Conscious Clothing Capsule Wardrobe

We are excited to introduce you to Lauren Koster! Lauren spent 12 years in the mainstream fashion industry. She designed beautiful products, but as she educated herself on the cost of fashion it began to weigh on her. Early in her career her lunch breaks were spent shopping in Midtown Manhattan. Later on she watched out her 34th Street office as Zara and H&M got new merchandise daily and saw the industry and her own consumer habits in a new light. Now, she focuses on intentional purchases, and creating a curated capsule wardrobe that offers maximum potential for outfit combinations. Lauren shares her favorite Conscious Clothing pieces and how she loves to mix them to create a chic, ethical capsule wardrobe.


FOR WORK

Lauren wears the Frida top with cropped wide leg jeans. This top is great because it can be worn untucked with jeans for a more casual everyday look or can be tucked in with trousers for a more polished look.

Conscious Clothing Capsule Wardrobe

FRIDAY DATE NIGHT

The Carmen in tencel is perfect for a night out. This soft fabric has a subtle sheen that can play off of denim or more rugged materials. It can also be worn with leather leggings or a pencil skirt for a dressier event. Here the top is paired with the Denim Kimono Jacket; we love this jacket as a perfect alternative to the classic blazer shape!

Conscious Clothing Capsule Wardrobe
Conscious Clothing Capsule Wardrobe

HOSTING A DINNER PARTY

For a special occasion our Georgia Dress stands on it’s own. The linen is breathable and the fit is relaxed! This is perfect for spending the afternoon prepping in the kitchen, and then shining as the hostess. We adore the subtle pop of color of ‘Clay,’ which Lauren is wearing here.

Conscious Clothing Capsule Wardrobe
Conscious Clothing Capsule Wardrobe

WEEKEND RELAXING

There is nothing better than lounging in the Woodland Jumpsuit. The hemp fleece is ridiculously soft. Lauren layers the jumpsuit with the Denim Surplus Jacket for an afternoon hike.

Conscious Clothing Capsule Wardrobe
Conscious Clothing Capsule Wardrobe

SHOP THE LOOKS


Vegan Thanksgiving Recipe Ideas

At our earth-conscious company, many of our employees opt for a meat and animal product-free lifestyle. The vegetarian and vegan options are endless but if a meat-eater is hosting this holiday, you may end up with gizzards in the stuffing, bacon in the Brussels sprouts and butter butter everywhere. Of course we, who choose to abstain from many of the traditional Thanksgiving dishes, still want to partake in the joys and celebration of food this holiday season. Our employees rounded up some of our favorite meatless recipes that are sure to please even the biggest steak-lover.


ROASTED VEGAN THANKSGIVING BOWL


Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes - Conscious Clothing

ONE HOUR VEGAN POT PIES


Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes - Conscious Clothing
Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes - Conscious Clothing

VEGAN GRAVY


Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes - Conscious Clothing

VEGAN MASHED POTATOES WITH ROASTED GARLIC


Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes - Conscious Clothing

VEGAN BUTTERNUT SQUASH STUFFED SHELLS


Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes - Conscious Clothing

WILD RICE MUSHROOM STUFFING


Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes - Conscious Clothing

GLUTEN FREE VEGAN DINNER ROLLS


Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes

SALTED CARMEL APPLE PIE


Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes - Conscious Clothing

VEGAN PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE


Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes - Conscious Clothing

10 Ways to Reduce Waste This Holiday Season

Over 6 million tons of waste will be created this holiday season. Households will create 25% more waste between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Trash from shipping and gift wrap alone makes an additional 4 million tons of waste. 2.65 billion Christmas cards are printed each year. That is enough to cover an entire football field 10 stories high! 30 million Christmas trees and nearly a quarter of our food ends up in landfills. According to a national survey, 60% of people receive unwanted gifts and 70% would welcome less emphasis on gifting and spending. We know we are a consumer company, but we want to live up to our name and be conscious consumers. For our part, our quality garments are built to last, our fabric is eco and sustainable and we don’t use plastic in our shipping! In this post, we’ll be sharing more ways to reduce your waste this holiday season.

10 Ways To Reduce Waste This Holiday Season

Give Experiences

Instead of buying lots of gifts with little meaning, opt to give experiences. Anything from a nice dinner, to a day at the museum, to tickets to the ballet or a football game can become a meaningful gift and a wonderful way to be present with the receiver. Plus, you eliminate the shipping and the gift wrap.

10 Ways to Reduce Waste This Holiday Season - Give Experiences

photo: Elle


Use Gift Wrap Alternatives

As thrifty as we are here with our cutting, we end up with extra beautiful fabric. We can’t wait to try out the Furoshiki, the Japanese art of wrapping, using our fabrics scraps. Some other ideas to reduce gift wrap waste include using old maps, magazines, newspapers and miscellaneous craft scraps. You can reduce tape by using twine and opting for compostable branches or springs instead of ribbons or bows.

10 Ways to Reduce Waste This Holiday Season - Gift Wrap Alternatives

via: Eyeswoon


Use Zero Waste Decorations

This time of year nearly every store has multiple aisles of decor dedicated to holiday decor, which equals a lot of waste! Try shopping second hand instead. You can find some gems at thrift shops or shop curated collections at antique shops. Don’t underestimate items found in nature or even around the house. Branches shine when placed in vases around the house and clothes pins with recycled bags make a perfect advent calendar.

10 Ways to Reduce Waste This Holiday Season - Use Zero Waste Decor

Utilize Stockings

When giving small gifts utilize the stockings so each item does not have to be individually wrapped.

10 Ways to Reduce Waste This Holiday Season - Utilize Stockings

Recycle Last Year’s Cards

Last year’s Christmas cards can be used to make holiday crafts like these ornaments, gift tags, bunting or even paper dolls. See more ideas here.

10 Ways to Reduce Waste This Holiday Season - Recycled Ornaments

Bring Out The China

We know dishes are annoying, but so is the additional holiday party waste in landfills and oceans. Have fun styling your table and opt for washable dish ware and reusable napkins and tablecloths.

10 Ways to Reduce Waste This Holiday Season - Skip the Paper Plates and Napkins

photo: Carley Rudd / design: Jenni Kayne / via: Chalkboard Mag


Regift

This is a tough one, but the age old troupe is true: one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. Give thoughtfully and with discretion. A nice idea would be to add a little something handmade or new to make it extra special.

10 Ways to Reduce Waste This Holiday Season - Regift

Opt For a Real Tree & Compost It When Finished

If possible, choose a potted tree. A smaller, potted tree can be just as festive as a cut tree. Plus, you can plant it yourself or donate it to a local tree-planting group! If you can’t find a potted tree, buy a real tree and compost it when finished. Find a local composting service to pick it up. Finally, artificial trees are often made from PVC, which off-gasses toxic chemicals into your home. If you do go with an artificial tree, make sure you choose one that’s nontoxic.

10 Ways to Reduce Waste This Holiday Season - Opt for a Potted Tree

Make Consumable Gifts

Start collecting jars now and make consumable gifts like this granola, which the receiver can use and then reuse the jar. Search Pinterest for endless consumable gift ideas like food, soap, beauty or cleaning products.

10 Ways to Reduce Waste This Holiday Season - Give Consumable Gifts

Skip the White Elephant Swap

I don’t want to be the wet blanket, but with the amount of waste that is already created during the holiday season, a game with the object of giving the most cringe-worthy gift does not make any sense. Instead be a conscious consumer and give something you know the receiver will use and enjoy.

10 Ways to Reduce Waste This Holiday Season - Opt out of a White Elephant Exchange

photo: Style Me Pretty


Do you have other ideas? Please share in the comments!

