Did you know that the fashion industry is responsible for 20% of all industrial water pollution worldwide? Did you know that it produces 10% of all carbon emissions? Did you know that 85% of all textiles go to the dump each year? A change is needed.
Many fashion lovers are following a movement seeking to build a more ethical closet. One where brands are represented that pay associates living wages and provide good and humane working conditions. A closet of brands that are veering away from cheap clothing made quickly to keep up with the latest fashion trends, often churning out a new collection every week to keep up with consumer demand (i.e., fast fashion). A closet holding designs that respect the planet by causing little to no damage, and therefore sustaining the environment. As stated by Whitney Bauck (Green Dreamer Podcast #129), "Regardless of what your background is, we can all agree on some really basic things - no one should die to make a T-shirt, and we shouldn't be pouring toxins into our planet."
It can be very tempting to jump into the fast fashion vortex. Some of the designs are so cute, and well, trendy, and . . . cheap! There is a cost that comes with choosing responsible fashion: low impact natural and organic materials; eco-friendly dyes; an ethical supply chain; and purchasing local and in small batches. While curating for Into The Palms, I remind myself of the mission often - I see something that catches my eye and I want it, but more often than not, I end up passing it by. In curating for the boutique, I go deeper than what catches my eye. It takes a lot of time to find the products that I am willing to be an ambassador for. I look at the materials used; the brand's story and where it stands socially and ethically on its products; and the transparency of its manufacturing processes. I seek to provide opportunity for women and minority owned businesses. It takes more of an effort to choose brands that are ethical and that provide inclusiveness to the fashion industry.
A few things you can do immediately to build a more conscious closet:
(1) Examine the materials in the clothing you are choosing. Sustainable fashion utilizes biodegradable materials from natural or recycled fabrics - linen, bamboo, hemp, organic cotton, silk, leather, and cellulose fibers (synthetically made fibers originating from plant sources, including, viscose, rayon, wool, Tencel and lyocell). Natural fibers are biodegradable, unlike synthetic fibers that sit in landfills and leach chemicals into the earth.
(2) Look for products made in the US rather than acquiring them from overseas. This will reduce the carbon footprint. Even better, find clothing made in small batches (often referred to as slow fashion) or made to order, which reduces waste from over production. One of my favorite curated designers - Jennafer Grace - handmakes the clothing in small batches. The materials are typically bamboo, rayon, chiffon or jersey (wool & cotton), and they are perfect.
(3) Finally, buy less. Prolong the life of your clothing by taking care of them. Buy quality pieces and transition them throughout the seasons. Find ways to mix the pieces up with other items in your closet. Then, wash them with care, mend them when needed and when you are done with them, donate them or upcycle.