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Girl Scout Creates Sustainable Shopping Maps to Combat Fast Fashion

Sarah Kessler is a Girl Scout on a mission: to educate consumers in Grand Rapids, Michigan, about the problems posed by “fast fashion” and the need to shop sustainably.

According to the West Central Tribune, Kessler, 16, has been working on her Gold Award, the highest achievement for a Girl Scout (similar to the rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America). To earn the award, she had to develop and execute a project that would have a lasting positive effect in the community.

After learning about the environmental impact of fast fashion and the plight of low-paid factory employees working in the industry, Kessler decided to help local shoppers make better buying decisions. She created two shopping maps covering a large swath of northern Minnesota. One map highlights stores that carry responsibly made, locally made and/or Fair Trade Certified products. The second map focuses on those stores that offer second-hand goods.

“When I kind of learned about how badly we need sustainable fashion, I was just really shocked, because I’d been into fashion my whole life, and I’d never heard this before,” Kessler, a member of Girl Scout Troop 1483, told the West Central Tribune. “I was just really amazed, and I wanted to give people the opportunity to know how their actions affect so much more than they think it does.”

For her Gold Award project, Kessler contacted more than 80 stores within a 300-mile radius to gauge their commitment to sustainability. She took into account whether the stores were paperless or offered single-use plastic bags. “It was really inspiring to see how many stores did have responsibly and locally made stuff,” she said. “The more we know, the more we can make informed, ethical decisions.”

Kessler also created a YouTube video that succinctly and effectively explains the problems with fast fashion and how to shop sustainably. “We like these clothes because we can buy a lot of them for really low prices,” she explains in the video. “But they’re such poor quality that they wear out and fall apart really quickly and become garbage. It’s disposable clothing.”

She also notes that the fast-fashion industry “is a major contributor” to global warming. It releases 1.2 billion tons of carbon every year, Kessler says, and generates 20 percent of the planet’s waste water (fresh water that is rendered unusable).

Additionally, 40 percent of purchased clothing is never even worn, Kessler says in the video. “One garbage truck full of clothing—that’s 530 garbage bags—is being burned or dumped into a landfill every second.”

Kessler’s video also touches on the issue of worker exploitation in developing countries where fast fashion clothing is usually made. “People are dying at work from making our clothes. Most of the people making our clothes are being exploited and physically, verbally and/or sexually abused. They work in awful conditions every day and are not even paid enough to live. This is not OK.”

The video, titled “Fast Fashion & How to Fix It,” was posted on June 20 and has garnered 270 views and 20 likes. On August 10, Kessler posted a second video, titled, “Sustainable Fashion: A Beginner’s Guide.” (See below.)

Meanwhile, Kessler plans to distribute her sustainable shopping maps at visitor centers and chambers of commerce throughout northern Minnesota. The map can also be viewed at visitgrandrapids.com, while her project is featured on her Instagram account, @fashion_or_planet_choose_both.

“When we buy from a brand, we directly support everything they do, including environmental and social crimes,” Kessler notes in the YouTube video.

“We can’t survive without clean water and air,” she adds. “And fast fashion is wasting it.”

Camila Coelho Launches Line of Sustainable Beauty Products

As a little girl, Camila Coelho loved playing dress-up with her mom’s cosmetics. Now, at 32, the social media influencer has launched her own line of beauty products, and she went to great effort to incorporate sustainability and responsible sourcing into her business plan.

Coelho, who has 8.8 million followers on Instagram and 4.7 million subscribers on her YouTube channels, recently unveiled Elaluz by Camila Coelho, a line of beauty products with key ingredients sourced from her native Brazil. (Coehlo has noted that “Elaluz” means “she is light” in Portuguese.)

“I’ve always loved beauty, ever since I was a little girl,” she recently told Harper’s Bazaar Arabia (HBA). “Growing up, I have countless memories of myself playing with makeup when I was around four or five years old. When I was six, I asked my grandmother if I could wear her red lipstick for my passport photo. I actually still have that photo.”

After her family moved to Scranton, Penn. in the U.S., Coelho worked at a makeup counter in a department store as a teenager. Before long, she was creating beauty-focused vlogs on YouTube and building a powerhouse brand that evolved from her social-media presence.

Camila Coelho launched her new cosmetics brand, Elaluz, with sustainability, transparency and inclusivity in mind.

“At the time, [social media influencing] was super-new, and I didn’t know that this could become my job,” she said in the HBA interview. “It started out really organically and, in the past few years, I’ve had a successful career on social media by being able to work with all these brands. But my biggest dream has always been to create my own beauty line; it’s been on my mind for a long time. This isn’t something I decided to spontaneously do in the past few years.”

Coelho said she was “100 percent involved” in all aspects of creating the Elaluz brand, “from the packaging to the formulation.”

Sustainability “was super-important to me,” she noted. “I knew right from the start I wanted sustainable packaging for our products and our ingredients to be clean, but I also knew that it was going to be a challenge.”

She said most of Elaluz’s packaging is recyclable or made from reusable materials. “I wanted the packaging to look as luxurious as possible while also being sustainable,” she said. “We had to work a lot on it, but I’m happy we made it happen.”

“When it came to the ingredients, there was a ton of back-and-forth on it as I wanted the formulation to be clean, high-quality and long-lasting. We’re also using a lot of Brazilian ingredients within the products, ingredients derived from fruit and nuts, which was a big priority for me, as I come from Brazil.”