Holiday Pop-up Shop

We have had so many of you reach out and ask where you can try on Conscious Clothing styles locally. We are so excited to announce that we are having a few pop-up shops around the Grand Rapids area. The first is this Sunday, November 4th at Brewery Vivant. Come have a beer, see the clothes in person, feel the fabric quality and get a jump on your holiday shopping!


Conscious Clothing creates sustainable handmade clothing, using eco friendly and low impact materials.

If you can’t make it out on Sunday, don’t worry! We have three pop-up shops scheduled this holiday season.


  • 11/24 - Small Business Saturday Pop-up at OMG Yoga - 251 Northland Dr NE, Rockford, MI 49341

  • 12/21 - Gemini Handmade - 963 Cherry St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506 (new location opening 11/20)

From fields to fabric

by Joshua Newman

The harvest moon a few days ago marked an official beginning to autumn here in Michigan, and the bright, glowing moon shines for multiple nights to offer farmers just a gleam more of daylight as they harvest their crops. Autumn is often the time that we reference harvests as it has historically been the time of year that our food crops are ripe and ready for picking. Of course, with today’s global shipping industry and the peak of food production science, the seasons hardly effect the availability of our favorite fruits and vegetables. However, food isn’t the only resource we grow in fields.

“. . .polyester and nylon are both derivatives of petroleum. Synthetic fabrics are. . .a product of the oil industry.”

At Conscious Clothing we strive to use fabrics that are as sustainable and natural as possible. In fact, all of our fabric is sourced from natural materials and, excluding our silk and wool, all of our fabrics are plant-based. The fabrics we use are free from many of the synthetic materials and chemicals commonly used to treat apparel. If you didn’t know: polyester and nylon are both derivatives of petroleum. Synthetic fabrics are not only a product of the oil industry, but also require chemical-heavy processes to produce, and don’t break back down by natural means, just like any other plastic.

 Plant-based fabrics

Plant-based fibers are derived from renewable materials and, when free of chemical-heavy treatment, are able to decompose via organic processes to be returned to the soil, able to grow new plants. It is vital to our business model that in creating products, we are not contributing to the excessive consumption and waste of our society. The reason our clothing is different is because its durable enough for lifetimes, but not an eternity and when its usable lifetime has passed, it will slowly disappear to leave behind exactly what was intended: nothing.

The three main plant-based fabrics we use at Conscious Clothing are linen, cotton, and hemp. The production processes for these plants differs slightly. Cotton is probably the most familiar plant to people. It’s flowers form a bur, which is the soft, fluffy part that we extract the fibers from. This fuzzy ball contains the seeds, which are removed via the ginning process, and the fluff is then carded, combed, and spun into yarn for fabric.

An additional factor to cotton production is “organic” label. Organic cotton is just as water-intensive as regular cotton, but organic cotton is grown while avoiding chemical-heavy pesticides and genetically modified organisms. Using organic fertilizers and biological pest control methods can help keep the process of growing cotton from contributing to land and water pollution through chemical runoff.

 Our Denim Kimono Jacket uses organic cotton from Rawganique. Pictured in Indigo

Bast fibers like our linen and hemp aren’t so straightforward. While cotton fibers grow fruit-like, held out and prime for picking, bast fibers must be extracted from the stem or stalk of the plant. The stalks of the plants are either cut or pulled up from the ground to undergo a process called retting. Retting uses moisture to soften the tissue around the fiber, and then the stalks are threshed to separate the fibers from the rest of the plant material. The process of hackling combs the long fibers out before they are finally spun into yarn for fabric.

“Hemp and linen are also excellent bast fibers because they don’t require chemical fertilizers or pesticides, little energy and water, and all parts of the plant are used.”

Hemp and linen are also excellent bast fibers because they don’t require chemical fertilizers or pesticides, little energy and water, and all parts of the plant are used. Unlike cotton, the rest of the hemp and flax (linen) plants are used to make products like linseed oil, cattle feed, soap and fuel. The seeds are an incredible source of protein and are used in many human dietary supplements.

 Fabrics can be naturally colored instead of dyed to save the use of dyes, mordents, and chemicals

While cotton’s softness is unmatched, it is a very chemical- and water-intensive crop. Fabrics like hemp and linen can be “cottonized” or brushed to soften the fabric’s texture and cotton can be mixed with less resource heavy fibers like hemp to produce a more durable product that’s just as soft.

These plants allow us to find comfort and protection in the soft, warm shelter of our favorite garments. They offer us durable, sustainable alternatives to the synthetic-heavy fast-fashion machine and prevents us from contributing to the plastic waste problem. When we are conscious of the options placed before us, we can choose not only what is best for our needs, but the needs of future generations, and of the well-being of the planet. Plant-based products like our clothes are truly sustainable because they participate in the natural cycles of the Earth. Participate consciously.

Fall fabrics made to suit

by Joshua Newman

Fall is here. The end of Labor Day turns our attention to the leaves as we anticipate their brilliant show of color. Some of us scramble to squeeze last-minute outdoor adventures into the warm weather, and others are quick to reach for knits and mulled wine. While the battle of the seasons is never over, autumns arrival is inevitable and stunning. If you don’t live somewhere where the leaves change, taking a trip just to see it would be worth it. Yellows, reds, and oranges rise over rooftops in a display that’s as stunning as a sunset.

Places like Michigan require a keen knowledge of layers to build clothing ensembles that allow for the addition and removal of items, all while maintaining a uniform style. As autumn/winter fashion shows approach their dates on the calendar, many people are eager to grow their wardrobes with new styles and are excited to layer lush knits with stiff wool tweed. Although style, fads, and trends will be the focus of the major fashion shows to come, we at Conscious Clothing remember that durability and natural quality are as imperative to the fashion landscape as the trends.

Just in time for the fall fashion frenzy is our new autumn lineup which features natural minimalism that sews mindfulness and taste together. This week, we’re going to highlight a few of our favorite new items and  information about their production.

Our Denim Kimono Jacket wraps and ties to fit your unique body shape. The 100% organic cotton is a heavy denim weave for ultimate durability and a crisp drape. The fabric is produced by an amazing company called Rawganique without the use of pesticides, and is dyed naturally without chemical mordants or fixatives. The non-GMO cotton plants are raised in Europe and woven without the use of sweatshops and other forced human labor.

The Eclipse Parka is a more casual outerwear option for those looking to stay warm and dry this autumn. The waist tie not only keeps out those chilly drafts, but helps hug at the midline for your ideal fit. The shell is composed of a unique hemp/wool blend that combines the durability and breathability of hemp with the softness of cotton and the weight of wool. Available in navy and black, this jacket stays the chill without holding the damp, and hangs to the thigh to keep the draft away from your waistline.

The Selene Silk Wrap Dress uses a wrap and tie fixture to make sure all body types fit just the way they should. The Selene uses a simple design, but pairs it with luxurious raw silk for an elegantly adorable knee-length wrap dress. Raw silk is a much more sustainable alternative to regular silk that forgoes chemical refining process and embraces the beauty of nature’s imperfection. Silk is incredibly resistant to both pilling and static, unlike many synthetic fabric options, and is incredibly thin when compared to other natural fibers. Despite the thinness, this fabric is surprisingly well insulated for when those summer nights shift to autumn ones.

These light, breathable pants utilize a wrap and tie waistline that allow a customizable fit higher or lower at the wearer’s discretion. The textured cotton is both visually and tactually engaging, made of medium wight, ultra-soft cotton that has a light drape and moisture-wicking breathability.

