- Sept. 4, 2018
In 2017, demand for meat-free food increased by 987% according to The Vegan Society and this year the world woke up to the devastating effect of plastic on ocean life, with a single-use plastic ban approved by European Parliament. Clearly environmentalism is on the rise and the next big issue set to be tackled could be what’s in our wardrobes.
While clothes were once seen as a long-term investment, the consumerist society we live in now has created a culture of “fast fashion” – where we buy cheap garments for short-term use before replacing them with the next trending item that’s marketed at us. The result? A disastrous impact on our environment that, as it stands, shows no sign of easing up.
According to Greenpeace, the average person buys 60% more items of clothing and keeps them for about half as long as 15 years ago. Because of this mindset amongst shoppers, the fashion industry is thriving. Clothing production doubled from 2000 to 2014 and while in 2002 clothing sales amounted to $ 1 trillion dollars, that’s projected to rise to $2.1 trillion by 2025, according to the environmental charity.
“I definitely think people's connection with and appetite for fashion has changed quite dramatically in the last five years or so,” said stylist Sophie Brewster.
“I started my career as a personal shopper over 10 years ago, and the only way you could get your trend fix would be through fashion magazines or trying to emulate what your favourite celebrities were wearing. It could be months before the high street could recreate catwalk looks, but now with many fast fashion retailers launching 100 + new lines every week, more mini trends are emerging meaning there is constantly something new and exciting to buy into.
“I also believe there is a massive link between our insatiable appetite for newness and social media influencers posting daily outfit looks which can be purchased with one click through apps like Instagram,” Sophie added.
“Fast fashion and the vicious cycle that has been set in motion by it cannot be ignored any more. First of all, cheap clothing made it unnecessary to make do and mend. Next, we lost our respect for clothing and the necessary knowledge to maintain them. Now we have lost all our inhibitions about even greater numbers of new clothing and using them for even shorter periods of time,” said Kirsten Brodde, global project lead of Greenpeace International’s Detox My Fashion campaign.
What some shoppers might not know is that fashion has a huge impact on the environment in many ways, primarily in the form of vast water consumption, toxins produced and waste created that goes into landfill.
“People don’t realise how damaging textiles are when you throw them in the bin, it’s reckoned to be the most damaging product after aluminium in the household waste stream because of the toxins that leak off the product. Natural fibres take hundreds of years to decompose and synthetic ones like polyester are designed not to decompose at all,” said Michael Lomotey, Business Manager for Clothes Aid.
Stats compiled by Clothes Aid show that 300,000 tonnes of clothing go to UK landfill every year and the global average water footprint for 1 kilogram of cotton - equivalent to the weight of one man’s shirt and a pair of jeans - is 10,000 to 20,000 litres, depending on where it is grown.
“Looking into the future and talking about planet boundaries, it is clear that consumerism is killing our planet. It's heating up the climate, using too much fossil energy, destroying habitats, landscapes and people’s livelihoods. It is not only nature that is paying the price for it, but the millions of people working in exploitative conditions,” Greenpeace’s Kirsten said.
“We do see a countermovement on the horizon that is driven by smaller and medium-size eco fair fashion companies that changed their everyday practices, and people that are fed up with throwaway fashion looking for an alternative,” Kirsten added.
The activist also believes in the power of technology to “connect us with lots of tutorials, knowledge and experiences that can be shared widely” and Greenpeace has tapped into this with its Make Something campaign which is encouraging people to make rather than shop this December.
The message is clear: fast fashion is harming the environment on a global level, but what can we do to make our own individual wardrobes and shopping habits more ethical and sustainable?
First, it’s important to note that shoppers can be sustainable without compromising their style.
According to Eco-Age, a specialist sustainability consultancy founded by Livia Firth:
“Sustainability within fashion is about pairing ethics with aesthetics. In the past, terms such as ‘eco fashion’ and ‘green’ were traditionally associated with hemp sacks, but in 2018 it is clear to see that this is not the case. There is an ever-increasing variety of sustainable textiles and fibres available to brands, as well as socially impactful manufacturing options, meaning designers can create pieces where ethics and aesthetics co-exist. High profile individuals such as Emma Watson and the Duchess of Sussex have helped champion the sustainable fashion industry by showing that fashion can be stylish, luxurious and accessible.”
