fashion

It’s Time for a Fashion Revolution

Every year since 2013, the week of April 24th has been known as Fashion Revolution week in the sustainable fashion world. I wrote about it a year ago and you can read that here. I love this campaign. With a tagline of “We love fashion, but we don’t want our clothes to come at the cost of people or our planet”, how can I not?

We all know that for over a year I have been trying to make a conscious effort when it comes to buying clothing (and things in general). I love shopping at thrift stores and seeing what cool things I can find. I love discovering new sustainable fashion brands and perusing their websites for hours. I follow so many Instagram accounts of awesome ladies who are killing the style game while also lessening their impact on the planet. But sometimes I waver. Sometimes I need/want a very specific item that 1. cannot be found in a single trip to my local Savers 2. is not something people tend to donate as much (plain white t-shirts, jeans that go past my ankles, shoes that are not worn through) and 3. doesn’t cost the equivalent of a ten-hour shift at my minimum-wage job.

Sometimes all I want to do in walk freely into my local H&M (or Zara, or Topshop, or sometimes even Forever 21) and find something I like and spend about $20 on it. Cheap, conviennent, probably trendy, and provides a source of instant gratification. No spending a lot, no perusing eco websites for hours, no paying for shipping and then having to wait a week for the thing to arrive.

This is where Fashion Revolution Week comes in. It reminds me that I am not the only one impacted by my fashion choices and that is it not a harmless hobby. Workers (who are mostly women) that make the clothes for the retailers I find myself caving to live on less than $3 a day, work tortuously long hours doing a monotonous task, and do it all in ramshackle buildings that are prone to collapse. They are exposed to toxic chemicals and fumes on the daily. And those are just some of the effects on humans. Forget about the impact on the planet – according to EcoWatch, the fast fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world, second only to oil.

So thank you to Fashion Revolution for helping to remind me of why I care so much about the clothing industry in the first place. Thank you for reminding me that 95% of my wardrobe can come to me secondhand. Thank you for getting me back on track when I slip up and for giving us a week to really reflect on the impact our seemingly harmless clothing addiction has on the world.

EMBRACE ANTI-CONSUMERISM AND FEEL LIKE A MILLIONAIRE

Read on to learn about how to learn to shop more consciously and how to spend money on only the things you really want. This post originally appeared on SixtyandMe.com

“I don’t need it. I don’t want it. I’m not gonna buy it.” Say it three times and walk away. Say it and feel fabulous. You’re a part of a new anti-consumerism movement that will help you feel like a millionaire.

The anti-consumerism movement began as a reaction to the ‘haul’ videos prevalent on YouTube. If you’ve never seen one, here is the basic concept: A young woman (usually) sits in front of a camera with shopping bags filled with her ‘haul’ from a particular store.

She pulls out each item, describes it, says why she bought it, why it is so fabulous, and why you should have it, too. This huge trend has resulted in haul video channels and even videos on how to make haul videos.

Viral Consumerism

Haul videos are but one example of today’s viral consumerism. Viral as in virus, like a disease. Viral as in infection; consumerism has gotten to the viral point. A haul is not just one item but an overdose of purchase. A ‘spree,’ a ‘splurge.’

What’s the purpose of a haul video? To create envy, to demean the viewer and make them feel jealous, and to inspire purchasing. Brands love social media haul videos.

It’s free advertising by young people who have so many followers they are called ‘influencers.’ Often these influencers get their haul products free or are paid in some way so that they keep making more videos. It’s how they earn their living – by shopping for things they don’t need.

Meet Kimberly Clark, the Anti-Haul Queen

Say hello to Kimberly Clark. Not the paper company, but the drag queen. My millennial daughter turned me onto Kimberly Clark, an intelligent, eloquent individual with her own YouTube channel. She posts contemplative, insightful videos on a range of pertinent topics.

Kimberly says, “I want help to build a world in which we are not beholden to blind consumerism, unrealistic beauty standards and the patriarchy. Makeup can be radical as it represents the ability to progress and self-transform.”

The Anti-Haul: Why You Shouldn’t Buy Something

Kimberly began reviewing makeup products that she bought for her drag performances, and then gave it a second thought. She started an ‘anti-haul movement.’

In her anti-haul videos, she presents the marketing world’s top, ‘must have’ products and tells you why “I don’t want it. I don’t need it. I’m not gonna buy it.” She saves you lots of money and freedom from the clutter of products that will go unused and ultimately, tossed.

