Tuesday, April 22, 2014
The Sustainable Closet
Happy Earth Day!
What better a time for a lesson in sustainable fashion?
There is no better time, duh!
Today is Earth Day, and one thing you may not know about me is that my day job involves me acting as the Environmental Sustainability project manager at my company. Yup, that’s me, full time global ambassador for the planet, part time shoe enthusiast. Saving the world one tree at a time, unless that tree is being used for a shoe box, then I make one tiny exception.
Fine, I may not be saving the planet EXACTLY but I am doing my part to make my company more “green”. And while I walk the walk and talk the talk in the corporate environment there is always a lot more that I can do in practice in my very own home.
On Earth Day we are encouraged to demonstrate support for environmental protection, and while my 9-5 has educated me on what this means for energy, water and paper reduction, my own personal lifestyle and CLOSET remain out of touch with today’s environmental standards.
So how does one go about curating an environmentally conscious wardrobe? Well, step one of course is to donate EVERYTHING and only wear hemp. Yup, hemp, head to toe, 24/7.
Obviously I'm kidding. Although donating, cleaning and reducing what you don’t wear and don’t need is a great first step, and that is precisely where I started on my quest for a greener closet.
I ended up donating two industrial size garbage bags of my unwanted clothing to charity and then began using an online consignment shop for the first time (more on this later this week) for those items that I had invested a bit more in and couldn't just throw into a garbage bag. But it wasn't until after I had tossed or sold 1/3 of my closet that I asked myself if these small steps were really enough. Obviously they are not. I don't need to lecture you on the importance of living more sustainable in 2014, the effects of climate change are evident and brought to our attention every single day.
So if you’ve already cleaned out what you’ve got sitting around at home the next logical step is to alter your purchasing habits. This raises the question about what exactly we should be buying and subsequently, “Can you be luxurious and Eco-friendly at the same time?”
The idea of sustainable luxury is not exactly ground breaking year 2014 stuff, several luxe designers including Giorgio Armani, Donna Karan, and Fendi have already incorporated sustainable fabrics into their collections or employed more Eco-friendly design and manufacturing processes years ago. Although valiant efforts were put forward by these designers the reigning Queen of Green is most definitely Stella McCartney.
McCartney, a vocal animal and environmental activist has fabricated shoe soles out of bio-degradable materials, including castor oil seeds, and has eliminated all leather and fur from her collections.
So now that my urge to own a $1,500 environmentally friendly and animal cruelty free handbag has been fulfilled what do I do for the rest of my closet?
Sustainable fashion means being informed of where your clothing comes from, who made it and the manufacturing process behind it. Brands like H&M, who launched their “Conscious” collection, have taken a stab at providing a means for the consumer to experience that.
“Looking good should do good too” is the Conscious motto. The collection aims to fulfill the following promises. Provide fashion for conscious customers by choosing and rewarding responsible partners. Acting in an ethical manner, being climate smart, respecting the 3 R’s, Reduce, reuse, recycle. Use natural resources responsibly, and strengthen communities.
In case you’re looking for a broader way to shop consciously and don’t want to necessarily only shop when these “special” collections are available, you can stock your closet full of the following fabrics: silk, organic cotton, alpaca, hemp, linen, soy fabrics, polyester and cashmere. Or you can learn more about brands that are ALWAYS environmentally conscious, yup those exist.
Some were even founded here in Canada, including Alex and Ani and Manitobah. These brands are proof that “sustainable” can also equal luxury, trendy and wearable. And I’m not talking hemp here people.
Alex and Ani is a positive energy jewelry and lifestyle brand, known for Eco-conscious practices. They reuse and recycle materials in their jewelry creations. Alex and Ani is all about awareness, empowerment, inner beauty and the human spirit. The jewelry is currently available at several Hudson’s Bay locations as well as at a number of smaller retailers: http://www.alexandani.com/locations/country/
Manitobah is an Aboriginal owned Canadian company that produces authentic mukluks, moccasins and accessories, all by hand. This hand made process promotes less waste of material by not mass producing, not to mention provides jobs and promotes the "buy local" motto. The mukluks are available online, via Town Shoes, Gravity Pope and Soft Moc.
So, what do you think about adopting some sustainable practices in your home and your closet?