Sustainable Fashion

08.05.2019

0600

What is sustainable fashion?

Sustainable fashion is a movement and process of fostering change to fashion products and the fashion system towards greater ecological integrity and social justice. Sustainable fashion concerns more than addressing fashion textiles or products. It comprises addressing the whole system of fashion. 

There are seven different routes to sustainable fashion. There’s more than one answer to be fashionably responsible. Not all of the methods to approaching sustainable fashion, suits all people equally, because we all have different needs and preferences. 

There are seven different moving sections to sustainable fashion.

Sustainable Fashion can be broken down into seven categories:

  1. On Demand & Custom Made
    • Made to order
    • Tailor made
    • DIY
  2. Green & Clean
    • Keeping a green and clean production process throughout the products life cycle
  3. High Quality & Timeless Design
    • Traditional production
    • Artisan crafts
    • Animal rights
  4. Fair & Ethical Fashion
    1. Fair Trade: According to Fair Trade USA, products that get to bear the “Fair Trade” logo “come from farmers and workers who are justly compensated.”
    2. Ethical: The Ethical Fashion Forum says that “Ethical fashion represents an approach to the design, sourcing and manufacture of clothing which maximizes benefits to people and communities while minimizing impact on the environment.”
  5. Repair, Redesign & Upcycle
    1. Repair clothing so that you can give it a longer life
    2. You can redesign clothes to customize it into a unique piece
    3. If you don’t plan on wearing or using the clothing item, you can upcycle it into another use
  6. Rent, Lease & Swap
    1. Rent or lease formal wear, so you can keep your wardrobe quantity under control, and you’ll get to choose from more options
    2. Swap clothes with your neighbors, friends and family
  7. Secondhand & Vintage
    1. Shop at second hand stores or swap with neighbors, friends and and family.

These multiple methods to support a more sustainable fashion industry, and can be adopted by everyone. There really isn’t one “correct” method to the sustainable fashion route. I wanted to mention these seven methods, because I know I’ve written about creating my own DIY clothing from existing pieces, as well as shopping at thrift stores, but I’ve never listed all of the different methods to support a more sustainable fashion industry.

Under the accordance of sustainability, recycled clothing upholds the principle of the “Three R’s of the Environment”: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle, as well as the “Three Legs of Sustainability”: Economics, Ecology, and Social Equity. To change the existing fashion industry into a more sustainable system, we need to practice reducing waste, reusing textile materials, and recycling old textiles. The balance between the social, economic and environmental responsibilities needs to be taken into account as well.

Sustainable fashion takes a lot of self awareness from the entire fashion industry. It means actively working with the countries and farmers who take care of the materials we source, to create our textiles. We also need to make responsible decisions that won’t damage our resources or harm our environment. I buy a lot of clothing from thrift stores because I like the variety of options I can choose from. Walking into a thrift store, is like walking into a time capsule, and it’s a fun experience for me. I also upcycle a lot of my clothing pieces that have reached the end of their life. For clothes and textiles I want to keep, but I don’t want to wear, I will upcycle the items into something more useful for my life.

If you want to support a more sustainable fashion industry, consider adopting and practicing at least one of the seven methods that support the sustainable fashion industry. You can choose more than one method to support this much needed system. If possible, try to implement all seven methods into your wardrobe collection.

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Fast Fashion

06.24.2019

0600

When H&M came to the California, specifically the Bay Area, word spread quickly. H&M started in Europe, and finally arrived here, to the states. The clothing looked like good quality, and the prices were low, cheap even. It felt like consumers hit the jackpot with this retail store, on the surface. This isn’t the first retail store to offer cheap clothing, with what looked to be good quality clothing. But if you dive right below the surface of what retailers are marketing, you might find the harsh reality of what consumers are benefiting from. 

In the past decade, fast fashion has become a growing problem. The Fashion Industry has sold us the idea that instead of four seasons each year, we have 52 seasons each year. Style and clothing becomes outdated as soon as you buy it. Fast Fashion focuses on speed and low product prices, so that they can deliver frequent, new collections inspired by celebrity styles or runway styles. 