Anti-haul videos give you a good reason NOT to buy. And, they open your eyes to the power of marketing.

Desire Is Endless

Kimberly says, “Desire is endless, and marketing is made to create desire after desire. You want more, more, more.” Haul videos create envy. Wow, she has the money, she has every color, she must be better than me.

The Power of Marketing

“Consumerism is trying to part you with your money,” she says in her insightful Listen Up series on consumerism. “Haul videos urge you to buy; anti-haul videos give you good reasons not to buy.”

Three Gimmicks That Create Desire

‘Limited Editions’ are just bait. You think if you don’t buy a ‘special,’ limited edition that you’re missing out on something cool. Limited editions are created to jump start a fresh new desire and to create urgency. You’re missing out on nothing.

Beware of sales. Sales are where consumers make their biggest purchasing mistakes and why marketers are so keen on sales. Bottom line: don’t buy something just because it’s on sale. If it’s something you’ve been looking for, buy it. If it’s not something you’d pay full price for, don’t buy it on sale.

Do you really need that set? I wanted a tube of Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream. Then I saw a set with the cream, a lipstick and a body oil for a few dollars more. “Wow, that’s a great value,” I thought.

When faced with sets, ask yourself, are you really going to use the whole set? Guess what, the answer is no. Don’t buy the eye shadow set with 30 colors. Are you really going to use it? No. Buy what you need and nothing more.

Shopping as Entertainment

In the old days, people shopped when they needed something. Today, shopping has become entertainment. You’re bored, you buy a lipstick. You’re depressed, you buy a dress.

Save your money and deal with your emotions in a healthier way: read a book, talk to a friend, cook a beautiful meal, write in your journal, make a phone call.

Bottom line: Buy what you need. Enjoy what you have. Feel good about not spending money needlessly and then having to KonMari your house. Save your money for something else, like a well-deserved vacation. Learn a language. Send your kids to college.

I hope you enjoyed this discussion of how to feel like a millionaire by not spending money needlessly! Do look at the video links I posted in the article. Check out some ‘haul’ videos and see what you think. I’d love to read your thoughts below.

Have you stopped spending money casually? What tricks of the trade have you learned to live more consciously when it comes to spending? Please join the conversation!

By Elizabeth Dunkel

No Buy January

I am now more than halfway through my ‘No Buy January’ endeavour. ‘No Buy January’ is a pretty common thing across the web – it’s a challenge not to buy anything unnecessary for the entire month. A lot of people (myself included) use it to reset after the expensive months leading up to Christmas. It also helps you get some perspective to what you are spending your money on and why. Here are a few things I’ve learned over the past twenty days:

  • I can be very good when it comes to buying things, but not so much when it comes to spending money on “experiences”: While I walked away from books, stayed away from clothing stores, and worked hard to use up my stores of toiletries instead of purchasing new items when they ran out, I still spent a fair bit of money on going to restaurants, cafes, and drinks with friends. I have definitely stayed in on more Fridays than not. I don’t make much at my part-time job and am trying to be choosy with what I do spend money on, but I could definitely do better. Of course, going out with friends and spending money on experiences is inherently better than spending money on things, but I would still like to save a bit more in that area. For example, if I know I’m going to a concert in Boston on a Saturday night, then I’ll stay in on Friday to balance out the spending.
  • Western culture revolves around shopping: During the weekends I am often at a loss at what to do that does not involve going to a store and buying something. So much of my adolescence was spent at the mall on weekends and during the summer that I am realizing that it’s a bit difficult not to pop out to the stores when I’m bored and need something to do. I love window shopping as much as the next person, but with this ‘No Buy January’ I also tried to refrain from participating in anything related to consumer culture. This is part of my goal to lead a more conscious lifestyle. Instead I am trying to blog, journal, read, and meet up with friends in restaurants or cafes.
  • Learning to not beat myself up over necessary purchases: Because I don’t make a lot of money at the moment, I’ve been finding this a bit difficult. I pride myself over being able to say ‘no’ to books and clothing but then punish myself for having to spend money on things I actually need. For example, I ran out of my all-time favorite moisturizer. I stood in the aisle of Whole Foods for probably 5 minutes debating whether to repurchase. This was silly because I NEEDED the moisturizer (it is currently the middle of winter in New England and I have perpetually dry skin so yes, moisturizer is a NEED). I also spent a lot of money on a pair of prescription sunglasses, another thing I needed since a late-entry New Years resolution of mine is to wear my glasses more. I need sunglasses to drive so I really did need to buy them. It didn’t stop me from feeling insanely guilty and like I’d failed the whole point of ‘No Buy January’, but in hindsight I am realizing that there’s no way to avoid purchases like these. I can avoid buying books because I have so many currently unread on my shelf and I can avoid clothes shopping because my closet is currently full with items that I love, but I can’t avoid some purchases no matter how hard I try and that’s okay.
  • Overall I’m learning that less is definitely more: This whole process is actually teaching me a lot about myself.  I don’t need things to define who I am. I am just as content (if not more so) sitting in a coffee shop with friends or a book than I am out shopping. I’m going to try and buy only what I absolutely need going forward. Sometimes I won’t need anything and sometimes I’ll need lots of things and that’s okay because every purchase I make will be a conscious one. I never want to clean out my closet or bathroom cabinet and throw away unworn shirts or unused products because I bought them in the moment without really thinking of their value.