The New Moon Tunic is the perfect layering staple that pairs seamlessly with your favorite slim leg or stands alone as a cute shirt dress. The lightweight tunic is the perfect base layer for your autumn lineup coming in a variety of colors and even two different fabrics. Available in our raw silk, this tunic sheens brilliantly and drapes with the breeze. As a new addition to our fabrics, the New Moon Tunic is also available in herb and fog Tencel. Tencel, known generically as Lyocell, is similar to rayon in the way it uses cellulose from plants to build a fiber. However, lyocell uses a different spinning technique that is much more sustainable to produce. In addition, Lyocell is lightweight, but more durable than other cellulosic fibers and is known for being soft and lustrous.

These garments were created with the intention of providing strong, stylish clothing at the smallest possible cost to the Earth. At Conscious Clothing, we take advantage of nature’s materials, and avoid polluting them with unnecessary chemical dyes or treatments because clothing has an intimate relationship to your skin. We want our clothes to fit many body types, and our new fall collection takes advantage of wrap-style garments to allow for the most customizable fit possible.

“These garments were created with the intention of providing strong, stylish clothing at the smallest possible cost to the Earth.”

Humans can never be better designers than nature, but we can take what nature’s given us and produce products that are conscious not just about what looks and feels good, but also of the costs to our planet as we use its resources. We strive to take advantage of renewable materials that will outlast the trends of fast fashion, and to mold nature’s materials into a variety of clothing options that you not only feel good in, but feel good about.

Aiming for Change

by Joshua Newman

Human interference with Earth’s cycles takes a toll that threatens survival for many of Earth’s organisms including humanity itself. Natural scientists and environmental enthusiasts around the world would agree that Earth’s biodiversity is one of it’s most beautiful features, but the endangered species list grows while our society actively threaten the habitats and food chains that sustain Earth’s delicate balance.

 Our Luna Wrap Dress in Curry, photo by Jeen Na

"It’s not just the one time you threw a wrapper on the ground, it’s the billions of people who did it one time that puts a billion plastic wrappers into the ground."

The longer environmental science is around, the more we are able to understand what activities and behaviors have a negative impact. Regardless of where you live, it’s becoming more important than ever to begin paying attention to the little things: the kinds of plants you put in your garden can help the dwindling bee population and the kind of soap you wash your car with can affect the organisms in your lawn.

Defensive logic such as “What is one person going to change?” or “It’s just this once” enable not just individuals, but society as whole to stall change. A major inconsistency with this frame of mind is that no-one is the only one. It’s never a single individual with this mindset, it’s millions. It’s not just the one time you threw a wrapper on the ground, it’s the billions of people who did it one time that puts a billion plastic wrappers into the ground. It’s both a collective and individual responsibility to maintain our natural world.

Environmental conservation groups such as The Nature Conservancy work to call for corporate responsibility and protect natural resources like water. However, since Trump entered the oval office, there has been significant backlash against environmental organizations and even the scientists and researchers studying our planet.

The power to drive change has shifted, more than ever, to individuals and consumers. The government is now rolling back endangered species protections, importing dangerous chemicals such as asbestos, and defunding government agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency. We can’t rely on the government to change things for us, we have to do it ourselves.

As consumers, the kinds of products we spend our money on directly influences the kinds of products that are made. The demand for a product, and the money spent on it, drives its manufacture and availability. With governmental and private environmental groups weakened due to the current political climate, corporations are being freed of many responsibilities to society and the environment, leaving their only concern to be profit.

 We've designed our latest collection in durable, long-lasting fabrics and neutral colors to help your wardrobe stay in style and in your closet.

"The single-use lifestyle needs to be challenged and defeated by products and habits that work in tandem with our natural world..."

To encourage large businesses to produce sustainable products, there has to be a flow of money from consumers to sustainable businesses to demonstrate the viability of the market. Of course, our influence isn’t limited to our buying power, but also political and social involvement. You can vote for political candidates who support environmental conservation, or you can volunteer for groups like The Nature Conservancy to help out on the local level.

It’s important for us as consumers to understand the kinds of materials products are made of and what happens to our belongings once we dispose of them. The single-use lifestyle needs to be challenged and defeated by products and habits that work in tandem with our natural world, so that we can form a symbiotic relationship with our home, rather than a parasitic one.

There are a number of resources online such as this water use quiz and GoodGuide that can help you understand how your habits and products impact the people, places, and things around you. Take the initiative to learn about your favorite products and companies, the manufacturing processes behind them, and what the materials can be used for after disposal.

In fact, the first of this month marked another perilous milestone of the modern age: Earth Overshoot Day. Earth Overshoot Day is the day of the year that humans have used more resources than can be replenished in that year. As you can imagine, it annually gets closer and closer to January. Essentially, this means that after August 1, every resource being used is being pulled from future generations. This includes everything from water to food, to fiber for clothing.

The stem of the problem isn’t the production of these goods, but the consumption of them, and the rate at which these items go from being considered “goods” to being considered “waste.” Obviously resources like food are a one-time deal, they are automatically reduced to waste as our bodies process the nutrients out of them. However, with products like clothing, the conversion of them to trash has nothing to do with their functionality, but only our perception of them.

 Denim Kimono in Natural, photo by Jeen Na

"Earth Overshoot Day is the day of the year that humans have used more resources than can be replenished in that year."

Seeing as it’s the new moon, a time for new beginnings, perhaps you can take a look at your shopping lists and budgets for the rest of the month and consider what you plan to consume, what’s necessity, and what’s desire. Maybe the jacket you plan to replace can actually be repaired, or maybe the shirt that’s stained can be dyed or embroidered. It doesn’t take a sewing machine or technical know-how to come up with solutions. Internet communities like forums and databases such as YouTube can help teach you skills or give you ideas that you might actually enjoy implementing.

Of course, that’s not to say society should stop purchasing altogether. If that were the case, the economy would grind to a halt. Instead of making only inexpensive purchases, focus on quality and construction. It’s about getting your money’s worth, purchasing something that will outlast trend culture and express your unique taste for years to come. There’s never a better time to change spending habits, because change is never going to be convenient. If we can join forces as a community to change our habits and protect our natural environment, maybe we can avoid Earth Overshoot Day altogether.

Linen beats the heat

by Joshua Newman

Summer is a favorite season for many people. It’s easy to see why, especially for those with a proclivity to the outdoors. Summer provides a boom in nature’s activity and also in our involvement with nature. For us in temperate climates, summer is the only season for hiking to a secret camping spot, or lazing a day away at the beach.

 Our linen Ranch Dress at the Silver Lake Dunes

Our linen Ranch Dress at the Silver Lake Dunes

"A common theme of more recent summers all around the world has been record-setting heat..."

The summer heat also comes with its downsides, and downsides are slowly increasing as a result of global warming, threatening the stability of nature’s systems. A common theme of more recent summers all around the world has been record-setting heat, and while we’ve known about global warming for years, the rise in temperature is just the tip of an iceberg of consequences.

Not all of these natural consequences are set into motion, but only our actions in the present can determine the future, and it’s hopeful that there is a steady rise in sustainable life choices. As many of us in the sustainable market know, the sustainable answer isn’t always the most effective answer, and it usually takes a bit of research to find a product that fits your need without chipping away at the environment.

In weather like this, heat waves can cause us to seek practicality and function over long-term impact. Products like Dri-FIT polyester sports shirts and other synthetic sportswear become very attractive because of their ability to dry quickly in sweaty times like these. However, just because a material is dominating the market doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best option.

If you haven’t seen on our social media, Conscious Clothing has released a men’s shirt that is a great example of products that are both functional and sustainable. The new shirt is a long-sleeve with forward point collar and brass snaps. The most exciting part is it’s made of all-natural lightweight linen.

