I always imagine celebrities and fashionistas with giant walk-in closets filled with color coordinated tops and bottoms of the latest styles and vintage classics. Maybe that’s true, but more and more style leaders are speaking out about waste in the fashion industry and trying to change their habits to be more earth friendly. As consciousness grows around how wasteful dressing ourselves can be, it’s great to see many fashion icons sounding the alarm bell about the issues surrounding fashion and actively promoting brands that are doing things the right way.
Here are a few of our style heroes and how they are champions of sustainable fashion:
Sarah Jessica Parker is a Thrifter
The real-life Carrie Bradshaw, who couldn’t afford a down payment on an apartment because of her excessive shoe habit, buys second-hand clothing. In a recent interview by InStyle, she said that almost all of her son’s t-shirts are from thrift stores and her daughters wear mostly hand-me-downs from family. While she is a fashion trend-setter, she looks at the personal sustainability of a piece of clothing before purchasing it – will this be something that can be worn for a decade or more? It’s a great question to ask ourselves, and I for one, want to be just like SJP!
Shailene Woodley is Diverging
Apparently, Woodley has always been somewhat of a tree hugger. She works with a stylist that sources clothes that have been worn and re-worn to keep her look fresh for red carpet without the waste. As she rose to stardom and was forced onto the fashion scene. When she began to find her voice she decided to set her own trend by doing a minimalist wardrobe detox to reboot her style. She also puts her environmental stewerdship into action by recently becoming a Greenpeace Ocean Ambassador and going on an expedition to study the effects of microplastics and climate change in the Sargasso Sea. That’s one bad-ass tree-hugger.
Giselle is Keeping it Clean
The famous Brazilian model was described by Vogue as the world’s most clean living model. While this description may have been referring to her diet of veggies, grains, and healthy fats, it also describes her views on the environment. During her long and successful career, she has planted trees in the largest urban slum in Africa, helped clean up a river near her native home of Horizontia, Brazil, and explored the connection between deforestation and climate change. She also realizes that her role as a model has a direct effect on the planet’s well-being by her refusal early in her career to any fur campaigns. With the growing realization of how polluting the fashion industry is as well, she has helped top designers such as Donatella Versace connect with sustainable designers such as Livia Firth to create iconic and earth-friendly pieces. As quoted in Vogue, “At what price are we creating all this beauty? People think you dump something in the river and it’s just going to disappear. Nothing disappears, as we know. Whatever gets made here, stays here.”
Emma Watson’s Magic
From vegan trainers all the way to cuff earrings, Watson uses her massive social media following to show how sustainable brands can be show-stoppers. The fashion-conscious star seems to meticulously choose and promote brands that not only focus on the fair treatment of animals and the environment, but also have humanitarian causes such as fighting human trafficking and modern-day slavery. With the help of her stylist and resources such as Good on You, she shows others how to navigate responsibly through greenwashing and fast fashion. She also uses her platform to promote women’s rights, fighting for all the “Little Women” out there.
While we all can’t be celebrities, we can emulate their deliberate choice of clothing and how they represent our style as well as our values. Women of prominence are using their platforms to promote for a more fair, equitable world that cares for our fellow humans and the health of the planet, which should be an inspiration for us all. Let’s take their cue and help make being responsible fashionable. Join the REvolution.
Climate activist Greta Thunberg has captured the world’s attention. The way she is speaking the truth so boldly and unequivocally to those in power is empowering. She also is not shy about calling them out on their lack of action to address the climate problems we face. It’s amazing to watch, but it’s also scary as hell.
Watching her outline the realities of where we are heading if we don’t make some drastic changes now is both inspiring and terrifying because we all know how slow governments are to make change, especially the change we need. But as our glaciers are melting faster than the glacial pace of bureaucracy, I’m finding hope by looking at what’s happening in the private sector. Where governments are failing us, individuals and corporations are rising to the task. Industries are finally taking a hard look at the cost their products have on the environment. Leaders and CEOs are making choices that consider how to minimize impact instead of maximizing profits. And, an army of entrepreneurs are incorporating environmental and social responsibility into their DNA from the start.
While government leadership and better regulations are no doubt needed, it can’t solve all the problems we face. Our waste and pollution problems are complicated, varied, cross international boundaries, and span almost every industry. What’s inspirational is the example of those who aren’t afraid to go against the grain in their industry and stand up for what’s good for the planet verses what’s good for the bottom line. Although there are literally thousands of companies doing things the right way, here are just a few of my favorites; from well-known to emerging.
