Month: February 2019

Hannah’s (Practical) Guide to Sustainable Fashion

Our clothing says a lot about who we are, but no one wants their clothes to say that they support labor exploitation or contribute to environmental waste. Sustainable fashion is an umbrella term that is used to describe the ethical production and consumption of  clothing garments. The life cycle of a garment is important to consider when it is being classified as sustainable fashion–this includes the garment’s design and uses outside the original intent. Sustainability is an ever-growing trend, and the average consumer is becoming more aware of the dangerous effects that our spending habits can have.

 

The three main types of sustainable fashion are as follows:

  1. Eco-fashion, which refers to the effects clothing has on the environment;
  2. Slow fashion, which refers to increasing the lifespan of clothing and slowing down the fashion seasons; and
  3. Ethical fashion, which refers to the ethical standards surrounding the production of a garment.

 

Many of us have been turned off from the idea of sustainable fashion due to concerns with cost and accessibility, but being ethical about your shopping isn’t as difficult as it seems. I’ve put together a beginner’s guide to sustainable and ethical fashion without limiting your style choices. Here are four ways you can stop contributing to the negative effects of the fashion industry.

 

  1. Care for your clothes
    • The easiest way to start living sustainably is to value and take care of the clothes you already own. Your clothes will last longer with proper maintenance. When you care for the clothing you own, you expand the lifespan of your most beloved outfits, and as a result, you will tend to shop less. The mass production of garments has only contributed to society’s wasteful attitude towards fashion consumption, and neglecting the clothes you already own is exactly what fashion retailers are preying on. Take care of the clothes you have and you can help slow the high consumption rates caused by fast fashion.
  2. Shop less
    • If you only buy pieces that you know for certain that you’ll get a lot of use of and wholeheartedly love, you will be less likely to shop more clothes. As the saying goes, “quality over quantity;” this is another easy way to incorporate sustainability in your daily life with little hassle. Fast fashion tends to have a reduced quality, as brands create clothing quickly and cheaply, trying to adapt to the trends that quickly come and go. Choose clothes made of better materials that you know are not going to fade or shrink after a couple washes. The more durable your clothes are, the less often you’ll have to dispose of or replace them, effectively ending the toxic trend of frivolous consumption.
  3. Buy vintage or second-hand
    • Buying clothing that is vintage or secondhand has become more mainstream thanks to the surge of retro fashion cycling back into society. A simple way to participate is to shop pre-loved fashions; in doing so, the clothes are being recycled and reused, and the linear cycle of production to disposal is slowed down. Thrift stores and consignment stores are a great way to source second-hand clothing and online shops such as Depop and Poshmark allow you to buy and sell your gently used clothing.
  4. Support ethical brands
    • Reject fast fashion and start shopping locally; purchasing pre-worn clothing or clothing from sustainable brands allows you to support independent designers and environmentally conscious efforts rather than directly supporting a fast-fashion company. There are curated vintage brands such as Shop Suki and sustainable brands such as Reformation which repurpose vintage styles and use locally sourced and sustainable materials.

 

With the rising popularity of sustainable fashion, many modern clothing companies are making the switch to ethically produced clothing. Consumers can aid in extending the lifespan of the clothing by reusing, recycling, and repurposing clothing we already own or can easily access. Sustainable living seems like a difficult adjustment, but simple acts–such as the ones mentioned in this article–do a lot; an individual can help change the rate of fashion consumption. Every little bit helps to replace the consumerist fast-fashion habit with an ethical closet that is better for the environment.

 

By: Hannah Tran

The Debate About “Birthright”

Recently, President Trump said that he is planning to sign an executive order to ban people from attaining citizenship from birthright, saying, “We’re the only country in the world where a person comes in and has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States.” His statement was made in reference to the fact that those who are born in the United States whose parents are non-citizens, or illegal immigrants, are legally considered citizens from birth.

This almost definitely comes from the caravans that are currently traveling to the United States’ southern border. The caravans have brought up a huge debate about immigration, primarily illegal immigration. The past year, as a whole, has been a huge debate about America’s immigration policy, and whether we should change or keep it the way it is.

