In theory, we all understand the importance of quality over quantity. However, no experience has taught me that lesson more than shopping for myself, a student and young professional, on a budget, it’s easy to succomb to fast fashion. Fast fashion refers to cheaply-made clothes based off the designs of higher end designers. Unfortunately many of these re-creations are manufactured in inhumane sweatshops, from pesticide-laden textiles. Major brands like Nike, Victoria’s Secret, Forever21, Wal-Mart and Gap to name a few, have all been documented as part of this enormous scheme. In addition, much of the industry uses convention cotton. Cotton is among the most pesticide-intensive crops on the planet, and accounts for 2.4% of agriculture, 11% of all pesticide use, and 25% of all insecticide use.
So, what can you do? Be thoughtful and research, as any persistant fashionista already does. But, instead of looking into new spring trends and searching out discount codes, look at the practices and policies of the brands you shop.
Lucky for us, one brand is making this easy, putting the realities of what’s behind their label, right out front. That brand is Eileen Fisher. For 30 years, this company has been setting and raising the bar for what it means to sustainable in the fashion industry. Their use of certified organic cotton in their clothing has grown to be about 70% of their 2015 spring line and by 2020 all cotton and linen will be organic. By committing to use organic, recycled and sustainable fibers, they support clean air, clean water and the health of workers and wildlife. They have also introduced powerful initiatives like Green Eileen. The average American throws out about 70 lbs. of clothing a year. Green Eileen asks customers to drop off gently used EF clothing at their stores and resells it to support programs for women and girls – helping women find their voices so they can become leaders in their families, communities, and beyond. They hold themselves to a Fair Trade standard; higher wages, investments in local communities, and a safe working environment. Now more than ever, and in honor of their 30th year in business, Eileen Fisher is holding their clothing, textiles and supply chain to the highest sustainability standards and is urging the rest of the industry to stop making excuses for injustices.
“My 30-year plan is for us to be a powerful force for change in the world.” -Eileen Fisher
As explained on their website, the EF Vision (for) 2020 is “No excuses.” That’s all well and good as a statement, but what does it actually mean to this company? “It means we are holding ourselves accountable with every decision we make. It means pinning our progress to a five-year timeline that is both sensible and scary. Sensible because we’ve been laying the groundwork for many years. Scary because the problems are complex and urgent. To create a truly responsible supply chain, we need to scrutinize everything we do, from the field to the factory to the landfill. And take a hard look at what’s often swept under the rug—toxins, carbon emissions and low worker pay, to name a few. It won’t be easy. We’ll need the help of our customers, our manufacturing partners and like-minded brands. How will we do it? The answer lies in two small words: no excuses.”
From this day forward, I will use the same two words – No Excuses – when I make purchasing decisions. Because of their high quality and standards, their price range might go beyond a typical student budget for many of us. But if you do have a budget for some new items every so often, consider not making any excuses about the way to vote with your dollar. I am very excited about this new journey I am on: to build a wardrobe of conscious, quality pieces, even if it means I can’t have a brand new outfit every month.
4 ways to start your transition today…
1. Look for organic, recycled or other sustainable fabrics.
2. FairTrade: Make sure the brand you shop have ethical labor policies and are fair trade certified!
3. Shop thrift
at your local consignment or vintage stores – or online!
4. Hold a clothing swap with friends: Have everyone bring a few items they don’t wear anymore and everyone goes home with some new pieces to switch things up without using any of the precious resources necessary to produce new clothes.
Most importantly… Rethink Value. Rethink the value of that dollar and never underestimate the power of your choice to make the best use out of it that you know how to. As consumers, we can make a long term commitment to support the environment and human health by making purchases from socially responsible companies whose products do not harm people or the planet.
Change the World. Please and Thank You. – Jenna xx