As many of you have probably figured out over the semester, I have taken an interest in the fast fashion industry and the impacts the industry has on the environment. I think it’s important to put thought into the clothing you buy to not only make the smallest impact as possible, but to ensure your style represents who you are. The clothing you wear is the first thing people see when you come into contact with them, first impressions matter.
A friend and I were walking through Charleston City Night Market a few months ago and we came across a booth filled with unique clothing and accessories, we later learned the brand is named Threads Todisco. After looking through some of the clothes, the owner of Threads Todisco, Anna Todisco, came over and spoke to me about her line. Threads Todisco is located in Charleston and creates one of a kind garments from recycled and thrifted materials as well as upcycled pieces. With scraps of material they cannot use for clothing, they create funky scrunchies and pockets that can be used to create pocket tees.
When I was talking to Anna I told her that I had just written a research paper on the harmful impacts of the fast fashion industry for this class, which sparked an entire conversation on the fast industry and how she wanted to combat the industry with her sustainable brand. It was really cool to be able to have these conversations outside of class because it is reassuring to hear that other people are truly concerned about the state of our environment and are doing their part by sharing their talent. If you’re interested in sustainable fashion, local fashion, or even just unique fashion you should definitely check out Threads Todisco!
Many stores want to do their part in reducing plastic waste and reducing their carbon footprint. It has become a popular practice for businesses such as Target, T.J. Maxx, and many grocery stores like Ingles to sell reusable bags in order to reduce the amount of plastic bags used in store. Unfortunately, many of these bags are a prime example of greenwashing due to the fact that they are often made of plastic rather than natural, eco-friendly fabrics. Consumers are told they are making the “green” choice by buying these reusable bags, which I guess in a sense they are because they are not using the regular plastic bags, but marketing for these bags are misleading.
In class we discussed Target’s sustainability initiatives and we discussed the issues around the use of their reusable bags. I had never thought about the fact that the reusable bags were still made of plastics! I think stores could spend a little bit more money to produce bags made from recycled materials rather than plastics and it could be a win-win situation for the company and the environment in the long run.
I think it would be a great idea for companies to use recycled materials and fabrics to create reusable bags, but since they would be using all different types of materials it would be cool to have the bags reflect the variations. For example, if a company used recycled denim to create a bag, the bag would be denim or if recycled canvas was used to create the bag, the bag would be canvas. This would allow consumers to see that all the bags are different meaning they really came from recycled materials. This would also promote the popular trend of up-cycling to consumers.
Citizen journalism has become a very popular practice with the use of smartphones, glasses-based cameras, and other tools that make it easier for the average person to report the latest breaking news. The average person is now able to broadcast their experiences to the world at the very time of having these experiences, which is great, but it also has its problems. We live in an age where likes and retweets control what we post on social media because we want the instant gratification, so we post without giving thought to if what we are posting is the truth.
Citizen journalism through ‘live tweeting’ one’s experience, posting the scene on one’s Snapchat story, or posting an Instagram live video may not give viewers the whole story. Viewers are only seeing or reading what the citizen journalist is experiencing, which may not be an accurate representation of the whole situation at hand. This creates an incredible amount of bias in the information that viewers or readers are receiving. Also, the “news” that the citizen journalist is reporting could strictly be opinion based with no facts to back up their point, but viewers may not fact check their source, therefore they’re being filled with information that could be incorrect.
While there are many issues with citizen journalism, there are some positives associated with it. As mentioned before, the information that citizen journalists are posting may not always be correct, but the event at hand is happening right then. Citizen journalism is more than likely the quickest way to be updated on an event or situation because everyone wants the instant gratification of posting right when the event or situation happens. Another positive of citizen journalism is that viewers are able to directly interact with the citizen journalist over social media to ask questions whereas with traditional news reports there is no way to interact with the news reporter. In addition, citizen journalism allows viewers to see a more realistic view of what is occurring rather than a view that is staged by a cameraman to ensure viewers are seeing what the news wants them to see.
As with all aspects of social media, there are negatives and positives associated with citizen journalism. I truly think the most important thing to keep in mind while viewing or reading a citizen journalist is to remember that the journalist is probably excited to be reporting this information and emotions may get in the way of facts. It’s important for viewers or readers to fact check the information that they were given to ensure that the news they received is true.
