How to Shop Sustainably
The fashion industry is not in a good place. Fast fashion is the world’s second largest polluter, behind only oil. The fashion industry is also responsible for 8-10% of global carbon emissions. That’s more emissions than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. (https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/press-release/un-alliance-sustainable-fashion-addresses-damage-fast-fashion)
Another crazy stat-the fashion industry is the also second biggest consumer of water worldwide. It takes about 700 gallons of water to produce one cotton t-shirt. That’s enough water for one person to drink 8 cups per day for 3 ½ years.
In addition to consuming lots of water, the fashion industry pollutes water with textile dying being the world’s second largest polluter of water. Water leftover from the dying process is often dumped into streams, lakes and rivers. All in, the fashion industry is responsible for 20% of all industrial water pollution worldwide.
Finally, millions of tons of synthetic microfibers are released into the ocean each year. And we’re not slowing down. Since 2000, Clothing production has roughly doubled. Doubled. In 20 years.
This is all just on the production front. Which is super important. But how we use our clothing also has major impacts on the planet. From 2000 to 2014, according to McKinsey and Company, we bought 60% more clothing. Our consumption has gone way up. But what’s really terrifying is that we are also using the products less. In that same time period, we kept our garments for half as long. So not only are we buying more, but we’re wasting more.
85% of all textiles go to the dump each year.
This all seems really dire right? And this is how we get overwhelmed right? But education brings awareness which spreads solutions. And when we know better, we do better. Therefore we must start with the facts. One of our first major plans of attack is to create more consumer awareness around this issue.
Both brands and consumers need to be aware of their impact. As a player in the fashion industry, it’s our job to seek out the most environmentally sound methods. It’s our responsibility as a brand to put the environment first and make decisions that are in line with my values. Part of that commitment revolves around educating consumers to buy less and buy better.
So, what can you do? Our ethos and teaching around this is simple: just be better than yesterday. That’s it, that’s all we have to do. Let's take a look at how we can buy better and how to shop more sustainably.
- Don’t buy what you don’t need. Patagonia took a stance on this with their campaign of “don’t buy this jacket”. It was a cry for thinking before we buy. Ironically their sales went up but the message is crucial: Think before you buy and seek to reduce what you buy. Here's a scary stat: we’re buying 60% more apparel items than we did in 2000. And we only keep them for half as long. We may think we actually need new clothes, but we don’t.
- Watch your labels. Unfortunately, the word sustainable has really taken after “natural” which is to say, it means nothing because you do not have to provide evidence. As consumers, we must look for certifications, processes outlined on the websites we buy from and use tools such as mytrestle.com which evaluate brands and provide scores of company values so that you can make more informed purchases.
- Buy better quality. I moved to Oregon after living in San Diego and on the beaches of North Carolina. I was a warm-weather girl and my clothing reflected that. When I first moved to Oregon and experienced my first real PNW winter- where temps are in the teens and twenties and there’s snow on the ground and the days are grey and rainy. I was wholly unprepared. My wardrobe was flimsy. I would have three sweaters on, and be complaining about how cold I was and my boyfriend would say, put more clothes on and I would say, I have three sweaters on. And he would look at them and say “Sensi I can see through your sweaters”. The quality was bad! It took me a few years, but I invested in high quality clothing that would last.
- Buy used. The resale market is huge and buying used is one of the best ways to decrease our load on the planet.
These tips will get you started on shopping and consuming more sustainably. Read more about our sustainability initiatives here.
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