Since the beginning, Patagonia has been a leader in environmental stewardship. Originally started by founder Yvon Choinard to create better anchors for rock climbing, he and his partner, Tom Frost’s first lesson was that success in business could be harmful to the environment. Their higher quality anchors (or pitons), were littering up and damaging the climbing walls which inspired them to start the company. Although the piton was the core of their business, they phased it out and replaced it with a removeable chock that changed the way people used gear to climb. That lesson learned back in the 1970s still guides the company today. Not only are their products created with the earth in mind, they have been fighting for protection of the planet with their advocacy and philanthropy. They even used the ten million dollars saved with 2017 tax cuts to give to environmental non-profits that are dedicated to protecting our air, water, and land.
Move over Van’s, these are the cool shoes that have been sustainable since day one. Their shoes are made from single use plastic bottles by first turning the bottles into flakes, converting the flakes into thread, then using the thread to weave into cute and comfy shoes. Using this method, they have recycled close to 40 million bottles. With bright colors and a variety of styles, plastic never looked so good.
This textile maker has been hard at work for about 5 years creating technology to turn discarded textiles into new fabric. While the technology is slow in coming, it has the potential to turn apparel trash into treasure. Currently they are working to launch a line of unisex sweatshirts made with their groundbreaking fabric NuCycl for Adidas by Stella McCartney due to launch in early 2020.
The processing and consumption of meat has a huge impact on the environment. Beyond Meat is making plant-based meat substitutes that improves the consumers health, reduces water waste, methane emissions, land consumption and water contamination, and is obviously healthier for the animals that would potentially be eaten. The difference between this company and other veggie burger brands is that is has been created to have the flavor of meat without having all the bad eco-baggage associated with even responsibly raised meat. By looking at the building blocks of meat, founder Ethan Brown was able to create a product that contained amino acids, lipids, water and small amounts of carbohydrates and trace minerals to create a tasty and earth friendly meal staple. For your next burger night, you can find a place to buy it near you.
This ecommerce site has highly curated and ethical brands representing home goods, clothing and accessories. For anyone looking to outfit themselves or their home, they have done the hard work of vetting brands and collecting them all on one site. All their goods are sustainable, fair trade, heritage (created using traditional/centuries old methods), made in the USA, and vegan. This site is a great place to get you and your home outfitted for the fall or get a jump on your holiday gift giving.
With all this good going on, it doesn’t mean we can be complacent in our efforts to speak out, write to our representatives, sign petitions and take to the streets. But it’s comforting to know that even if our leaders are slow to act, many of our business leaders and entrepreneurs are leading the way to a better, more sustainable future.
I recently read an article featuring an interview with Tia Nelson, climate activist and daughter of Earth Day’s founder, Gaylord Nelson. One of the many statements Tia made that struck me was “...the most powerful lesson that I am reminded of each year is the power of individual action to make a difference.” It resonated because while I would have liked to be an earth warrior in my life, that hasn’t been the reality. What I have done is taken consolation in trying to do anything I could on a personal level.
Luckily, since the first Earth Day in 1970, it has gotten much easier to be environmentally responsible. Those old enough to remember the “Pitch In” campaign know that the primary goal was to get people to put trash in a can rather than just throwing it on the ground. In our current age of curbside recycling, it’s hard to believe that the standard used to be tossing things out the window while driving down the road. Thank goodness times have changed. Beyond just waste, today it’s easier to find organic food, shop in bulk, and even compost. While I want to pat myself on the back for doing all these things, I also realize that none of it would be possible if other systems hadn’t been put into place to make it work.
Now it’s time for us personally to take that individual action to a higher level. In educating ourselves with waste in the fashion industry while creating Graphic Revival, Kathryn & I realized those systems that make doing the right thing easy don’t yet exist in the industry. Because of this we are working hard to build it on the back end so it’s easy for the clothing industry to channel unusable clothing to a responsible end. Just like you and me, they want to do the right thing, but it’s difficult unless the pathway exists. On the other end, we are creating a front end system for customers to make eco-friendly choices in the clothes they purchase and wear. In creating a new structure, we are supporting people like you who want to live consciously. We’re realizing that our combined efforts make your individual action count so much more.
So while not everyone is in a position to start a REvolution, we are hoping that you’ll join us in ours. Know that your individual actions, no matter how small, DO matter, and that none of us can be perfect. But the more we all “Pitch In” then the true impact of our individual actions will be seen.
Happy Earth Day!