Eco Couture – Sustainable Fashion (Week #41)
The WHAT and WHY:
This will be my second year participating in raising funds for Long Way Home, an organization that builds sustainable schools and teaches sustainable curriculum in Guatemala. As a reclamation artist I create art, fashion, furniture and buildings from found objects, textiles, building materials, and recycled resources.
This year, instead of donating my leftover construction materials to Restore, Freecycle or Craigslist, I made them into fashions to raise money for a great cause. I wish I could show you this year’s fashions designs here, but I will have to wait until after the show (non-disclosure agreements).
Did you know that Americans dispose of 68 pounds of clothing and textiles per year of which 99% could have been recycled? That’s the weight of the Statue of Liberty! That still puts 58 million tons of textiles and shoes into US landfills alone, according to the EPA.
As I transitioned from a large home into a 174 SF tiny house, I took a closer look at the fashion trade and its current sustainable offerings. Most of the industry has moved towards improving the LCA of their products as well as the social/cultural/environmental responsibility of their manufacturing process. As textiles made from natural materials are water and energy intensive; manufacturers are finding better ways of designing with polymers than can be recycled into future garments. This industry is still far behind.
Some high-end designers have pushed the sustainable envelope to another level and are producing biodegradable clothing and shoes.
It’s not just Timberland, Tom’s, Teva and Patagonia anymore – hurray! In 2012, Gucci announced its mostly biodegradable “Liquid Gold” castor oil seed plastic sunglasses, there is Icebreaker’s Merino Wool, or any of the five eco-shoes mentioned here.
H&M is teaming up with Puma to recycle clothes made from sustainable cotton into collections made from recycled cotton. This innovative manufacturing system is called Wornagain, which involves chemical textile to textile recycling.
You could even grow your own bio-degradable clothes like UK’s fashion designer, Suzanne Lee; watch her 6 minute TED talk.
After all, much of the $800 billion dollar fashion industry has consumers buying and discarding clothing faster than ever. It’s imperative that we, consumers and manufacturers alike, make more sustainable choices.
Examine your wardrobe purchasing and disposal practices to decrease your impact on the world’s resources.
1.Practice the 6 R’s when disposing of your clothes.
- Rethink- is it made using Fair trade practices? Think about the energy used.
- Reuse- Items that can be sold again or redesigned
- Recycle, Upcycle or Repurpose- Re-making a product into something else
- Repair- Fix items if they are torn or broken
- Reduce- Cut down on the number of items we buy
- Refuse- To refuse to use products which are not suitable or the right thing for the job
2.Cut in strips and reuse them for vegetable ties to your garden stakes. You can also repurpose your sheets as shrub covers for winter. Or repurpose them into costumes for holidays like Halloween or your next child or adult costume party.
4. Hold a neighborhood/friend shoe or clothing swap party. Everyone brings ten garments/shoes, any leftovers go to a crisis center in your community.
5. Find a non-profit that resells clothing to support those in need.
6. Make a reclamation art project into a designer fashion, or a chair, like these artists:
Note: TerraBluTeams.org is a non-profit organization and does not receive any funds from the product links we suggest.
The Deep Dive:
Cradle to Cradle, TED Talk from William McDonough, Remaking the Way We Make Things
Recycle your old bras by donating to http://www.breastoasis.org/site/page.php?id=275
Donate your sports shoes to See Your Kicks Make a Comeback