This blog post is long overdue, but on February 16th I had the pleasure of attending of attending a talk on the College’s campus featuring representatives from Patagonia as well as PLAN (The Post-Landfill Action Network) about personal activism. Unfortunately I was unable to stay for the entire event, but from the hour or so that I was there I was moved in such an incredible way by the passion that was shown for the environment.
During the time that I was there, policy and the role of government was a major talking point. The current administration does not have a good track record for keeping the environments safety in mind while making policies. Issues such as the Endangered Species Act being under fire and the Dakota Access Pipeline given the go ahead show that the environment is the least of the Trump administration’s worries.
I think the most important part of this lecture was the fact that the speakers acknowledged that there is hope and that we can bridge the disconnect between people to create a movement to show that citizens are concerned about the environment and citizens expect their government to be concerned about the environment as well. The most powerful moment of the lecture for me was singing a song called “Jumbo the Elephant”. This song was about an elephant and a mayor, but the message of the song was much bigger. It was saying that people who are held down by a higher political power still have power. Essentially, there is power in numbers and if citizens want to enact change they much work together to show that their power is greater than that of the higher political powers.
Another important talking point of the night was the Worn Wear program itself. While I was unable to stay for the entire Worn Wear presentation, I still learned a few really interesting facts. The Worn Wear program is a program run by the brand Patagonia, which is a family owned business that started in 1973. The super cool thing about Patagonia is that it is still a privately owned business and is still run by the original family that started it all. The Work Wear program was started to repair items to try to keep clothing items from ending up in a landfill if something was wrong with the item.
It was incredible to hear the stories of people bringing in a piece of clothing that has once been their mothers or a piece that has traveled with them everywhere that they have been. Worn Wear is fixing these clothing items so people are able to hang on to these memories for even longer. This program is all about sustainability, repair, and reuse, all of which are incredibly important to keeping textile waste out of landfills and other dumping grounds.
Overall, this lecture was such a great experience. All of the speakers were so passionate about what they do and it was really inspiring. Personally, I believe that there were two big takeaways from this lecture, the first being that we can only enact change by coming together as one unit and the second being there’s not need to throw something away if there’s still live in that product.
In a previous blog post I wrote about the documentary The True Cost, which focuses on the environmental effects of fast fashion. I’m also writing my research paper on the fast fashion industry, so I clearly have a connection with this topic. I was scrolling through my Facebook feed this afternoon with absolutely no intention of using this as a time of learning, but I happened across a video from the HuffPost Lifestyle page that stood out to me.
The video features a natural dyer and artisan by the name of Cara Marie Piazza. Piazza uses the bouquets of flowers from weddings to create beautiful masterpieces that the bride is able to keep forever. Instead of throwing the flowers away when the big day is over, Piazza uses the flowers to dye clothing such as a kimono so the bride will have a forever keepsake. While this is a super unique thing to do, it is also a cool way to repurpose flowers and clothing items.
As if repurposing or upcycling flowers and clothing items isn’t enough, Piazza makes the point that the natural dyes from the flowers are better for the environment than synthetic dyes. Synthetic dyes as well as synthetic dye production sites pollute the water. I had never though about the synthetic dyes and their production process as a pollutant, but now I do and it’s scary especially since I love to tie-dye and try new dying techniques. I have thought about trying natural dyes in the past, but this video definitely makes me want to change the way I tie-dye.
Piazza also talks about fast fashion in this short video and she encourages viewers not to throw their clothing away. She urges viewers to repurpose old clothing or at least donate the clothing to someone who is in actual need.
I really think that Cara Marie Piazza is on to something incredible in the fashion world. Her technique gives consumers the uniqueness many want from fast fashion, she can repurpose clothing to turn them into works of wearable art, and she uses natural dyes that are made from things that come directly from the earth.
Until watching Chasing Ice I never had a complete grasp on how global climate change affects the environment. Chasing Ice is a documentary that beautifully showcases environmental photographer, James Balog’s, works and talents in a way that puts the destruction of the environment due to global climate change on display. The documentary is terrifying and sad, yet incredibly beautiful and breathtaking.
James Balog captures visible evidence of global climate change by creating time-lapse videos of glaciers around the world over long periods of time. When watching the finished time lapse of each glacier it was shocking to see how far the glaciers had receded and how quickly they are melting. I think using a time lapse is the most effective way to show how quickly our environment is being destroyed by our own actions because it shows a beginning and an end point, but you can see all of the time between those two points as well.
