Conscious Fashion Choice (FINAL)

It is 2012 and we, the humans on Earth, are experiencing the grasps of the climate change activism era. Since Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth” a seemingly long six years ago, some people have invigorated their earth-friendly senses. From turning off unnecessary lights during Earth Hour to a 5 cent charge on plastic bags in Toronto, a ‘green’ mind is on the rise. In this same day and age, many are not climate scientists. Regardless, the everyday person like you and I have become more socially conscious of our impact on the environment. Whatever the demographic, we are more aware than ever that our daily actions have some sort of impact. On the other hand, to the extent our impact effects the earth is up to your own perspective, education, and attitude.

The eco-friendly ‘craze’ now extends to one of the largest and most influential international economy: fashion. Whether it be haute couture to our basic Jockey undergarments, the need to be green is strong and clear. A great Canadian example of this conscious fashion movement is Eco-Fashion week. According to Forbes Magazine Online (Tracey Greenstein, Sept. 30, 2012), Eco-Fashion week is a Canadian invention (woot woot) which began in 2009. Initially a non-profit organization, the fashion week’s aim was to promote sustainable textile manufacturing. To understand why this rise on climate awareness in fashion is so significant, we need to understand fashion in itself.

In a nutshell, fashion is a trend of clothing. To the economy, fashion is a multi-billion dollar entrepreneur that has infinite exponential opportunities. According to Industry Canada’s statistics, the clothing industry generates a net revenue of about 2.3 billion dollars! That’s alot of jeans!

This graph shows the increasing economic success of clothing retail in Canada:

Net Revenues: 2001-2010
Clothing and Clothing Accessories Stores (NAICS 448)

For the environment, fashion has a huge indirect impact on the climate. A little known fact is that  fashion heavily relies on agriculture. The change in climate has affected the ability for cotton and wool crops to prosper; a main resource for textiles. When fashion turns to alternative resources, such as polyester carbon footprints become a huge issue. Mass factory production emits harmful gases which hurt the atmosphere. Gases such as, nitrous oxide which hurts both the climate and the worker who is exposed to these toxic materials. In all these materials, water is often over-exploited in production. Every step from the development of the needed petro-chemicals for nylon and polyester, to the solvents used to fasten clothing, and the dyeing of fabric, these practices increases every piece of clothing’s impact. One method to combat this is the reuse of unorthodox materials such as water bottles.

Another method is to integrate the environment directly into the commerce of fashion. According to Gregor Pecnik, a sustainability consultant, eco-fashion can be a measure of environmental profit and loss. This means to assign a fiscal cost to environmental impacts. From this manufacturers become more aware of the financial side of environment harming procedures. In continuity with the financial push, environmental profit and loss can build a stronger competitive edge by making operations more efficient, reducing green house gas impact cost in production, and by subscribing to environmentally ethical consumer appeal. Although this opportunity is still a rising method, the climate relief can be exponentially huge coming from mass clothing producers.

They say that one man’s garbage is another man’s gold. The trend change of eco-fashion doesn’t just extend to new and renewable resources for designs, but used clothing has increased its popularity during this time. This element of eco-fashion exemplifies the second word of the recycling trinity: reuse. According to National Geographic, 2.5 billion pounds of fabric in the U.S.A. were averted from landfills in 2006 from re-using clothes. That’s about 5% of the total garbage in dumps!  In addition to the relief to the environment, textile recycling provides about 17 000 jobs to Americans. Now to the fashion culture side of things, thrifty shopping is a key resource for top stylists. Words like vintage, one-of-a-kind, second-hand, and consignment can be found to describe the used industry. Some designers are even creating new apparel with the used material, such as local artist Ayla. Through the “revive, rescue, and responsible” processes, this Canadian company is able to reduce fabric waste and unnecessary fabric production.

Every season, designers must create something new and innovative. Fashion reflects history; apparel has the ability for social activism and passionate ethical opinion. Fashion has now moved from a time of modesty guidelines to environment principles. Various fashion houses such as Vivienne Westwood have commissioned and challenged designers to have the climate in mind both in an artistic sense and in actual production. From the drawing board all the way to clothing transportation, and to the new consumer education in washing clothing pieces without harsh non-degradable detergents, every detail must be considered in order to be recognized as a part of the green fashion trend.