Livia founded the Green Carpet Challenge, where celebrities champion ethical fashion while attending high profile events. One of her favourite GCC looks was Emma Watson’s Calvin Klein dress at the 2016 Met Gala, which was made from recycled plastic bottles.
Gene Sloan, USA TODAY
MOORESTOWN, New Jersey – Julia Mooney stands in front of a classroom of eighth-graders wearing her simple gray, button-down dress.
It’s the same outfit she wore yesterday.
She also wore it the day before.
In fact, she’s been wearing it virtually nonstop since early September.
In a project that's drawing national attention, the 34-year-old art teacher at William Allen Middle School has vowed to wear the dress every day she teaches for the first 100 days of the school year.
Tuesday is Day 50.
Mooney is trying to raise awareness of what she calls a growing “culture of excess” in America that has filled our closets to overflowing with throwaway garments.
“There is no rule anywhere that says that we have to wear a different thing every day,” she says. “Why do we ask this of each other? Why do we require that we each wear something different every day and buy more clothes and feed into this fast-fashion culture?"
Call it the antithesis of fast fashion, the inexpensive, quickly made, trend-of-the-moment clothing that has flooded store shelves in recent years, allowing consumers to expand and quickly refresh wardrobes.
Sustainable fashion is about wearing clothing made in an eco-friendly way, buying fewer but better-made pieces of clothing, wearing them more often and making sure garments eventually are recycled.
Eagan, who blogs about eco-friendly clothing at fashionmegreen.com, says the sustainable fashion movement follows the path of the organic food and clean beauty movements, which started on the fringes, then went mainstream.
At first, people began caring more about the sustainability and healthfulness of what they put in their bodies. Then they started paying attention to what they put on their bodies. Now they’re thinking more about the sustainability of what covers their bodies.
“Fashion, I always like to say, is the last frontier,” Eagan says.
The clothing industry long has drawn criticism for its wastefulness – and not just from the outside.
Top American clothing designer Eileen Fisher called her industry the second-largest polluter in the world, behind only the oil industry.
“It’s a really nasty business," she said at an event in 2015 honoring her commitment to environmental causes. "It’s a mess.”
Industry critics say much clothing is made from materials that cause harm to people and the environment. Textile makers use water that often is contaminated with bleaches, solvents, acids, alkalies, dyes and resins.
The growing volume of clothing churned out multiplies the environmental harm. The typical person buys 60 percent more items of clothing each year than the typical person 15 years ago – and keeps them for about half as long, according to a report commissioned this year by Bellevue, Washington-based thrift store chain Savers.
There’s been a concurrent surge in the volume of textiles sent to landfills.
Savers, a “purpose-driven” company that advocates clothing recycling, says North Americans send 12 million tons of textiles to landfills each year. The chain, which operates Value Village thrift stores throughout the USA and Canada, says 95 percent of the discarded items could be recycled.
Growing demand for more sustainable clothing is prompting a growing number of fashion brands and retail stores to make changes.
The global performance brand Under Armour began making NuTech shirts more than three years ago with REPREVE, a brand of recycled fiber made from recycled plastic bottles. The fiber, produced by North Carolina-based Unifi, has worked its way into 2.5 million shirts, diverting the equivalent of about 10 million plastic bottles from landfills, according to Unifi.
Other brands that use REPREVE include Haggar and Patagonia.
On the retail side, outdoor gear and clothing seller REI established social, environmental and animal welfare standards this year that brands must meet if they want a place on its store shelves. The requirements include a ban on products that contain certain chemicals, a code of conduct for manufacturers and animal welfare standards for down and wool supply chains.
Eileen Fisher has long been focused on sustainable clothing. The brand embraced the use of sustainable fabrics, eco-friendly manufacturing and shipping and end-of-life recycling for garments.
Through a program called Renew, Eileen Fisher has taken back more than 1 million garments from customers. It uses the material to create designs.
Taking back clothing at the end of its life cycle is a growing trend in the industry. The global retailer H&M, GUESS and Columbia Sportswear partnered with the textile recycler I:CO to take back old clothes from customers via collection at stores.
I:CO processes the clothing for reuse or recycles it into other products such as cleaning cloths, fibers for insulation or even new clothing.
In August, the fitness brand Reebok unveiled an entirely bio-based “Cotton + Corn” line of footwear featuring cotton uppers and soles made from a corn derivative instead of the petroleum-based synthetic rubber common in the industry.