As you might guess, fast fashion’s marketing strategy includes creating vibrant prints, vibrant colors and eye catching prints to be more appealing to the consumers. However, much of these fabrics are treated with toxic chemicals in order to achieve the final product. The pressure to reduce the time it takes to get a product onto the retail display floor, results in more environmental pollution. Water pollution, the use of powerful toxic chemical and the increase of textile waste are a few of the negative environmental impacts. 


Garmets that are made of fabrics such as polyester and polyamides shed microfibers into the waste waste, which continue to contribute to the increasing plastic in our ocean. The demand for more production, increases the amount of waste produced as well as increases the amount of clothing consumers subsequently buy and then get rid of. 


The fashion industry feeds our addiction to garments, and they’re very good at it. The low prices and latest trends are great selling strategies. “Newer, bigger, better, faster, etc.” are emphasized in commercials, advertisements and all over social media. Fashion moves fast, and therefore, must continue to develop and market new products. We, as consumers, have a tendency to buy, because buying something new gives us some form of fulfillment (that’s another topic I’ll write about in the future). The combination of companies pumping out new products and our addiction to fulfill that want for new products, creates a perfect storm in creating excessive textile waste and the destruction of the environment. 


There are quite a few companies who have been called out for their practice of discarding unsold clothing and garments by cutting them up, destroying them or even pouring paint on them, so they can’t be worn. In January 2017, outside of Nike SoHo, in New York, there were bags of shoes found that had been slashed with a blade. Ex employees of Michael Kors, Juicy Couture and Henri Bendel have come forward in revealing that they were instructed to smash watches, cut up track suits and tear up silk dresses before discarding. Ex Urban Outfitters employees have admitted to being instructed to destroy “dime-outs”, which is a term used for merchandise that didn’t sell. H&M, Zara, JC Penny and even Victoria’s Secret have come under fire for these types of wasteful practices. Their defense in the the destruction of unsold merchandise, is that they are protecting the brand and are worried that donating the unsold clothing would undercut their brand. By not donating the extra merchandise, consumers won’t be able to purchase these items for a discount at outlets and thrift stores. 

Americans throw out 25 billion pounds of clothing each year; 15% is recycled, and the rest ends up in a landfill. Not only does “fast fashion” damage the environment, it also disregards the rights of its workers. Fashion retailers such as Zara and H&M search for cheap manufacturing labor in countries like Bangladesh and others.


Here comes some ugly truths about fast fashion. 

  • The fast fashion industry emits 1.2 billion tons of CO2 equivalent per year.
  • The fast fashion industry is responsible for producing 20% of global wastewater.
  • In 2015, the fast fashion industry used 80 billion cubic meters of freshwater.
  • Production of textiles uses about 3500 different chemicals.
  • Cotton is one of the most resource-intensive crops out there.
  • We make 63% of clothes from petrochemicals.
  • The fast fashion industry produces 97% of our clothes overseas.
  • 40 million people work in the garment industry today.
  • Dangerous working conditions exist for garment workers in the fast fashion industry.
  • Fast fashion is predicted to increase ~60% by the year 2030.
  • Between 1992 and 2002 the time we keep our clothes decreased by 50%.3
  • We buy 2X more clothes than we did just 15 years ago (2015 data).
  • The fashion industry produced 92 million tons of waste in 2015 alone.
  • 85% of our old clothes end up in a landfill.
  • Only about 1% of textile waste is truly recycled.
  • With current technologies, it would take 12 years to recycle what the fast fashion industry creates in 48 hours
  • Fast fashion is a huge contributor to plastic pollution.

There are a lot of people and factors involved, when considering the timeline of producing a garment. From the farming of cotton fields, to the workers who work to create the bales of cotton fibers in the cotton facilities, then dying and creating the fabric, or using the screens to print images and patterns on the shirts, than to the manufacturer selling and sending the product out to distribution centers; there are a lot of people involved in this process.

https://www.racked.com/2018/4/13/17230770/rana-plaza-collapse-anniversary-garment-workers-safety

There are real dangers for garment workers, who work to help push out production for big companies. In 2013, the Rana Plaza building in Balngladesh, which housed the Dhaka garment factory, collapsed and left 1,134 people dead and left approximately 2,500 people injured. It was a an eight story building and collapsed due to a failing structural system that included an additional illegal three stories above the original permit. Even though an engineer had requested an inspection of the building, since it was deemed unsafe, unethical administrative players in this case, passed the building off as safe, and told the workers they should return to the factory and continue to work.

