5 TIPS FOR SHOPPING ETHICALLY THIS FESTIVAL SEASON
Despite its huge role in our everyday lives, the fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world. And yet that fact is rarely talked about in the festival community and default world alike.Opening up this conversation is essential if we are going to strive for eco-friendlier and ethical business practices within the fashion industry. At Lightning in a Bottle 2016, the High Love Vitality Elixir Lounge hosted a panel on ethical fashion where I learned some great tips on how to buy more responsibly.
“The only way to change something is to do it from the inside. Everything you consume is a vote,” said Jillian Black of Ritual, a brand dedicated to creating sustainable wearable art.
“The number one thing is awareness. Think about how many people read the ingredients on their food now, but most people don’t think about their clothing at all,” said Cassidy, also of Ritual.
These following brands are just a few examples of companies making a conscious effort to create and source ethical fabrics and materials, while giving back to their communities along the way.
Here are a few ways you can purchase amazing festie (and regular) clothing and accessories that reduce harm to our beautiful planet.
1. Inspect Your Fabric
Be conscious of what fabrics are used to make your garments and be mindful of where they are made. There are now a multitude of brands using P.E.T. fabric made from recycled plastic bottles. The process of making this fabric also uses 90% less water than the creation of polyester fabric. Teeki and Wolven Threads are just a few of the festival brands utilizing this technology.
“Sustainability has always been our foremost core value. Wolven Threads began as a line of organic cotton, hand-stitched clothing. When we started creating active wear and swimwear, we chose P.E.T. fabric to help keep plastic out of landfills. Beautiful clothing should not be created at the expense of our ecosystem,” said Will Ryan, Designer at Wolven Threads.
The bridge between technology and fashion is an important one. Teeki recently discovered that broken fishing nets can be re-purposed to create new nylon fabric. Lenzing Modal fabrics, made from beach wood tree pulp, save energy by sourcing the raw material and creating the textile fibers at the same site.
Heather from Teeki mentioned that consumers can also look for a Blue Sign certification certification on fabrics to know they are made ethically. Blue Sign’s goal is to link chemical suppliers, textile manufacturers, and brands together to foster a healthy, responsible, and profitable textile industry.
2. Buy Items Made from Recycled Fabric
Another great way to reduce waste is to purchase and create garments from fabric that already exists. Sahara Rose, founder of Eat Feel Fresh, was inspired to create Saraswati Couture during her travels in India. She came across a young girl who had never gone to school but spoke perfect English, despite being unable to read or write. She spent the day talking to her and her mother, about the danger they are in and how often young girls are kidnapped and sold into prostitution.
She bought some pants this young girl was selling on the beach, took a picture with her and left. The rest of the year, Sahara could not stop thinking about the young girl, her story and her beautiful smile. She felt she had to help this girl somehow, and the many others just like her. She decided to return to India and do whatever it took to find her again.
After showing her picture to hundreds of people, she found the young girl and asked her to take her to her village to see where the pants were made. Turns out, the village was buying unused high-end sari material to create these elegant pants. In that moment, Sahara knew she had to help spread this story, and Saraswati Couture was born.
Noralina Freedom, based in San Francisco, also uses recycled silk saris or surplus fabric to create all of their designs.
Catherine Andersen, designer of Cata’l (formerly Catoure) has created wearable art in the festival scene for years. Inspired by her own roots (part Viking and part Middle Eastern), her love for indigenous and ancestral arts, early 90s hip-hop, and the rave scene, which allowed “the break through of my inner freak at a young age,” her creations are truly one of a kind.
Impressed by the caliber of quality she found in vintage wares and methods that have been lost over time to the hands of mass production and industry-wide cost-cutting, she began selling dead-stock vintage. After attending Burning Man in the late 2000s, she began incorporating indigenous textiles and other components into her re-purposed garments.
“As much as I respect newly made clothing, I have also seen the effects of globalization and mass production. There’s a documentary, The True Cost, that exhibits this most effectively. Clearly, we have enough “stuff” in the world so recycling and reconstructing vintage has been huge in my art,” said Cat.
Cat was inspired to create drop-crotch pants out of vintage sweaters after jokingly trying on the sweaters upside down with a girlfriend one night. Using old sweaters from the likes of Coogi and Pendleton, these old-man leftovers became dope one-of-a-kind wearable art.
“I have been modifying the design as well as slowly making time to work my way into crocheting them in their entirety, drop crotch, butt flap, kangaroo pocket onesies, and all things great,” exclaimed Cat (email Catourecollections@gmail.com for custom orders).