 Our Men's Shirt in Sage

Our Men's Shirt in Sage

"... linen wicks moisture away from your skin and into the air, similar to how Dri-FIT fabrics work, without the plastic..."

Linen is a fabric made from the flax fiber. Flax plants are much easier to grow than typical plant-based fibers like cotton because they are naturally insect resistant and don’t require water-intensive irrigation. The plants can be treated through chemical-free processes to produce a soft, durable fabric.

 A detail of our Men's Shirt in Truffle

A detail of our Men's Shirt in Truffle

This warm weather is perfect for linen garments because linen is hygroscopic, absorbing up to 20% of its weight in moisture to release into the air around you. In short, linen wicks moisture away from your skin and into the air, similar to how Dri-FIT fabrics work, without the plastic. Linen doesn’t trap air or moisture, providing cooling airflow through the garment. Linen is also lint-free, doesn’t pill, and releases stains easier than cotton. If you’re worried about durability, linen is three times stronger than cotton, perfect for your roughest outdoor hobbies.

 A flax field in late summer

A flax field in late summer

"Flax plants are much easier to grow than typical plant-based fibers like cotton because they are naturally insect resistant and don’t require water-intensive irrigation..."

If you’re excited about linen fabric, check out our full women’s line which includes a number of linen choices to help you feel fresh during the heat and humidity of this summer.

Here are some of our favorite linen picks for the summer:

https://www.consciousclothing.net/shop/the-mens-shirt

https://www.consciousclothing.net/shop/organic-linen-fresco-dress

https://www.consciousclothing.net/shop/origami-dress

Weekly Wear: From Yoga to Lunch

We're finally in the dog days of summer -- early mornings and late nights, the days are so long! And boy is it hot and humid here in Michigan... get away with staying cool and looking great by mixing some of our yoga line with our cooling spring linen line!

Conscious Clothing creates sustainable handmade clothing, using eco friendly and low impact materials.

We love the color blocking effect of our Yoga Bralette in Wine paired with the Kahlo Pants in Clay. Such a warm, summery combo! If cool tones are more your thing, wear the same styles in Shibori and in Sky! Pair with Yoga Shorts underneath and take this outfit all the way through your coffee shop stop, morning yoga class, to the lunch plans you've made for afterwards. The days are hot and sunny enough to get away with it! Not that you need an excuse to wear ethical ;)

The Deeper Issue of Plastic

by Joshua Newman

Plastic is one of our favorite materials. Since its inception, we’ve tried making almost everything we have out of it. We’ve used plastic to make houses, cars, clothes, furniture, and even jewelry. Plastic has proven to be an extremely useful material for a number of reasons. First, it’s cheap to produce. Second, it can be molded into almost any shape or structure. It can be extruded into fiber, or molded into an object. Plastic can be used as an insulator and is also good for waterproofing. Plastics can be developed for a range of strength and durability. It sounds like plastic would be an ideal material for everything, but there’s a major issue facing its use.

 image via EcoWatch

Due in large part to it’s cheap production costs, plastic is used rather carelessly for any number of products we need A LOT of. Things like straws and containers are a huge consideration in the problem facing plastic use because the material is far more durable than the lifetime of the products it composes. The convenience and cheap costs of polymers have overshadowed the logic and reason behind manufacture and considerations like service life vs product life aren’t taken into consideration because it’s more expensive to make products that are biodegradable.

What truly counts as cost? Is it just money? Is loss of biodiversity a cost? What about the water that can no longer be drunk? Does the air quality count as a cost when it’s no longer breathable? The immediate cost to you as consumer is money, of course, but an informed, conscious consumer is aware of the other costs that wasteful behavior affords us.

Beyond the issue of plastic objects left behind after use, there is another category of plastic pollution that’s gaining traction: microplastics. Microplastic is a rather new term that began to gain attention after the use of plastic microbeads in many face and body washes. The beads were added for exfoliation, but a problem was brought into view when it was realized that the beads would not be caught by filtration systems and washed into the ocean. With World Oceans Day on June 8 of very year, there’s not a better time to pull everyone’s attention to such an important environmental issue.

"an informed, conscious consumer is aware of the other costs that wasteful behavior affords us"

 image via verdict.co.uk

In the textile and apparel industry, we face a different microplastic issue stemming from the fibers of garments themselves. It is well known that fibers and fabrics degrade over time, and everyone has experienced some kind of lint during their washing responsibilities. However, lint never presented much of an issue because as far as we’re concerned, the fabric is breaking down and the lint will continue to do so and go away.

In part this is true, but only for natural fibers that decompose. In the case of man-made fibers like nylon and polyester, the lint is produced by small pieces of fiber that are broken off from the larger strand. This can occur simply out of use and maintenance (washing) of the garment as fibers are weakened. These synthetic fibers are ultimately the material we modern Earth-dwellers have come to use in everything: plastic.

"The plastic straws your grandparents used at the soda fountain are likely floating somewhere in the ocean, under the sand, or have been consumed by sea life"

These tiny little plastic fibers are not capable of the natural process of decomposition and continue to exist, even though they may break further into smaller pieces of fiber, they will still take as long as say, a water bottle, to completely degrade naturally. This process takes 500-1000 years. That’s not a typo. The plastic straws your grandparents used at the soda fountain are likely floating somewhere in the ocean, under the sand, or have been consumed by sea life.

 image via montereybayaquarium.org

In the case of microfibers, however, the pieces of plastic are so small that they’re accidentally ingested and inhaled by sea creatures, often ending up in seafood products we serve back to humans. The plastic pollution isn’t just bad for the environment and the animals, it’s bad for us too, and it’s making its way back to our plates.

Even though most plastics can be recycled, the way they’re produced and made into a product can heavily impact their ability to be recycled. In the fashion industry, we make it nearly impossible to recycle synthetic fibers because of the way we mix different fibers together. Cotton and polyester are an excellent example of this practice because almost all t-shirts, socks, and underwear are some kind of polyblend. This practice allows garments to have the soft, luscious feel of cotton with the strength and cost-effectiveness of polyester.

In effect, it’s like using polyester as an adulterant to “water down” the cotton and to make the garment cheaper to produce. However, because of the way the fibers are mixed, we haven’t yet come up with a viable solution for separating them into two separate recyclable materials. Often times, this results in garments ending up in landfills. This is hardly a solution to the problem, of course, because the polyester in the clothing can’t break down naturally in the soil and will remain in place for millennia.

At Conscious Clothing, we’re dedicated to relying almost exclusively on natural fibers. In fact, only our yoga line contains synthetic fiber and at a measly 4% of fiber content. 96% of our yoga line, and 100% of the rest of our clothing can be broken down by natural processes and returned to a raw state for reintegration into the soil.
 

 In addition to our commitment to natural fibers, we also make an effort to reduce plastic waste by using 100% recyclable packaging materials.

"The most important way to reduce your impact is to watch what plastic you bring into your household and where it goes"

In addition to your conscious apparel choices, there are a number of things you can do to help reduce plastic’s impact on the ocean and it doesn’t stop with ditching plastic straws and washing synthetic fabrics less. Organizations like 4Ocean, Surfrider Foundation, 5 Gyres, and Oceana can be supported through volunteering and donations. 4Oceans even sells beaded bracelet made from plastic taken out of the ocean.

The most important way to reduce your impact is to watch what plastic you bring into your household and where it goes. Maybe you can buy a product that’s packaged in paper, or ditch plastic water bottles for one that refills. Grow a collection of adorable totes that you can take to the grocery store to avoid plastic grocery bags. The current era is one of transition, and while change is never easy, it’s trendsetters like you who show those around you just how simple (and glamorous) it is to be green.

