We do have the power.

Writing this last blog and preparing for our last week of this class has me reflecting on the fact that I have learned so much and found a profound interest in the studies of sustainable practices over the course of only 6 class periods. These topics are things I have known of in the back of my mind but never taken the time to think of solutions or the fact that I, or a classmate sitting next to me could be the one to start a small movement towards a path of changing the way the fashion industry works.
Dr. Leyla Acaroglu’s mainstage TED talk on sustainability and Paper vs. Plastic had me very intrigued. I love how inspiring an educator she is, and how passionate she is to make a change in the world of design. She made terrific points such as the fact that most of us want to do the right thing when it comes to the environment- but things aren’t as simple as opting for the paper bag, because is paper actually even better? A bold call for us to let go of tightly-held “green” myths and think bigger in order to create systems and products that ease the strain on the planet. My favorite point of hers was the refrigerators because it made me realize that I am just as guilty of grocery shopping to fill my fridge- and letting most of it go to waste.
I found that in the Western Value’s reading, there were many similarities in previous TED talks that we have watched or readings that we have taken notes on. I was assigned to the “NO” side, and I completely agreed with Eric Assadourin. Much like the “Earth is Full” video we watched weeks prior, the article elaborated on the fact that we are growing our economy too rapidly. So rapidly that eventually we are going to be left without resources that help us grow it, and eventually reaching a stagnant place that eventually has nowhere to go but down.
As far as fashion and sustainability go, it isn’t the most comforting thought to know that I am planning to enter into one of the most harmful industries on the planet. The world of fashion packs one of the largest, and most surprising punches. At the same time, it is comforting to know that maybe my classmates and I can be the few to make an impact and shift the way this industry works. The fashion world is really an industry that goes under the radar and not many people realize how much harm they are creating and funding just by purchasing a top from an online retailer and having it shipped as fast as possible. The fact that it seems like many retailers are doing very little to take on these massive problems is really frustrating when something as little as being mindful of the amount of plastic and cardboard that goes into a package could be a small step towards more sustainable practices.
For Activity 3, I am attempting to dive deeper into certain aspects of waste disposal that I found interesting. One of the biggest reflections that were brought to my attention is on Friday when we were asked how many pairs of shoes we own. I work in a shoe store, so there is no surprise that I have multiple pairs. OOPS! However, this got me thinking about the number of cardboard boxes we have in the back, and the unnecessary amount of paper and plastic inside those boxes to “preserve” the shoes. Something so small that we just throw away after we buy a pair of shoes. Not only shoe boxes but the boxes that all of the Amazon Prime, and Walmart orders are fulfilled in every single day- especially as holiday seasons are approaching. What happens to all of this cardboard that could be repurposed or recycled? I found one research article explaining that every 30-40 days, we throw away our own body weight in packaging- and this problem is only going to increase as e-commerce does the same. Not good. Brands need to find better ways for less wasteful, green packaging, that won’t end up in landfills. End of story.
As far as my sustainability journey goes, as a merchandising major, I planned to be a buyer or eventually own my own store/boutique. I think it would be amazing to create a brand that promotes organically made or repurposed pieces, at a slow pace, and promote a more sustainable manner. I am just brainstorming here, but I think fast fashion is boring- and takes away meaningfulness from waiting for something in the mail while you know it is being made. All in all, the best thing I have realized through ought my journey is how we do have the power to be educators or even activists and encourage others to get on board to potentially save the planet. Because if we don’t, we are going to be fighting for food and water by the time we are 60- and that doesn’t sound fun.

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