Sustainability is the New Black Part 2: Recycling
by Lyric Willis
We compost our food stuffs to fertilize the garden. We recycle paper, which gets turned into coffee filters. We recycle wood, which gets turned into particle board. We recycle plastic bottles, which gets turned into other plastic bottles, but what about textiles? 70 pounds per person of textiles goes into landfills each year. Only 15% get recycled. And with fast fashion retailers on the rise that number is growing!
What’s wrong with fast fashion? Hey, I love a good sale where I can pick up an outfit that is on fleek. But, what I am talking about is the high quantity of cheaply made clothing that doesn’t last more than a season after its purchased. Seriously, how many times can you wash and wear that cute skirt from H&M before the seams start to break, the hem unravels and the fabric starts to pill … and then you have to throw it away? Buying quality clothes that have a longer lifespan is an effective way to reduce environmental waste, plus will keep you from having to buy clothes as often.
So you do all of these other things in order to reduce your carbon footprint and be environmentally responsible, but can you do about clothes? You can’t go around naked? Well you could, but you might be arrested pretty quickly. Consider purchasing pieces made from natural fibers like silk, linen or cotton. Organic natural fibers aren’t treated with harsh chemicals in the growing and dying process and thus are the easiest to be recycled, have the longest lifespan and also biodegrade, unlike manmade fibers. If you are unable to go the organic or natural route then consider buying clothing made from recycled fibers. Recycled polyester made from water bottles requires less energy than virgin polyester, which is a petroleum product. Like polyester, nylon is made from petroleum, a nonrenewable resource, and can be created from many forms of post-industrial waste; like fishing nets that are hazardous to marine ecosystems.
If you want to know how plastic bottles are recycled into polyester check out this video ...
There are a number of apparel companies that participate in the use of recycled fibers. Stella McCartney has been reshaping fashion since the early nineties using reengineered cashmere and ethically sourced wool, organic cotton, and recycled textiles. Eileen Fisher is also a designer passionate about disrupting the traditional production model utilized by most luxury fashion brands. She is known for her use of recycled fabrics and natural dyes in production, and has also created a signature fabric: Silk Georgette Crepe. It is a refined and relaxed textile dyed without hazardous chemicals. Other brands like Rag & Bone, Mara Hoffman, Doen, and the Aesthetik are also continuously taking action to improve the environmental footprint of fashion.
the Aesthetikby Stacy Williams strives to only use US made organic, natural, and/or recycled fibers. Sustainability and pushing boundaries is at the fore front of Stacy’s mission. In her spring / summer 2019 collection there are many different options. From the organic metallic linen and organic cotton eyelet, to the matte sequins made from recycled nylon fibers!
Living in the New York area has taught me so much in terms of how many people and businesses are turning to sustainable practices. There are options. Educate yourself on different brands that are working towards the improvement of sustainability in the garment industry in terms of what materials are being used and how much they are producing. Do research on where your clothes are going when you donate them, because even those that are not donated or sold still end up in landfills.
When you purchase a garment, consider asking yourself questions like these:
- Is this material easy to recycle, if not made of already recycled fibers?
- How is the quality?
- Is this something I can keep for a long time?
- Was this treated with harsh chemicals?
It’s an investment, not just for you, but your investment in a better environmental footprint from fashion. If you’re one to do it for the gram, then do this.
Peace & Love, Lyric
As a recent New York City transplant and an aspiring fashion designer, Lyric Willis is heavily influenced by gender fluid styles that put more emphasis on the sexy feminine side. She is currently freelancing as a blog writer to help make her dreams come true. In the words of the beloved Kanye West, “If the devil wears Prada, Adam and Eve wear nada. I’m in between, but way more fresher.”