PHOTOS PROVIDED BY SARAH PARKER
It’s easy to shop online for clothes these days. “Fast fashion” has taken over what styles we see as being trendy and popular. Not only do these kind of brands churn out new styles frequently, but they also take almost no time to get to your doorstep. But the downsides of this are becoming more and more detrimental to the environment. With overproduction of merchandise, unfair conditions and wages for factory workers, and fabrics that don’t degrade quickly, fast fashion brands are… Unethical, to say the least.
Because we live in an ever-consuming society, sustainable but also affordable style is key to leading this new fashion revolution. But what exactly does sustainability look like in regards to fashion? Starting here in Columbus, there are a bevy of shops that take a more ethical approach to their production and distribution processes. Nearby boutiques that design with locally sourced materials and low distribution-related pollution in mind are Altre Wear, Hangar 391 and Small Talk.
There are also, of course, reliable thrift shops and secondhand stores like Goodwill, Rag-O-Rama and Out of the Closet that Columbus natives can visit when trying to reduce their clothing carbon footprint.
Beyond just clothing, the lens of sustainable fashion extends into shoes, accessories, water bottles, cosmetics, skincare, you name it.
Promoting this idea of green consciousness is a mission for brands like Milk Makeup and LUSH cosmetics, for example. They aim to create vegan and cruelty-free products, limiting their harm on the environment.
On the other hand, brands like H&M have programs where you can “donate” your gently-worn clothes and fabrics to them and then receive a small discount on your next purchase. You could say this is a baby step in the right direction, however this doesn’t do enough to negate or counteract the overwhelmingly wasteful mass production of new products by them and other companies.
Ohio State student Sarah K. Parker has been steadily contributing to the evolution of a more eco-friendly fashion industry. She sees that the industry is making progress, but she recognizes that environmentalist efforts such as using recycled materials in fabric are how to make a lasting change.
“As I began to age, I became more aware that fashion’s impact spans across many industries in an interconnected web of cause and effect,” she says. “Especially in terms of environmental impact.”
She cites a 2015 Penn State study when describing her inspiration to use alternative fabrics in her designs.
“It takes a whopping 1,800 gallons of water to cultivate enough cotton for one simple cotton tee. Don’t even get me started on jeans…One of the key synthetic fabrics that is used by fast fashion retailers is polyester and its primary ingredient is plastic.”
Because plastic takes decades to decompose, Parker has instead decided to use a recycled plastic material called Eco canvas to help lower the creation and impact of newer synthetic products. Additionally, her goal is to leave little to no fabric scraps left after construction.
With this in mind, there truly are a multitude of ways that we all (especially in the fashion industry) can cut back on such production and consumption.
To quote the 1975, who are reprinting new designs on their old unsold merchandise, “WAKE UP! WAKE UP! WAKE UP!”