After I enrolled in sustainability at the end of last year, I remember talking to my dad about how I was going to be taking a class focusing on recycling fabrics. That is what I thought being sustainable was, recycling making sure you always donate your clothing, but that only touches one small piece of the big picture. Sustainability goes beyond how you get rid of your belongings, but rather how we can create products that we never have to get rid of in the first place. Today I define sustainable design as creating items that are ethically made as well as long lasting. Something that I had never considered as “sustainable” would be the idea of sourcing items from companies that oppose sweatshops. Since discovering how terribly people are treated in other countries just to fulfill the selfish needs of us Americans, I have made it my own personal mission to stop this cruelty. I want to work for a company that finds it important to collaborate with businesses overseas who have high safety standards for their employees. The more companies that move toward bettering the lives of their manufacturers, the sooner we will be to having healthy, ethically made clothing.
Another aspect to sustainability is creating items that are timeless. Much like the little black dress, products need to be created with the idea of being able to be used for years and years. The reason why companies like H&M or Zara are considered unsustainable is due to their fast fashion nature. They create and sell items at incredibly low prices, one right after the other. Customers are constantly purchasing the latest trend, wearing it once, than throwing it out and buying something new. This is terrible for the well-being of our environment. Not only are the majority of those items ending up in landfills to sit forever, the amount of resources it takes to create all the clothing in the first place is monumental.
Like I stated above, because I was so unaware of everything that sustainability encompassed, I never even considered focusing my career on this area of fashion. Ever since I started class I have felt a drive to continue my learning in this field of study. Participating in the LOLA shows was one of my favorite activities we did this semester. I loved having the opportunity to find a company that focuses on creating products that are empathically made. This has caused me to want to pursue a career working for a corporation that sees the importance of selling items that come from strong, ethical companies.
Finally, sustainability has become something I am very interested in pursuing as a career. I want to continue to learn the ways that I can better the working environments for manufacturers in third world countries. Because I wanted to continue learning about this area of sustainability, I watched “The True Cost” a documentary on Netflix that discusses the problems within the fashion industry, focusing on sweatshops and the way we dispose of leftover fabrics. It was incredibly insightful, bringing together everything I had been learning in class. So many people work long hours for little pay, most of the time continuing to stay within the poverty line. It’s not fair that the excuse is that “these people have no other option, if they weren’t to work in clothing factories they would be doing something far worse.” Why does the fact that because these companies may be the best option, allow for employers to slack on safety measures for their workers? There needs to be social justice for people who can’t speak for themselves and I am so thankful that this class gave me the opportunity to find what is truly important to me and ways I can make a difference.