Use Your Power!

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It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, helpless even, due to the state of the world right now. There are so many devastating global catastrophes that seem to be escalating at a rapid pace from moment to moment and it almost seems unreal. At times we’ve found ourselves screaming into a pillow and asking the universe, “WHY? HOW? SERIOUSLY? WTF?”, about a million times a day. Unfortunately, it seems as though many people out there can relate. Instead of screaming into a pillow we decided that it’s much healthier and more productive to take that energy and channel it into positive actions that have the ability to spark change. It all comes down to using your power.

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Are you angry with the fast fashion industry? You have the power to shop your values. We know it’s tempting to fall into the lure of inexpensive tops, dresses, and shoes but just remember that it’s inexpensive for a reason and that reason is directly connected to the mistreatment of garment workers and the environment. The next time you're tempted to purchase that brand new pair of leggings for $5.99, just think about it for a moment. Where did they come from? Who made it? What were they paid? How were they treated? How was this fabric sourced? Was it dyed with harsh chemicals that polluted our planet? How much water was wasted? You have the power to fight the fast fashion industry by simply supporting ethical brands that are transparent with their manufacturing and production processes.

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Are you angry with the beauty industry for senseless animal testing and the actual use of animal products in cosmetics? We’ve all seen the YouTube videos of the “makeup hauls” filled with shiny packages of the latest eyeshadows and bronzers. We get it. It looks exciting. For us, nothing kills that excitement quicker than the thought of thousands of innocent rabbits being murdered for mascara. If that makes your stomach turn, please remember, you have the power to shop your values and support vegan and cruelty-free brands that love and respect all animals. Sometimes it can be tricky being your own private investigator which is why we love using the Leaping Bunny Shopping Guide. The Leaping Bunny Organization consists of eight national animal protection groups that formed the Coalition of Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC). (Please note that though we support the Leaping Bunny Organization, we are not professionally affiliated with them...we just love what they do and want to help get the word out there as much as possible!)

It’s easy to use your buying power to support ethical brands but there is something else that you can do to enhance your efforts. You have the power to use your platform. We all have our own type of platform from Facebook, to Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. We all love a good dog video but the next time you find yourself sharing a video of a dog chasing a butterfly why not share some facts with your friends, family, and colleagues about cosmetic testing on our beloved canines. Dogs, specifically beagles, are often used for the draize test which analyzes the eye irritancy of a cosmetic product. This can lead to inflammation, ulcers, and blindness. None of this is necessary. It’s cruel, it’s torturous, and quite frankly, we as a society, as a human race, are so much more evolved than this. It doesn’t have to be this way.

 Klaus wants humans to use their voice for those who have none! 

Klaus wants humans to use their voice for those who have none! 

If social media isn’t your thing, you still have the power to use your voice. Have meaningful and insightful conversations with within your network. Ask questions. Share information. You may discover that this may, in fact, be new information to some people and that’s okay. It’s important to not judge. Everyone finds their moment of enlightenment and timing really is everything. The most important thing is to keep the conversation going, be curious, and never give up hope that we do indeed have the power to take care of all living beings on our planet and evolve to a kinder world powered by love.

Trick-or-Ethical Treat?

4 Tips For an Eco-Friendly Halloween Costume

Halloween is by far our most favorite holiday. A day solely dedicated to dressing up, eating candy, carving pumpkins and spooky decorations…yes, please! Since we have embarked on our journey to be ethically dressed and sustainability accessorized, we have uncovered a few horrific facts that are scarier than any Halloween movie about textile waste and its impact on our environment. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans are projected to spend $8.4 billion dollars on Halloween costumes this year and an estimated 85% of those costumes will end up in a landfill. That breaks our hearts. The good news is that there are so many fun ways that we can embrace the tradition of dressing up for Halloween while still being respectful of our environment.

1-Thrift Store Haul

Thrift stores and vintage shops have been longtime supporters of fashion sustainability. Last year, we successfully created two costumes from The Goodwill Thrift Store for a couple inspired by the television show, “The Big Bang Theory”. For any of you diehard fans out there…we created, “The Shamy”. It was actually really fun and it forced us to get creative with our styling skills. The best part was, everyone knew exactly who the characters were and the couple received a ton of high fives that night. Oh, and we spent a total of $26 for two complete costumes…score!

