Sophisticated and Sustainable

Everyone in our world is so obsessed with saying how “green” they are and how they are making a positive impact based on their current habits. In reality though, what are we actually doing to save the world? I hate to be the one to break it to everyone but using your reusable straw just for twitter likes or filling your reusable water bottle with plastic water bottles does nothing for the environment. This is something I am passionate about because it is so common for people in our society to hop on the environmentally conscious bandwagon, but they do not have that ecologically impactful mindset. Green consumption is a relatively new way of living a sustainable lifestyle. This is a pro-environmental, sustainable behavior that individuals practice in order to promote a greener way to live. Typical green consumption is associated with young adult consumers who have more money to spend. It is a common issue that millennials are passionate about because this is an important issue that will affect our generation. The ideal green consumer is someone who buys organic produce, has appliances with an energy star label and uses reusable shopping bags. I try my hardest each time I go to the store to remember to get my reusable bags out of my trunk or I will ask to use paper bags that I will reuse for future purposes. Some small actions I also do is reuse my plastic silver wear and don’t just toss it after one use. Whenever I go to eat, and I get a drink, I never use a lid or a straw because it is just one time use plastic that is not even necessary. Before you say it, yes, I have spilled my drinks more than one, but I still did not add to the contribute of landfill. Each time I can, I will go out of my way to recycle an item. I save my recyclables and don’t just throw them in a regular trash can for convience. Most of my friends definitely think I am crazy, but I encourage the people around me to live an active eco-friendly lifestyle and how convenience should not be a factor preventing you from being aware of your wasteful impact. There are a variety of ways to promote green consumption, but what is the realistic impact that these eco-friendly labeled products implement? Climate change has been noticed and it is more common for individuals in Gen Y and Z to be a green consumer. The demand for cheap, trendy clothes has influenced companies to create unsustainable articles of clothing. An issue about being “green” is the product’s ability to efficiently be “green” in the textile industry.  

In our rapidly changing world, sometimes we do not take a second to look around and think about our environment. Millennials and Generation Z have grown up being educated on climate science and the emphasis on how our actions undoubtedly affect our environment. When baby boomers were growing up, they did not pay much attention to the environment. However, just because the baby boomer generation was not as educated in school about the effects of climate change, they simply cannot ignore the fact that it is happening. My grandma literally does not believe in climate change and its odd because there is scientifically proven evidence of the world going downhill. Their generation does not seem to care much about being green because they believe that it is not even an issue they should worry about. However, the end may be closer than we think it will be. With temperatures rising, there is less snowpack in mountain ranges and polar areas. We have witnessed as a society, glaciers melting at a faster rate and snow melts quicker. Aside from the temperature rising, permafrost is melting which released methane into the atmosphere. In order to create an impactful change, there should be a wide range of education on climate change for all generations, so they can know their personal impact on the world.

Fast fashion has further led to the growth of consumer’s demand for products at a faster rate in which sustainable brands have yet to compare with. Mass producing clothes can be an efficient way to save money, but if their items do not sell, they create waste. In our society, being trendy is encouraged and can lead to old clothes pilling up in landfills. The main goal of green consumption is to accumulate zero waste. This is the thing that has specifically been one of my biggest problems. I admit, I am always buying new clothes and trying to stay on top of the latest trends at the time. This has led to another one of my problems of having absolutely no storage for the amount of clothes I have. I am in a constant cycle of circulating my clothes for each season and focusing on donating my old clothes that I no longer wear. Through the rapid change in fashion trends, stores like Zara, H&M, NastyGal and Forever 21, who contribute to fast fashion overproduce their supply compared to the ever-evolving consumer’s demand. Some of my favorite online stores like Nasty Gal and Princess Polly are mass producers of clothing and have a contribution to the overall landfill waste from their clothing. These companies are known as a fast fashion corporation and their designs represent the current market demand. If companies used this small action, over time we can reduce a vast amount of unnecessary landfill.

Realistically, how “green” can “green” be though? There are a variety of products that claim to be “green,” but have very little “net green” impact on the environment. Let me break that down for you. So many companies claim to sell green products and emphasize how green products have environmentally friendly attributes. Despite the eco-friendly labeled product, all goods require the extraction of natural resources and emit waste and emissions into the atmosphere during production. In order for a product to be considered “green,” its life-cycle environmental impacts are lower than regularly labeled products. The reality is clothes made from bio-based materials, like natural fibers are not environmentally sustainable since products can impact the environment during any stage of their life cycle. By using recycled materials, it is helping create a small dent in the amount of resources we use, but there are not enough recycled materials for everyone to design new clothes. Therefore, we still need to use fresh resources, so these products cannot be considered highly sustainable. Aside from the manufacturing process, the way a product ends their life cycle can affect the earth around us. This is where we can do our part to help reduce landfill waste from apparel. Some simple ways to expand the life of your clothing is to donate unwanted items or resell them to secondhand stores. You can up-cycle your own clothing to create a new look and it will be so satisfying to wear your unique design while also helping Mother Nature out. These small changes can drastically minimize the amount of new materials that companies use to create their clothes.  By donating my clothes, it has helped me get rid of some space in my closet in order to get today’s popular trends, I also donate my clothes to the homeless and if I need money I can easily sell my unwanted clothes to a resale stores. 

I encourage you all to help spread awareness about the affects of your everyday habits on the environment. There are countless ways to help do your part and no change is to small to make an impact. People can slowly change their routines in order to create a better world to flourish in.