Fashion and clothing have always been a big interest in my life. My first real work experience was an internship DURING college doing Public relations for a luxury fashion house in NYC for brands like Alberta Ferretti and Moschino. I LOVE TO PLAN outfits for big events weeks, sometimes months, before the occasion, it is just something I really enjoy. Clothes are obviously a functional part of our lives, but they also serve as outlets to express ourselves and provide self-confidence. When it comes to making sustainable choices for our clothing, WE DON’T need to abandon fashion but instead start considering better options when it comes to how we purchase. FASHION IS AN AREA WHERE WE CAN MAKE A HUGE IMPACT, AND STILL LOOK AND FEEL GOOD DOING IT. Read more about THE HOW AND why...
I started this website with the hope to inspire others to reduce their plastic intake, and I want to begin addressing the number one contributor to ocean micro-plastic pollution: our clothing. Polyester, nylon, acrylic, and other synthetic fibers, all of which are forms of plastic, are about 60 percent of the material that makes up our clothes worldwide (IUCN). Synthetic plastic fibers are cheap, extremely versatile, and in most of the clothes we buy. Each year, more than a half-million metric tons of microfibers—the equivalent of 50 billion plastic water bottles—enter the ocean from washing these synthetic textiles (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources).
Another aspect of the problem that exacerbates the amount of micro-plastics going into the ocean from clothing is the rate at which we are buying clothes. Compared to 2000, we are buying 60% more clothing per year (McKinsey & Company). A lot of times we are wearing these items only seven or eight times before discarding them. This “fast fashion” style of making clothes typically requires using a lot of water and chemicals and emitting significant amounts of greenhouse gases. Not only that but clothing-factory workers are often underpaid and exposed to unsafe workplace conditions. A lot of these clothes are also mostly made of cheap, synthetic-plastic fibers contributing to the rapid ocean-plastic pollution.
More than 22 million metric tons of microfibers are estimated to enter the ocean between 2015 and 2050 (Ellen MacArthur Foundation). While it might seem hopeless, one thing is certain, we can demand changes of the industry by using our dollars to vote for change by considering other options when purchasing clothes.
Nearly three-fifths of all clothing produced ends up in incinerators or landfills within a year of being made. Ensuring our clothes have a second life by giving them away to someone we know will use them, or by selling them online will make an impact (and make some money!). I have started using Poshmark, Facebook groups, and local children’s consignment shops to sell or purchase clothing for my kids since they grow out of them so quickly…hand-me-downs are great too (definitely not above my little girl wearing some blue shortalls sometimes!).
Shop Vintage & Consignment Stores
Vintage clothes are beautiful and unique. Find a great vintage store in town or online and shop there before buying new. Some of my favorite dresses have been vintages ones that I’ve either found myself or had passed down to me from my mother (see below), grandmother and even great-grandmother (see right). Since all trends are based upon styles from the past, we can really get any fashion we need from a great vintage or consignment boutique.
Buy less, buy quality
If we shop mostly high-quality clothes, we are more inclined to take great care of them and keep them for our kids and grandkids. I try to consider that now when I’m shopping and ask myself, “ Is this piece worth passing down to my daughter?” and if the answer is no, then I stop myself from the purchase! I’ve loved this dress of my mother’s and am so thankful she invested in some amazing pieces to pass down to me. I used to buy a good amount of new clothes each season, but now I try and save and just buy one really quality piece. It’s also very therapeutic to just HAVE LESS.
Shop Sustainable Brands
There are many great brands out there that put sustainability and fair labor practices at the forefront of their businesses. I have found a lot of new brands recently that I shop instead of the go-to fast fashion brands when I want something casual (or even fancy). Some sustainable brands focus on reusing recycled materials while others prioritize natural, non-synthetic materials. Many also support important causes.
I am excited to start highlighting sustainable, eco-conscious, and mission-inspired brands as well as vintage and consignment boutique finds on Sustain Local. There isn’t just one way to make a difference and refiguring how you shop is an easy, and fun way to vote for positive change.