 "The Shamy"

"The Shamy"

2-DIY Diva

Anyone a self-proclaimed Pinterest Princess? Do-it-yourself projects are all the rage on Pinterest and this means that you have no excuse to not get creative with your Halloween costume. Time to get out your sewing machine, glue gun, and construction paper and channel your inner artist! Keep in mind that you will certainly have an original costume and you’ll have earned bragging rights when people ask you where you purchased your costume. You can officially say that you designed it all on your own!

3-Costume Swap

How many costumes do we all have stuffed in a box somewhere? Wonder Woman, Black Mamba, Snow White...Now, think about your friend’s costumes from last year, and your neighbor's costume, and now your co-workers costume. This sounds like the makings for a fabulous Costume Swap Party. Why not invite a few friends over, crack open a bottle of fair trade wine, and swap out your Princess Leia costume for a “new” Queen of Hearts costume.

4-Hybrid Style

Have you ever been a cat-witch for Halloween? What about a zombie-flapper? Hybrid costumes are a really great way to get more use out of your costumes in a unique way without necessarily repeating the exact same look. So, if you are super attached to your fairy costume and can’t bear the idea of parting with it for a swap, then how about turning it into a vampire-fairy or a mouse-fairy…okay, maybe that one would be a little tricky but if you’re up for a good challenge, we promise that you’ll have a great time piecing together something that is completely original and most importantly something that won’t contribute to fashion waste.

 "Zombie Flapper"...and yes, she did recycle that can!

"Zombie Flapper"...and yes, she did recycle that can!

We have created a social stigma about being caught wearing the same thing twice…especially a Halloween costume. There is absolutely no reason to unnecessarily contribute even more to our already vast carbon footprint. We love Halloween but we are not willing to contribute to textile waste simply for a few hours of fun. We still have a little time before Halloween and we encourage you to get creative, save a few bucks, and save the planet all at the same time this year.

Ethical Beauty Spotlight: Sweet LeiLani Cosmetics

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An ethical beauty brand made of natural ingredients that also brings no harm to animals or to our planet...yes, please! We discovered and fell in love with Sweet LeiLani Cosmetics because of what they stand for...ethical beauty practices. Products that harm living beings, or bring harm to our environment are far from beautiful. We do not want to put harsh chemicals on our skin and we do not support endangering animals or the planet in the name of “beauty”...seems like a no brainer but unfortunately, many brands in the cosmetics industry prefer to cut corners and sell products that should never be made. Here is the breakdown of what makes Sweet LeiLani Cosmetics such a beautiful brand...inside and out!

Vegan and Cruelty-Free

No animal should ever be used for testing cosmetics, period. Sweet LeiLani Cosmetics understands this and that is why they do not conduct animal testing in any way whatsoever. If they can create beautiful products, why can’t other brands? Rabbits, mice, rats, and guinea pigs are usually the victims of this horrendous practice which includes many torturous procedures including being burned, shaved, and force fed to determine what a lethal consumption amount would be. These animals suffer blindness, swollen eyes, and internal bleeding before they are put to death by asphyxiation...yes, they break their necks or decapitate their heads. According to the Humane Society International, approximately 100,000 to 200,000 animals die every year in the U.S. due to animal testing.

Some brands actually use animal by products in their formulas such as crushed beetles, guanine (which is bat poop, yes, you read that correctly), animal fat, and, gelatin which consists of boiled animal skin, ligaments, tendons and bones. Urine from pregnant horses is extracted for estrogen in cream based products. If you’re just a bit nauseous after reading this that means you understand why Sweet LeiLani Cosmetics do not use animal by products as no brand ever should.