Sources:

https://4ocean.com/products
https://www.surfrider.org
https://www.5gyres.org
https://oceana.org

Weekly Wear: Beach Weekend

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!! It's the unofficial start of summer and weekends at the beach. We wanted to put together a little beach style inspiration this week. We're so excited to dig our swimsuits out of storage!

 Revolution Dress in Concrete, Petoskey Pants in Stripe, and our canvas tote!

We love the look of the Revolution Dress when it isn't snapped closed! It makes a great, quick-drying layering piece to wear before or after a swim. Pair it with the nautical Petoskey Pants in stripe for a put together look that's perfect for a restaurant patio or an ice cream parlor. Of course we love the whole outfit, but wearing the Revolution Dress on its own, or the Petoskey Pants just with your one-piece, are great looks by themselves too! Throw anything you're not wearing, plus your sunglasses and sunscreen and beach reads, into a big canvas tote. Call us biased, but we like the one with our signature scissors on them the best!

Shop now:

Revolution Dress
from 160.00

Weekly Wear: Spring Transitions

The middle of May is always a tricky part of the season. The mornings are still cool but the afternoons are hotter than ever! It can be tough figuring out what to wear these days. How can you stay comfortable all day when there is such a range in the weather?

We love our Backyard Tunic for its versatility!

 Backyard Jumpsuit in Sage, Dropcloth Shawl in Charcoal

In the morning, pair your jeans with the Backyard Tunic and add a scarf, like our Dropcloth Shawl! It's just the right amount of cozy and comfortable for a cool spring morning. We paired it all with mules to complete the look. Cute and casual, but put together.

 Backyard Tunic in Sage, styled with mules and a sunhat

In the afternoon when the sun gets stronger, simply take off your jeans and wear the Backyard Tunic as a dress! Keep the mules, ditch the scarf, roll up the sleeves a bit, and add a sunhat! Your look has transformed, you won't overheat, and you can even wear it through the rest of the afternoon and into the evening for a dinner date (but maybe keep your scarf around when the sun goes down!)

Shop Now:

Backyard Tunic
from 150.00

The high price of cheap labor

by Joshua Newman

Fashion Revolution week brought a flurry of debate and discussion about the state of fashion, its processes, and its purpose. Fashion is a key player in the global economy, and staying informed about the global economy helps to make informed purchasing choices. The issues of labor exploitation reach far beyond fashion. Manufacturing jobs have been steadily leaving the US as wages rise, and they’re going wherever businesses can get away with paying as little as possible. As we move into May, International Workers’ Day couldn’t be more appropriate following the call to action of Fashion Revolution.

Conscious Clothing creates sustainable handmade clothing, using eco friendly and low impact materials.

Products are designed to cost as little as possible to make, but sell for as much as consumers are willing to spend, often more. Society has a skewed view of physical labor that demeans its worth. In reality, physical labor is the primary skill of a large number of people and they need to be able to live off of their ability just to do work. Our hands are valuable resources and we should be able to capitalize on them in this economy, and so should everyone else. However, an enormous number of people across the world have the motivation to learn and work and are told that somehow, for some reason their hands are worth less than ours.

With a slow rise in corporate transparency, the vulgar effects of cheap production are no longer swept under the rug, but are still largely swept out of mind. It’s difficult to empathize with an individual on the other side of the planet, to envision their life and imagine their feelings, to understand that they’re the exact same kind of unique individual that you are. It’s easier to see a $4 shirt in a store, know human hands were involved in making it, and wonder how $4 pays them for their work, the shipper for the shipment, the designer for the idea, the office manager for writing emails to the supplier, the supplier for making the fabric, and the rest of the supply chain to get the product right in front of you.

  image via inhabitat.com

"Society has a skewed view of physical labor that demeans its worth."

New York’s Triangle Shirtwaist factory tragedy in 1911 saw a massive fire kill 146 workers who had been locked inside the factory during working hours. The Haymarket Affair in Chicago in 1886 saw a labor demonstration turn violent as a bomb killed 4 protestors and 7 police and resulted in over 100 arrests. These events were the direct result of labor issues at the forefront of America’s collective mind during a time when the Industrial Revolution had been driving large-scale mass production.

In the late 19th century, this awareness led to systemic change that resulted in workers’ unions, workers’ rights and protections, minimum wages and working hours caps. People began to consider things like living wages, reasonable work expectations, and labor ethics. Ethics, however, is different from culture to culture and person to person. One can’t develop and standardize a system for labor ethics based on a quality that can’t be conclusively defined.

However, the issues have shifted from present-day view, only to land on foreign shores and drive market prices down. Many countries where production labor is king are viewed as “poor” countries. It’s not because the people aren’t working, it’s because a vast majority of Americans and Europeans who enjoy cheap products want to keep enjoying cheap products. For this to happen, there has to be cheap labor, and for their to be cheap labor, we just have to pay them next to nothing.
 

"It’s difficult to empathize with an individual on the other side of the planet, to envision their life and imagine their feelings, to understand that they’re the exact same kind of unique individual that you are."

  image via inthesetimes.com

It’s not that we couldn’t pay more for things, it’s that we don’t want to. We exist in a culture that constantly convinces us what we have is old and outdated and what we need is new and in stock. Buying new things all the time is expensive so the cheaper, the better. Cheaper for us is worse for everyone else. The people who work these factory jobs still have families to feed, clothe, and house. They don’t have the money for new clothes, hobbies, or drinks with a friend.

While fashion isn’t the only industry to struggle with workers’ rights, it’s slowly become one of the most impactful. Fashion’s role in our lives intimately keeps us in tune with culture and society. Fashion isn’t a product, it’s an extension of our bodies, our “chosen skin.” Fashion is what we use to represent us and it reflects our experience. The human experience is what binds us all together, and we should do whatever possible to make everyones’ collective experience the best it can be. Businesses that strive to do things differently are the cornerstone of what makes capitalism a valuable economic system. These new ideas and solutions are what will ultimately drive us forward.

Every purchase is an investment not only in the use of the product, but everything that went into making it, even if it’s a seemingly small amount like $1.20 for toilet paper or $4 for a shirt. Ultimately, it’s not the individual purchase that’s going to affect any kind of change, but change always starts small, so start with your own purchase and then help your friends and family understand the importance of buying ethically-made products. Eventually, revenue will shift, business will take notice, and changes will result. All of us at Conscious Clothing challenge ourselves not just as a business to produce something that’s better, but as individuals to invest in a positive present (and future) for everyone, and to spread mindful consumer culture to those around us. Purchase better, feel better, live better.

"...it’s not the individual purchase that’s going to affect any kind of change, but change always starts small, so start with your own purchase and then help your friends and family understand the importance of buying ethically-made products."

 Conscious Clothing is proudly made in the USA at our light-filled Michigan studio

Weekly Wear: Mother's Day Weekend

When we thought about a product to highlight for Mother's Day Weekend we had a few things in mind:

+ a dress that would be easy and comfortable to wear for a variety of Mother's Day activities, like a brunch or a day in the park

+a dress that looks great on many different body types, to celebrate mothers and women at every stage (whether that's pregnancy, postpartum, decades of motherhood experience, or even daughters who are not mothers at all)

+a dress that features our signature snap placket for easy nursing!!

 Our Riva Snap Dress shown here in White, Sky, Ginger, and Clay - available in more colors!

Our Riva Snap Dress shown here in White, Sky, Ginger, and Clay - available in more colors!

Voila! The Riva Snap Dress is the perfect dress for Mother's Day Weekend!