There’s speculation that perhaps the pressure to have the workers return to the factory the next day, was to continue to complete the garment orders on time. The demand for the garments were still flooding in, so slowing down production was not an option for the managers. The demand for fast fashion, low-cost clothing by clothing brands, dangerous conditions, non-union representation and low wages, is what the fast fashion industry creates.

https://www.wnycstudios.org/story/growing-problem-textile-waste

Our resources for producing cheap and fast clothing is taking a toll on the environment, and people are starting to speak up and speak out about it. The bigger the industry is, the more impact it has on our natural resources. More companies are looking towards more sustainable materials such as hemp, linen, and wool.

Hemp material is a favorite of mine because it is a more sustainable material. It’s a very durable material, has UV protection qualities, water absorbent and breathable, no chemical fertilizers pesticides required during farming, naturally biodegradable, and highly antimicrobial. It grows quickly and can be grown in all different climates.

Linen is derived from the flax plant. Linen is 30% stronger than cotton and is known to be the strongest natural fiber. It’s thicker than cotton, but linen lasts longer than cotton too. Linen can absorb 20% moisture before it starts to feel damp. It has a natural ability to prevent bacterial growth, yet can move air and moisture through it’s hollow fibers easily.

There are options when the choice of introducing new garments into your wardrobe. You can shop at thrift stores, choose more sustainable materials for your wardrobe, or even choose to not buy clothing as often, to alleviate the textile waste created by the fashion industry.  Apparel retailers such as Zara and H&M dominate the world of fast fashion, with Zara owner Inditex making 3.44 billion euros ($3.9 billion) in profit in 2018.

The second hand apparel market was worth $24 billion in the U.S. in 2018, versus $35 billion for fast-fashion, say the figures from GlobalData.

However, by 2028 the used-fashion market is set to skyrocket in value to $64 billion in the U.S., while fast-fashion will only reach $44 billion.By shopping at thrift stores, you can help keep clothing out of the landfill. 

Even better, is to stop buying cheap clothing, invest in sustainable fashion clothing and stop buying unnecessary amounts of clothing. 

Understanding Recycling Aluminum Cans

Recycling

10.07.2016

0800

can-recycling-cycle

Aluminum Can Recycling Link

Aluminum seems to be one of the more common materials in the United States in which the public is reminded to recycle consistently. It’s a great material that can be reused and can create a closed loop system if recycled properly.The infographic above shows the lifecycle of an aluminum can from beginning to end.

In a nutshell the process of recycling an aluminum can goes as follows:

  1. The consumer throws aluminium cans and foil into a recycle bin.
  2. The aluminium is then collected and taken to a treatment plant.
  3. In the treatment plant the aluminium is sorted and cleaned ready for reprocessing.
  4. It then goes through a re-melt process and turns into molten aluminium, this removes the coatings and inks that may be present on the aluminium.
  5. The aluminium is then made into large blocks called ingots. Each ingot contains about 1.6 million drinks cans.
  6. The ingots are sent to mills where they are rolled out, this gives the aluminium greater flexibility and strength.
  7. This is then made into aluminium products such as cans, chocolate wrapping and ready meal packaging.
  8. In as little as 6 weeks, the recycled aluminium products are then sent back to the shops ready to be used again.

Some Facts About Aluminum Recycling:

  • It saves 95% of the energy compared to making aluminium from its raw materials (known as primary production).
  • It saves 95% of the greenhouse gas emissions compared to the primary, or smelting, process.
  • It saves raw materials. It reduces the space needed for landfill – where waste is buried in holes in the ground.

If you are a consumer of aluminum cans in your day to day life, please recycle the can or save it to recycle later if there aren’t any recycling locations nearby. It makes a great difference in how we continually use our resources from nature.

My 30 Piece Capsule Wardrobe

06.13.2016

0800

DSC_4521
DSC_4520

Zero Waste Closet = 30 Piece Capsule Wardrobe

So on my journey of living a Zero Waste life, I had to audit my closet. For many reasons, I noticed that I didn’t wear all of the close I owned. I knew I needed a more efficient system to hold myself accountable.

