There’s a dirty little secret in the fashion industry that most people are not aware of. You’ve probably heard about child labor problems in sweatshops with some of the big fashion companies. That issue has gained awareness by public, but what most people don’t know is that the fashion industry also creates an enormous amount of environmental pollution as well.
With so much fast fashion and disposable clothing, clothing and textile waste from factories are contributing to huge landfills more than ever. Not only are there tons of landfill waste, but there’s also pollution from toxic dye runoff, waste water from the laundering process, pollution from the acid used in the chemical conversion process of turning plants into fabric, and of course the pesticides used to grow cotton.
What does this mean? This means our water is getting polluted and our landfills are overflowing with textiles. Here are a few stats to just give you sense of what’s going on:
- According to the World Bank,17-20% of industrial water pollution comes from textile dyeing and treatment. 72 toxic chemicals in our water come solely from textile dyeing, of which 30 cannot be removed.
- North America generates 2 million tons of textile waste each year, which is approximately 68 lbs of waste/household per year. 5% of all landfill production is textile waste.
Read this article with vivid photos of the startling price we pay for fashion in China.
Images courtesy of China Whisperer
Here’s an image of a textile landfill in Syria.
Image courtesy of Waste Biorefining Blog
The problem is big. So, what is the fashion industry doing about it? The big businesses, I’m not so sure. Perhaps they donate money to environmental causes. There are companies creating eco-friendly lines, but I haven’t seen any big fashion names really devote their entire company to the cause.
Read more →
This past weekend, we went to a baby clothing swap. What a great idea! Rather than being held at someone’s home, which can sometimes be a bit awkward, this event was held at a place where we take baby music classes. You bring a bag of clothes, donate $10, and take home a bag of clothes! There were tons of clothes for 0-6 months old. Those were the sizes we donated too. The older sizes definitely had a lot less quantity, but we were able to find some things and also walk away with the cutest red coat with the tag still on! Can’t wait to use that one!
What a great idea to declutter some of the old clothes and get something back in return. Usually we just throw everything into a donation pile or send a message out to the neighborhood’s parents’ groups on Yahoo. Someone will come and pick the stuff up, especially if there’s a bunch of free things. It saves a trip to Goodwill. We were able to give away things that were just taking up space in our home and sell some things that we were no longer using. Things are starting to get organized around here. Read more →
A panel of speakers spoke at Parsons, The New School for Design, about Sustainable Fashion. I was so happy to see that this event was recorded since I missed the actual event. The panel includes Julie Gilhart from Barneys, Scott Hahn from Loomstate, Helen Job from WGSN, and Marci Zaroff from Under the Canopy. There’s a lot of good material covered here. Enjoy!
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In case you haven’t seen this yet, here is the first ever eco fashion show that occurred during New York Fashion week in Sept 2009.
Here’s another sneak peek behind the scenes at the Eco Fashion Show:
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The families in Appalachia need our help to stop mountain-top removal and build a clean energy future. Save Coal River Mountain, the last mountaintop standing in West Virginia. This mountain is essential for capturing wind energy in the area. Watch this video clip of what’s happening.
Learn more at coalriverwind.org and ilovemountains.org.
Please sign the petitionto save Coal River Mountain!
As I pondered what my contribution to Blog Action Day might be, I think about what I might be able to do to contribute to a positive impact on the global issue of climate change. My contributions may be small, but I believe that a series of small steps eventually lead to big results. We’ve gotta start somewhere!
I’m sure we’ve all started to make small changes. Perhaps it’s being more aware of turning off the lights when they are not in use, recycling, or changing our lightbulbs to compact fluorescent lightbulbs. I think we can crank it up a notch, though, as we move forward. Here are my thoughts about small changes that I (and all of us) can start to incorporate into our lives. Obviously some may take more time to implement, but at least we can put the intention and thought out there that it will be done in the future and start taking small steps to bring the plan to fruition:
- Reduce waste by using less disposable items.
- Conserve water by taking shorter showers and turning off the water when you’re brushing your teeth and washing dishes.
- Walk more, drive less. Or, alternatively, ride a bike or take public transit. If you can do without, opt for a car share program and use public transit instead. (Yes, I know the conveniences are hard to let go, but you will lose weight if you take this approach! )
- Go to bed earlier so that you can wake up earlier. Use natural sunlight as your main source of light and you can naturally reduce the amount of electricity you use on lighting at home.
- Unplug appliances and other electrical plugs that are not being used. You reduce the amount of energy being lost through vampire energy and you save on your electric bill too!
Read more →
Today is Blog Action Day, a day where bloggers around the world unite to blog about climate change. The idea behind Blog Action Day is to spread the message about climate change far and wide to reach as many people as possible through the thousands of participating blogs around the world. This is a day to get us thinking about the how climate change impacts the earth, our home, and our lives and what we can do to reverse the trend to create a healthier planet for all of us.
All of us are looking for ways to contribute to a better world. We all want a healthy planet to live on that sustains us and future generations, and we strive to take actions to do so, but other than conserving energy and recycling, most of us aren’t sure how else we can contribute to a greener planet. One very important way to create change is to support organizations that are actively committed to helping people that need our support. Donating our time or money can go a very long way in helping those in need.