I’m planning on continuing my ‘No Buy’ experiment into February. It’s the shortest month of the year so if you’re interested but don’t think you can do a whole 31 days then I recommend trying to give it a go next month. I also recommend downloading a money tracking app. At the start if the month I just searched for “money tracking” in the App Store and found Fudget, which is the most basic app on the planet, but it’s really helping me see exactly where my money is going and how small and unnecessary purchases can add up very quickly.

I recommend trying to instill a ‘No Buy’ even for a week to see how much stuff you can actually survive without. If you find yourself still wanting it at the end of the week/month/YEAR then by all means go for it!

Has anyone else ever done a ‘No Buy’ for a set period time? What did you like about it? What did you find the hardest? Let me know your thoughts!

Hello 2018!

Well 2017 is finally over. Here’s hoping 2018 will be loads better. I usually don’t do New Year’s Resolutions but I figured this year I would give it a go. I’m trying to keep them realistic and doable so I thought I’d share.

  1. Work on being vegan at home: I’m vegetarian and I rarely (if ever) drink cow’s milk. I do love cheese though. However, due to how bad animal agriculture is for the environment, I really want to work on lessening my impact. While I can have full control over the ingredients when I eat at home, going out to eat while vegan is pretty difficult. So I’m going to try my damndest to be vegan at home and vegetarian when I go out.
  2. Workout 3x per week: This one I would really like to stick to and there is no reason I should not be able to. I notice a big difference in my fitness levels since I moved home to sedentary America. My parents have a tiny home gym and I’ve recently fallen in love with the elliptical, so working out is going to cost me literally nothing. My new trick to motivate me is to pick a TV series that I am ONLY allowed to watch while I work out. I’m currently working my way through The West Wing, a series I haven’t watched since high school. The episodes are a respectable 45 minutes each and they always leave me itching to watch the next one.
  3. Have a monthly budget: This is something I really need to work on. I’m okay with limiting my purchases but I think setting a figure and seeing how much I spend on unnecessary things and saying “no” to going out and spending money will be a real eyeopener.
  4. Travel back to London: This one is a confirmed thing! Hurry up May! Have decided that I will be adding this to my resolutions every year from now.
  5. Buy majority of clothing second-hand: I want to lessen my environmental impact as much as possible. Plus I really like thrift shopping. It’s fun to never know what you are going to find or what deal you are going to get. I’ve recently discovered the Savers stores and now I can’t fathom spending more than $12 on any item of clothing.
  6. Journal/write more: This is something I strive towards every year. I so want to be a journal person. I’ve also bought a book of 300 writing prompts to help me as I usually don’t write because I feel like I have nothing to write about.
  7. Be asleep by 11PM: This one will be hard. It’s not so much about going to bed earlier, but becoming more of a morning person. I’m hoping a set bedtime will help.
  8. Read every night: I love to read and I do read a lot, but I would like to start reading more in bed. I usually read for a bit but then turn on the TV and watch until midnight. Hopefully this one helps me stick to #7!
  9. Blog 2x per week: I would really like to have this blog be a portfolio of my writing. Just purchased this domain name so hopefully I can get my money’s worth =]
  10. Keep making #zerowaste switchups: I recently wrote about this and I would like to keep improving and lessening the amount of plastic waste that I produce.
  11. Find a job that let’s me do some good: This will be probably my biggest resolution of 2018. I am determined not to work for a company unless it does some good for the world. I refuse to dedicate 40+ hours to something that I am not whole-heartedly passionate about. Interning at this summer really taught me that I am the most professionally fulfilled when I work on something related to environmentalism and that I can combine that with my skills in PR/communications.  I currently have a part-time job at a bookstore that I am happy to keep until the right thing comes along.

