Going for Green in Lyons
By contributing writer Ana Bogusky, Eco-Cycle supporter and founder of the popular blog Mrs. American Made.
Earlier this month, thousands of people descended on Manhattan for New York’s Fashion Week, where collections from the world’s top designers took the stage. Soon, these designs from the catwalk will be interpreted and sold by fast fashion retailers across the nation at a low-cost for consumers, but at a shockingly high cost for the environment. “Fast fashion,” a system based on selling high volumes of trendy items at low-price, can be fun, but the way it’s practiced now is
unsustainable and unjust.
We all wear clothes, but many of us don’t think about the effects our clothing has on the planet and people. The truth is our clothing can negatively impact both humans and the environment all along the production line and beyond. According to the must-see documentary “The True Cost,” the fashion industry is the world’s second-largest polluter, second only to the oil industry. And while fashion is big business, with experts valuing the global industry to be almost $3 trillion a year, workers in countries like India, Bangladesh or Cambodia who support the industry often earn less than $3 per day, with some only earning $1 a day
Buy Less, Choose Well
With the advent of “fast fashion,” where the focus is on speed and low costs in order to deliver frequent new collections inspired by catwalk looks, we have gone from a few seasons of new looks each year to new collections dropping into stores every week, making shopping for novel clothing items possible 52 times year.
The world now consumes a staggering 80 billion pieces of clothing each year, that’s 400% more than two decades ago.
In the past, clothing has been something we used for a long time. But with the cheap clothing now abundantly available, many people view clothing as “disposable”. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, in their report titled “A New Textiles Economy: Redesigning Fashion’s Future,” we are wearing pieces far fewer times before disposing of them. In fact, more than half of fast-fashion items are disposed of in under one year. Getting rid of clothing by donating it may have the best of intentions, but only 10 percent of the clothes people donate to charity or thrift stores actually gets sold.
“Buy less, choose well.” These are the wise words of fashion designer Vivienne Westwood and great advice on how we can all minimize our negative impacts on humans and the planet. To avoid participating in fast fashion, you can:
• Buy for quality. No matter what your income level, buy clothes of the highest quality you can afford, which will serve you (and the planet) better in the long run! Look for durable, well-made pieces made from sustainable materials like organic cotton, hemp, and recycled materials.
• Buy for long use. Several companies today produce clothing with an eye toward longevity. For example, Buy Me Once, which champions long-lasting products, and Patagonia, which makes high-quality items that last for years (sometimes decades!) and can be repaired through their Worn Wear program.
• Look for great fit. Pieces that flatter you are pieces you’ll keep for decades.
• Use outfit formulas or capsule wardrobes to help determine what pieces you need to create a mix and match wardrobe.
• Look certified for “fair trade” labeling to know the clothing you choose was created with ethical and sustainable practices.
• Buy used! You can get your fashionista on by buying used clothing at local stores and now even online!
For more info about what name brands and new upstarts are doing to make clothing and accessories ethically and sustainably, check out: https://www.highsnobiety.com/2017/04/17/best-sustainable-fashion-brands/