The product is designed, in part, to keep petroleum-based products out of landfills. Reebok’s long-term goal is to have a shoe that is fully compostable.
Bill McInnis is head of Reebok’s Future Team, which focuses on creating products and techniques.
“Every athletic shoe on every shelf in Foot Locker or Finish Line or wherever you happen to go is made using petroleum products, and everybody knows that’s not a sustainable material,” McInnis says. “The idea was to replace the petroleum products with something that grows.”
McInnis notes Reebok, like other companies, tried developing and marketing eco-friendly products in the past, only to see little interest from consumers.
It’s clear the times have changed. McInnis says an initial batch of several thousand “Cotton + Corn” shoes, priced at $95 a pair, sold out in a single day.
“We’ve really seen a shift in consumer tastes here,” he says. “For the first time, you’re seeing consumers seek (these products) out and be willing to pay more for it.”
The point is significant, given that sustainable clothing often costs more than traditional garments.
The old knock on sustainable clothing, McInnis says, was that “everybody wants green, (but) nobody wants to pay for it.”
He says that’s no longer true.
Reebok continues to tinker with its new line. In early November, the company unveiled a second round of the “Cotton + Corn” shoes with a twist: In addition to being bio-based, they’re vegan.
A tiny bit of vegetable-tanned leather that had been on the first version was replaced with a vegan-friendly material, McInnis says.
Mooney documents her “One Outfit, 100 Days” project on Instagram. Her @oneoutfit100days account gives credit to fashion brands that make it a mission to offer sustainable clothing.
She bought the dress at Thought Clothing, a London-based company that uses natural, organic and recycled fabrics, including wool, hemp and wood-pulp-based Tencel.
Thought, which calls it approach “slow fashion,” says the clothing is designed for long-term use. The company encourages customers to wear garments more than once before washing, to fix worn pieces and to find new users for unneeded or unwanted articles to give them a longer life.
Mooney says consumers shy away from better-made clothing that will last longer because it costs more. The thinking is flawed: Better-made clothing can end up being cheaper in the long run.
Mooney paid about $50 for her dress. Over the 100 days she’ll wear it during the project, that works out to just 50 cents a day.
“Because we have to wear something different every day, (we think) it can’t be expensive," she says. "So we buy more cheap clothing that isn’t really high-quality and that uses a lot of natural resources to produce. And then we throw it out.”
Mooney says she buys used clothing from thrift stores and other venues to give it a second life. All of her three young children’s clothing is bought used, she notes.
“It’s cheaper, but even if it wasn't cheaper, I don’t care, because I feel good that I’m reusing something that’s perfectly good,” she says. “And (the kids) don’t care. They think they’re perfectly new.”
Mooney bought a sewing machine and is teaching herself to make her own clothes – something she says we all should do. She's also learned to knit.
Mooney says her middle school students are at the perfect age to start thinking about such issues.
“Middle schoolers are trying to define themselves, to figure out their identity," she says. "And just naturally – partly because of their age but also because of the culture – they are defining themselves and judging each other based on the brands that they are wearing.”
Mooney didn’t talk about the project with her students at the outset.
“I kind of let it go at the beginning to see who would notice and who would bring it up,” she says. “Some kids noticed on the second day, and some didn’t notice at all.”
When she had a class discussion about the project a few weeks into the school year, she says, the students were very receptive.
“None of them have reacted like, ‘Oh, that’s so gross. You’re so weird,' ” she says, and laughs. “Some of them understand it on a surface level, because they’re 12. But I think even on a surface level, the ideas are important, so whatever they’re getting out of it, I think, is positive.”
Student Nate Bunting says Mooney's example prompted him to consider wearing the same clothes for more than one day in a row.
Not for 100 days, though.
Maybe "for two," he says.
"I think it’s really cool how she is doing it for a bigger cause," Bunting says.
Adults in Mooney's world have been mostly on board, she says. A few joined her in wearing the same outfit for 100 days.
Among them is Mooney's husband. Patrick Mooney, a teacher at nearby Moorestown High School, has worn the same khaki pants and dark blue shirt to classes since the school year began in September.
"It seemed like a pretty simple way of promoting something that most people probably overlook," says Patrick Mooney, 38. "I was a little intimidated by the prospect of rewearing the same thing every day, but it's really become quite simple."
Moorestown High School teacher Beth Glennon was inspired by Mooney's project to create her own 100-day wardrobe challenge.
