about activism efforts to create a more sustainable and ethical fashion industry

While each of these tips are important in their own ways, this is my most important takeaway for those who hope to create a more just and sustainable fashion industry. In the grand scheme of things, buying that one fast fashion sweatsuit for a serotonin boost mid-quarantine is not going to change too much about fashion’s impact on the environment. However, critical evaluations of personal consumption habits will be meaningless unless we simultaneously advocate for an ethical and sustainable fashion industry. Individual actions, coupled with advocacy for systemic change, will help us reimagine a fashion industry that serves all individuals along its value chain – from garment workers producing goods, to consumers purchasing items in store. To learn more and plug into existing efforts, some great places to start include Garment Workers Center LA, Fashion Revolution, and the ongoing #PayUp Fashion campaign

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Camille Bangug is an Analyst within Deloitte’s Startup Innovation and Ecosystem practice, focusing on Industry 4.0 technologies and startups. She is passionate about sustainability, circularity, and environmental justice. Prior to joining Deloitte, Camille graduated from Georgetown University with a major in International Politics and Development, and these days can be found scouring the city for its best pastries and green spaces. 

posted by | on , , , , , , | Comments Off on How You Can Make Mindful Purchases in Today’s Fast Fashion World

By Amy Loder

It’s official. Every time I shop for clothes, I suffer from fashion overwhelm.

It means that I am buying less these days. Even though I am buried in options, I feel paralyzed from trying to unclothe the production practices of the different fashion brands. I want brand transparency, and I want to know more about the people who cut the fabric and stitch my garments.

Screenshot 2016-04-15 16.02.32

As a former fashion industry professional, I pay close attention to fashion-related headlines. Recently, there have been more headlines about the negative environmental and human rights impacts of ‘fast fashion.’ While it is sad to read about factory fires, deaths, rising cancer levels and alarming water pollution levels, it is also necessary to pay attention if we want to see the fashion industry change for good.

The event that placed a permanent spotlight on the fashion industry happened at Bangladesh’s Rana Plaza garment factory. On April 24, 2013 an eight-story building collapsed, killing 1,100 garment factory employees. While Rana Plaza wasn’t fashion’s first garment factory tragedy, it was the largest and provided tangible evidence that the fashion industry has a systemic problem.

Screenshot 2016-04-15 16.03.08

Rana Plaza catalyzed an international conversation about the fashion industry’s impact on human rights and our environment. Three years later, terms like worker rights, living wage, fair-trade, supply chain, transparency and sustainability are at the forefront of conversations in the fashion industry, and they are very familiar to clothing consumers like you and me.

Dig in and discover more

If you’re interested to learn more about ethical, sustainable fashion, April is a great month to get started!

Begin with a few websites

  • World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO)
    A global network of organizations representing the Fair Trade supply chain
  • The Truth Behind the Barcode
    A comprehensive annual report that grades major fashion brands on their production transparency and traceability, policies, worker rights, wages and use of child labor.
  • The Clean Clothes Campaign
    Dedicated to improving working conditions and supporting the empowerment of workers in the global garment and sportswear industries.
  • DC EcoWomen’s Eco-fashion Pinterest Board
    Reflect on the outside what you value on the inside!

Follow DC EcoWomen’s board Lifestyle: Eco-Wardrobe on Pinterest.

If you’re looking to dig deeper here are some other ways to up your fashion industry knowledge and clothing shopping skills:

Read

  1. Safia Minney. Slow Fashion: Aesthetics Meets Ethics
  2. Lucy Siegle. To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World?”
  3. Elisabeth Cline. Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion

Watch

  • The True Cost | A Documentary Film
    At 92 minutes, it’s a quick watch. This is the best introduction to the fashion industry and its current production practices that I’ve ever seen. It’s informative, moving and downright accurate.
  • NPR  |  The World Behind a Simple Shirt in 5 Chapters
    Alex Bloomberg of Planet Money tells the story of how an average t-shirt is made. He takes you on a global journey – detailing each step of the design and production process.
  • Changing the world through fashion| Eva Kruse at TEDxCopenhagen
    Eva Kruse is CEO and President of Danish Fashion Institute and Copenhagen Fashion Week. Her talk is about what every one of us can do to improve our personal footprint and the environmental and social impact of the fashion industry.

Get even more involved

Learn about Fashion Revolution Day
It is on April 24th. Visit http://fashionrevolution.org/ to see what others are doing to celebrate the day.

FashionRevGet social
Show your label and hashtag it on social media with #whomademyclothes. Rock your clothing turned #insideout with the label showing. Take a selfie and post it on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with hashtag #whomademyclothes.

Ask questions, lots of them
When shopping online or in-store, ask questions about brands and garments. Where is it made? What is it made of? How is it made? Why is the price so low? You can also learn a lot about brands and their production practices online.