HAPPY 2018!

If We Can’t Make the Fashion Industry More Sustainable, We May End Up Eating Our Clothes

This article originally appeared on Fashionista.com, a trusted source of fashion news, criticism and career advice with a monthly readership of more than 2.5 million. This articles explains the need to go eco in fashion and why you should avoid polyester at all costs. A real eye opener! 

By

No one wants to eat a meal laced with plastic, but if something doesn’t change in our current textile economy, that could soon be a reality. Plastic microfibers, which are like tiny pieces of plastic lint that come off synthetic clothing in the washing machine, are now entering the oceans at a rate of about half a million tons every year — that’s equivalent to more than 50 billion plastic bottles. Once in the water, these microfibers are ingested by aquatic wildlife and travel up the food chain where they end up being consumed by humans.

This problem is just one of many highlighted in a new report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Entitled “A New Textiles Economy: Redesigning Fashion’s Future,” the 150-page report has garnered support from brands like Stella McCartneyNike and H&M in addition to the United Nations and nonprofits like the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and the C&A Foundation.

“This report is an important step in signaling the type of systemic innovation and collaboration required to unlock a future that protects… the planet while also powering sustainable business growth,” says Nike vice president of sustainable business and innovation Cyrus Wadia in the report’s introduction.

According to the report, Wadia is right to note the connection between business growth and planet care. While the detriment to the earth is staggering in and of itself, the fact that over “$500 billion of value is lost every year due to clothing underutilization and the lack of recycling” should be enough to make other businesses take note of the report’s findings.

Besides overviewing the microfiber issue, the report also touches on a range of other matters that need to be addressed if the fashion industry is to avoid “catastrophic outcomes.” Among these issues are the reduction of carbon emissions in the textile sector, which currently equals that of all international flights and shipping combined. At its current rate, fashion is projected to be using 26 percent of the planet’s carbon budget by 2050.

Another problem is related to clothing’s growing disposability. The report notes that the steady increase in global fashion production is linked to a decreased use of individual pieces, with some garments being thrown out after only seven to 10 wears. Considering that less than one percent of clothing is recycled, that’s a huge problem — and has led to a scenario in which “one garbage truck full of textiles is landfilled or burnt every second.” If this trajectory continues, the weight of our discarded clothing would be more than ten times that of the world’s current population by 2050.

It looks pretty bleak if the textile industry continues with business as usual, but the report doesn’t end in pessimism. Instead, it offers a vision of change that could lead to systemic shifts that go beyond the individualized good deeds of a few ethical brands here or there.

The solution offered by the report can be broken down into four steps. First, it involves phasing out hazardous substances, and reducing microfiber release through new technologies and better production processes. Second, the report suggests transforming how clothing is designed, sold and used so that disposability is reduced. This might involve placing a bigger emphasis on clothing rental programs or designing and better marketing more durable garments.

The third part of the solution involves recycling: encouraging brands to design garments that are easy to recycle, setting up large-scale clothing collection and pursuing technological advancements that will make recycling more possible. Lastly, the report suggests that any non-recycled material that enters the fashion cycle should come from renewable sources (like algae or bamboo) rather than nonrenewable ones (like fossil fuels).

Reforming the fashion industry so thoroughly will be a difficult task, but the report makes clear that it’s the only option for human and environmental flourishing — and maybe even survival.

“It is obvious that the current fashion system is failing both the environment and us,” writes member of Denmark’s Parliament Ida Auken in the introduction to the report. “This report sets out a compelling vision of an industry that is not only creative and innovative, but also circular… Whilst this may not be straightforward, the way is now clear.”

Read the full report here.

5 Ways to Build a More Ethical Closet

 

My friend recently sent me this image (shoutout to Nicole!) and it really got me thinking about my own shopping habits. I think people think that in order to have an ethical wardrobe, you need to spend a lot of money. Luckily, this is rarely the case. In fact, shopping ethically can actually help you save money in the long haul. I really like the simplicity of this graphic so I decided to share and explain my experience going through each of these five steps.