I discovered the concept of a Capsule Wardrobe and I was fascinated by it. The concept of a Capsule Wardrobe has been around for awhile and I’m pretty late to the game, but I was hooked. However, to get my closet to the point of a “Capsule Wardrobe” was going to take a lot of work and analysis. The first step I took was taking individual pictures of each item I owned. Yep, I spent about two days taking pictures, cropping them and then organizing them by category (ie. Tops, Bottoms, Intimates, Shoes, etc.). From there, I made subcategories such as “Tops- Jacket 1”, “Shoes- Heels 1”, etc.  As I was categorizing these clothes I did run into one problem,  and that was the fact that I have workout clothes as well as other sport clothes and I didn’t know how to fit those into this whole new system.

When I researched on what other people created when they made their capsule wardrobes, I didn’t see workout clothes included in their systems. For me, my capsule wardrobe was to be a collection  of clothes with a color scheme, style of clothing as well as the fact that all of the tops and bottoms could be mixed and matched to one another effortlessly. I ended up not including my intimates (you can’t mix and match a robe, unless you want to be THAT GUY), and I left off my running, snowboarding and surfing gear. Although I left those sport categories off, I did audit those clothes and donated quite a few pieces from each.

I started creating an outline of how I wanted to narrow down my scope of my wardrobe by defining my lifestyle, my color scheme (which included major colors, minor colors and accent colors). For me, there was a huge difference in viewing my clothes on a computer screen than in real life. There was a level of accountability when I viewed my clothes on my computer. I mean it was all there; as if my closet barfed all over my computer screen.  I was able to compare the color scheme, style and even seasonal wear of my clothes when I saw all of them side by side.

After my capsule wardrobe was created, it forced me to pay attention to the care I put forth for my clothes. I always took care of the items I owned, but knowing I had a very limited amount of clothes, it made me more aware of my limitations in clothing choices now. For example, I own two short sleeve shirts, one dark and one light, and if I were to stain the light shirt, I’d definitely have to go thrift shopping after. Eventually I started picking out “Go To Outfits” for work, casual social events and even dressy events. With a limited amount of clothes, that wasn’t hard to get done.

There are quite a few helpful outlines floating out there on the internet, but this is the one I used for the beginning of my journey Capsule Planner by Un-Fancy. I have to admit that after I put this together, my morning and evening routines became simpler and quicker. I’ve enjoyed cleaning up and putting away clothes and I enjoy doing laundry more. I actually dislike doing laundry the most out of all the possible housework tasks, mostly because it takes so much time to get it done, and I haven’t figured out how to cut down time during the process- so I just deal with it. Some people can wear every piece of clothing they own and utilize them through their lives. I am not one of those people. Perhaps I favor certain pieces more than others, perhaps I simply have held onto a piece for so long because I’ve had it for so long and it evokes a special memory for me, either way, it only adds up to clutter in my life.

The purpose of my blog is to create effective and efficient life hacks so that daily life can be simpler and less stressful. I’m continuing to learn and grow and the small and simple life hacks I stumble upon, I hope to bring to you. If you’re thinking of doing a capsule wardrobe, you might want to first take pictures of every piece of clothing item. I stuck a push-pin to my wall and hung clothing pieces on a hanger and then took pictures of each. It’s a simple set up but looking at your clothing pieces hung up verses laying on the floor creates a more realistic image for your clothes. From there, start categorizing your clothing pieces and then naming them specifically so they group together easily on the computer screen. Admittedly, it’s a bit of work to get this project started but it’s well worth it in the end. And once you do this once- you really don’t have to do this project again. So I hope this helps whoever might be thinking of creating a capsule wardrobe.

This is my new 30 Piece Capsule Wardrobe:

Accessories:
1 bracelet
1 pair of earrings
1 necklace
1 pair of sunglasses
1 purse
1 scarf

Tops:
1 gown
2 jackets
1 dressy top
2 long sleeves
2 short sleeves
3 blouses
2 sweaters
2 tank tops

Bottoms:
2 pairs of jeans
1 pair of shorts
1 skirt

Footwear:
2 pairs of boots
2 heels
1 pair of house slippers