When I put this VETTA Capsule jumpsuit on today, I started thinking about how I hardly see anyone wearing this collection anymore, how I hardly post it anymore, and how popular it was when it launched. Even with my best sustainable fashion intentions, there are so many ways that I still fall into the need for newness and then irresponsibly pass that message on to my community. I rewear my more nondescript clothes over and over, but when it comes to patterns or bright colors or statement items I’ll think, “No, everyone just saw that” or worse, “That’s from a few seasons ago, I don’t want people to be bored of me.”
Sustainable fashion is about more than just where and how our clothes are produced, it’s about the values we have around getting dressed. How long am I keeping my clothes for? Do I take care of the things I own? And most importantly, do I do things that matter in the clothes I wear, like speak out for the environment, for other people? And do I encourage others to do the same?
I think the last few years of sustainable fashion were an introduction for me. Understanding the supply chain, the major issues, my personal style and where I fit into the world. Sustainable fashion, the sequel, is about what I do in the clothes I wear. I reflected a bit on this earlier this year, but that was still more about listening and learning, and with the way 2020 has evolved, it’s become apparent that action is more important than anything else. I am going to do my best to better balance sharing my exploration of personal style with concrete actions I think my community can take to live and dress more sustainably. It’s not about me.
I want to share a few things that I’ve been reflecting on as I expand my perspective on what it means to dress sustainably, along with a few resources.
Slow Fashion Season
I’m currently participating in Slow Fashion Season, which is a pledge to spend the summer months reflecting on our consumption – sort of what I was thinking about when I noticed how little I see items from this VETTA collection on my feed anymore.
Slow Fashion Season encourages participants to:
- Avoid buying from fast fashion brands
- Trade, upcycle or DIY clothing
- Buy second-hand and vintage
- Support sustainable, local, small fashion labels who may be struggling due to COVID-19 (I’d also add here that it is important to prioritize BIPOC brands.)
One of my most-loved outfits so far this summer was entirely secondhand.
Be Smart About “Sustainable” and “Zero-Waste” Products
In my desire to be sustainable (and admittedly, probably more in my desire to be Instagrammable) I’ve spent a good amount of money on low-waste products, like water bottles, reusable straws, silicone storage containers. They’re all cute and great. But did I already have food storage containers that were totally fine? Yes.
We cannot shop our way out of the climate crisis. You don’t need bamboo utensils (you have cutlery in your kitchen drawer! Just bring that!), you don’t need a reusable water bottle and thermos and KeepCup when one thermos will work just fine for most things.
I’ve decided I don’t really care if my sustainability looks cute anymore. Sometimes it will, and sometimes it won’t, and what it looks like isn’t the point at all.
This is an interesting one because as a blogger, it poses a challenge for me since I earn a commission whenever people shop my links. This is why I don’t rely on my blog for an income, and never will – because encouraging everyone to shop whenever possible, so that I can earn money, is entirely at odds with what my blog is supposed to be about. Sure, it is nice to earn a commission when I find a brand I think you’ll really like, or that gives back, but I do my best to not load my posts with affiliate links. I think that does a major disservice to my community and the people who trust me for recommendations. So I will continue to take this approach.
Spend Where it Actually Makes a Difference
I do still believe that investing in sustainable and fair products matters, but I have greater clarity on where this matters. Buying from BIPOC (this list from The Good Trade is a good place to start), buying from brands that give back, or buying from small businesses are all places where my money makes an investment in the communities around me.
Top: Selva Negra
Be a Stronger Advocate for Environmental Justice
Environmental justice is a movement to provide a clean, healthy and beautiful environment for those who, historically, have been disproportionately affected by pollution – namely, BIPOC.
Landfills, factory farms, oil refineries and pipelines continue to operate in areas primarily occupied by people of color, ravaging the landscape around them (some of which may be sacred) and taking a toll on their physical and mental health.
It doesn’t matter how cool my outfit is if I am silent about the things that really matter.
That’s what I’ve been reflecting on over the last month or so since my last post. Sustainability is incredibly nuanced, and I want to work hard to not always take a capitalist approach to ways to be sustainable. There’s a time and place where our money talks, and a time and place where our voices are far, far louder.
I think we all know what time and place we are in right now.