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How Building A Conscious Closet Became A Feminist Action

I came across this article on The Good Trade. It really struck a cord because this sums up exactly how I feel as a feminist and environmentalist who loves fashion. With the anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster coming up, I thought it was a good time to share.  
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By Erin HoutsonBuilding A Conscious Closet

It’s Been 4 Years Since The Rana Plaza Tragedy

Where were you on April 24, 2013? To most people, it was a day like any other, but for me, it was the day that my eyes snapped wide open to the actions of my closet. No, my closet can’t walk or talk, but if it could, it may have given voice to the hidden women and men who made my clothes. On that day and the weeks to follow, those same faces came at me from the pages of the New York Times, the Guardian, and more covering the Rana Plaza Factory Collapse in Bangladesh.

WHY THIS HIT ME SO HARD

For many members of the conscious fashion movement, this was also their wake-up moment. But at the time, I was working for a media company that covered global development issues, from foreign aid flows that support social and economic growth to the role of corporations through their responsibility, citizenship, or emerging markets activities.

Everywhere I turned, large multinational companies were – despite many people’s cynicism – doing amazing things. The most world’s most famous beverage company was innovating delivery of immunizations and medicine to the last miles of the most remote areas of our globe. Banks were investing in local innovators who were changing their communities through making the internet accessible for all. Payment providers were creating new gateways and currencies like mPESA that would come to revolutionize the way people – particularly women – in Sub-Saharan Africa and beyond would build savings and make everyday transactions that led to empowerment.

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A Place to Go for Ethical Inspiration – The Good Trade

 

Launched in Los Angeles in 2014 as a community for ethically-minded consumers, The Good Trade is an online publication featuring brands, products and ideas creating positive social change. The Good Trade was built on the fundamental idea consumers are collectively powerful and capable of driving significant social change through their everyday purchases, consumer preferences and lifestyle choices. Our team envisions a world where ethically minded consumers vote with their everyday purchases for a world that is sustainable and free from forced labor. – ABOUT The Good Trade

I can’t remember when or how I first heard about this site, but it has been a source of constant inspiration since deciding to try and live more ethically. There are articles and guides pertaining to ethical beauty, fashion, gifts, home, and travel that give tips and offer up some great alternative products. Some of my favorite guides include “35 Fair Trade & Ethical Clothing Brands Betting Against Fast Fashion” and “Conscious Living 101: 5 Books & 5 Documentaries That Will Open Your Eyes to the ‘Way’ Behind Conscious Living“. Guides and articles like these have helped keep me motivated when I feel discouraged or overwhelmed with the process of trying to live ethically and sustainably. It seems a lot easier to just pop into Zara, buy that £20 polyester top, and be done with it. You can’t do that while trying to live ethically. There is no more aimlessly wandering into a high-street store and having a peruse around. If I want a new piece of clothing, I have to do some research and more often than not, buy it online. Yes, this is better for my wallet as I can no longer spend my Saturdays wandering around Oxford Street, but it can also take the fun out of the shopping pastime. Luckily I can get on to The Good Trade and within a few minutes of reading their articles and guides, I feel completely encouraged and motivated to buy sustainably. The site offers so much information and options when it comes to fair trade and ethical fashion that I don’t really feel like I’m missing out on anything.

 

I highly recommend you take a peek at the site. You’ll find some inspiration and maybe a more ethical option to that H&M top you’ve been eyeing!

 

Vegan Leather – Matt & Nat

 

I love a good handbag. It’s an item I do not mind investing in, as I need it to be able to handle being stuffed to the gills and carted around the city on a daily basis. In the past, a good quality bag usually meant a leather one. Leather is one of the most durable materials and actually tends to look better with time and wear. As I try to slowly transition to a more ethical lifestyle, this was one area where I wasn’t sure how I could get around not using leather. Luckily I discovered Matt & Nat, a completely vegan and beautifully-made accessories company based in Canada.

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Emma Watson Creates New Instagram to Promote Her Sustainable Fashion Picks

befunky-collage

I think it is pretty clear that I really admire Emma Watson. When I saw that she had created a new Instagram account to highlight the sustainable and ethical fashion she wears while promoting her new film Beauty and the Beast, I knew I had to write about it.

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