Earth-friendly Fashion: a Movement, and a Mission

 

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When I walk into my local mall looking for a last-minute eco-friendly gift for a friend’s birthday, a wave of dread washes over me. I wish I could find natural hemp leggings or cute pair of fair-trade sandals—but instead I find an overwhelming selection of human rights and environmental horrors.

In one store there are racks of chemically dyed shirts. In another there are stacks of sweatshop-sewn blue jeans. I vow to next time to order an eco-friendly gift online. Frustrated and saddened, I leave the mall and instead buy her a Visa gift card.

Finding Earth-friendly fashion shouldn’t be this difficult. Clothing also shouldn’t be thought of as “disposable.” That’s why I’ve made it part of my mission to make it easier for people to access fairly, sustainably and beautifully made clothing. For the past several years, I’ve been working on a book explaining about sustainable and ethical clothing and where to find it (due later this year!), so people can appreciate more about what goes into making their garments.

Just last week Green Inside and Out co-presented its first film screening, The True Cost, an eye-opening (and tear-jerking) documentary that gives viewers a behind-the-scenes look of the fashion industry. The film was shown at the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington, NY.[1]

I’m blown away by the overwhelming positive support we received! Projected onto the screen of the packed 100-seat theater were villages in Asia polluted with toxic garment factory wastewater effluent; garment factory workers with missing limbs, burns and other injuries sustained on the job; piles of discarded clothing sitting in landfills. During the film, audience members squirmed in their seats, cried and shook their heads in disbelief. This, they realized, is the true cost of fashion.

We ended the film on a high note, inviting three pioneers in the eco-fashion industry to speak about what they’re doing to change the status quo. It was exciting to see members of the audience engaging with the speakers, Dominique Drakeford, eco-fashion consultant and CEO of Drakeford PR; Martin Maulawizada, founder of eco-fashion brand Afghan Hands; and Susana Colina, Venezuelan eco-luxe fashion designer.

After hearing from our speakers on where eco-fashion is headed, the audience joined them for an organic food reception, sustainable clothing sale and eco-fashion show! Nine models rocked the runway, wearing everything from bamboo workout get-ups and recycled fabric jeans, to fancy organic cotton dresses made with low-impact dyes paired with vegan shoes. It was, in a word, awesome!

We also featured 3 vendors: organic clothing by Indigo Apparel; Greener Country- a local vendor of eco-friendly products; and Nomi Network which sells clothes made by women survivors, and those at risk, of human trafficking in India and Cambodia, where many clothes are made.

I am so looking forward to the future of green fashion. While we have a long way to go to improve working conditions for garment workers and better the way we create clothing, things are steadily improving. Many organizations are working internationally to set higher standards and require more transparency. Positive change can’t be made without open-ness and education.

It’s media like The True Cost, people like our speakers; many model businesses doing the right thing, and events like this film screening/fashion show that raise others’ awareness of this big problem—so that they can take it upon themselves to make better choices as to how to spend their dollars.

Thank you for your continued support! #TrueCostMovie

For more on green fashion, listen to my WUSB radio show archive Friday 4/15/16. It focuses on why to choose sustainable clothing, what to look for, and where to find it. My guest is Jasmin Malik Chua, editor of the eco-fashion blog #‎Ecouterre‬! For more info see: http://www.greeninsideandout.com/radio/#.VwU33YwrJPM

[1] Thank you to event sponsors Stuart & Ginger Polisner.