3. Look for Ethically Sourced Fur and Leather
If you are going to wear leather or fur, make sure it is being sourced ethically.
Every piece from Ritual uses natural goat leather that is the byproduct of the meat industry in Indonesia.Every piece of the animal is used. Ritual also has an incredible waste exchange program where they will buy back your jacket (if you ever want to give it up) and give you store credit in return.
Ethical fur is also making waves in the mainstream due to Petite Mort Fur, a company that solely sources its fur from roadkill to make bespoke creations.
You can also always hit up your local thrift store to score vintage furs at deeply discounted prices.
4. Support Brands That Give Back
Companies that support causes in relation to their ethos and vision can really make a difference in the world. For example, it’s hard to go to a festival without spotting a Third Eye Pinecones booth and hundreds of participants sporting their wares. Along with this company’s beautiful designs, its energy and passion for the community runs deep.
Founder Carl Weiseth found a pinecone on a mountain top in Big Sur. That pinecone lived on his windowsill for over a year before he finally cut it open, and discovered the elaborate sacred geometry hidden inside. “The more I learned about the symbolism of pinecones throughout history [and] around the world, the more important it felt to share this offering with the conscious community,” said Carl.
For every pinecone pendant sold, a tree is planted. The company has an ongoing partnership with American Forests, the oldest tree-planting nonprofit conservation organization in the country. Since 1990, American Forests has planted more than 45 million trees! The nonprofit restores watersheds to help provide clean drinking water, and replants forests destroyed by human action and by natural disasters.
“These guys are highly-rated by all the non-profit watchdog organizations, which makes us feel great about giving to them and confident that each dollar we contribute goes directly to planting a new tree, rather than a bunch of bureaucratic overhead,like some of the other nonprofits we looked into when we were first starting this business,” said Megan, festival leader at Third Eye Pinecones.
Wolven Threads also donates 5% of each sale to UpRising Yoga, an organization that strives to bring yoga teachings to incarcerated youth and underserved communities, as well as young women who have been victims of human sex trafficking and domestic violence.
“The beauty of yoga is that you don’t need anything other than yourself, your mind, and your body to practice. Regardless of whatever painful circumstances life may present, yoga is a tool that will always be there to help you feel at home within yourself,” said Kiran Mukunda, founder and designer at Wolven Threads.
10% of proceeds for each pair of pants from Saraswati Couture go towards helping victims of sex trafficking, sexual abuse and rape in India.
5. Shine Responsibly!
In the last couple months, the use of glitter and face decoration has skyrocketed at festivals. Beautiful as it is, it’s unfortunately a massive problem for our environment, similar to microbeads. Glitter is polyester coated in aluminum with added pigments. Millions of pounds are sold annually and because it’s so fine, there is no way to responsibly dispose of the glitter – until now.
After witnessing the power of glitter brighten people from the inside out, Saba Gray has been on a mission to create biodegradable glitter that doesn’t harm the environment. Three years later, BioGlitz was born.
“Glitter is all inclusive, it brings people together. Passing the shine on is a beautiful thing. When you catch eyes with a stranger across the dance floor and you’re both wearing Glitz, you’re not strangers at all. You share something without having spoken a word,” said Saba.
Cosmetic BioGlitz is a glitter produced from a special biodegradable film that is certified compostable. The biodegradable element of the glitter is derived from sustainable sources, does not contain materials that are genetically modified, or materials obtained from genetically modified organisms. The trees used to create the biodegradable film are all sourced from The Forest Stewardship Council –certified suppliers.
“Even if you may not be an outwardly[eclectically dressed] person, you can appreciate some glitz. It could inspire you to dance a little harder, shine a little brighter, become more participatory and less observatory,” said Saba.
Find BioGlitz at Gratitude Migration Beach Festival in New York offering glitzy demonstrations, a panel on sustainable cosmetics, and BioGlitz products. You can also find the Glitz team at Symbiosis Gathering in “The Movable Boutique” – an Airstream trailer boutique focused on handmade artisan goods, jewelry, amazing one-of-a-kind sequined jackets, and artifacts made by women makers from around the world.
With these tips,dressing ethically this festival season and beyond is a snap.
Article written Tessla Venus Goodwin @glitterspies
Originally published June 8, 2016 on Fest300
Tessla is Fest300’s Senior Fashion Correspondent, see Fest300 link for more of her writings
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