What a cozy day it is here in Nashville.
The sound of rain and the chill of lingering winter is nice for a few more weeks, but I'm about ready for some warm sunshine, less layers, and to bring out my open-toed shoes!
No doubt you've probably already been scouring some of your favorite online shops and brands for warmer-weather wear; following the latest trends and planning vacations to the nearest (or furthest) beach for those summer days.
I know Collin and I have chatted with our Florida friends about making a visit!
When it comes to purchasing any clothing for the upcoming seasons, we encourage you to take a look at some smaller companies --- ones who make sustainability a priority. Up until recently, Collin and I were both rather unaware of the negative impact fast fashion (disposable clothing made overseas and imported to be sold cheaply; Forever21, Zara, etc.) is rapidly having on our planet, but after watching the documentary The True Cost, we've quickly made shifts to our lifestyle and brand to accommodate our recent awareness.
*Here's a trailer for the documentary, but you can watch it streaming on Netflix now!*
Debuting in June 2015, The True Cost revealed the effects of the textile industry through the eyes (and battered hands) of factory workers predominately in Bangladesh and Cambodia, the economical struggles they endure, the beatings they face, and the long-term effects of constantly working with chemical and pesticide-laden fabrics. According to the documentary, 1 in 6 people globally are somehow involved in the international textile industry, which is a major shift from 1960, where 95% of our country's clothing was made right here in the US. Nowadays in our consumer economy, 80 million brand new garments are believed to be purchased annually; adversely, 80 pounds of clothing is believed to be thrown away per person each year.
Since fast fashion produces such affordable garments, we must recognize that they are skimping out in other aspects of the production process. In 2013, an 80-story textile factory named Rana Plaza collapsed killing 1,130 workers and injuring an additional 2,500, making it the deadliest modern structure collapse in human history. Despite workers pointing out the cracked foundation and poor conditions of the building structure, the factory owners demanded the workers return day after day, resulting in the eventual collapse. If you think this type of abuse doesn't affect you, be aware that some of the companies that had products being made in the factory were as familiar as Walmart, The Children's Place, Joe Fresh, and others.
In addition to the human right's component I've discussed, the documentary also covers the environmental footprint of the textile industry, the waste we produce and where it ends up.
None of this is to freak you out! This is just information.
Honestly, I was so horrified, I instantly went to my closet and began reducing my fast fashion purchases. Unfortunately, there are a few struggles to making ethical fashion purchases, and not everyone will support your decision to do so. Not only this, but you may actually feel defensive and judgmental to others who want to make ethical fashion choices. This is because you're human, not evil!
According to this study published by a group at The Ohio State University, it's been proven that fast-fashion consumers view ethical shoppers as being unnecessarily concerned and essentially, annoying. The article finds that "willfully ignorant consumers put ethical shoppers down because of the threat they feel for not having done the right thing themselves...striking back at the ethical consumers makes themselves feel better."
There is so much you can do!
Sustainable Businesses and Buying Vintage
It's not like anyone expects you to strip of all clothing and go live in a cave somewhere, quite the opposite! I believe raising awareness of this type of overseas slavery is an excellent opportunity to change our expectations for our world and the way we do things. The fact is, we live in an age of limitless consumerism with a limited amount of natural resources and land to live off of --- if we're not careful, we could fully deplete the resources we need. We still have time to make changes, and though it may feel too small, your actions matter and so does your voice.
Research shows that possibly the best thing to do is definitely to buy less. Buy less, and when you do decide to pick up your card and purchase something, choose clothing from stores which strive to keep their quality high, and the environment in mind --- not jeopardizing worker's welfare in the process. Buying used or purchasing things that were made locally/within your own country or even from a small company who personally know their workers overseas. Many sustainable companies work hard to provide housing, schooling and jobs for underprivileged youths in other parts of the world.
Running a vintage shop has always been a fun component of BlissBranch; it's something we're passionate about and enjoy doing. We're also becoming more and more invested in sharing the message of reducing, reusing, and recycling --- and fashion is no exception!
According to Living Green Mag, While shoppers are rushing to thrift and consignment stores in order to save money they are also doing their part to save the environment. ABC News estimates that 98% of the clothing purchased in the U.S. comes from abroad. That means that a sweater hanging on the rack at a department store traveled thousands of miles, using up energy and polluting the planet with coal and natural gas along its way to the store and ultimately an American closet. In contrast buying second-hand clothing produces a significantly smaller carbon footprint.
I know this is an uncomfortable topic of an unpopular opinion, but I promise we can make a difference t o g e t h e r .
Why? Because we're living in the age of a technology revolution, and we essentially have the ears of the world at our fingertips daily. If more of us become aware and spread the word that fast-fashion violates human rights, promotes child labor/abuse, and is rapidly depleting our Earth of it's delicate resources and atmospheric balance, then we can cumulatively begin to change things.
It all starts with baby steps. Maybe start with suggesting a park date the next time your friends want to hit up the mall, or possibly start Googling local sustainable clothing companies in your town. Get involved, and don't be afraid to volunteer your time for this cause --- Collin and I are working on finding more ways to get involved in our own community!
Hopefully, you've found this information helpful, and you're feeling inspired to look deeper into how small businesses help the economy, or maybe this has given you the final push you needed to start up your own company!
I'd love to know in the comments, or maybe shoot me an email!