Earth day may have been yesterday, but its importance is everlasting, and since it began in 1970, people all over the world have been celebrating the planet that provides for us by giving back (or simply using less). Since it began, awareness for the environment has been ever-increasing and people and organizations all over the world have been coming up with new ways to be sustainable and sharing those ideas so that we could all one day be as giving to the Earth as it is to us!
Earth Day is one of our favorite days of the year at AMCONYC. It may not seem like it on the surface, but the fashion industry has a tremendous impact on the environment, in fact, according to Business of Fashion, it’s only second to the oil industry. It’s estimated that 20,000 liters of water alone go into making just enough cotton to create a t-shirt and a pair of jeans. But what’s a person to do? We have to get dressed, and if we have to do it, we might as well do it nicely! But just as getting dressed has easily become a daily part of human life, so can being sustainable.
It’s pretty well-known that washing your clothes with less water or donating your clothing for someone else to wear are ways to help out, so we felt it important to talk about a few ways of being sustainable through fashion that may not have crossed the mind.
Buying Vintage/Secondhand Clothing
Many people who are thrift/vintage shoppers go for the idea of having something that’s unique, eccentric, and usually inexpensive. But in addition to vintage and thrift shopping being great for the wardrobe, it’s also great for the environment. Instead of those clothes being thrown away and ending up in some landfill, they get to have a second or even third life with a new owner who’s found a new purpose for it.
As much as buying secondhand is good for helping the environment, selling your old clothing is just as good. If you have something in your closet that you haven’t worn since you bought it or something you know is too good to just too nice to let go to waste, selling clothes secondhand has become a huge thing and it’s easier than ever with sites like Etsy and eBay or even apps like Depop and Grailed. You can even try a local spot like Buffalo Exchange on Ditmars in Astoria, Queens. You may even run into some cool peeps like Nina Sky. Yes, we bumped into them, literally.
Supporting Brands that Support the Environment
There are many brands out there dedicated to bringing sustainability into their design practices and entire business models. From Levi Strauss & Co. to Patagonia from The North Face to Stella McCartney. Sustainable fashion used to be a very niche market which made it very difficult to find the clothing, let alone find it for a price you can afford and in a style that fits you.
Nowadays many brands have incorporated environmental ethics into their businesses. Whether it be using fair trade and sustainable materials and design methods or raising awareness to environmental issues, the number of brands recognizing sustainability is ever increasing. Supporting these brands not only supports the environment, but it also shows companies that the customers appreciate the effort and will then lead to more interest in being more eco-friendly.
Supporting Emerging Designers
Of course, we had to mention our favorite type of designer! Though every emerging designer may not always fit the description of sustainable, the fact remains that most emerging designers are naturally sustainable. When you shop at huge companies with huge inventories, indirectly, you support the huge supply chains that contribute massive amounts of stress on the environment from the making of the garment to the time it reaches the store.
The emerging designer not only usually has a much smaller scale to reduce its relative environmental impact, but with the rise of sustainability comes new generations of designers who have been taught and born into the ideas of creating a better environment in which we live in! A couple of designers that come to mind specifically is Callina and their line of lightweight, sustainable knits and Kate Atelier, an organic and fair trade fashion brand that was founded on four main principles: organic, fair-trade, fashionable and quality clothing for women.
If you have a yearning to help the environment in more ways than just one, then the best thing to do is to get involved! There’s plenty of organizations and non-profits out there that are working towards a better and longer future for our plant such as Canopy or I:CO which not only collaborate with brands to increase sustainability but also have resources for emerging designers and customers alike that want to get involved with the green movement.
If you’re still not sure where to go next on your journey to becoming more Earth friendly, check out what people on BoF have to say about fashion’s hand in sustainability, or even better, check out the official Earth Day website which will surely lead you to some new aspect of going green you may have never even considered!
What are your thoughts on fashion’s role in sustainability? Do you believe there’s more that could be done, if so what? Also be sure to share your eco-friendly methods of being fashionable below in the comments!