By Amanda Abrams
By now, the word is out: Fashion, particularly "fast fashion," is killing our planet. Low-cost, cheaply made clothes that are designed to be worn briefly until styles change are terrible for the environment.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Courtney Lindwall
Question: I've heard that producing denim is particularly bad for the environment. Do I need to give up my blue jeans?
Top, from left: Every morning, workers at a Xintang denim-washing factory must search through wastewater to scoop out stones that are washed with the fabric in industrial washing machines to make stonewash denim; wastewater discharged from a denim-washing factory in Xintang. Bottom: A Greenpeace campaigner takes a water sample from a polluted river near Dadun Village, Xintang, where the economy is centered around textile production. Greenpeace has found high levels of industrial pollution and has documented the effects on the community.
Lu Guang / Greenpeace<p>But the industry is transforming, however slowly. When the dangerous situation in Xintang came to light several years ago, China's central government ordered the local government to tackle <a href="http://www.mee.gov.cn/xxgk/hjyw/201812/t20181220_685358.shtml" target="_blank">the pollution issue</a>. In response, between 2016 and 2018, 76 facilities, including 68 dyeing, printing and laundry mills, were shut down. According to Sina Finance, these shutdowns have caused more than <a href="http://www.mee.gov.cn/xxgk/hjyw/201812/t20181220_685358.shtml" target="_blank">1 billion U.S. dollars' worth of local economic loss</a>. But there are now encouraging signs: Some companies are rolling out <a href="http://store.levi.com/waterless/index.html" target="_blank">new production techniques</a> that significantly reduce water usage, and other brands are <a href="https://www.everlane.com/denim-factory" target="_blank">pursuing sustainability</a> by powering their factories with renewable energy and recycling water.</p><p>Although some denim manufacturers are making smarter choices, most international corporations get away with disclosing little information about their production processes. "People need to demand that companies make their practices available. Because the information isn't there in the first place, people don't know what to ask," Schlossberg said.</p><p>Yiliqi, a scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), is working to do just that. She said <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/stories/fixing-fashion-industry" target="_blank">improving the clothing industry</a> will require oversight, transparency and accountability. NRDC has worked with the <a href="http://wwwen.ipe.org.cn/" target="_blank">Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs</a> in China, for example, to <a href="http://wwwen.ipe.org.cn/MapBrand/Brand.html?q=6" target="_blank">map</a> and <a href="http://wwwen.ipe.org.cn/GreenSupplyChain/CITI.html" target="_blank">rank</a> multinational corporations on their supply chain performance. Meanwhile, the <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/resources/clean-design-2018-mill-overview" target="_blank">Clean by Design</a> program that NRDC created more than a decade ago provides a tool for brands to cut water, energy and chemical consumption as well as wastewater discharge from their supply chains. (Last year the program was transferred to the <a href="https://www.apparelimpactinstitute.org/" target="_blank">Apparel Impact Institute</a>, a collaboration of industry stakeholders working to scale up the initiative.) The Sustainable Apparel Coalition has <a href="https://apparelcoalition.org/the-higg-index/" target="_blank">developed indices for measuring</a> a products' environmental impact. And various sustainability certifications, including <a href="https://bettercotton.org/" target="_blank">BCI (Better Cotton Initiative)</a>, <a href="https://www.bluesign.com/en" target="_blank">Bluesign</a>, <a href="https://www.oeko-tex.com/en/" target="_blank">OEKO-TEX</a> and <a href="https://www.global-standard.org/" target="_blank">GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard)</a>, among others, can be used as branding and put on clothing labels, creating further incentives for companies to improve.</p><p>For individuals, Yiliqi said, "the fastest way to make an impact is to ask their brands to do better." It's also important to investigate the work a company is doing to reduce its impact before you buy its products. And if you're looking to change some of your shopping habits, here are some tips:</p><ul> <li>Avoid overconsumption. Wear the denim you have as long as possible and forgo "fast fashion," which is a term for cheaply made, trendy clothing manufactured to last only a season or two.</li></ul><ul> <li>Take existing jeans in for mending when needed, rather than tossing them out altogether.</li></ul><ul> <li>Shop at thrift stores, which extends the life and reduces the carbon footprint of each pair of jeans, or swap with friends.</li></ul><ul><li>When you do buy new, opt for durable items that will last years instead of months.</li></ul><p>We don't have to forgo this American classic — it just needs a makeover.</p>
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- 5 Tips for a More Earth-Conscious Wardrobe - EcoWatch ›
Is your closet filled with clothes you don't wear (and probably don't like anymore)? Are you buying cheap and trendy clothing you only wear once or twice? What's up with all the excess? Shifting to a more Earth-conscious wardrobe can help simplify your life, as well as curb fast fashion's toll on people and the planet.
