In this post, we read, listen, act, and reflect on November's topic: fast fashion. This article has been adapted from our sustainability newsletter, so please sign up for it to stay in the loop.
Estimated reading time: 10 minutes
The bad news: your clothes are making the Earth reaaall dirty. And not in a fun way. Read on for some Daylight-Savings-level-depressing facts.
The good news: Today and every Wednesday of November, we give you info on how you can make cleaner choices that truly allow you to be part of the solution. Just in time for good Black Friday decisions!
Keep reading: for more facts like the one below. We buy - and wash - so much per year and the microfibers from our clothes are equivalent to 50 BILLION plastic bottles! Wash the heck?!?!
Turtles are still dying, Greta is still fighting, and we're still deciding if global warming is a thing. Environmental change often seems really, really futile.
But here's something we all do every day: wear clothes! (And if you don't, well...I'd love to hear about it.) And what's more, our clothing choices have a huge impact on the environment - more than most of us know.
That's why we picked fashion for this month's topic - the fashion industry does a LOT of damage, but we can all make tangible strides to mitigate it. We can start by buying less, or at least turning away from fast fashion.
Fast fashion (the opposite of sustainable fashion) is cheap, low-quality clothes produced at breakneck speeds, prioritizing instant gratification of trends over sustainability.
It turns out that $10 Forever 21 dresses are, actually, too good to be true. Here's a primer from The Good Trade that explains fast fashion more clearly.
You're right - clothes themselves aren't a problem. As trendy as it might be to go back to the days of Adam and Eve, those leaves would definitely start to poke after a while.
It's our approach to the creation of fast fashion that makes it so damaging. Here are three main problems:
Today, we feature a Conscious Chatter podcast episode with Erin Wallace, a leader at ThredUp, the world's largest online thrift store. Erin said something during the episode that stood out to me - in many cities, thrift shops were either too dirty and unseemly, or too bougie to justify it being a "thrift" purchase. It's exactly how I've felt about shopping secondhand!
This episode, however, has changed my view.
The benefits of resale shopping and the circular economy are too large to ignore, and ThredUP provides a good compromise for people like me, looking to make a change, but scared away by my local thrift store.
My biggest takeaway: If everyone in the US bought just 1 item used instead of new this year, it would save around 6 billion pounds of carbon emissions, which is the equivalent of taking half a million cars off the road for a year.
You can listen to the episode here.
"Small changes have massive impact when performed at scale, which is what we're out to achieve" - Erin Wallace, ThredUp VP & circular economy leader
Most of the stats cited in this episode are from ThredUP's 2019 Resale Report - it's a really informative read.
Here's our guide on what you can actually do to be a more conscious consumer, especially with Black Friday approaching.
(P.S. There's a Twitter hashtag #ShopEthicalInstead by @EthicalHour if you want to participate in a series of challenges leading up to Black Friday.)
I'll go from cheapest (me) to less cheapest (hopefully a better version of me).
The Nivi Budget ($0 - $30). This is where I like to hang out. I've bought dresses at $25 from both these stores and they've survived many washes.
The Average Person Budget($30-$60)
The Tech IPO Budget ($60-$200)
Black Friday decisions usually follow none of the above things - we buy lots of new stuff that's often unethically made, causing great damage to textile workers and the environment.
But we have two more days to do convince ourseles to opt out of Black Friday/Cyber Monday... or at least do some research for Black Friday 2020!
If you're going to go shopping this year, check out Brightly's Ethical Black Friday Survival Guide. I loved their guide because it's not just about where to shop - they also talk about setting a budget, muting unwanted promotions, and other helpful tips. Plus, Brightly is a super new company, which means you can say you heard about it before it was cool!
Here's what else you can do!