One organization that I have decided to feature here is CARE, a non-profit organization fighting global poverty in part by helping people in the developing world adapt to climate change. They help communities that are most affected by climate change by helping them with things such as meeting their basic clean water needs, teaching them more efficient farming methods, combating diseases caused by extreme weather conditions, etc.
Today I have a guest blogger, Simon Owens, of CARE, talking about human aspects of climate change:
Climate change is not only about melting ice caps and polar bears. Climate change is about people.
Swinging weather patterns are creating disasters on a scale that human civilization has never before witnessed. Read more →
Tomorrow is designated as Blog Action Day where bloggers around the world unite to blog about climate change. What a great concept! Do you have a blog? Maybe you might consider joining this cause.
To register your blog, go to www.blogactionday.org.
Read more →
My dream is to have a sustainable fashion design company that treads lightly on the earth and gives back to the community. So, when I see others pursuing the same passion, of course it inspires me to share them.
Read about 20 up and coming green fashion designers here.
I am just beginning my journey, so there is still a lot to learn about sewing, draping, pattern making, fabrication, fashion sketching and fashion design, but I’m on my way and hopefully I can share my collection and creation with you soon! In the meantime, see others that are blazing the path! Read more →
I’m in the process of researching eco-friendly fashion design. What does it take to make something eco-friendly? How much effort does it take to take an ordinary garment and use eco-friendly fabric instead? What are the pitfalls and barriers for the fashion industry to adopt sustainable design as the norm?
To begin my search, I went to Mood in NY to see if they had any eco-friendly or organic fabric. After looking around, I was so happy to see a sign that said Organic Fabric. I assumed the entire wall of fabric behind the sign was organic. Just to make sure, I asked one of the workers there. The answer shocked me. He pointed to a small barrel and told me that was all the organic fabric they carried in the store. I looked inside, only to find 3-4 bolts of fabric, all of them either white or black.
I think I was stunned to see how little organic fabric was used by designers. I thought that more people were starting to adopt more sustainable business practices. Maybe I was wrong.
I then found a press release about a textile show. It was a story of a few employees of a big brand shopping for fabrics for their collection. They found a fabric at one of the booths, but as soon as they discovered that it was organic, they automatically assumed that it meant low-quality and decided to go elsewhere. Is eco-friendly fabric really sub-par? I’m going to do some digging over the next few weeks to see for myself.
I try to live a sustainable lifestyle. I attempt to tread lightly on the earth by recycling, taking public transportation, turning off lights in rooms that I’m not using, eating organic, buying environmentally friendly cleaning products, using low or no VOC paint, etc. Read more →
About a year ago, my husband and I decided to purchase an eco-mattress. The old mattress had years of use and it was time to replace it. We understood that the mattress might cost a bit more, but knew that since a bed is where you spend 1/3 of your life, it was worth the investment. We wanted an eco-mattress because we wanted something that was better for our health and the environment. After doing some research, we found one that had good reviews that said that the mattress was comfortable. We decided to try it and ordered it online.
It was also shipped in a smaller box, which is also more environmentally-friendly (saving on transportation costs). It’s hard to believe that a queen sized mattress could come in such a small box, but the company was able to figure out how to make it happen. It was so interesting that I took photos and a video of the process of opening it.
The mattress came in a box that fit the below mattress perfectly. Once we slipped the mattress out of the box, it was covered in a bag that had to be cut open. At this point, we were still not sure if it was going to inflate into a real mattress, or if the mattress would be uncomfortable (despite the good reviews) or thinner than a normal mattress. It was just hard to imagine such a small box turning into a big mattress!
Here’s my husband cutting the bag open:
Here’s a video of what happened after we cut open the bag:
Here’s the inflated mattress on the floor. It does look like a normal mattress! It’s still in its protective plastic covering.
And finally, the photo you’ve been waiting for. The mattress on the bed. Surprisingly, the mattress was much more comfortable than we expected. Read more →
Back in grad school, when I was taking some courses in environmental management, I watched a documentary about Monsanto that really changed my understanding of genetically modified foods, our seed supply, and the pesticides and herbicides used on crops. It was eye-opening to say the least. That was when I began to change my diet to as much organic foods as I could afford and find, and stayed away from genetically modified foods. The more natural the food was, the less harmful chemicals I would be ingesting in my body. It also meant that I would be supporting organic farming versus farming that put pollutants into our environment, which eventually affect our water.
You can learn a little bit more about the Monsanto controversy here:
Over the years, item by item, I switched almost all of my products to organic products. Not only food, but also bath products, makeup, bed linens, etc. It is expensive, but I’ve found the long-term benefits will far outweigh the costs. Obviously not everything is organic yet, but wherever I find an opportunity, I make the switch.
Later, I discovered that there is a disturbing side to the “organic” label. Although there is a certification process to label foods organic, the same certification process does not exist for cosmetics and bath products. This means, that although products are labeled “organic” or “98% organic,” what the consumer doesn’t realize is that the 2% of the non-organic chemicals that go into the products was what made the products harmful to begin with! So, we need to learn more about the actual chemicals that go into our products, what they are, and if they are harmful to us or not. There’s a lot to learn on this topic, so I will do that in a future post. Read more →