Get App Savvy
Install the aVOID browser extension from ‘Active against child labour’ to enable fair shopping online. It’s really easy to use: When you’re buying clothes online, aVOID works in the background by hiding all manufacturers that have been negatively associated with child labor.

Amy Loder is a DC-based personal stylist and has extensive experience in fashion production, product development and business development. She is passionate about women creating their most authentic personal style and using human and environmentally friendly clothing and products.

posted by | on , , , , | Comments Off on Eco-Friendly Office Attire: A Style Guide

On Tuesday, I talked a little bit about what you should or shouldn’t wear to work.  Now Rachel Mlinarchik takes it one step further and talks about how to wear eco-friendly fashion to work. Rachel is the voice behind Fair Vanity, a style blog that empowers its readers to live a fabulous, fun, stylish life that is also fair and kind. Each item featured on Fair Vanity was designed or supplied by someone who has made a conscious effort to be kind to the earth or the people on this earth…or both! Fair Vanity is charting a new way for compassionate women who love fashion but don’t want to compromise their values or their style when they shop. Rachel will be a semi-regular blogger here, so stay tuned for her great eco-friendly style tips!

We all want to be more eco-conscious in our choices when shopping for office attire, but let’s face it– in a sea of “made in China” tags, it’s tough to find high-quality, stylish pieces that are kind to the earth and the people on the earth. Never fear, my fair friends! Being eco-friendly doesn’t mean you need to waltz into the office wearing a hemp scarf and an organic jersey skirt made of the same material as your yoga pants.

When I begin the hunt for a new addition to my wardrobe, I keep an eye out for what I call the Fair Elements of Style. Today, for example, I’ve put together a few looks comprised of items that reflect one or more of the following qualities:

Fair Trade
Organic
Made in the USA
Recycling/Upcycling
Second-Hand
Vegan
Vintage

Look #1: A Day at the Office
You can’t go wrong when you combine navy, cream and camel. They are similar to grey and black in terms of versatility, but a little less severe. Timeless and elegant, these colors will never go out of style, so separates in these colors make sensible, long-term investment pieces.

  1. Bangles are fair trade and made from recycled Ankole cow horn and recycled brass wire from Connected Fair Trade.
  2. Pencil skirt is made in the USA by Three Dots.
  3. Necklace is vintage Monet from Etsy.
  4. Shirt is 100% silk and made in the USA by Carrie Parry. For each garment purchased, a tree is purchase through Trees for the Future. Read more about Carrie Parry’s extensive sustainability policies here.
  5. Pumps are 100% vegan by Stella McCartney (and deeply discounted right now).

 

Look#2: After-hours Event
These jewel-toned shift dresses are classic staples that can easily take you from lunch meetings to an evening event. Any piece of clothing that can do double-duty in this way is a style win and an eco win in my book. Create a conservative, casual style by adding flats and a cardigan or blazer to these classic shifts, or dress them up for evening by adding statement jewelry and black patent spike heels.

  1. Gold necklace is vintage Monet from Etsy.
  2. Black necklace is vintage Napier from Etsy.
  3. Dresses are made in the USA by Nanette Lepore. Yellow dress w/ tie detail (on sale!) available here; Jade and violet dresses w/ bracelet sleeves available here.
  4. Ring is hand-crafted from recycled 14k gold and available on Etsy
  5. Earrings are vintage onyx and rose gold (circa 1870-1880) from Etsy.
  6. Shoes are vegan by Stella McCartney from Ebay

 

As you can see from the looks above, Etsy and Ebay are go-to resources for me, especially when it comes to finding vintage and used shoes and jewelry. However, I’ve had many readers tell me that they find these sites much too overwhelming in terms of choices.

The trick to finding what you want and need on huge web sites like these is to know exactly what you’re looking for. For example, searching for “Stella McCartney black patent heels size 7″ on Ebay  is going to get you much better results than”black heels.” And on Etsy, you can filter your results to include only vintage items, making it easier to guarantee you are reusing and recycling through your purchases.

My last piece of advice is not limited to shopping for work attire, but can applied across the board to any clothing purchases you make in the future: no matter how good of a deal it is, or how on-trend it is, if you don’t love it–and I mean absolutely LOVE it–don’t buy it. I know we hear this all the time, but it bears repeating. Every piece you purchase should fit you well and make you feel confident when wearing it. If these criteria have not been met, you might wear it once, but your hard-earned money will be wasted, and the item will end up in the back of your closet or worse yet, adding to the tons of clothing that we throw away each year.

Today I’ve shared just a few of the many options out there for all of you stylish Eco Women who are looking to expand your wardrobes fairly and kindly. For more fair fashion inspiration, I encourage you to stop in and visit with me at www.myfairvanity.com every once in a while.

xo

Rachel