Conscious Life & Style (@consciousstyle) is all about simple lifestyle switches and tips that anyone can make to become more sustainably aware. Tell us about Conscious Life & Style and what it means to you.
I created Conscious Life & Style years ago to prove that sustainable and ethical fashion could be stylish and appealing. Much has changed in the industry though, so over the years my goals have changed a bit and I'm much more focused on making sustainable fashion — and other areas of conscious living — more approachable and accessible. While the aesthetics in conscious fashion and the appeal of sustainable living have greatly improved, the accessibility remains a large barrier. So, I'm working continually to increase the access to this space by breaking down environmental topics that may seem complicated at the surface (such as regenerative agriculture), sharing inclusive brands (such as brands with size-inclusive clothing, BIPOC-owned brands, and brands with body-positive and representative photography), and discussing ways to participate in eco living and fashion without spending a lot — or any — money.
Can you explain the issue of unsustainable fashion and what our readers can do to help the problem?
The fashion industry and the textiles industry (which also includes categories like home goods) is a significant contributor to our environmental problems — in terms of both climate change and biodiversity loss. In fact, the textile industry emits 1.2 billion tons of CO2 equivalent per year — which is more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. (Source).
The apparel and footwear industries are also using an increasing number of non-renewable resources to produce synthetic materials and fibers, such as polyester. In fact, the textile industry used 330 barrels of oil to produce synthetic textiles in 2015!
There are many more stats illustrating the impacts of fashion, but before we get too depressed, let's talk about the ways we can take action!
- Most importantly, buy less and wear what you already have more! Even if your current garment is made from polyester, it's a more sustainable thing to do to keep it than to buy a brand new eco-friendly garment if you don't need it!
- Care for your clothes well. Not only will caring for our clothes well help them stay in good quality longer, but many of the ways to properly care for your clothes are environmentally-friendly too, such as washing with cold water as much as possible and air-drying your clothes instead of putting them in a dryer.
- Look for alternative ways to get "new to you" clothing. Try a clothing swap, borrow from a friend, shop secondhand on a site like Poshmark or ThredUp.
- After you've explored all other options and you want to buy new, prioritize purchasing from eco-friendly brands. There's a lot that goes into this, but read the brand's about pages and sustainability pages if they have them to get a good look at everything the brand is doing. The more specific details, the better! Also, look for what fabrics and materials are used. I prioritize recycled and upcycled materials whenever possible, and organic or low-impact natural fabrics are also a great choice (such as linen, hemp, and organic cotton). I have an Ethical Brand List on my blog with a huge list of brands that might be helpful!
Where did you find your passion for ethical clothing brands and what are some of your favorites?
I found my passion for ethical clothing when I watched the documentary The True Cost and was determined to find brands that were paving a better future for the fashion industry! Some of my favorite brands are Amour Vert, Made Trade, California Cloth Foundry, and for any Europeans reading, People Tree UK is a great option! And I love ThredUp for shopping pre-loved. I also browse The RealReal quite a bit, which is a designer resale site — though I haven't purchased from them yet, they have a lot of great high-quality deals on luxury fashion!
In what other ways have you been an activist in environmental and social issues?
While at first I mostly viewed my environmental actions as being conscious and thoughtful about my purchases — and I think that's a great place to start — I have broadened the way that I work to tackle these issues by doing my research and voting in alignment with my values, emailing representatives, signing petitions (and sharing those petitions with my audience), and donating to nonprofits doing the work on the ground to fight these issues.
Looking back, what advice would you give to your 16 year old self?
I would tell my younger self to listen to your gut about the issues in the world that anger you the most and follow your heart in what you feel are the ways you can take action to fight those issues. While the times you make different decisions from those around you are difficult, it's a crucial part of your journey towards becoming the person you want to be and towards finding your true purpose.
At Viv, we love to have a conquer more mentality- it pushes and encourages us. What does conquering even more mean to you?
To me, conquering even more involves not underestimating the impact we can make on the world by going step by step, day by day. It's essential to dream big, but it's even more important to just simply start taking action and to not let the fact that we might need to modify our course later deter us. We may make some missteps, and some days might feel like we're barely moving millimeters, but the most important thing is to keep the momentum, no matter how small each step feels. (But also, to take breaks! Because we can't be our best if we're burnt out and exhausted. Taking care of the earth must also involve taking care of oneself so we can give our all.)
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