Its Earth Day, whatcha gonna do about it?
On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans took part in demonstrations that became became known as the first Earth Day. On this day, large groups, comprising mainly of enlightened college students, took to streets and parks to spread awareness for a healthy, sustainable environment. Ahead of their times these groups had already been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories, toxic dumps, wilderness loss, and the extinction of wildlife. This day in 1970 helped gel together protestors, professors and politicians, and by the end of that year it led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.
Today, 47 years later you don’t have to protest in front of your local City Hall to make a difference on Earth Day, or any day for that matter. By now we should all be partaking in every day, sustainable activities, like embracing those famous “3 R’s” (Recycle, Reduce, Recuse. You remember them from high school, along with those annoying jingles) Recycling is basic bitch level. If you’re not already on board the Green train than Earth Day serves as your yearly reminder to get your sh*t together. Today is the one day a year when you will feel like crap if you forgot to bring your own bags to the grocery store.
If you cant seem to break your bottled water habit, and you like collecting plastic bags, perhaps there are other ways you can contribute to saving this planet? Ah so glad you asked. There are hundreds of ways, but since I usually chat about fashion on this blog lets stick to that for today.
That “fast fashion” that we all know and love is actually harming the planet more than your plastic grocery bag. Brands such as Zara and Forever21 are filling our landfills faster than you can say “This top was only $19.99”.
The average American contributes nearly 65 pounds of textile waste to landfills every year. That’s 13.1 Million Tons each year! It then takes 30-40 years for a cheap piece of nylon fabric to decompose. You may think you’re saving tons by buying many affordable, trendy pieces each season but the reality is, you will likely never even get a chance to be sick of that off the shoulder top before it falls apart at the seams. That may explain why consumers are buying SO MUCH fast fashion. According to Forbes, the U.S. apparel industry today is a $12 billion business.
Because curbside pick-up does not yet include textiles most people assume their orphan socks or pre-loved sweaters go straight into the trash. What most consumers do not know is that 20% of the clothing we are tossing is actually perfectly reusable. The rest can usually be donated (if its not torn) to charities that resell it or give to less fortunate woman and children.
In San Fransisco door to door collection is actually a reality. For several years now there has been a city wide collection set up in coordination with local charities to reuse or recycle their textiles. Although other major cities such as Toronto haven’t made it there yet many are trying. Until then if you wish to be sustainable there are steps you can take to recycle your used clothing.
If you’re lazy: You don’t ever have to leave your house, certain charities such as Clothesline for The Canadian Diabetes Association come to your home and retrieve the donation items free of charge.
If you love to shop: Some brands offer in store discounts for dropping off used clothing. H&M, Target, American Eagle, Levi’s, Patagonia, and many more, all participate in this sort of program.
If you’re into DIY: Yup I’m suggesting to make you own clothes or alter pre-used items to update them or make them fit better. This is not for everyone, or for me for that matter, but if you have the skill than go for it!
If you’re a hustler: Thanks to the World Wide Web and the thousands of apps we now have, you can sell any fashion item online in only moments. Snap a pic with your phone and upload it to an app like Trend Trunk, or Carousel and sell it for whatever amount you set, then meet up or mail the goods. Easy peasy.
If you’re generous: Let your friends and family “shop” your closet. Do a closet purge and invite friends over for some wine and free clothing. They may return the favour one day.
If you’re brave: Feel free to boycott those brands that sell a lower end product and appeal to the wear once, throw away mentality. I have already mentioned HERE about my decision to no longer shop at Zara.
Do you have any other ways to recycle or donate used clothing? Are there any “fast fashion” brands you have boycotted because of poor quality? Feel free to discuss below, and Happy Earth Day!