It is clear that the roots of a strong environmental fashion conscious have formed. The connection between the shirt you wear from Wal-Mart to the future of our children’s climate is an idea which is becoming more clear and accessible in the era of green activism.

For your listening enjoyment: Madonna “Vogue


About Myra

University of Toronto Student 1T6 Interested in living life to the fullest and learning more about the science and politics of the climate. Follow me on twitter @myralisselle
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7 Responses to Conscious Fashion Choice (FINAL)

  1. avatar Jordana says:

    Hey Myra.
    Gotta say, I was so intrigued when I saw that you were able to relate climate change to fashion. I think most of this post’s effectiveness arises from the fact that in everyday life, people don’t associate climate with clothing. I admire your creativity. I noticed a couple grammatical issues, but nothing major. For example: “Institutes of fashion and various high-fashion houses such as Vivienne Westwood have commissioned and challenged designers to have the climate in mind not just artistically but in physical production, from the drawing board all the way to fashion’s transportation to consumer education in preserving clothing pieces without harsh detergents and overuse of water.” is a bit of a run-on sentence, and I would switch “institutes of fashion” to fashion institutions. Just minor technical things like that. Other than that, I thought that the core content of this post was well researched and overall very enjoyable. I think what is special is that you were able to reach a different audience even though its the same issue! Pretty cool!
    – Jord

  2. avatar Colby says:

    A very interesting article, looking at the title I honestly thought it was crazy that fashion and climate change could go together. After reading this I not only understand how fashion designs affect the environment, but how fashion embodies our society as a whole. I do agree with you about us becoming more aware of the environment and being “green”, but I personally wonder if half the things many corporations advertise as green, really do help the environment; for instance, would buying an “eco friendly” water bottle really help save the environment, even though the “non-eco” friendly water bottles are also for sale? I believe the best thing to do is to re-use thing; just like the water bottle video (which I found absolutely fascinating). Overall, fashion affects everyone in the big picture and is definitely a good industry worth making re-usable. Thanks for the post.

  3. avatar Rebecca says:

    Hey Myra!
    A very unique topic you have chosen here, definitely catches the eye! It was really great that you included links to better the reader’s understanding; I’m even wondering if you couldn’t incorporate some more ideas from these sources into your post? I would absolutely be able to keep reading if you expanded on how the sciencey aspects of climate change affect fashion. Maybe if you embedded some links within the main text, e.g. telling the reader where he/she can find the Forbes Eco-Fashion piece, or pictures, and as Jordana mentioned, you may just want to do a quick read-through for spelling/grammar. All around, really interesting topic and you introduced it to us nicely!

  4. avatar Daniel says:

    A few grammar mistakes – comma missing in the first sentence after Earth; I’ll leave the rest for you.
    In a few cases, you’ve used a plural where it should be singular.
    The 3rd sentence in paragraph 3 needs some work. Could use a reference here, but try to avoid a clause inside a clause.
    In paragraph 2 – consider adding a brief sentence explaining how textile manufacturing affects climate.
    Even though it’s a blog post, there are a few cases where you declare facts that you might want to have cited as well.
    Try and embed your links into the body of your post instead of listing them at the end.
    When writing for a general audience, certain derivations that are clear in our mind (as the writer) may not be clear for others. For example, in paragraph 5, you might want to talk (briefly) about how reuse affects climate. Is it a big impact or a small one? Or add an interesting fact that could pull the readers attention. For example, if everyone in Canada bought 4 used shirts a year instead of 4 new shirts then…
    Add some more concrete examples (specific products, or important actions people have taken this area), to really pull the reader’s attention.

    Here’s a link you might want to check out –

  5. avatar Robert says:

    Your writing got stronger as you settled in. Note how by the last paragraph you are varying the length and pattern of your sentences. Compare to the early paragraphs, where they are almost all medium-long, with a couple clauses. Openings are hard, but try to write your openings like you wrote the end here.

  6. avatar Myra says:

    Thanks for the feedback guys!

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