• Fiona Chang


Last year, I began to find interest in sustainability, with a focus on businesses. After watching The True Cost on Netflix for a class, I was quite disappointed to see the lack of media coverage when it came to the flaws of fast fashion. The biggest example that stood out to me was the case of a factory falling to the ground that was predicted of yet ignored by the factory owner. Factory workers had continuously complained about the cracking walls and the lack of safety -- all of which were ignored, to keep operating prices low. This led to over a thousand deaths, not even mentioning the lack of normal pay that bind workers to the factories. It isn't just in the fashion industry, though -- Not long ago, a Walmart factory was exposed when a factory fire occurred. The "emergency exit" was fake - it was painted onto the walls, so there was no actual way for the workers to get out. Isn't it weird that we never hear about this? The clothes we wear, the items we buy, are all coming from such sketchy places.

I do highly recommend watching The True Cost. It's quite an easily accessible documentary, so you will definitely learn lots from it.

So how does this tie into the environment?

The low prices that companies sell their clothes for leads to massive amounts of waste. Trends come and go, and therefore so do clothes. The only way for these low prices to exist is a lack of normal pay for workers as well as factories that aren't so well built. Prison labor is also surprisingly rampant, but that is an issue all on its own. People buy so many of these clothes, because it doesn't seem to make too much of a dent into their wallet. Yet, so much trash is created once these clothes are "out of trend" or rip. Theses clothes aren't made to last - they're low quality, cheap items meant to last a season or two at best. From there, you can only imagine the amount of waste created from this. Just look at this graphic:

So yes, the amount of clothing waste a lot. And the environment is severly impacted from the amount of clothing in landfills.

Fast fashion may benefit some, but it comes with more costs than benefits. The environment and small businesses are all at risk because people are being accustomed to buying $5 clothes from massive companies like H&M. Just think about how the $5 price tag was created - labor, manufacturing, transportation included. Yet, a $5 is a markup so that companies can make a profit... a very large profit, which you can tell by just looking at the size of fast fashion companies. H&M is worth $18.82 billion.

Which has led me to this: I've tried to compile a list of brands that have been putting efforts into being Eco conscious, cruelty-free, and active in the community that you can support, especially smaller businesses. Not just active in the community right now, when Black Lives Matter can be seen everywhere, but businesses that have shown consistent support for people around the world. These are companies I either personally support or have heard great things about from family or friends.

First, buying second hand is the best way not to create any waste. After all, you're buying used. Check your local thrift stores, like Goodwill, or online at stores like ThredUp, Poshmark, and Depop. thredup.com, poshmark.com, depop.com

Levi's has been making moves towards sustainable denim. With the rise of BLM, they've donated $100,000 to Live Free USA, as well as the same amount to the ACLU. levi.com

Everlane specializes in the idea of transparency - showing their costs of production as well as the price they are selling the items for. They have most recently donated $75,000 to the Equal Justice Initiative, and another $75,000 to the ACLU. everlane.com

Kotn is a Canadian brand that specializes in cotton basics. Their tagline is "Premium Essentials, Ethically Made." They've donated to various organizations for Black Lives Matter. kotn.com

Afends is an Australian brand that specializes in Hemp clothing. They focus on transparency as well as high quality, sustainable materials. afends.com

Glossier is a beauty brand that has cruelty-free products that land on the minimal side and have hit the teen and millennial markets. They've donated $500,000 to various organizations while being vocal in supporting the Black Liv

es Matter movement. glossier.com

Kosas is a beauty brand that is owned by a person of color - Sheena Yaitanes. They believe in the idea that beauty is not just on the outside -- that there's the energy, mental, intellectual layers to beauty. They've donated $20,000 to multiple organizations to support BLM. kosas.com

Don't feel obligated to buy from these brands. Sustainability is expensive, but this is just one way of many that you can be environmentally friendly.

These are just a few brands of many. While the amount of money that a company donates does not truly show their support to a community, many of these businesses have been vocal since the very beginning - whether it be for pride (Happy Pride Month!), supporting women, or bringing up people of color. It's easy to see businesses that only say something when it becomes a "trend," when it truly benefits them. But with these businesses that have been defying old practices, I am happy to see them grow and wish them all the best.

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