5 Easy Ways To Go Sustainable

Fresh off its successful April Eco-Month, PFI pulled comments from its Advisory Board members and asked new teacher Annin Barrett from the Textile Hive to a new class on sustainability.  Look for Barrett’s Sustainability Tech class this Fall.

Meanwhile, why wait?  Here are five tips from long-term fashion designer Nicole Miller for keeping things green.

1. “I’ve been involved with Riverkeeper and Rocky Mountain Institute for many years, so saving the planet has always been a top priority for me.”

2. “Our recyclables used to be overflowing at the end of the day, and now it only needs to be emptied once a week. When anyone puts plastic in their trash, it will not be emptied at night.”

3. “Years ago, I started implementing better practices in my showroom, studio, and home. I stopped buying bottled water and switched to filtered water. We stopped buying plastic cups and dishes. Everyone here uses their own reusable plate, mug, and cup.”

4. “We reuse everything from plastic bags to hangers. We also recycle our fabric scraps—nothing goes to waste here. We have upcycled vintage cashmere and denim. We have eco-made jeans with fibers from recycled plastic and plant-based materials. Recently, we made an anti-plastic T-shirt and our own water bottles that say Bring Your Own Bottle on them. I also do an online newsletter to bring a lot of these issues into light. Recycling is important, but it’s better to use less in the first place.”

5. “I designed a whole line of carbon-neutral ties—each one with a message on the back. I found that it’s really important to get the word out, but it is often frustrating. I go to the gym and spin class and people are not bringing their own water bottles. I always bring my own reusable cup to Starbucks or any place when I am getting coffee, and my employees do the same.”

Courtesy of our friends at Fashion Snoops

Can fashion be sustainable?

Why is sustainable fashion on everyone’s minds now? That’s because fashion has a massive environmental cost.
– It is one of the largest polluters and consumers of fresh water. One pound of cotton consumes 1,320 gallons. That means 650 gallons for one new cotton t-shirt.
– It can take 200 years for a polyester garment to decompose.
– Fashion is responsible for about 5% to 10% of all human-caused carbon in the world.
– The amount of clothing in landfills is more than four times what it was in 1980.

Blame it on fast fashion. That is, getting trendy clothes out to customers as fast as possible and priced low enough to encourage overconsumption. The average person:
– In 1990, bought 40 garments per year. Today, 66 garments per year.

– Throws out 70 lbs of clothes/year to make room for new fast fashion.
– Most consumers admit to a closet full of clothes that they don’t really like or want to wear.

But the cost is also cultural.

We’ve raised a generation of consumers who struggle to recognize quality clothing; who lack basic mending and repairing skills and have lost touch with their clothes, where they come from, how they’re made and why it matters.

So what can you do? Here are some tips to help you pursue your fashion dreams, sustainably:

  • Educate yourself. Learn the elements of good design.
  • Look for brands that produce garments using less water, fewer toxic dyes, fewer chemicals and fewer nonrenewables like virgin polyester.
  • Cherish garments you love and make them to fit you.
  • Go slow. Make choices carefully. Build a functioning wardrobe of clothes that you love.
  • Buy secondhand clothes and make them suit you. Make locally; buy locally.
  • Learn to sew & repair. Wear clothes 9 months longer & reduce your carbon footprint for that garment by 30%.
  • Read “Overdressed: the shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion” by Elizabeth Cline
  • Support local upcyclers like Looptworks