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Free of Parabens, Gluten, & Fragrance

Another reason why Sweet LeiLani Cosmetics totally rocks is because they do not believe in putting parabens, gluten, and fragrance into their products. Who wants to put processed garbage on their face? Not us! Parabens are unnecessarily used as a preservative in cosmetics and critics suggest that parabens may be directly linked to health risks such as chronic diseases, and cancers. Products containing gluten can create havoc on individuals with gluten sensitivities or Celiac Disease, and it’s just not needed in makeup...so why bother with it?! Similar to gluten, adding fragrances can cause skin irritation even if you don’t have an immediate reaction. According to the Environmental Working Group, long term use of cosmetics with fragrances can lead to hormone dysfunction, reproductive issues, and have also been linked to breast cancer and diabetes.

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We apologize if you are feeling a little depressed after reading this but as consumers, we need to be aware of the grim reality of what really goes on behind the scenes at cosmetic companies. The good news is that now more than ever consumers are demanding transparency and are starting to ask questions about where their products come from, how it’s made, and what ingredients are being used. Be a part of the social mission and demand change by supporting ethical brands that care about people, animals, and our planet.

Please be sure to check out our curated collection of our favorite Sweet LeiLani Cosmetics including eye shadows and lipsticks! One more awesome fact about Sweet LeiLani Cosmetics is that the packaging is completely made out of 100% post consumer ecological material and vegetable ink. These cosmetics are truly ethical from the inside out!

For the month of September, Style Sorbet will be donating 20% of all sales to Best Friends Animal Society, a national animal welfare organization and no kill shelter that is offering aid to animals displaced by hurricane Harvey in the Houston area.

Closet Full of Fast Fashion? We've Got You Covered!

Thanks to industry leaders who are committed to making serious change happen in the fashion industry, more and more consumers are becoming aware of the negative impact that fast fashion can have on people and our planet. Now, more than ever, consumers are asking questions like, “Who made my clothes”, and “What do I do with my closet full of fast fashion?”. The True Cost Documentary ignited a movement towards transparency and leaders such as the Fashion Revolution have emerged to encourage, promote, and demand ethical and sustainable practices from each facet of the industry from concept to conception.

Realistically, many of us do in fact have many fast fashion items in our closets right now and we don’t want to point fingers and shame anyone. That will not accomplish anything and the important thing to do is to educate ourselves and move forward in a positive way. Here are a few things to keep in mind while deciding what to do with your fast fashion.

Keep It
It’s natural to want nothing to do with fast fashion and immediately toss out anything you may have that was not ethically made and that may have brought harm to a garment worker. Please fight that urge! That is actually counterproductive. Make the most of what you currently own and make ethical shopping decisions moving forward with the information that you’ve learned.

Mend It
Fast fashion has a reputation for not being well made, which means it might fall apart easily. This is a great opportunity to put your sewing skills to use...or it could be a great time to learn a new skill! Most repairs involve basic sewing skills and you can easily find tutorials on Youtube to get started. Many fabric stores also offer sewing classes if you really want to dive in and become a mending rock star. Who knows, maybe you will uncover a hidden talent!

Rework It
Now, this is where you can get really creative! Maybe you can turn pants into shorts, or make a dress into a top? With a few cuts and a little imagination, you could give your wardrobe a makeover and have a closet full of unique pieces designed by you!

Swap It
Maybe it’s that top that you’ve been photographed in 20 times or maybe it’s been your “go to” dress for the last 5 baby showers and you’re just over it. We totally understand that and know that many other fashionistas out there understand that feeling too. By planning a clothing swap party you have the chance to hang out with your friends and get “new” clothes without spending any money. If you really want to go big you could make it a community event and ask for a participation fee that could be 100% donated directly to a local charity.

Donate It
If you don’t want to keep it, not into sewing at all, and maybe you are just too busy for a swap party, you can totally take it to your local thrift store. We do recommend checking out the different options out there. Some thrift stores specifically work with various social causes such as women’s issues and animal welfare for example. Why not select a store that is connected to an issue that is near and dear to your heart? This will not only give your clothing a chance to live another life but you will have a chance to contribute to a worthy cause at the same time.

Remember, we can’t change the past. We can’t go back in time and not purchase those fast fashion items that now might be haunting us. We can give those fast fashion items our love and respect and make sure they live long happy lives and make better informed shopping decisions moving forward.

