Environmental impact of fast fashion and material alternatives

eco-friendly clothing materials: wool & silk

Disclaimer: The pieces featured in the photo above are made of 100% biodegradable materials: wool & silk. The wool cardigan was provided by Minelal, and the cami provided by Frances Austen, for photo styling. This opinion piece is in no way affiliated with either of these brands, but I specifically chose to partner with them because of their use of eco-conscious material selection for these pieces.

It’s been a while since the last post, and there’s a good reason why. After reading the November 2017 issue of Fast Company, which sheds light specifically on tech + culture, one article in particular piqued my interest. Stella McCartney’s take on fashion and advancements in material technology were fascinating, specifically the environmental impact of fast fashion.

Did you know that polyester, one of the softest, cheapest, and most-used fabrics in fast fashion, is an environmental pollutant that can take up to 200 years to degrade? Even washing this fabric sheds synthetic microfibers into the ocean!

Now with this info in mind, here’s more food for thought: the fashion industry produces over 150 billion pieces of clothing each year, with 80 billion pieces being consumed by humans annually. Fast fashion has taught us that it’s ok to not invest in clothing; to constantly consume new pieces by paying less out of our wallets, but in the long run, pay for this consumption through the environmental impacts of throwing away materials that are not only environmentally harmful to produce, but also harmful when discarded.

The table below really highlights the advantages and disadvantages of natural vs synthetic materials:

natural-synthetic-fabric-properties
Source credit – 40+ Style: Properties of Polyester and Other Fabrics

With all of this said, there are some positive initiatives – even in the fast fashion space – that are doing good by advancing material technology through recycling and being more mindful of the environmental impacts of a clothing item’s full life cycle.

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Everyday backpack essentials

If there’s one thing about myself that I know to be true, it’s the fact that my need to be hyper-prepared for any situation is often what gives me an excuse to avoid working out. At the beginning of the Summer, I cataloged all of my workout gear, looked at my towel collection, and started to build the bare essentials that I could carry in a backpack on a daily basis (within reason) to encourage spontaneous workouts. For me, the essentials are:

1. water bottle
2. running shoes
3. towel

It’s important for me to feel prepared so that I don’t get in my own head and make up excuses for why I can’t work out. I’m not even talking about intense workouts, either. Being able to drop in to a yoga class or sneak or quick jog on the way into the office helps my body to feel refreshed. Why not reduce the hurdle of preparedness and make it possible to take better care of myself physically more often?

The water bottle was a no-brainer. Having a collection of a dozen or so free water bottles that I’ve collected as swag over the years means being able to stash one away in my backpack easily.

backpack-essentials-for-workouts

The running shoes are a different story. I’ve personally been a huge fan of Brooks (mainly because their HQ is in Seattle) and really love how they’re advancing with material technology. Every product in the Brooks catalog will break down information about materials and the tech behind them, which is truly fascinating for someone who likes to see how the tech and fashion worlds collide. The Revel Running shoes by Brooks are what I like to carry with me in my backpack. Sometimes they also double as my day-shoes (if I can choose to be a little more dressed-down) and are the perfect athleisure shoe.

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