#SWAAYthenarrative

How We Can All Be A Part Of The Sustainable Fashion Revolution

7 min read
Culture

We're all living through unprecedented times. This decade is calling for revolutionary change, and to start the process, all you need to do is make responsible shopping decisions with your next purchase.

As a fashion designer, instructor at The Fashion Institute of Technology, and an eco-conscious thought leader, I aim to shine a light on supercharging ideas into solutions and driving sustainable innovation into our new world.

My goal is to enlighten consumers and help people realize that even though you are "just" one person with your small action you have the ability and power to transform the fashion industry as we know it by opting into sustainable choices.

Because we all, every day, get up and put clothes on our backs. It's a simple fact of life. And yet, how often do you think about where those clothes came from? Do you know who made them? Do you know what they're made from? Was their production environmentally conscious?

Over the last decade, the truth behind the food and beauty industries has exposed the harsh reality of the toxicity behind these products. Now, it's time to reveal the truth behind the fast fashion industry. Fast fashion can be defined as cheap and "trendy" clothing that samples ideas from the catwalk or celebrity culture. Have you heard of Fashion Nova, Pretty Little Thing, H&M, NastyGal, Missguided or BooHoo? These brands are under the category of fast-fashion.

Because we all, every day, get up and put clothes on our backs. It's a simple fact of life. And yet, how often do you think about where those clothes came from?

The fast fashion industry emits 1.2 billion tons of CO2 per year, more than air travel and shipping combined. Additionally, it produces 20% of global wastewater, which is contaminating our rivers, oceans, drinking water, and soil. With that comes unfair human health conditions and extremely low wages for workers. The entire fast fashion system is devaluing both the people behind the clothing and the well-being of our planet.

Last December, the New York Times released an article about Fashion-Nova that exposed the life and working conditions of Mercedes Cortes, a seamstress behind the famous Los Angeles-based fast fashion brand. It reports that, "Ms. Cortes worked every day of the week, but her pay varied depending on how quickly her fingers could move. Ms. Cortes was paid for each piece of a shirt she sewed together — about 4 cents to sew on each sleeve, 5 cents for : each of the side seams, 8 cents for the seam on the neckline. On average, she earned $270 in a week, the equivalent of $4.66 an hour, she said." At this point, she was working in a dusty, old factory amidst cockroaches and rats. After leaving this factory and receiving a small settlement for back wages, "She continued to work in factories sewing Fashion Nova clothes, noticing the $12 price tags on the tops she had stitched together for cents. 'The clothes are very expensive for what they pay us,' Ms. Cortes said. 'Consumers can say, "Well, of course that's what it's like in Bangladesh or Vietnam," but they are developing countries,' Mr. Weil [the leader of the United States Labor Department from 2014 -2017] said. 'People just don't want to believe it's true in their own backyard.'"

You can learn to be aware and support brands that have transparency within their supply chain. Every item of clothing you're wearing can be traced back to a manufacturing facility, a shipping facility, and a store… the list goes on and on all the way back to a tuft of cotton to make a single stitch in a pair of jeans. And that's not even considering the human capital behind it all; who's shipping, selling, and stitching your clothes? Are they all being fairly paid and ethically treated?

My goal is to enlighten consumers and help people realize that even though you are "just" one person with your small action you have the ability and power to transform the fashion industry as we know it by opting into sustainable choices.

Fast fashion has infected our mindsets, because as a generation we have learned to view clothing as a throw-away article, buying low-quality clothing each season with the intention of throwing it away and buying more next season. In the case of most fast-fashion brands, you can safely assume that somewhere along the line a worker is being mistreated, a natural resource is being abused, and some form of pollution is leaking its way into our ozone.

I'm not asking you to throw out your entire wardrobe and start wearing leaves and loincloths. Any person on an individual level has the ability to look back, ask these questions, and start taking small steps away from buying these toxic brands.

As a fashion designer, I am doing my part by implementing the principles of "slow fashion" into my design process. Slow fashion means designing, creating, and buying garments for quality and longevity. It is about consuming and creating fashion consciously and with integrity by connecting social and environmental awareness with personal responsibility. Slow fashion encourages slower production schedules, fair wages, lower carbon footprints, and (ideally) zero waste. It's thoughtful, intentional, sustainable, and holistic. In all, the movement works towards creating an industry that benefits the planet and all people.

Are you willing to make the changes necessary to live a sustainable, healthy, and conscious lifestyle for the future of humanity and our planet? It's about the small ways that you can take yourself out of a problematic, abusive, and unsustainable system.

