When was the last time you saw a nylon tree?
Or watched a farmer spray pesticides on the cotton that became the undies you’re wearing right now?
Or gave a second thought to the factory worker who was paid $3 per day to knit a shirt that says
“Whiskey & Yoga”?
Today, we consider ourselves as a society to be more aware than ever before. We chug our superfood-rich, organic vegan smoothies after yoga. We subscribe to “Meatless Mondays.” We buy eggs from only the happiest free-range chickens. We’ve made gigantic strides toward being conscious about what we put in our bodies - but what about what we put on our bodies?
Enter: The fast fashion addiction.
Think about the top-grossing retail stores in the world: H&M, Forever 21, Target. These are enterprises that completely changed how we look at style: They made trendy, fashion-forward designs accessible to the masses at ridiculously low prices. Why spend $250 on an artisan-crafted sustainable coat that will last for decades, when you can buy a $39 pleather one, and toss it when it starts to fall apart at the seams?
We’re a culture that loves a deal, but it’s time to consider the cost. We have to ask ourselves: How does this purchase affect the earth, a farmer, a sewing operator, and the end-user: me?
We need to reboot the fashion cycle, and this shift is far from being impossible. Think of Whole Foods: People demanded a better food source - more transparency, higher quality - because what else is more important than our health?
The same goes for fashion. We need to demand change to make the clothing production cycle healthy for all. Cradle to cradle: Organic & reclaimed fabrics -> fair wages -> eco-friendly production -> happy consumer.
5 Ways to Raise Your Fashion Standards
(1) Repair Garments
Before you trash or donate that vintage tee, use basic sewing supplies to repair stitches, fix holes, and reinforce seams. Not so crafty? Take your items to a seamstress and let them work their magic - it’s extremely low-cost and brings work back to the artisan.
(2) Reclaim & Repurpose
Consider whether you can give your clothes a second life. How about turning your jeans into cut-off shorts, making t-shirts into cleaning rags, or repurposing a collection of shirts into a quilt. Let your creative juices flow and let that soft ex-lover’s t-shirt live on.
(3) Swap it Out
Our best friends always seem to find all the dopest duds, don’t they? Swapping apparel with friends or at used-clothing marketplaces is not only eco-friendly, but it keeps those awesome pieces circulating your way. Buy, sell, or trade your clothes with vintage stores, friends and via social media.
Believe it or not, a large majority of donated clothes are never claimed. They’re either thrown away or shipped to another country, which negatively effects their economy due to a surplus. (I know - seems hard to win, right?) Just do your research and donate apparel to programs that are functional, such as: business suits for those needing something sharp to interview in, or prom dresses for those who can’t afford the big one-time purchase price.
(5) Buy Sustainable
Minimizing production is the end goal - the earth is begging for breathing room! Buying sustainable, eco-friendly, ethical fashion should actually be your last resort. But when you do decide to buy, the best advice is to check the label on garments, research a company for sustainable practices and to share your favorite sustainable purchases with the world.
Together, we can make sustainable fashion a mainstream concept.
Browse our collection of Totem vendors with a sustainable focus on production, materials or both.