When her triplet sons went off to college a few months ago, they left a closet full of shirts. She wears a different one of her boys' shirts to school every day.
"With so many clothes left behind, there was no need for me to do any back-to-school shopping," Glennon says. "For me, it's not just (about) wearing their hand-me-downs. It’s a fun way to keep the boys on my mind instead of missing them every day.
"Plus, I’m forced to clean out their closet."
The idea spread to Moorestown's George C. Baker Elementary School.
"I thought if there’s a chance for me to be more sustainable, I’m gonna take it," Baker student Sofia Rubich says.
Sofia, a 7-year-old at the grade school, decided to join Mooney in wearing the same outfit for 100 days after reading about her in a newspaper.
"You shouldn't be buying new clothes when you should be using the ones you have," she says.
She says her effort is making an impact on the Earth.
"It was kind of hard when I started out, because you want to make your own ideas and let your style be free," she says. "Then the fun part about it is that it is so easy to get dressed in the morning, and I can add my own style to it with leggings and different accessories. So my style still shines through."
Original content from https://thriftstyleblog.com/2018/10/17/thrift-shops-love-halloween/
Thrift stores and Halloween are quite a pair. It’s a holiday that brings first-time thrifters across the threshold to find already-made costumes or clothes and accessories to create their own.
all thrift stores jump on the Halloween bandwagon, but Goodwill rolls out a big publicity campaign for the holiday. It puts up billboards, posters, special displays, an on-line costume generator, makeup tutorials and uses the slogans, “Halloween Happens at Goodwill” and “Halloween Comes Alive at Goodwill,” adding the hashtag #GoodwillHalloween.
Its website, http://www.goodwill.org/Halloween, lets you explore costumes by theme, in categories such as silly, scary, pop culture, animals, fantasy and sci-fi. Ideas for DIY creepy figurines and post-apocalyptic wear help you plan your festive night. For example, an 80s break dancer can be assembled with a boom box, athletic shoes, black jeans and a puffy jacket.
We saw this creativity in all its glory at the three-level Goodwill in downtown Denver. (There are six Goodwills in Denver and this one is in a former department store in the center of downtown at 21 S. Broadway, with free parking behind it.)
Every doorway, countertop and display window was filled with costumes, masks and bride-of-Frankenstein mannequins. Halloween-iana of every description lined its shelves, from new, under $10 kids’ costumes in bags to pumpkin baskets and skeletons galore. The store stocks new, but bargain-priced, cards of Halloween makeup, fangs, fake blood and other witching necessities.
In St. Louis, we noticed multiple clever billboards throughout the city with arresting graphics advertising Goodwill as “your original Halloween costume shop.” At its store in University City, an orange T-shirt with the legend “Witch and Famous” was elevated atop a clothing rack.
Rows of new and used kids and adult costumes were bargain priced, most in the $5 to $7 range. We particularly liked a new, instant kids costume of a cheeseburger, complete with lettuce, tomato and sesame seed bun. The store’s doorways were filled with purple cobwebs, fake spiders and skeletons.
At the Goodwill store in Cambridge, Massachusetts’ Central Square location, multiple long racks were devoted to costumes. Another array of already-made costumes adorned the walls. Most were in remarkably good shape and all were quick, inexpensive answers to last-minute revelers’ prayers.
Here’s hoping that shoppers exploring thrift stores for the first time in October realize the value of re-use for their everyday costumes the rest of the year.
By Sandra E. Garcia
Many mornings, Julie Lisi and her husband, Michael Lisi, head to a thrift store in Jupiter, Fla., to look for treasures. They will walk around for 30 minutes or so, and usually leave empty-handed.
“We are retired, and it is something to do,” Ms. Lisi said.
But on a trip to the store last Wednesday, they were floored. There, sitting on a shelf, was a baseball glove that belonged to their son Christopher Lisi, 40 years ago in Willoughby, Ohio, where the couple raised their family and still spend part of the year.
“My eyes just happened to glance to it,” Ms. Lisi, 78, said in a phone interview. “It didn’t really register. Things were whirling in my mind.”
The glove was weathered. In its 1,000-mile trek to Jupiter from Ohio, the mitt’s once lustrous dark leather patina had been worn down to a sandy shade. The gloss was gone, but the name was still written in bold letters on the mitt.