Trump’s call for an executive order has stirred up the conversation even more than the caravan has, in the span of just a few days. Some say that his call is unconstitutional, while others champion his decision. Whether he will implement the policy to prevent people from being granted citizenship by birthright is still unknown, as he hasn’t made any formal actions yet, but time will tell.

If he does end up implementing it, there are still a lot of unknowns. How will babies become citizens in the future? Does this count towards legal citizens too? These are questions that have yet to be answered, leaving the President’s calls–for now–to be nothing more than senseless rambling. Another hard question that has yet to be answered is the constitutionality of his executive order. Can a President single-handedly amend the constitution? Most, as of now, are saying a flat no.

Most likely, if President Trump goes ahead with the order, it will be challenged by many federal courts. Only then will we know if it is truly constitutional or not.

But, for now, we have to wait, and see if the President makes a move.

 

By: Jaron Bullington

“Halloween” Review

Recently, I watched one of the best movies of 2018–a horror movie called “Halloween.” Halloween is a horror movie that is supposed to be a sequel to the first and original “Halloween,” made in 1978. Although there have been 5 other movies produced in the span of 40 years, fans are asked to ignore them all–except for the first one, as the new one is still connected to it. The original “Halloween” is a movie about a man named Michael Myers who killed his oldest sister, Judith, when he was only six, by stabbing her–which led him to be sent away, but he eventually escaped at 21, in search of more people to kill. In fact, Michael murders almost anyone that comes across his path.

 

The new “Halloween” starts with Michael being held in a psych hospital-slash-prison facility. Two reporters want to learn more about Michael, so they go to visit him, only to find that he doesn’t talk, not even when they pull out his famous killing mask to show him. The two reporters are then informed that Michael will be transferred that night to a different facility. After their visit, the two reporters go to Laurie Strode to question her. Laurie Strode is from the original “Halloween,” where Michael killed her three friends when she was in high school and tried to kill her while she was babysitting. The whole story is focused on her search for revenge. Laurie lives in a secluded, high-security house in the middle of the woods, just waiting for him to come and try to kill her again. Later, the viewer learns about Laurie’s family; she has a rough relationship with her daughter and doesn’t see her granddaughter that much. Once the bus for the inmates who are being transported leaves the facility, Laurie is outside watching and has flashbacks that lead her to go to her family for help. The next scene shows that the bus has crashed and everyone inside of it, including Michael, have escaped.
Michael continues his killing spree from 40 years ago, and somehow, he ends up getting his mask back…
The movie then goes off of Michael’s escape and how Laurie protects herself and her family from the famous, scary “boogie man,” Michael Myers.
The movie itself succeeded in scaring me, to the point where I needed to cover one of my eyes to feel safe looking at the screen. However, I also found it a bit overly dramatic and unrealistic in some of the scenes. Overall, though, it was a good scare. It had me on the edge of my seat at some points and I didn’t know what was going to happen. I would recommend this movie to people who love the original “Halloween,” or those who just enjoy a well-made scary and suspenseful movie. I would rate this movie a 7.5 out of 10 compared to the first and other horror films that I have seen.

 

By: Rylee Tuzzeo

The Race to Destruction: Fast Fashion’s Effects on the World and Society

Since the Industrial Revolution in the 1800s, there has been a steady incline in the efficiency of clothing manufacturing, but it wasn’t until the 1960s that clothing companies began to really produce garments with intense speed. Fashion became easily accessible to the public for consumption at lower costs than ever before; the allure of having trendy and fashionable pieces in one’s closet catalyzed more demand for these cheap and fast clothes. Fast forward to 2019, and clothing brands such as H&M, Forever 21, Zara, Charlotte Russe, and TOPSHOP are everywhere and dominate the closets of children and adults alike. Who wouldn’t pass up a $3.90 pair of leggings or a $4 dress? This cycle of the production of “fast-wearing” clothes and even faster consumerism has paved the way for detrimental consequences for the producer, the environment, and the consumer.