 

Why We Love Thrift Store Fashion

It’s common for fashionistas around the world to experience fashion cravings as we transition from one season to the next. As the weather warms up we may feel the need to incorporate a few new tank tops and summer dresses into our wardrobe. As cooler weather moves in we usually look for cozy sweaters and maybe a couple of scarves in the color or print of the season. The power of seasonal fashion cravings is strong but the savvy ethical fashionista knows how to strategically maneuver through these cravings by way of mindful wardrobe investments. One way to satisfy your fashion needs is to embrace thrift store fashion.

Previously owned, second hand clothing found at thrift stores can contribute to some of the most fashionable and satisfying ensembles in your closet. The fashion industry brings beauty, confidence, creativity and artful self expression into the world. Unfortunately, it can also contribute to devastating working conditions for garment factory workers and it can also have a negative environmental impact on our planet. According to, The True Cost, documentary, film director Andrew Morgan shared that 90% of cotton used in the fashion industry is genetically modified. Add in the obscene amount of water and chemicals used including harmful pesticides and insecticides, it can make this glamorous industry certainly have a very unattractive side to it.

About 15 million tons of textile waste is made each year in the U.S. Cities spend approximately $45 per person to dispose of discarded clothing which essentially ends up in a landfill. Many synthetic materials can take hundreds of years to break down.

This can all seem very overwhelming but every one of us can make small changes that can collectively have a positive impact. By purchasing second hand clothing you are extending it’s life and saving it from dying a slow death in a landfill.

Thrift store fashion also allows us to get creative with styling. Half of the fun of fashion is all about how we put things together. You might find an amazing vintage sweater that will go beautifully with that pair of pants that have been hibernating in the back of your closet and as an added bonus, it will most likely be an original look that is all you!

Our Rescued Fashion division is all about pre-owned beauties that deserve to be loved. They still have a lot of life left in them and they would much rather spend their time with ethical fashionistas who love and appreciate them for the beauty that they can still bring into the world. The next time you are having a fashion craving remember that you can treat yourself while being kind to the environment and all living beings on it.

FAQs about Fast Fashion

What is fast fashion?

Fast fashion refers to the expedited manufacturing processes of clothing and accessories. Retailers often receive daily shipments of inexpensive mass produced trendy products in order to constantly offer their customers new products, in turn, encouraging them to make frequent visits to their stores and/or websites to shop. Products are often lacking in quality and are sometimes referred to as, “throw away fashion”, meaning that they are often discarded in a short amount of time just as something new becomes available in stores.

Fast fashion companies employ tons of people. Isn’t that a good thing?

Yes, hundreds of thousands of people are employed by fast fashion companies around the world, including the 1,100 people that were killed in the collapse of the Rana Plaza in Bangladesh in 2013. Despite several warnings about cracks in the building, employees were ordered to return to work by building owner, Sohel Rana, which ultimately lead to their tragic death. Unfortunately, many fast fashion garment factories do not offer safe or sanitary working conditions…the basic luxuries that we might take for granted at our jobs here in the U.S. like working toilets and clean air to breathe are simply not an option. Fast fashion garment factories often mistreat their employees meaning they face verbal and physical abuse if they are not working fast enough or if they dare make a complaint about their working conditions, you know, like asking for medical attention for injuries or even proper lighting so they can see what they are sewing. So, to circle back to the original question, no, this is definitely NOT a good thing.

  *Rana Plaza collapse in 2013 by Munir Uz Zaman/AFP/Getty Images.  Photo courtesy of  The Guardian

*Rana Plaza collapse in 2013 by Munir Uz Zaman/AFP/Getty Images. 
Photo courtesy of The Guardian

How does fast fashion hurt the environment?

Fashion is one of the dirtiest industries on the planet. Fashion, in part,  is meant to be a form of art that people use as a vessel for self-expression. Polluted water, soil, and, air is not something that anyone should be proud to endorse. Harsh chemicals used in cotton farming, which is the most common fabric used in 40% of manufactured clothing, uses 8 of the top 10 pesticides classified as moderately to highly hazardous according to the World Health Organization. Untreated dye wastewater that is released into fresh water can contaminate fish and other sea life, in turn, contaminating humans that consume the fish for food. Unfortunately, 80% of fast fashion that is commonly donated to charitable organizations end up in landfills and since they are often made of synthetic materials, they are not completely biodegradable and release harmful gasses into the air and soil. There is not anything fashionable about any of this.

