Tuesday, February 24, 2015

4 Ways To Reduce Your Impact Straight From Your Closet

OK, so if you read my blog chances are you have a genuine interest on having a positive impact, but sometimes it can be a little difficult to pin point areas where you can start. 

Every year our landfills are filled with increasing amounts of clothing and textiles that people throw away. According to the Council for Textile Recycling and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. generates an average of 25 billion pounds of textiles a year which in turn equates to about 82 pounds of waste for the average American. This is more than 5% of ALL municipal waste in the U.S. alone. These numbers are by all means alarming!

The good news is that YOU can be part of the solution. The avenues from where textiles come from and end up in landfills are vast. If we can focus on just our closets and the way we see our clothing, then this could have a very positive outcome. So if you are ready to make that leap for change here are 4 ways you can reduce your impact starting with the clothing in your closet.  

1. Clear out your closet regularly:
This may sound a bit strange, but think back to the last time you cleared out your closet? I'm sure if you go in there now you'll probably find every decade/phase of your identity crisis from high school to now. The problem with this is that you end up with no space, and an excess amounts of unused inventory that could be useful in other ways and to others. By clearing out your closet regularly you make space to see what you need, don't need and could recycle or donate. So with that said, clear out your closet ASAP. 

2. Donate:
Some people have picked up the new trend of clothes swapping. This sounds simple enough and it is, but we often overlook the potential of "someones trash is another person's treasure." In fact this is a great way to go. It can be as simple as donating to Goodwill or hosting your own clothing swap in your community. Either way you are doing your part.  

Not sure where to donate? Try these sites for a location near you:
Council for Textile Recycling

3. Re-purpose
So let's face it, a t-shirt or jean can only role into so many peoples closets until it's time to call it quits and retire it. The good news is that clothing it's self is fabric and fabric is a textile that we can use in so many different ways. One way to re-purpose your old clothing is to turn it into either a new garment or cutting up the garment for basic use around the house. Some places like Etsy or Pintrest are great sites to visit for ideas.

4. Recycle 
Lastly, even after you've done all you can do to utilize a garment to it's fullest potential (if there is anything left) then you can look into recycling it. The best way to go about this would be looking into local places in your community that offer textile recycling programs first. If you have no luck on that end then try the Council for Textile Recycling and the EPA for more information on where you can take your textile waste to be recycled as well as what textiles can be recycled. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Sustainable. . . .WHAT?

I've  always had a passion for sustainability. Since I could remember I've looked into fashion with sustainable purpose without truly understanding the implication of what it meant. Today there are several companies out there that are coming into the realization that "Eco," "organic" and "sustainable" apparel is not only good for the environment, but it is also good for business.

The proof is in the emergence of organizations and industry specif associations targeted towards this move. Back when Nike first got hit with issues of child labor and inadequate working environments, many would agree that this was a pivotal point in bringing awareness to some of the social and environmental issues occurring in the apparel industry.

Since then companies such as Nike, Patagonia, Levis, Gap and Target have joined in on pushing for change. Some major heads of these organization now sit as board members for the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and work on systems such as the Higg Index to help measure and asses sustainability. However, even with all these great new resources the interpretation of sustainability is still very broad.  

The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines it as below:

 1:  capable of being sustained2        a :  of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged
b :  of or relating to a lifestyle involving the use of sustainable methods
— sus·tain·abil·i·ty \-ˌstā-nə-ˈbi-lə-tē\ noun— sus·tain·ably \-ˈstā-nə-blē\ adverb SUSTAINABLE

Defining sustainability as a word seems pretty straight forward, but putting the definition into play for apparel companies is still ever-evolving. Since one can say that this concept is fairly new, there is still little information on how to implement the concept throughout an entire company. 

One of my favorite articles that to me does an exceptional job of breaking this down is Defining Sustainability: A Process and Strategy Focus by Cecilia Wandiga via Sustainable Brands. I think this article does a great job of connecting a concept and providing categories that can be measured for outcomes.  

So Sustaibnable. . .what? Exactly, the apparel industry is still figuring this out, but even though there is still much more to improve, I would say it has come a long way. Now I encourage you all to read up on some of the resources provided and let me know your thoughts on sustainability?