Friday, August 12, 2016

Is it Possible to Shop Consciously?

Pocket Bum Bag in Saddle from the Hipsters for Sisters Fall Lookbook

Up until this point, many of my posts about vegan fashion included items from fast-fashion favorites like ZARA, H&M, and ASOS. Truth be told, for many years of my life, these stores were my heroes for vegan items on the cheap. However within recent years and with the help of some really great, eye-opening documentaries (ahem, The True Cost), I realized seeking out fashion that is ethical and sustainable is just as important as seeking out fashion that's vegan and the truth is, these fast fashion brands are as far from ethical and sustainable as you can get.

Fast fashion is not sustainable or ethical by any means. In actuality, fast fashion and the clothes available at these stores exploits everyone involved-- the consumer, the planet, and the people making them. Each year across the world, 1.5 billion garments are sewn by an estimated 40 million people, working in 250,000 factories and are made in countries described by the UN as the world’s least developed. These clothes stay in a woman’s closet for an average of just five weeks, before being thrown out and replaced by new ones. With two mini-seasons per week, these labels are quickly draining our planet's resources in the name of democratizing fashion.

As if that wasn't enough, due to low production costs, these brands choose to produce their clothing in third-world countries, employing workers that are often underpaid and in unsafe working conditions (see Rana Plaza). 

Why ethical and sustainable? 

Sustainable fashion is clothing made with respect to the earth and its resources. This means using earth-friendly and/or recycled materials and made locally. Lucky for us, truly sustainable fashion is often times vegan, as leather is a by-product of the agricultural industry-- the second largest polluter of the earth's atmosphere, contributing 22% of the 36 billion tons of CO2 equivalent greenhouse gases produced in the world each year (more here). Additionally, if it isn't made locally, its not sustainable (here's where ethical and sustainable fashion overlap).

Ethical fashion, besides being kind to animals, is really a consideration of the people who make the goods. Many of the items you'll find at Forever 21 are vegan, yet are they ethically produced? Do you know where the clothes are made? How much is each person is getting paid? Are their working conditions are safe and the garment workers are cared for? If you want to buy ethical fashion, this is why it's important to buy American made, because we can guarantee safe working conditions and fair wages for our workers.

It's simply not enough anymore to just wear vegan. To truly shop consciously and responsibly, we need to seek out goods that are also ethically and sustainably made and if this means no more ZARA, then so be it. Best of all is when you find clothes that are all these things (ethical, sustainable, and vegan--it's out there, I promise), you're sure to feel good about your purchase and in knowing that your money is helping support local artisans and the economy, and not contributing to the destruction of the planet. 

So long, ZARA.

A few conscious brands have popped up within recent years and are truly changing the game in the industry. These include ReformationRĂªVe En VertAmour VertBead & ReelSotela, and Hipsters for Sisters.

1 comment:

  1. Congrats! May others follow your steps away from the blinding and exploitive consumerism!