  *Photo courtesy of  Trusted Clothes

*Photo courtesy of Trusted Clothes

Fast fashion is so affordable. Why would I pay more?

By continuing to support fast fashion retailers you are directly supporting the unethical treatment of people, actual human beings just like you and me, who are making your clothes. That $10 shirt might seem like a bargain, but what is the real cost? The difference is always compensated somewhere and it is usually at the expense of people, animals, and our environment. Paying more for quality clothing means that you are making an investment in yourself, in all of humanity, and in the future of our planet. Focusing on quality over quantity translates to preserving our natural resources and it can also save you money in the long run. The average American discards 70 pounds of apparel each year, according to the EPA, largely due to the poor quality of fast fashion. By investing in fewer items of quality clothing pieces that are made well, you will have a meaningful wardrobe of garments that are durable and designed to last for several years longer than any fast fashion item essentially saving you money.

If you are interested in learning more about the operations and business practices of fast fashion organizations please watch, “The True Cost”, directed by Andrew Morgan. It is an eye-opening documentary that analyzes and exposes the harsh realities of fast fashion and the global impact it has on the world as we know it.  

  *Photo courtesy of  The True Cost Movie

*Photo courtesy of The True Cost Movie

5 Global Movements Trending in Ethical Fashion NOW

Ethical fashion may appear to be a popular trend that has emerged within the fashion industry but let me just say that ethical is NOT the new black. Ethics, by definition, refers to something that is “morally right” or “morally acceptable”, so in turn, ethical fashion protocols should be standard global practices. With that said, there several ethical fashion movements gaining momentum that you should know about as they will have a positive impact on your closet and our world. 

1-Unconventional Materials

Pineapple leaves, plastic water bottles, and Kombucha…yes, Kombucha, are being used to create unconventional textiles in the fashion industry. Dr. Carmen Hijosa of Ananas Anam, created Piñatex, which is being used as an alternative to leather. This saves our animals, reduces our carbon footprint, and utilizes materials that would have essentially been thrown away.

Vegan handbag and accessory company, Matt and Nat, utilizes recycled water bottles to create the lining of their products. They have recently introduced recycled tires into their collections.

Fashion Designer, Suzanne Lee, created a system designed to turn Kombucha into material that can be used for fabric. By blending tea, sugar, and a few microbes this is proving to be a resourceful method that can even be achieved by DIY enthusiast at home.

Learn more about Kombucha material here.

  *Kombucha material PC:    instructables.com

*Kombucha material PC: instructables.com

2-Slow Fashion

Slow fashion is about focusing on quality and longevity of the fashion cycle from design to production and distribution. Reformation, Oak73, and Alternative Apparel are just a few companies that are supporting slow fashion in efforts to reduce their carbon footprint. Slow Fashion’s evil twin, Fast Fashion, is directly responsible for unfair wages and treatment of factory and farm workers that can earn approximately $5 a day or less for intense and detailed labor. Fast fashion is literally killing our environment through air pollution, water pollution, and we are rapidly going through our natural resources. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, we throw out approximately 11 million tons of textiles that end up in overflowing landfills. Keep in mind that not all donated clothes stay in thrift stores. Many donated clothes end up in landfills overseas and it can take decades for certain fabrics to decompose, if at all. 

Learn more about these awesome brands below! 

www.thereformation.com

www.oak73.com

www.alternativeapparel.com

  *Model is wearing Oak 73 hoodie PC:  oak73.com

*Model is wearing Oak 73 hoodie PC: oak73.com

3-Eco-Friendly Dye Methods

The use of harsh chemicals to dye textiles have contributed to approximately 20% of global industrial water pollution. Alternative technologies have emerged offering substitute methods such as waterless techniques, fabric printing machines, and even fruit and vegetable dying which I find to be fascinating since that is, after all, the original textile dyeing technique used by our ancestors.