We love it for all of the reasons mentioned above, plus it comes in an amazing selection of Organic and European linen that gets softer and better after each wear and wash. Better with age, just like our mamas and grandmamas :)

We've kept the styling simple when it comes to dressing for a Mother's Day get-together. Simple, comfortable flats, and a handful of flowers picked out of the garden! Mother's Day is all about connecting with the women in your life, and this simple outfit keeps the focus on that.

Shop now:

Riva Snap Dress
from 135.00

Weekly Wear: May Flowers

Spring is finally, undoubtedly here!!! It's time to get out into the yard (or community plot) and tend to those flowers (and food, and herbs, oh my!)

We love wearing Conscious Clothing for gardening because linen is the ideal fabric for sweating, moving, and getting dirty. It's highly absorbent and ultra quick-drying, so sweat will evaporate off of the body easily and keep you cool. The fibers are durable but pliable, so you'll never feel constricted in our linen clothing - plus, we design our styles with COMFORT in mind! And linen fibers repel dirt, so your linen garments will be easier to clean, and won't get as dirty to begin with!

 Snap Smock in Ginger, Backyard Jumpsuit in Olive

What's easier than throwing on your roomiest, comfiest jumpsuit to get ready for a day of digging, weeding, and transplanting? Our Backyard Jumpsuit was aptly named for yardwork! The style itself isn't restricting, but the snap closure and slight scoop neckline stays put so that you won't be bothered when you're bending over your plants. Plus, it's a great style to wear out and about in case you need to take a lunch break, or run out to the garden supply store!

The Snap Smock was designed for gardeners in mind! The big, sturdy pockets are perfect for small tools and all of your seed packets! Plus, it's a handy layer in case the breeze picks up and a cloud moves in front of the sun for a little while..

Pair with your gardening shoes, or your old Birkenstocks, and you have an instant gardening look!

Backyard Jumpsuit
from 185.00
Snap Smock
from 155.00

Weekly Wear: April Showers

Welcome to a new series on Stream of Consciousness!

Every Friday, we'll be posting a Weekly Wear - quick and easy styling guide, highlighting our different products and showing you attainable ways to incorporate these pieces into your wardrobe and your life.

 Industry Trench in Stone, Patio Dress in Lake Stripe

Industry Trench in Stone, Patio Dress in Lake Stripe

This week we thought of an easy outfit for the rainy season: a classic combination of our Industry Trench in Stone and our Patio Dress in Lake Stripe. Both pieces are comfortable, versatile, and fit so many body types. Plus, linen is a great quick-drying fabric for running in and out of the rain all day! Pair with some rain boots (we all wear Blundstones here for comfort and water-resistance!) and your favorite umbrella, and be on your way!

Shop the look:

Industry Trench
from 210.00
Patio Dress
from 135.00

Styles have changed, but fashion hasn't

by Joshua Newman

On April 24, 2013, the city of Savar was shaken by a terrible tragedy that rippled across the planet. A building named Rana Plaza unintentionally collapsed, killing 1,134 people. The building was home to a garment factory where most of the victims were young, female garment workers. Although some 2,500 were rescued from the rubble, the collapse drew attention to the reckless and dangerous methods used by garment producers to cut corners and lower costs. The terrible loss of life that day was a direct result of the garment industry’s efforts to reduce costs for “first-world” consumers.

The garment industry is infamous for its labor practices. Almost all garments require, in large part, human hands to produce. There’s a misconception that everything in the modern era is made in a factory by automated machines, but the fashion industry uses very little automated production. Multiple labor scandals have shaken clothing manufacture involving big brand names like Nike, Walmart, H&M, Uniqlo, and JC Penney. However, there is yet for major changes to be made to the fashion supply chain. Insufficient legislation and regulation allow for businesses to exploit human workers and resources for economic gain. However, a shift in consumer awareness is allowing for demand to push against suppliers and ask questions like: Who Made My Clothes?
 

"There’s a misconception that everything in the modern era is made in a factory by automated machines, but the fashion industry uses very little automated production."

 "Kukdong Worker" via Creative Commons

Fashion Revolution is a UK-based eco-fashion call-to-arms that centralizes around transparency as the primary driver for change. Fashion Revolution holds large companies and industry participants, including consumers, as ethically responsible for all people and resources involved in the production of fashion products. Founded by Carry Somers and Orsola De Castro in the wake of the Rana Plaza disaster, Fashion Revolution founded not only a day but a whole week in April to commemorate the disastrous collapse and call upon fashion industry leaders to be transparent and informed about where there products come from.
 

The social media campaign that drives the movement uses the hashtag #whomademyclothes, combined with a photo of a garment label, to instigate a conversation with fashion companies about their supply chain. Companies and even small clothing businesses are invited to respond with a photo of employees and the hashtag #imadeyourclothes. While Fashion Revolution was inspired by the social implications of the growing fast fashion sector, the company’s manifesto also calls attention to the environmental impacts caused by wastefulness and excessiveness throughout the current production model.

"this low-cost, disposable model of consumption is responsible for the social and environmental damage that's being done all over the world"

The not-for-profit outfit sets up events throughout a dedicated week in April to call for change and draw attention to issues within the industry. Of the 60-70 million people employed by the fashion industry, about three-quarters of them are female. Workers can be paid as low as $2 a day in countries like Bangladesh and Jordan, often working far over the typical 8-10 hours many of us are accustomed to. Making clothes cheap is important to an industry that relies on seasonal trend shifts to drive cyclical sales. However, this low-cost, disposable model of consumption is responsible for the social and environmental damage that's being done all over the world.

Movements like Fashion Revolution, Clean Clothes Campaign, and Fair Trade seek accountability by the companies whose only current regulating forces are supply and demand. People all throughout the fashion ecosystem want to see an industry that values people, creativity, and the environment instead of just profit. Fashion Revolution conducted a project called “The €2 T-Shirt” that demonstrated the capacity of consumers to care about the environments their products are made in.

Many shifts are occurring in the fashion world inspired by slow fashion, diversity, and freedom of expression. Hopefully, an increase in emotional attachment to the entire supply chain will contribute tremendously to consumer culture, but there's no telling where the industry will go. Here at Conscious Clothing, we pay a large amount of attention to our responsibilities as a business and do our best to increase the positive impacts we can have on fashion and on our customers. We want all workers to be treated justly and fairly by their employers as wards of their industry.

"Many consumers don’t even realize that the conditions under which their garments were made are so unsavory that they’re illegal in much of the world, including the U.s."

Left behind by the shift toward cheap labor are many American workers whose physical and practical skill is no longer in high demand. As the Industrial Revolution set into place in America, the exploitation of women and children for cheap labor, as well as unsafe working conditions began to inspire legislation that led to a more responsible production sector. However, this also led to a rise in production costs due to the increases in pay and safety compliance.

In response, companies began to shift production overseas to countries without this kind of legislation. This allowed for production houses to resume cutting corners and exploiting workers for the sake of cheap production. This left a large unemployed workforce in America, and an even larger slave-like work force in lesser developed countries. The inhumane treatment of workers didn’t end like our predecessors had hoped, it just moved locations. Many consumers don’t even realize that the conditions under which their garments were made are so unsavory that they’re illegal in much of the world, including the US.

 Our seamstress Megan, in the process of making a garment at our studio

"we recognize our responsibility as a business to provide not only the [local] work, but also the conditions of the workplace and wouldn’t treat our crew any differently than we would want to be treated"

All of our products are proudly produced in Grand Rapids, Michigan where we employ Michiganders to dye, cut, print, and sew all of our products and to foster these valuable skills locally. We could outsource our production labor, even to local companies, to reduce costs. However, we recognize our responsibility as a business to provide not only the work, but also the conditions of the workplace and wouldn’t treat our crew any differently than we would want to be treated. You can learn about our studio and some of the people #whomadeyourclothes on our about page and get involved by taking to social media to ask your favorite labels #whomademyclothes?