Chasing Ice permanently changed the way I view global climate change. I used to think that climate change was something that would not have a huge affect on my life and I never took into consideration that it’s not just me having an effect on my environment; it’s me along with billions of other people that are more than likely living a life similar to mine. Chasing Ice, unlike other some environmental documentaries, shows viewers the right now effects of our actions instead of telling viewers how climate change will affect the Earth in the future. This documentary is powerful and gives real evidence that our actions have already made a massive impact on the world we live in.
My first semester of freshman year I was required to watch a documentary entitled The True Cost. I can honestly say that this documentary changed my mentality when it comes to shopping for clothing. The documentary focuses on the dangers associated with the fast fashion industry and shows viewers that their $5 top from stores like H&M and Forever 21 is doing way more harm than good. Sure, the $5 top may make you feel incredible and savvy because it was so cheap, but the $5 top makes another person in another part of the world angry and exhausted. Fast fashion companies use workers who live in impoverished areas in other parts of the world to do the dirty work for them for a price that is even dirtier. The people trapped in sweatshops creating your $5 top are some of the lowest paid workers in the world. Your $5 top from a fast fashion store is aiding in the continuation of human rights violations and the exploitation of human beings.
Along with having little concern about the health and quality of life of their workers, fast fashion companies and the industry as a whole has little to no concern about the world we live in. The $5 top that has been the continuing example throughout this post will more than likely be out of style next month, or at least that’s what the fast fashion industry will make you think. According to the documentary, the average American creates approximately 82 pound of textile waste each year because clothing is seen as disposable. The image from the documentary that always stands out in my mind is the scene where clothing is being “dumped” to developing countries. The documentary shows an area of Haiti that is essentially overflowing with unwanted clothes. These clothes are not biodegradable therefore they will sit for hundreds of years releasing harmful gases into the atmosphere. That $5 shirt will probably end up in a developing country when you’re tired of wearing it or when it starts to wear out after the third wash due to the cheap material.
Fast fashion may be trendy and easy on your bank account, but is it worth the detrimental impact you’re having on the lives of other humans and your environment? After watching this documentary I spend more to get more. I may buy a basic shirt for $50 dollars or a pair of jeans for $100 from a more “high-end” retailer, but the quality is so much better than those from a fast fashion brand and the item will last therefore there will be much less waste. In the long run spending more will get you more: more wear time from an item, more time doing fun things instead of shopping to replace a piece of cheap clothing that has worn out, and more time on Earth knowing you did something to help rather than being part of the problem.
To Watch The True Cost: http://truecostmovie.com/watch-now/
After watching Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things I realized that there are only a few things in life that are truly important and a very, very small number of those things are physical, material items. The majority of the important things in life are not actually tangible things, they’re relationships, places, experiences. As much as I hate to admit this about myself, I am quite the collector of stuff. When I say “stuff” I mean knick knacks, unnecessarily large amounts of clothing, and other random items that take up space simply because they hold a memory of some sort. I’ve known for a while that I have accumulated a huge amount of stuff during my 19.5 years on this earth, but I’ve never found a reason that I thought was good enough for me to actually declutter my life. I’ve finally found a reason that has encouraged me to change my ways, even if that simply means going through the items that I know I never use or to stop buying items that I know I do not need.
According to Josh and Ryan the minimalistic lifestyle gave them what every person wants out of life: happiness. Freeing their life of unnecessary stuff freed them from the overwhelming feeling of emptiness. You may be asking how getting rid of the unnecessary items in one’s life gives one a feeling of freedom, but after hearing their story it makes sense. Our lives revolve around making money in order to have items that are the best of the best, but it’s hard to enjoy these items when you are busy with work and other obligations. By letting go of the unnecessary stuff, nothing is holding you down or holding you back from seeing the world in a perspective you wish to see it in, not the perspective society forces on you.
Along with being freed from the weight (physical and mental) of stuff, it decreases the size of your ecological footprint. I recently learned that if everyone on Earth lived the same lifestyle as me it would take approximately 5 planet Earths to support everyone. That number alone was scary enough for me to have a wake up call and realize that I need to change something in my life to decrease that number. With that information already in the back of my mind, this documentary really pushed me to examine my life to see what is a true necessity and what is simply an item taking up space.
This documentary was eye opening to say the least. Before watching, I thought that minimalism was only about reducing the amount of stuff you have. After watching the documentary I now understand that minimalism is not just about reducing the material items in your life; it’s about decreasing stress, increasing happiness, and helping restore Earth back to it’s former glory of green plants, clean air, and the freeness it offers to be anything that you wish to be.