 

Cheap labor is the euphemism, in this case, for sweatshop workers who unfortunately do not make enough money to surpass the poverty line–the workers who live heavily-clustered in slums without the basic necessities and resources needed to have a decent quality of life. In the 1990s, the textile industry began moving overseas at an extremely high rate–fewer labor laws overseas would lead to the opportunity to rapidly amass products and cheaply sell them without having to worry about workers’ wages and rights. The sweatshops aren’t safe; “accidental mass killings” aren’t just a tragedy of the early 20th century. They still happen even in the most technologically advanced generation we’ve seen thus far. In 2013, the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh collapsed, killing at least 1,138 workers making clothes. In response to this incident, a European-led coalition of unions and allied NGOs (non-governmental organizations) teamed up to work with Bangladeshi labor groups to create a worker safety initiative focused on empowering workers themselves, adopted largely by European firms and led by H&M but also adopted by several major U.S. brands. Even with such a development, the initiative has had some trouble staying afloat, and there is still more that needs to be done. How can we support the abuse and complete disregard of the very people that give us the things we crave most? Textile factories have also been found to be ripe with the foul stench of human trafficking, found even in the United States. Girls and women promised jobs and opportunity come only to be bound to a cycle of abuse and servitude; real people in terrible situations are grossly underpaid, mistreated, taken advantage of, subjected to devastating health problems, and even dying- to make disposable clothing for the “lucky” us, the consumers.

 

This radical mass production creates pollution, and the mass waste caused by consumers carelessly tossing old garments contributes to utter environmental chaos. During the farming process for cotton, the pesticides that are used are being linked to cancer and birth defects in farmers’ children in the Punjab region of India, as well as contributing to the development of a brain tumor in the case of one Texan farmer. The production of cotton, though only making up “2.4 percent of the world’s crops… is responsible for 24 percent of global insecticide sales and 11 percent of global pesticide sales,” as well as the immense consumption of freshwater–one t-shirt can take up to 2,700 liters of water to make–and the facts don’t stop there. American clothing waste, nearly 3.8 billion pounds annually, ends up in landfills, which amounts to nearly 80 pounds of textile per American citizen–which seems practically unimaginable. In addition, over 80 billion pieces of clothing are purchased each year, mostly by Americans, even though the clothing was made in outsourced low-income countries such as China and Bangladesh. The factory workers’ subjection to environmentally unstable working and living situations is appalling, yet Americans can’t seem to decrease their demand for trendy and cheap clothing. Textile waste begets the production of methane during decomposition and the dyes and chemicals used to color and create the textiles could sink into the soil; whole communities and agricultural systems are crumbling due to mass production of fast fashion.

 

As a modern consumer, there seems to be something extremely satisfying about inserting a card into a chip reader and walking out of a store with a new purchase. With fast-fashion retailers churning out new trends and styles many more times a year than in the high-fashion realm–either as a continuous release or around 12 seasons for fast-fashion retailers versus 2 seasons for typical high fashion–buyers are armed with the caveat that they must shop then and there in order to stay up-to-date with the most current style. Having this feeling of staying on top of “the game” tends to bring an immense feeling of instant gratification when compulsory shopping, a feeling that is catalyzed with each swipe or chip read, and to keep feeling that instant gratification, we buy. This cycle can very easily turn into an addiction with us giving immense support and money to the factories and fast-fashion companies.

 

As the public eyes turn more towards to atrocities associated with fast fashion production and retail, hopefully, change will come. Remove fast fashion from your spending habits, buy second-hand clothes, boycott the fast fashion industry, or even just learn about and advocate for sustainable clothing.

 

Sources:

Ross, Robert J.S. “The High Toll of Fast Fashion.” Dissent Magazine, http://www.dissentmagazine.org/blog/the-true-cost-review-fast-fashion-rana-plaza-accord.

Morgan, Andrew, director. The True Cost. 2015.

Bailey, Carolyn. “Slow Down: Fast Fashion Has Harmful Effects.” Trusted Clothes, 10 Sept. 2016, http://www.trustedclothes.com/blog/2016/02/09/slow-down-fast-fashion-has-harmful-effects/.