Learn more about fruit dyeing here.

   * Fruit dyed fabric by Aneira Davies PC:  seamwork.com

*Fruit dyed fabric by Aneira Davies PC: seamwork.com

4-Fair Trade

Fair pay, treatment, and working conditions to produce a product to sell…sounds pretty basic but there are a surprising amount of companies and manufacturers that do not fall into the Fair Trade category and it’s an absolute disgrace. The Rana Plaza collapse in 2013 elevated the global conversation sparking much-needed change but we can do better by simply supporting certified Fair Trade organizations. Fair Trade is about respecting people and our planet.

Learn more about Fair Trade USA here.

  *Fair Trade Artisan     PC:  fairtradeusa.org

*Fair Trade Artisan PC: fairtradeusa.org

5-Transparency

Who made your clothes? Do you know? Fashion transparency refers to the knowledge that companies have and what they are willing to share with the general public such as their manufacturing practices, and treatment of the artisans that are actually producing the merchandise. Fashion Revolution has been very instrumental in building social awareness with their, “Who Made My Clothes” campaign, prompting consumers to confront their favorite brands with this question and demanding answers.

Learn more about the Fashion Revolution here.

  *Fashion Revolution Factory Artisans PC:  fashionrevolution.org

*Fashion Revolution Factory Artisans PC: fashionrevolution.org

The fashion industry is evolving and we all need to be a part of that evolution. I’m sure none of us want our shirts and dresses to come from an overworked and underpaid artisan. There is no excuse to warrant the pollution of our rivers and oceans so we can have another pair of skinny jeans. Our time here on this planet is short and precious. Let’s not ruin the environment for future generations as there really is no excuse to not be ethical with our fashion selections.

 

 

 

 

 

Are You an Ethical Consumer?

Three Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Make a Purchase

I love shopping just as much as the next fashionista. While on my journey to be sustainably dressed and ethically accessorized, I have since shifted my shopping priorities and I now consider myself to be an ethical fashionista which has transformed me into an ethical consumer. By definition, a consumer is someone who purchases goods and services for personal use. That means, we, as shoppers, hold the very buying power in our hands that essentially shapes the world that we live in. Every purchase made represents what we believe to be morally right and morally wrong whether we realize it or not. If you are new to the concept of ethical fashion then I encourage you to start by asking yourself three simple questions  while shopping to determine if you are indeed supporting ethical consumerism with your purchases.

1- Did this product bring harm to people?

Unfortunately, society’s obsession with Black Friday Sales, Cyber Monday Deals, and the general “need” to have the latest clothing, shoes, and accessories creates a chain reaction taking supply and demand to extreme levels. Millions of workers are exploited and abused in garment factories around the world often working in unhealthy and unsafe conditions while earning wages well below the poverty line.

To combat this, do not support products that were made in sweatshopsTransparency might not always be easily available and at first it can be challenging to fight the urge to indulge in a “2 for $20 tanks” deal, but you have to remember that someone is always paying the price for you to enjoy fast fashion items that will likely spend more time in a landfill than in your closet.

2-Did this product harm our planet?

Harsh chemicals and pesticides used in farming practices can be harmful to our soil and to the farmers harvesting cotton which makes up 40% of textiles used in fashion. According to The World Bank, there are a total of 72 chemicals that make their way into our freshwater resources from textile dyeing. Formaldehyde and chlorine are just a couple examples of the chemicals that are discharged by mills which contain lead and mercury. Garments that end up in a landfill ultimately secrete dye chemicals right back into our soil and water and the vicious cycle continues to not only contaminate our planet, but also humans and animals that have direct contact in the surrounding areas. So, when you rush out to buy a few items in Pantone’s color of the year make sure your purchases do not endorse harmful practices that pollute our environment.

3-Did this product harm animals?

This might be more of a personal decision for you as a consumer. It is my personal believe that animals are not meant to be used for fashion. If you do, then I’m not here to preach my morals to you. However, if you care about animals and maybe have not quite connected the dots between the animals that you love at the state fair and the animals in your closet…let me break it down for you. Factory-farmed animals live in heinous conditions and are castrated and mutilated without anesthesia. To me, cows, sheep, and lambs are no different than the dogs and cats I know and love in my life.