 Our studio, where all of our products are designed, patterned, cut, sewn, shipped, and worn by people who love what they do

Sources

https://www.fashionrevolution.org/about/

https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2015/apr/23/rana-plaza-factory-collapse-history-cities-50-buildings

https://qz.com/1042298/nike-is-facing-a-new-wave-of-anti-sweatshop-protests/

http://money.cnn.com/2016/05/31/news/companies/walmart-gap-hm-garment-workers-asia/index.html

https://cleanclothes.org/resources/publications/factsheets/general-factsheet-garment-industry-february-2015.pdf
 


Who Makes These Clothes?

Since we're writing to help spread awareness about the wonderful work that Fashion Revolution is doing to shed more light on who makes your clothes, we thought it would be nice to feature the makers of your Conscious Clothing garments!

Conscious Clothing creates sustainable handmade clothing, using eco friendly and low impact materials.

from left to right...

Cara - our production manager. She has a hand in cutting the fabric and making sure the studio is organized, plus she sews many of the garments herself.

Liz - our seamstress. She sews the garments from start to finish, and also has a business making hand-dyed silk scarves, accessories, and clothing.

Maeve - our seamstress. She started in the industry as a model, but over the years felt more and more drawn to designing and making clothes instead of wearing them on the catwalk.

Rose - our founder & designer. She founded Conscious Clothing over a decade ago to solve her own problem of not being able to find any sustainable, organic clothing that she liked to wear or would want to dress her children in.

Doug - our resident handyman, cofounder, and Rose's devoted husband. Doug can do anything! Whether that's screenprinting hundreds of yards of fabric, engineering a custom snap press that's hands free and easy to use, or top-stitching leggings and tees for hours on end, Doug will do it with precision and enthusiasm.

Abby - our social media intern. Abby is with us for the summer, completing lots of fun projects to help us get the word out about sustainability and Conscious Clothing!

Alyssa - our creative assistant. Alyssa takes care of a lot of the desk work that's involved with running Conscious Clothing. She's here answering customer emails, chatting with fabric suppliers, creating shot lists for upcoming photoshoots, and helping turn creative ideas into reality.

Megan - our seamstress. Megan is another invaluable member of the sewing team, and also has her own business making handwoven goods and accessories entirely dyed with plants.

Karen - our patternmaker. Karen measures and tweaks again and again to make sure our garments fit and hang properly on all sorts of body types! We couldn't do any of this without her.

The land that fills, but never empties

by Joshua Newman

Earth is the only home humans have ever known. For millennia, humans explored its vast landscapes and traversed its oceans. Until fairly recently, we hadn’t yet begun to understand this planet’s singular importance. As technology has improved, an understanding of Earth’s location in the universe has slowly begun to unfold. In the 60’s, as NASA attempted to touch the moon, a unique perspective of our home came into view: the view of Earth from space.

 the Earth from space, taken by astronauts aboard Apollo 17 in 1972

The famous “Blue Marble” photograph depicted the Earth in an unfamiliar context and something unexpected was also in that photograph: an empty, black space in the background. The sheer intensity of this expanse offered more questions than answers: what else is out there? who? In the 60 years since that era, governments and hobbyists have searched the cosmos ceaselessly for other forms of life and other habitable planets. Neither have been found within a flyable distance and the longer the search continues, the more one thing becomes clear: this planet has to last us for a very long time. There is no “Plan B” when it comes to the Earth.

The Apollo missions began a new era of cosmological awareness that was almost too distracting. People wasted so much time peering into telescopes they lost sight of the world all around them. Instead of delving into the theories and possibilities of the unknown, turn your gaze like the astronauts 60 years ago and look at the Earth from your own fresh perspective.

"we’ve begun using clothing the same way we use plastic straws and chip bags: like it’s temporary.

For those in industrialized nations, sweeping forests and babbling streams are speckled here and there with Dasani bottles, McDonald’s lids, and Doritos bags. For the rest of the world, plastic washes up on the shores once it’s journeyed from the bodegas and convenience stores of big cities and small towns alike. These trivial, little items seem temporary because the amount of time they are in use is so short. Then they go in the trash; out of sight, out of mind.

The material that composes these items composes many of the items used on a daily basis: plastic. It’s cheap and easy to produce, so it’s used for the things that need to be cheap and plentiful like straws and packaging. Plastic’s versatility is unprecedented, but so is its durability. Plastic doesn’t wear down like natural materials because it’s highly processed and water-resistive. It can last from a few hundred to a few thousand years. Industries are making so much of it and using it in such a temporary way that it’s building up all around us. It doesn’t just go away, it’s in the oceans and under the soil and it’s changing the Earth in irreversible ways.

"Nylon, Polyester, Lycra, and Rayon are all plastic-based synthetic fabrics and, like other plastic products, they take hundreds to thousands of years to degrade."

Plastic is so versatile, it’s even used in clothing, and we’ve begun using clothing the same way we use plastic straws and chip bags: like it’s temporary. Nylon, Polyester, Lycra, and Rayon are all plastic-based synthetic fabrics and, like other plastic products, they take hundreds to thousands of years to degrade. Fashion trends, however, tend only to last a month to a couple weeks. Why are fashion products made out of a material that lasts so long if the amount of time they’re in style is so short?

Textiles are nearly 100% recyclable, including synthetics, and there’s no reason anything in the textile and apparel industry should be wasted. It’s not that it’s not possible to be zero-waste, it’s just that not enough companies are doing it or even trying. There’s an additional problem to the recycling issue because of the way companies mix different fibers together. In order to make products cheaper, companies mix natural fibers like cotton with synthetic fibers like polyester. This practice makes it very difficult to develop viable recycling solutions because of the complexity of separating the fibers back out.

"Textiles are nearly 100% recyclable, including synthetics, and there’s no reason anything in the textile and apparel industry should be wasted... [but] Of the total 25 billion pounds of textile waste, only 15% is donated or recycled."

Fast-fashion companies have even worked to add additional trend seasons so that the industry as a whole can move more product. More product flying off the shelves is more product flying into the trash. Numerous studies have found that people don’t want to take the time, money, or energy to maintain the garments they own. It’s cheaper and faster to buy a new shirt than to fix a button, remove a stain, or modify a hem. The clothes that aren’t wanted anymore end up in the trash can rather than a recycling plant because the industry isn’t investing in the technology or producing products that are easy to recycle. This carelessness dumps 21 billion pounds of textile waste to municipal, solid-waste landfills. Of the total 25 billion pounds of textile waste, only 15% is donated or recycled. Even then, donated clothing is often exported to Africa and India where its shredded for its fibers because, honestly, we don’t have the space for our own trash.

 linen and hemp back in the ground

" [we use] the fibers that the Earth gave us: cotton, linen, and hemp. The garments we make from these soft, durable fibers will probably still last longer than you, but will break down naturally when you, or your descendants, are finished with it..."

Of the entire apparel industry, 64% of fibers are synthetic and 6% are viscose, which behaves synthetically. The rest is cotton and a bit of linen. Over half of the fashion products used and discarded can’t be naturally broken up and will continue to sit in the landfill for thousands of years, or until someone can figure out what else to do with it.

