The Necessity of Environmentally Responsible Style- Because You Can’t Give the Planet to Goodwill…

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Self Portrait in a Dress of My Own Design

I know you. You are a good person. You love your friends, you cherish your family, you take mindful steps to make a small difference in the world around you. You want to create a future for your children that is compassionate and fair. You love life, you love fashion, you love people, maybe you even volunteer on your off time… and every day, without knowing it, you are making decisions that are destroying the planet we live on.

I know this- because I was doing it to. I used to brag about how Walmart was my favorite place in the universe; when I discovered that Forever 21 had an online store with literally thousands of super cheap trendy clothes, I though that maybe God himself had come out of the sky and created a small piece of fashion heaven on earth. I thought H&M was perhaps the greatest modern invention of our times. And then one day, actually, in a quite self absorbed fashion (I was researching branding concepts for my then up cycled fashion brand: Monarch Couture) I stumbled upon the concept of Eco Fashion vs Fast Fashion and realized that this trend driven image gluttony that so many of us are involved in- is rapidly destroying the planet we call home.

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Self Portrait. Top: Buffalo Exchange, Skirt, Shoes & Belt: Goodwill

I could take the time in this piece to spew facts and figures at you- but I will leave that to the experts. Fast Fashion environmental fallout is something that can easily be researched online- you can study up for yourself and then decide whether those brand name shopping sprees are something you can have on your conscience any longer. But just food for thought: those super-soft leggings you love so much have been washed hundreds of times in chemical filled water, those jeans you got at H&M for a steal- were made with pesticide laden cotton that is giving farmers in America brain tumors and leaving villages in third world countries with a disproportionate number of mentally and physically deformed children. That blouse you got on sale at Old Navy for $5 was sewn in a dirty factory by a woman who makes $10 a month. The question you have to ask yourself is this: is it worth it? And although we are surrounded with choices and products that create a negative impact on the environment- for me- fashion is the most acute- because the damage done- is literally for vanity, and that is simply not something I can have on my conscience any longer. We have enough. You have enough. You and your family and your friends could go on for the next 100 years, without ever needing to buy anything new.

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Self Portrait. Dress: Goodwill

When I started my journey on 365daysofthrift.com about two and a half years ago- I had this thought like, “oh man! what am I getting myself into” but what I got myself into was seriously one of the best ideas I have ever had. I look better, my conscience is cleaner and I actually have a more beautiful wardrobe than I have ever had in my life- filled with high quality, well made clothing. If it’s good enough to give away, it’s usually good enough to last a long time. I’ve extended my thrifting far past clothing, I’ve thrifted all of my bedding, a beautiful $15 couch, silverware, mugs, dishes, pots, pans, even my favorite straightening iron and hair curler are thrifted. Thrifting is my new revolution. It’s one of the most doable and fun ways that you can instantly begin to reduce your impact on the environment. You don’t need new fashion and decor. You just don’t. Your vanity is simply not worth the negative environmental impact.

The more I educate myself on the cost of consumerism- the more it can’t be ignored. We rage against these Big Companies doing all of these terrible things- but they wouldn’t have anyone to sell to if we didn’t purchase things we don’t need.

Being an environmentalist isn’t just something that some granola munching hippie does. It’s what any ethical individual does. Someone who doesn’t want to live in a world where children are born with birth defects and Cancer rates are skyrocketing. Being an environmentalist doesn’t mean you are protesting in front of the oil company and condemning big business- while reposting tear jerking you tube videos and weeping- it means that you are mindful of the products you buy, the waste you create and the products you consume.

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Photo: Chris Daniels

You don’t need that bottled water every day- you can start bringing your own mug to Starbucks, you can buy used clothing or support Eco Fashion Brands, You don’t need every single new iPhone the second it comes out, you can bring your own bag to the super market- you can clean your house with vinegar- instead of some cheap creepy toxin filled cleaner. You can do it. And you can do so much more. And you need to.

The ethical thing to do is to confront the scene and change your habits. There is no justification, there just isn’t. Abundance doesn’t have to come with a social-environmental cost- you can have an abundant fulfilling life that does not pollute the environment and exploit labor. This is a point of raising your awareness and increasing the ethical level of your behavior when it comes to creating a healthy environment for yourself and others to live in. This is something we all need to do more of and a minute level of “discomfort” or inconvenience on our end- can start the ball rolling to create a far less toxic future.

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Photo: Chris Daniels

I truly believe that global change starts with personal responsibility.  The more we are willing to demand of ourselves- the more apt we are to put pressure on large companies to create environmentally sound options.  The market speaks- if we modify our buying habits to create a culture where fast fashion is no longer “cool,” companies will follow the demand. But you’ve got to start with you.  You must commit to personal change in your buying habits.  You can donate your shoes when they no longer fit your mood- but we can’t give the planet to Goodwill- we’ve got to make it last.

I hope you share this with one friend who needs to raise awareness.  The Planet needs you.  Happy Earth Day.  Lets make it everyday.  The Future is bright- if we make it so.

Love and Thrift,

Elisabeth

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