“Animal skins used for clothing and accessories are loaded with caustic, toxic chemicals that prevent them from decomposing – the very opposite of what we expect from an organic resource.” -Stella McCartney

I understand that this all might be overwhelming. Most of us probably didn’t grow up with these concepts openly discussed as the world has rapidly changed and continues to change every day. It might be easier to ignore what goes on behind the scenes but the future of our planet and the future of the human race relies heavily on uncomfortable conversations and unpleasant facts. That’s how we grow. That’s how we evolve. The Good Trade created an awesome quick reference guide that I highly recommend checking out if you are interested in learning more about companies that support ethical fashion practices so you can best prepare yourself to be an ethical consumer. 

 

The Life & Death of a T-Shirt

Most of us have about 4 to 5 if not more t-shirts in our closet this very moment. We wear them to the gym, to bed, maybe to the beach. We might have purchased them at concerts or received them for a 5K or 10K race. Some of us might even have a handful of plain t-shirts as basic wardrobe staples. Needless to say, the t-shirt has been an integral part of our fashion history but what about the journey of a t-shirt from concept to conception? How does it end up at a concert merchandise booth? Where was it before it arrived in our Amazon Prime boxes? 

T-shirts have a lengthy journey before they even make it into our lives, and unfortunately, they do not always have a happy ending once they move on from our wardrobes. There are 5 main stages that a t-shirt typically goes through in the course of its existence: Materials, Production, Retail, Usage, and Disposal.

The material stage involves farming practices that include irrigating, fertilizing and harvesting. Cotton is not as harmful as other fibers but according to the World Wild Fund for Nature, it can take more than 20,000 liters of water to make a t-shirt. Harsh chemicals such as insecticides and pesticides can be toxic to humans, animals, and the environment. This is one of the many reasons why it is important to purchase organic cotton products.

Next, we move into the production stage that takes a raw product and turns it into a tangible good through spinning, knitting, dyeing, cutting, and finally the sewing of the garmentThe Ethical Fashion Forum has stated that the global textile industry is responsible for 40,000-50,000 tons of dye into our waters making fashion one of the largest polluters in the world, second only to the oil industry. Thankfully, some fair trade organizations have incorporated environmentally friendly natural dye methods into their production systems that do not endanger workers health or pollute our waters.

Then comes the retail phase. This is where the t-shirt is purchased by wholesale vendors and becomes available for purchase in department stores, boutiques, and online. Once the t-shirt is purchased, it makes it’s way into our closets and becomes a member of our wardrobe family partnered with jeans, leggings, shorts and skirts. We might have close relationships with our t-shirts or they may make rare appearances when it’s close to laundry day or we need to toss on something easy to help a friend move. Regardless, t-shirts are like that old faithful friend that never goes out of style and always there when we need them.

Now, there are a couple of ways that we can look at the “final” stage of life for a t-shirt. That day comes around every now and again when we clear out our closets. Maybe it’s for a garage sale, spring cleaning, or maybe it’s another attempt at fung shui, but most of us do go through a cleansing phase where we get rid of things we don’t wear anymore or don’t want anymore. Sadly, this has lead to the execution of many fallen t-shirts. If a t-shirt is not offered new life with a new owner by way of thrift store donations, garage sale, or clothing swap, then it can, in fact, end up in a landfill where it begins it’s slow and agonizing death. The EPA has estimated that the average U.S. citizen throws away 70 pounds of clothing a year, including many t-shirts. Due to the expedient timeline of fast fashion, clothing is making its way to landfills at a rapid speed, unlike any other timetable that we’ve seen before. As a t-shirt decomposes in a landfill, it can release methane, which contributes to global warming. Dye properties can also fuse into the soil leading to contaminated water that can further harm humans and animals.