“I could see the name Christopher Lisi written down it,” Ms. Lisi said. “That is when I thought it is his, but it really didn’t seem possible.”
Michael Lisi, 81, could not immediately tell what was going on.
“When I first saw my wife, she was on the verge of tears and shaking,” he said. “I thought something happened and she turned the glove over and right down the side I could see.”
Ms. Lisi immediately sent Christopher, 52, a photograph of the glove. He responded with a text that simply read, “buy it,” and so Ms. Lisi paid $1.49 to get the glove back.
“I thought, ‘It can’t be,’ but you can always tell the markings on your kids’ things,” she said.
Her son is now a math teacher and a football coach at a high school in Ohio. He was always into sports, according to his mother.
“Even before he could play, he’d go out and play catch with his dad,” she said.
“I was just a little kid that liked to hit the ball and run around the bases,” Christopher told WBNS-TV in Columbus, Ohio. Phone calls to him were not immediately returned.
In 1978, he was on a Little League team in Willoughby. That year, during the season’s final game, he hit two home runs and his team won. His parents recorded him on their 8-millimeter camera as he was mobbed by other players in celebration.
In the excitement, Ms. Lisi said, her son may have put his infield glove down.
He never saw it again.
“The next day, he went back to find it and it wasn’t there,” Ms. Lisi said. “He never did tell us he lost it.”
Her son knew immediately that it was his glove.
“He was thrilled, he was jumping up and down,” Ms. Lisi said. “He just said, ‘Mom, bring it home.’”
Baseball gloves carry emotional weight in the family. Michael Lisi keeps his own 70-year-old glove on top of his television, where it sits next to a Yogi Berra bobblehead and a Yankees cap. He did not pass that glove on to his son, but Christopher intends to do so with his newly discovered mitt.
“He plans to pass it on to a grandson someday,” Ms. Lisi said.
In an ever expanding world of growth and progress, America’s consumption of apparel is not going to slow down any time soon. It is arguable that if that did happen, the effect on the industry ( 2% of World GDP) would send shock waves through the greater global economy. With no slowdown in sight and the discards mounting, the question of what to do with the 10 Billion TONS of clothing that Americans must get rid of to make room for more looms not so subtly in the collective consciousness of the population.
We’ve seen startups attempt eBay type categorizing of individual products but each piece of discarded apparel requires the investment of photography, measuring, describing, color correcting, and uploading.(Failed ones include Niftythrifty, LikeTwice, Thredflip and many more!) It’s a flawed model, not only from the perspective of investing more than a garment is worth into it’s cataloging. But also flawed from the perspective of scalability. Ex. If there is a shirt that is uniquely appealing- there is only one.
So, we have this huge supply, and a nation full of hungry consumers who also want to do right by the environment- how do we connect them? It turns out if the price is low enough and the brand is trusted enough people are willing to forgo the exact specifics of an item in order to receive something that is part of a broader category.
The notion of a grab bag has been around since the early days of the Grand Bezaar of Istanbul. It has been applied as a liquidation technique by almost every retailer who has ever existed. It has also risen to prominence with the burgeoning of subscription commerce. The largest and best subscription commerce companies are able to provide fantastic excitement with the delivery of each mystery product allowing the customer to be happily surprised as well as content with the value. We’ve seen this best executed with makeup, comic books, toys and doggy merchandise. I would argue that the amount of verticals that it can also be adapted to will explode in the next decade or two. But what is also exciting about the pioneering of this industry is that there are almost as many opportunities in used categories as there are in new. Admittedly, one would not want used makeup or dog toys delivered to one’s home every month but there are plenty of reusable goods that would be very well suited for this method of retail. To evolve it one step further- imagine if mystery retail made your surprise shirt, or cowboy boots or sunglasses available not only for subscription but for single purchases as well. This would instigate more customers who were on the fence with a subscription and allow them to experience the brand without much commitment.
The implications of this new form of retail are tremendous. Not only will millions of tons of goods be saved from landfills, but billions of dollars of disposed value will be unlocked. In the way that many different iterations of Subscription commerce companies have popped up, Mystery commerce companies will be the wave of the future because of their lower overhead and inherent social good. Anything recyclable will be available in this form from baseball gloves, to toys to kitchenware, the digital world has finally cracked the code on how to offer used goods. Don’t even get me started on the technological and data advancements. (That’s for my next article.) The future is bright, and thanks to Mystery Commerce, going to be a whole lot greener.