Article by Georgina Cammayo | Photography by John Morin | Owl Staff
A survey in Huffington Post claims that the average woman has $550 worth of unworn clothing in her closet. Factor in an environmental perspective, and that’s about $550 spent on unused items by one woman alone.
Fashion is a multi-billion-dollar industry that is constantly targeted by environmentalists due to its long history of involvement in toxic additives, wasteful production, and animal-testing practices.
Today, more companies are devising their own eco-friendly approach, giving in to consumers’ demand to go green.
This breakthrough can be attributed to international organizations like Ecotece, which urge a growing sensitivity towards the earth.
After learning about this partnership, nursing major Ryan Hamby says, “I think it’s very responsible that companies are taking their time, energy, and effort to be responsible and smart with how they treat the planet.”
Nike, which was slammed with several sweatshop controversies in the past, has since come up with clever tactics to regain consumer trust. Programs and innovations unique to the company include Reuse-a-Shoe, which grinds old sneakers into playground turf and in turn, trims waste from production and increases the use of sustainable materials. They’ve also devised Flyknit products that promote efficiency by making every stitch in the shoe count.
Other popular brands participating in the movement include TOMS shoes, which offer a vegan collection that prohibits the use of animal products, and H&M, that advocates the use of natural fibers such as hemp, jute, and silk, as well as other recycled materials.
On a smaller scale, local names in Maryland have also joined this environmental revolution.
Sweet Pepita is a Baltimore-based company that promotes fabric recycling. The owner, Shannon Delanoy, encourages parents to send in their favorite old t-shirts to be reconstructed with organic cotton to produce customized clothing for their little ones.
Blue Sky of Chester, Maryland makes bohemian-themed clothing, handbags, and accessories for women by using low-impact dye, organic cotton, and recycled materials. Their production process and goal of fair trade (humane working conditions) ensures both the social and environmental responsibility of the company.
As the owner of The Joshua Tree boutique, Joshua Brownstein shares that his ultimate dream is to own a full clothing and accessory line that would serve the Maryland community. In an interview with Baltimore Magazine, Brownstein says “[There’s] a growing community in Baltimore that is looking for alternative opportunities to enjoy clothing designed without the traditional sweatshop, harsh chemical label attached to it.”
Hope Daugherty, a history major, praises the ongoing trend of preserving nature through fashion. However, she admits that at the moment, she is more “wallet-conscious” than environmentally conscious, stating, “I absolutely want to support them as much as I can, when I can, when I have the money to, but there’s only so much I could do on a limited budget.”
The popular belief that anything labeled as green or organic is more expensive than other mass-produced items can definitely throw people off. Perhaps a viable solution, then, is to continue pushing fashion companies to make these products more accessible and thus, more affordable. Doing so will help consumers make environmentally conscious decisions without having to compromise style or quality.
More importantly, look into small local businesses that are up against other larger mainstream competition. Their valiant strides to promote sustainability and establish ethical standards are worthy of attention.
So, the next time you go shopping, consider opting for eco-friendly, fair-trade fashion. The money you put in today could very well be a long-term investment for the future.
To get the latest news and trends in green and fair-trade fashion and a list of participating brands and vendors, please visit ecofashionworld.com or ecofriendly-fashion.com.
Check out these local stores and online companies in Maryland:
The Joshua Tree
1340 Smith Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21209
A People United
516 North Charles St.
Baltimore, MD 21201
5809 Clarksville Square Dr.
Clarksville, MD 21029
Wear Blue Sky