As a company, we do our best not to contribute to this crucial and growing problem. Our strategy uses the fibers that the Earth gave us: cotton, linen, and hemp. The garments we make from these soft, durable fibers will probably still last longer than you, but will break down naturally when you, or your descendants, are finished with it. Natural fibers don’t need to be treated or finished with chemicals and are made of nutrient-rich components that can be returned to the soil for growing new plants and making new garments. Our yoga line uses the minimum amount of synthetic fiber necessary for optimal stretch totaling only 4% lycra while most major athletic brands are 100% synthetic. We aim to create clothes that follow a classic, timeless trend that avoids becoming outdated or obsolete as quickly as mainstream fast fashion because the more time it spends in your closet, the less space it takes up in the ocean or landfill. Currently we are tackling our pattern-cutting methods to reduce the amount of fabric scraps created by production. Any scraps we do end up with are saved from the landfill until we find use for them.

 Linen Mesa Tops paired with our Yoga Shorts

"We aim to create clothes that follow a classic, timeless trend that avoids becoming outdated or obsolete... because the more time it spends in your closet, the less space it takes up in the ocean or landfill."

As an individual, you can reduce your waste by buying less, mending and caring for what you already own, and supporting brands and companies that are mindful of the way that their practices effect the world around them. Choosing to do the right thing, no matter how small, is important because even though we are just a small company and you are just an individual, it’s the little things that add up to make a big impact. Millions of Americans who see using a plastic straw as just a little thing adds up to millions of plastic straws in the trash, so choose to do that little thing that makes a positive impact instead of a negative one.

Sources

Joung, Hyun-Mee. “Fast-Fashion Consumers’ Post-Purchase Behaviours.” International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management 42, no. 8 (2014): 688–97. 2014.

Morgan, Andrew. The True Cost . CMV-Laservision, 2016.

Quantis. Measuring Fashion. https://quantis-intl.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/measuring_fashion_report_quantis.pdf Quantis International, 2018.

Wang, Youjiang, ed. Recycling in Textiles. Woodhead Publishing in Textiles. Cambridge : Boca Raton, Fla: Woodhead ; CRC Press, 2006.

Water you really paying for?

by Joshua Newman

As March settles in, we Michiganders have already experienced one of the mythical “early spring” days: 60 degrees, snow melted, bit of warm sun gleaning your cheeks. This kind of day comes with a flood of excitement and a tiny adrenaline rush that convinces us: winter is finally over. Images of beaches, kayaks, and campsites fill our heads, only to get crushed by the first tiny snowflake on the following 28-degree day. These brief warm days are bittersweet, but they remind us of the summer fun on its way and give us all something to look forward to.

Conscious Clothing creates sustainable handmade clothing, using eco friendly and low impact materials.

To many of us in Michigan, “summer fun” translates to long summer days in the many rivers and inland lakes of our great state, including the majestic Great Lakes that line our borders. In Michigan, you’re never more than six miles away from a body of water. In fact, we have more than 11,000 inland lakes and 1,300 boat launches. Water skiing, tubing, boating, fishing, swimming, and kayaking are just a few of the things we get up to during our warmer months. This intimate relationship with water makes water quality an issue of significant importance to our work and our lifestyle.

Globally, our oceans are full of plastic and are drastically over-fished. Locally, our rivers are full of pesticides, fertilizers, and any number of industrial production chemicals. In an effort to draw attention to water crises, the United Nations named March 22 “World Water Day.” For 2018, the World Water Day theme is “Nature for Water” which seeks to find solutions to our water problems by turning to nature for answers.

The fashion industry finds itself at the center of environmental issues, especially where water is concerned.

Currently, we have the largest water pollution crisis in the history of our species. One would think this might cause mass panic, but in reality something much worse has happened: nothing. Industries continue to dump water waste that trickles down into virtually every ecosystem on the planet. Rain is supposed to carry fresh water and perpetuate the water cycle, but rain is just water that evaporates from the very lakes and oceans that are polluted and acid rain is the result of air and water pollution that makes its way to the clouds.

Conscious Clothing creates sustainable handmade clothing, using eco friendly and low impact materials.

Water is a precious resource, and after a run or demanding yoga class, we can’t get enough. The rest of the time, water runs through garden hoses, faucets, showers, and toilets in a seemingly limitless cycle of consumption. The misconception that water is unlimited allows us to blissfully and guiltlessly use whatever copious amount we deem necessary. The truth is that fresh water is a finite, valuable resource and we’re making a mess of it.

In 2015, it was found that 20% of all freshwater pollution comes from textile treatment and dyeing.

The fashion industry finds itself at the center of environmental issues, especially where water is concerned. Garments are the final product of a long, resource-rich supply chain. First, fibers are created either naturally with agriculture, or synthetically with petroleum. Most fiber plants like flax and cotton require large amounts of water to cultivate, while synthetic fibers are extruded into water-heavy chemical solutions. Water is used to wash the resulting fabric, to bleach it, and to dye it. Then, fabrics are often treated with a variety of solutions or chemicals to achieve various properties such as stain- or water-resistance, luster, or prints and patterns. 

Annually, we use 16 trillion gallons of water in our fiber production processes and 15 trillion gallons of water for dyeing and finishing. Collectively, this is enough water to fill 50 million Olympic-sized swimming pools. Even though water covers 80% of the planet’s surface, most of these processes use fresh water. Since the oceans are saltwater, the water used in production comes from rivers, lakes, and aquifers way faster than it can be replaced by the rain. However, water going in isn’t the only problem: the fashion industry contributes to the pollution and waste being dumped back into the environment after it’s used.

 Lake Michigan, Grand Haven MI

In 2015, it was found that 20% of all freshwater pollution comes from textile treatment and dyeing. In addition, a large amount of freshwater is required to wash and maintain our clothes once they’re in our closets. Moral of the story: all the clean water goes in, and all the dirty water comes out. Many experts are researching and working on what can be done differently, but as with any problem of this scale: it will take a number of solutions to affect the necessary change.

Would you rather your new jacket cost you more money, or cost someone else their drinking water?

At Conscious Clothing, we do our best to use fabrics like organic cotton which help reduce the amount of pesticides and other chemicals washed into our water sheds and rivers. We are also aware that it takes roughly 2,400 gallons of water to grow just a single pound of cotton so we also use water-conservative natural fabrics like hemp that use only 50 gallons of water per pound. Our yoga line is only 4% elastane, which allows for the necessary give and stretch required for smooth and natural movement, but without the harmful plastic microfibers washed out into the environment. When it comes to dyeing, we make sure to use quality mordants like soda ash and low-impact dyes. Soda ash increases the rate at which dye adheres to fabric, so less dye is wasted and washed out into the environment. For printing, we make sure to use water-based inks, which will degrade naturally over time and won’t result in synthetic particles in our water sheds.

We do as much as we can to reduce our impacts as a company, but it’s difficult to figure out what you can do as an individual to contribute to solutions rather than the problem. There are little things like: take shorter showers, don’t water your lawn, wash more clothes in one load. However, these behavioral changes don’t effect the economic issue behind wasteful clothing production. To effect that, you have to be mindful of where your clothes come from, and which companies you choose to support. You could buy a new shirt for $5 at your favorite fast fashion store, but that reduced financial cost comes at a much larger environmental one. Would you rather your new jacket cost you more money, or cost someone else their drinking water?

 

Sources

Mathews, Brett. Closing the Loop: An Essential Guide for the Global Textile Supply Chain. Normanton, England: MCL Global, 2015.

Bingham, Emily. 8 Amazing Water Facts Only Michiganders Can Brag About. Michigan, USA: MLive, 2017. http://www.mlive.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2017/05/michigan_water_facts.html

Wicker, Alden. Now We Know! Fashion Is the 5th Most Polluting Industry, Equal to Livestock, Ecocult, 2017. https://ecocult.com/now-know-fashion-5th-polluting-industry-equal-livestock/

https://quantis-intl.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/measuring_fashion_report_quantis.pdf

http://worldwaterday.org/app/uploads/2018/02/fact_sheet_WWD2017_EN_2.pdf