You can learn to be aware and support brands that have transparency within their supply chain. Every item of clothing you're wearing can be traced back to a manufacturing facility, a shipping facility, and a store…

Here are some different methods that can put you on the path to a more sustainable lifestyle:

  1. Mindset Check: Have you ever really evaluated your shopping habits? Not just when it comes to finding the best deal. Think about your consumption habits, will the piece you're buying last you months or a lifetime? Take a step back before you hit "Checkout," and really consider what you're doing.
  1. Research Before You Buy: Do you ever research your favorite brands to see where their clothes actually come from? It just takes a simple search to see if your favorite brands are being transparent and accountable for how their clothes are actually being made. If you learn anything you don't like, simply stop supporting them and put your money towards more sustainable business models.
  1. Get Creative: You may look into your closet one day, feeling uninspired, and get that itch to buy something new. But if you put a little more thought into it, you can re-wear and upcycle your wardrobe. Mix and match pieces to reinvent outfits. Turn a T-shirt into a crop top, and get adventurous with your accessories. You may have a whole new look still yet uncovered in that old closet of yours.
  1. Host a Clothing Swap: A clothing swap is a type of swapmeet wherein friends, family, and co-workers exchange their valued but no longer used clothing for clothing they will use. Clothing swaps are considered not only a good way to refill one's wardrobe, but also are considered an act of environmentalism. Or, If you rather not leave the comfort of your own home, Global Fashion Exchange offers a Digital Swapping System. Now you can SWAP with others around the world for FREE with the click of a button. The platform offers full traceability for each item, with visible information such as the factory and materials used in its creation. There you can share style tips, renew your wardrobe and extend the life of your clothing which is good for the planet!
  1. Shop Vintage: One sure way to make sure your fashion choices are sustainable is by investing in garments that can stand the test of time.

The world is made up of the changes that we can each make; even the UN is supporting this vision, urging, global, local, and people action. They are calling for "all sectors of society to mobilize for a decade of action." Eco-conscious Designers and Advocates are doing their part in this as members of the fashion industry, but you are an integral part of closing this loop. As consumers, you are a part of this change with us. We can't stop until this culture of consumption is changed so that we can accelerate towards a healthier future for our people and planet.

To make a change on a large scale, it comes down to the small steps towards sustainability in our everyday lives that will amass to a positive ripple effect for the entire world.

How to Learn Much More From the Books You Read

It is one thing to read and another thing to understand what you are reading. Not only do you want to understand, but also remember what you've read. Otherwise, we can safely say that if we're not gaining anything from what we read, then it's a big waste of time.

Whatever you read, there are ways to do so in a more effective manner to help you understand better. Whether you are reading by choice, for an upcoming test, or work-related material, here are a few ways to help you improve your reading skills and retain that information.

Read with a Purpose

Never has there been a shortage of great books. So, someone recommended a great cookbook for you. You start going through it, but your mind is wandering. This doesn't mean the cookbook was an awful recommendation, but it does mean it doesn't suit nor fulfill your current needs or curiosity.

Maybe your purpose is more about launching a business. Maybe you're a busy mom and can't keep office hours, but there's something you can do from home to help bring in more money, so you want information about that. At that point, you won't benefit from a cookbook, but you could gain a lot of insight and find details here on how-to books about working from home. During this unprecedented year, millions have had to make the transition to work from home, and millions more are deciding to do that. Either way, it's not a transition that comes automatically or easily, but reading about it will inform you about what working from home entails.

Pre-Read

When you pre-read it primes your brain when it's time to go over the full text. We pre-read by going over the subheadings, for instance, the table of contents, and skimming through some pages. This is especially useful when you have formal types of academic books. Pre-reading is a sort of warm-up exercise for your brain. It prepares your brain for the rest of the information that will come about and allows your brain to be better able to pick the most essential pieces of information you need from your chosen text.

Highlight

Highlighting essential sentences or paragraphs is extremely helpful for retaining information. The problem, however, with highlighting is that we wind up highlighting way too much. This happens because we tend to highlight before we begin to understand. Before your pages become a neon of colored highlights, make sure that you only highlight what is essential to improve your understanding and not highlight the whole page.

Speed Read

You might think there have been no new ways to read, but even the ancient skill of reading comes up with innovative ways; enter speed reading. The standard slow process shouldn't affect your understanding, but it does kill your enthusiasm. The average adult goes through around 200 to 250 words per minute. A college student can read around 450 words, while a professor averages about 650 words per minute, to mention a few examples. The average speed reader can manage 1,500 words; quite a difference! Of course, the argument arises between quality and quantity. For avid readers, they want both quantity and quality, which leads us to the next point.

Quality Reading

Life is too short to expect to gain knowledge from just one type of genre. Some basic outcomes of reading are to expand your mind, perceive situations and events differently, expose yourself to other viewpoints, and more. If you only stick to one author and one type of material, you are missing out on a great opportunity to learn new things.

Having said that, if there's a book you are simply not enjoying, remember that life is also too short to continue reading it. Simply, close it, put it away and maybe give it another go later on, or give it away. There is no shame or guilt in not liking a book; even if it's from a favorite author. It's pretty much clear that you won't gain anything from a book that you don't even enjoy, let alone expect to learn something from it.

Summarize

If you're able to summarize what you have read, then you have understood. When you summarize, you are bringing up all the major points that enhance your understanding. You can easily do so chapter by chapter.

Take a good look at your life and what's going on in it. Accordingly, you'll choose the material that is much more suitable for your situation and circumstances. When you read a piece of information that you find beneficial, look for a way to apply it to your life. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge isn't all that beneficial. But the application of knowledge from a helpful book is what will help you and make your life more interesting and more meaningful.