Friday, February 17, 2012

One Year Anniversary!

Happy one year of eco-friendly fashion to me! Exactly one year ago I wrote my first entry for this blog, oh the memories! I’m summing up my thoughts on my eco-year, and looking at how my perspectives have changed and what I think about the future of eco-fashion.

What I felt and what I learned
The eco-fashion rules I placed on myself this year have been both easy and hard to follow at the same time. I compare it to being on a diet: you’re doing it because you know it’s good for you, but every time you make the decision to have the salad instead of the french fries, you get a little sad. You stick to your diet to reach your goal, but you know deep down that you can’t do it forever.

The fist rule that I took to heart was buying less clothing. This is probably the hardest rule, but also the most important. By taking a step back and asking “do I need this?” before making a purchase, it really is possible to cut back on wasteful purchases.  I taught myself to be able to look at a beautiful dress, check the label, see that it was made in China and/or non-organic, and then put it back down without trying it on. Sometimes it was so hard!  

Buying organic clothing was extremely difficult. Besides the Hempest on Newbury I didn’t find any physical stores that sold organic or sustainable clothing. There are a lot of small shops on the internet that sell fashionable clothing made of sustainable fabrics, but it is tricky to find them. I also hate buying clothes online since you can’t try them on first. So all things considered, didn't buy very much clothing that fit into this rule.  

I would say the easiest rule for me was buying second-hand clothing. It’s cheap, there are a lot of second-hand shops in Boston, and you can find interesting things. The only downside is that second-hand clothes are always a little worn. It just can’t compare to buying a new item. After wearing a lot of second-hand clothing I felt dingy and was dying to buy something new and fresh. I also think second-hand is usually not quite nice enough to wear to work.

I should have used the “buy nice, expensive, long lasting clothes” rule to buy my work clothes, but the truth is I’m cheap. Yep. I’m getting better at spending more for quality, I really am, but I still hesitate to spend a lot on a piece of clothing. I do find myself now, at the end of the journey, realizing that I need some nice, quality pieces for my work wardrobe. I will have to invest a little so that I can buy more professional pieces.

I didn’t sew enough of my own clothing this year. I was proud of the dress I made for my friend’s wedding, and I loved my Halloween costume, but I wish I had done more. It’s just really hard to find time to sit down at a sewing machine and create a garment from scratch. It’s something I need to work on, and I hope that with a little focused discipline I can start making more of my own clothes in the future.

In some ways I feel like I’m always re-using stuff I don’t want. Whether it’s making earrings from left over materials, reworking a unitard from middle school as a costume for my aerials show, or turning a dress I don’t wear into a skirt I wear all the time. I do see potential in things, and I try to make use of them instead of throwing them away. However, regarding my last rule, I didn’t get around to donating any clothing this year. I do have a bag of clothes in my closet that I’d like to bring to Goodwill. I’ll try to work on doing that in year two ;)

It was hardest to follow my rules when I needed to buy basic necessities like tights, socks, and underwear. For those kinds of items most of us have one brand we know and love and use all the time. It was difficult to start from scratch and find something eco-friendly. The other challenge was shoes. It’s great that we have a vegan shoe store in Porter (Sudo), however you can’t rely on one store alone. Shoes need to fit perfectly and they need to be the right style. My thought going forward on shoes is that quality is the way to go. When it comes to shoes, it really benefits to invest in a good pair.

How I'll approach fashion in the future
Overall it’s been both hard and easy to stick to my rules this year. I think I was able to do it because I had a short term goal to accomplish, but after going through this journey I've come to terms with the fact that I can’t live with the rules my whole life. 

Going forward I am still going to be very conscious of my clothing choices. I will try to stick to my rules whenever possible, and I will still stay away from fast fashion stores. I want to be a conscious consumer and think about where my clothing comes from and how it gets into my hands. 

My plan for the future is to find more small boutiques or designers (especially ones with sustainable fabrics) and buy from them whenever possible. When it comes to larger brands, if I buy from them I'll try to find ones that have green initiatives. They don't have to sell organic clothing, but if they are concerned about labor conditions or their carbon footprint, that's a good start. Finally, I’m going keep limiting the amount of clothing I buy. I've save a lot of money this past year by not going on shopping sprees once a month. I've proven to myself that having a lot clothing isn't really necessary. I can buy less overall, and instead spend a little more on each item - for more quality pieces. 

This journey has taught me a lot about the realities of living eco-fashionably. My conclusion is that right now it's not easy to incorporate eco-fashion into your wardrobe completely. When considering eco-fashion in the mainstream we need to be realistic. It won't change overnight and there is no magic solution. We need to start thinking about the impact of clothing and fashion, and try to make better choices in our personal lives, and then see where it goes...

I plan to still explore eco-fashion in this blog. I'd like to do more research about online stores and resources, and I'd like to look into new fabrics and new technologies. I also want to find out more about what's happening in eco-fashion throughout the world. And of course I'll continue to share my personal experiences as I go! 

Thanks for reading! 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Ellen, congratulations on your 1 year anniversary! I think your experience has also influenced me and my clothing/items purchasing choices. Particularly I now pay attention to where things are made and value a lot more local/small business items over cheap mass-produced ones, like ones made in China. I was sadden during this last trip we took to Brazil to see how much Chinese-made bad quality "stuff" is cluttering Brazilian stores, this was something that did not exist 2 years ago. On the other had, a lot more people can afford more "things" since they are so cheap. I've followed your blog and I can see the impact that this experience has had in your life. I feel happy reading the summary of your experience and I look forward to reading more! Good work. Gabby