I have taken a pledge to ensure that my clothing selections do not harm people, animals, and our environment. This includes t-shirts. Instead of tossing out old t-shirts, I have made a promise to myself to make smarter buying decisions starting with ethical fashion companies such as Prana and Patagonia that make it their mission to reduce their carbon footprint through organic and ethical practices through each phase of a garment’s lifecycle. We do have the ability to get creative with our t-shirts once the original intended use is no longer an option. We can cut off the neckline and Flash Dance it out like Jennifer Beal, or we can stop using paper towels and cut up old t-shirts to use as cleaning rags. The point is, we need to think about the impact that a single t-shirt can have on millions of lives and our environment for future generations to come.

What is Fashion Sustainability?

From glamorous runways to Black Friday madness at your local discount store, fashion, has become an integral part of our lives. Whether you consider yourself to be a fashionista or not, clothing, shoes, and accessories are intertwined into our personalities, our activities, and our emotions. That is a hefty order of responsibility for a compilation of yarn, buttons, and thread. There are over 7 billion people on the planet and arguably most of them, nudists aside, require a wardrobe.

Our clothing has quite a journey before it makes it’s way into our closets and that journey includes manufacturing processes that can be very harmful to our planet. The fashion industry is the second largest polluting industry in the world next to oil. Our rivers and oceans have suffered from toxic chemical pollution, grasslands have vanished, and with textile waste on the rise from 7% to 30% in the last five years, developed nations will soon have to create new ways to dispose of our fast fashion as landfills are simply at capacity.

You might be thinking, “Well, that’s a bummer, but I’m not in control of the harsh chemicals or the excessive water usage so there isn’t anything I can do.” You actually can do something as the creation of fast fashion was largely due to consumers desire to have a new outfit every day, to indulge in a little retail therapy, or to fill our time as we spend an afternoon strolling through the mall. Don’t get me wrong…I am a huge fan of retail therapy, but I am now aware that the planet should not have to suffer so I can have a fifth LBD. I don’t want my closet to cause any harm to anyone or anything. As consumers, we have the buying power, literally. That equals power to make a change, and if we can collectively endorse slow fashion then the industry will have no choice but to listen.

Supporting sustainable fashion means educating yourself on brands, reading labels, and really thinking about what you purchase and how often. So, the next time you are doing a little online shopping, or decide to indulge in a little retail therapy, I encourage you to think about visiting your local thrift store instead or research brands that use recycled materials or organic cotton that supports farming without the use of toxic pesticides and herbicides to reduce your carbon footprint on our planet.

On the Cusp of Change

As the year winds down, most of us reflect on the past 12 months and smile about happy memories, accomplishments, and ponder whether or not we achieved the goals we so eagerly set about this time last year. Well, 2016 was unlike any other year we’ve seen and I think it’s safe to say that everyone can agree with that. Emotions ran high, lines were crossed, and revelations were made. Now, don’t you worry...this blog post is not taking a doom and gloom turn. At Style Sorbet, we have decided to take all of the negative joojoo of 2016 and use it as fuel to catapult us into a meaningful new direction.

Our hearts still belong to the fashion, beauty, and modeling industries and will remain there for all eternity but our focus will be on ETHICS within these amazing industries. With that said, we are launching two very exciting endeavors. The first one is this..ta-da! We are thrilled to announce that the Style Sorbet blog will focus on living a sustainably dressed and ethically accessorized life. We plan to talk about how we can collectively embrace fashion while respecting the people who made it and the planet that, you know, we all kinda live in. Stay tuned for future posts about how you can be an ethical fashionista!

Our second big announcement is that we are gearing up to launch our online boutique! That’s right, soon you will be able to shop with us at Style Sorbet. We will have ethically sourced women's wear along with rescued fashion available for purchase. That’s right, rescued fashion! Thrift store shopping is one of our favorite past times and it also provides a huge benefit to our planet by reducing our collective carbon footprint. Did you know that the average American tosses out approximately 80 pounds of clothing per year that usually ends up in a landfill?! Yuck! It does not have to be this way and we are on a mission to help our planet by way of an ethical fashion revolution.

Thank you for being a part of our Style Sorbet family. We have enjoyed the many events, fashion shows, workshops, photo shoots, expos, pageants, promotions, trunk shows and other fashionable events that we have been able to do this year and we are so enthusiastic about the new adventures that await us in 2017!

Cheers, darlings!