1. Shop Ethical and Eco-Friendly Brands<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTQxMjAyMi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzOTIzMzc4NH0.Ar8HlW72hUK9gq-Lp0_ycvWuA1xKN0yDAllsuJrV3HI/img.jpg?width=980" id="93683" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="6c8b174eafd25e714930a500e8ff5286" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Thomas Barwick / Stone / Getty Images<p>When buying new clothing, ask yourself, "Is this brand sustainable or not?" Consider what brands you have been supporting up to this point.</p><p>Getting educated on which brands to support is an important step in curbing fast fashion. To find out if your go-to brand is eco-friendly, check out <a href="https://www.consciouslifeandstyle.com" target="_blank">Conscious Life & Style blog</a>, which has a list of more than 200 ethically driven brands.</p>
2. Take a Minimalist Approach to Your Wardrobe<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTQxMDExNC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMTI0Mzk1M30.lYZGxQAAeSI8QS-3pn0kvXeIUBl1eLnBG8sDb165P9E/img.jpg?width=980" id="b7942" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f7fcb8703b357880123a4569e1a2d6d0" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Svetlana Khokhlova / EyeEm / Getty Images<p>By 2050 the fashion industry is set to consume a quarter of the world's carbon budget. Consumer overconsumption is harming the planet. A <a href="https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/sustainability/our-insights/style-thats-sustainable-a-new-fast-fashion-formula" target="_blank">2016 McKinsey report</a> found that three-fifths of all the clothes produced gets disposed within a year of being produced. </p><p>Transitioning to a wardrobe that reflects quality pieces that last a long time, instead of cheap trendy pieces, can help make getting ready in the morning easier and is less of a strain on the planet. A quality over quantity attitude can lead to a more sustainable wardrobe over time.</p><p>The YouTube channel <a href="https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCES8U3Hy6VUxU0kwKBdxSWQ/featured" target="_blank">Heal Your Living</a> by Youheum is inspiring people to live a more minimalist lifestyle. Check out her video below and see how Youheum, a former shopaholic, manages to own just 15 pieces of clothing and two pairs of shoes.</p>
3 - 4. Mend and Repurpose Your Clothing<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTQxMDA5My9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwNTE0MTQxM30.JPt-zqIXMsVOot_4iZdMNxqkRFSxA8LdhBmxOUL7YIY/img.jpg?width=980" id="5e236" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="cb08d1749a766a17073cfbed33f661b8" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Pedro Venâncio / EyeEm / Getty Images<p>Before you spend, make sure you mend. Mending clothes is a great option, and you'll avoid wasting your time shopping. </p><p>If you don't know how to patch up your clothing, support a local tailor instead.<br></p><p>You can also get creative with your clothing. For a simple start, change a pair of old jeans into new summer shorts and add your favorite patch for a fresh look. Upcycling clothing can be a fun way to maintain a sustainable wardrobe.</p><p>Check out these Instagram accounts for more upcycle inspiration!</p>
5. Host or Attend a Clothing Swap<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTQxMjA0MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNzU0OTQ5OH0.vjj4FIH3zM1LB88ajCURsQN_ziU6kaSwH373_qxUnHw/img.jpg?width=980" id="cea25" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="36508d17d68ea29eed826c5c541c13e5" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
AleksandarNakic / E+ / Getty Images<p>One person's trash is another person's treasure. Attending a clothing swap or taking the step to host one is a smart (and fun) way to recycle clothing and get a new wardrobe fast. </p><p>Want to host a clothing swap? Here's how to host the <a href="https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/how-to-host-the-ultimate-clothes-swap" target="_blank">ultimate clothing swap</a>. </p>
- The Environmental and Human Cost of Making a Pair of Jeans ... ›
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There were plenty of fabulous looks on the Red Carpet for the 91st Academy Awards Sunday night, but two in particular stood out for their sustainability.
Actresses Laura Harrier and Danielle Macdonald served as this year's ambassadors for the Red Carpet Green Dress (RCGD) campaign, which works to promote ethical, eco-friendly fashion at the Oscars and celebrated its 10th anniversary this year, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
It's Thanksgiving week, so you know what's coming after that last slice of pumpkin pie: Black Friday.
The annual occasion—as well as its digital cousin Cyber Monday—sets off the country's mad dash of holiday shopping. And let's face it, some of the deals can be pretty enticing.
By Lucy Goodchild van Hilten
A warehouse filled with huge gleaming silver vats hums around the clock, as billions of yeast cells work to make a material we can wear, sit on and carry around. In an adjoining room, rows of benches hold molds of different shapes and sizes, where sheets of cellulose layer up and become recognizable. In the next room, the material is finished and packaged, destined for designers, tailors and upholsterers.
During a live appearance on the French television channel Bonsoir!, Jean Paul Gaultier said will no longer use the material in his collections.
As Fashion Week kicks off in New York City Thursday, it's a good time to think about the impact that our clothing has on the environment.
Update, September 10: The campaign for this project has switched from Indiegogo to Kickstarter and went live on September 6.
Two San Francisco fashionistas are working on an innovative shoe that is good for both your feet and your carbon footprint. The Bendy is a sneaker flat for women made ethically in the U.S. using less than one-sixth the carbon that it takes to produce the average sneaker, according to the product's media kit.