According to the Zoe Report, those ingredients include guarana, buriti fruit oil and cupuacu seed butter, all of which grown naturally in Brazil.

Coelho kicked off the new line with just two products, both available on the brand’s website: 24K Lip Therapy ($28) and Lip & Cheek Stain ($34). “I wanted Elaluz to be a luxury brand, but a mindful luxury brand,” Coelho told the Zoe Report. “A brand that would have inclusivity, sustainability and transparency as our main pillars. A brand that was mindful when it came to ingredients, packaging—everything.”

The Gap Unveils Teen Clothing Line Made With Sustainable Materials

Members of Generation Z say they will pay more for sustainable products, and Gap Inc. has heard them loud and clear. To appeal to teenage girls, the fashion brand has introduced a new line of denim clothing made with sustainable materials.

The new Gap Teen line includes jeans, shorts, skirts, jackets, hoodies and T-shirts. The company says all of the products are made using processes that save water and reduce waste.

Some of the pieces are made from organically grown cotton and Lenzing EcoVero, a fiber derived from renewable wood and pulp sources. Others are made in a factory under Gap’s Personal Advancement & Career Enhancement (PACE) program, which helps women in the apparel industry develop new skills that can lead to management positions as well as personal growth.

A study by First Insight found that the oldest members of Generation Z—those born roughly between 1995 and 2015—“are making more shopping decisions based on sustainable retail practices” than preceding generations, such as Gen X and Millennials.

a photo of a young woman modeling sustainable fashion from the Gap Teen line

The First Insight study, released in January 2020, was titled “The State of Consumer Spending: Gen Z Shoppers Demand Sustainable Retail.” It found that 62 percent of Gen Z survey participants prefer to buy from sustainable brands. Moreover, 73 percent of Gen Z members are willing to pay more for sustainable products, as compared to 68 percent of Millennials, 55 percent of Generation X and 42 percent of Baby Boomers.

“While Baby Boomers seem to be the holdouts when it comes to expecting more sustainable practices within retail overall, the research shows that with every generation, sustainability is becoming further embedded in purchase decisions,” said First Insight CEO Greg Petro. “It’s incredibly important that retailers and brands continue to follow the voices of their customers. With Generation Z on track to become the largest generation of consumers this year, retailers and brands must start supercharging sustainability practices now if they are to keep pace with expectations around sustainability for these next-generation consumers, whether it is through consignment, upcycling or even gifting around major holidays.”

But why denim? According to Sourcing Journal, teenagers prefer retailers with a denim component, such as American Eagle and Hollister, ranked this spring’s No. 2 and No. 4 top clothing brands for teens.

The Gap Teen collection comes in teen sizes 8-16 and prices ranging from $16.95 to $64.95.

 

From Kalkota to Manhattan, Brown Boy Leads a Sustainable Fashion Revolution

For Prateek Kayan, a flashy, high-paying job with JP Morgan in New York was a dream come true – and a total let-down.

The future founder of Brown Boy, a Manhattan-headquartered pioneer in sustainable fashionwear, Kayan was 22 at the time, and he figured out quickly that a career in finance wasn’t for him, according to YourStory.com. “A few months into (it), I couldn’t identify with what I was doing,” he said in the interview. “I realized that, while my mind rallied behind the perks of a job that a lot of people would only dream about, my heart was inclined towards fashion.”

He eventually quit and moved back to his native Kalkota, India, where he launched Brown Boy, a clothing brand that emphasizes ethical sourcing and manufacturing, organic materials, upcycling and recycling, and a circular economy. Its gender-neutral lineup and edgy, street-style aesthetic has made the social enterprise—which now has offices in Kalkota and New York—a big hit among millennials who care about both the environment and looking spiffy. The line of hipster-friendly attire includes t-shirts, sweatshirts, muscle shirts and yoga pants.

According to IndulgeExpress.com, Kayan’s designs have made a splash in Hollywood and Bollywood alike, with Iron Man himself – Robert Downey, Jr. – spotted wearing the brand’s Woody Allen tee. “Our prints are created to push the boundaries and to be engaging,” Kayan told IndulgeExpress.com. “You’ll see that our texts are a little risqué, as they talk about issues that most people look away from, like LGBTQ rights and modern-day slavery. Our designs have a certain political sensitivity.” Brown Boy uses 100 percent certified organic cotton in its handcrafted materials and non-toxic ink and dyes to minimize its impact on the environment. It’s a Fair Trade Certified apparel brand, and since no animal products are used in the company’s supply chain, it’s PETA-approved, too.

“After seeing the broken and unethical supply chain and insatiable greed some high-street brands reflect, I believed that Brown Boy could be an agent of change,” Kayan told YourStory. To launch the company, he used Wishberry, India’s largest crowdfunding platform, and exceeded his fundraising goal by 15 percent.

As part of its social mission, Brown Boy supports child education in rural India and pays employees a living wage while funding social security and pension funds. The company actively supports LGBTQ rights and was one of the first in the world to feature a transgender model in a marketing campaign.

“We millennials are agents of change and do understand how small but positive steps can bring big impacts,” Kayan said. “Brown Boy is just a drop in that sea of change, but every drop counts. We have only one planet.”