“The Impact of a Cotton T-Shirt.” WWF, World Wildlife Fund, 16 Jan. 2013, http://www.worldwildlife.org/stories/the-impact-of-a-cotton-t-shirt.

Bick, Rachel, et al. “The Global Environmental Injustice of Fast Fashion.” Environmental Health, vol. 17, no. 1, 2018, doi:10.1186/s12940-018-0433-7.

 

To learn more, watch The True Cost on Netflix.

 

By: Aly Sickles

 

The Government Shutdown–Impending doom, or nothing to worry about?

On the day that this article was written–January 11th, 2019–the US government had been inoperative due to a shutdown for 21 days. All across the country, there have been innumerable cases of government workers doing their jobs unpaid, being penalized for something that they had no part in. President Trump gave the inciting action for the shutdown, after conflict regarding the building of the border wall with Mexico. Democrats have been almost uniformly opposed to the building of the wall, citing reasons why it wouldn’t work, along with funding issues. Republicans, on the other hand, have been divided by both Trump and his border wall, and the party is facing a major split in ideals.

 

More than politics, however, the government shutdown has majorly affected government workers. With no pay, there is no doubt that all types of government workers are struggling to survive. This is the real problem, even more important than divisive politics, because it affects the standard citizens rather than the elected officials. There is no doubt that many people in our families, as well as some of our friends, work for places like the TSA, National Parks, or for the general bureaucracy; this can ruin the lives of these people, as many people, almost 78% of full-time workers, work paycheck to paycheck. Something needs to be done, because these are real people with real lives, with families to feed and house. As the shutdown continues to persist day after day, tensions are rising in working class Americans–forcing them to ask themselves questions such as “Can we pay for this month’s rent?” or “Can we pay for food for the month?”

 

These are questions that cannot be answered until something is done about the border wall.

 

Until then, we can only sit like ducks waiting for the gun to fire.

 

By: Jaron Bullington

Why Travel Is So Important

We live our lives in a truly connected time; it seems that every day we are learning lessons that show us that in the modern age, humans are more globally connected than at any other point in history— languages can be learned in a matter of months just by opening an app, pictures from virtually any place on Earth can be shared with anybody and everybody, and more of us are learning about other cultures more quickly and easily than ever before. The interest in travel is increasing, but many are still left dreaming of a week lounging under the Indonesian sun or walking on glaciers in Iceland without any catalyst for action, and if more people knew the benefits, other than the stunning photos and experiences, of travel, that would change. I’ve been to eight countries in seventeen years, and I’ve learned some valuable lessons from my voyages. Here are some of the highlights:

 

 

  • Travel teaches you first-hand how to adapt to (almost) any situation

 

      • The beautiful pictures you see on Instagram only show a small fraction of travel, often hiding the not-so-beautiful trials faced during travel. From losing baggage to getting sick in a country where you’re not fluent in the language, many things can go wrong, but you learn to adapt and problem solve.

 

  • You can get to know other people and cultures for yourself, not just through a lease, textbook, or screen.

 

      • In the age of social media, it’s easy to look at somebody’s profile, acknowledge that they live somewhere cool, and then move on with your life. When you travel, you get to learn what life is like for other people, for the most part, and you begin to appreciate the difference between cultures.

 

  • You lose the -isms (“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness” – M. Twain”)

 

    • Travel reveals that, no matter who you are or where you live, we all share cultural universals–a sociological principle that establishes the fact that the human race is more alike than many nowadays seem to think. Humanity is interconnected, and discovering that will open up a sympathetic, and more importantly empathetic, door.

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness” – M. Twain

 

  • You gain experiences that, while shared with others, are wholly personal

 

      • Your own experiences are just that– your own. When traveling, you get to keep something all for yourself to hold dear in your heart, and to hold on to forever.

 

  • You gain a better appreciation for life

 

      • It’s the little things– the sunrise over the bustling morning market in Marrakech or the crowded faces around flaming embers in Finland– that truly make life beautiful. When you travel, you’re able to find more of those moments in your own daily life, and your normal suddenly becomes vibrant and beautiful.

 

  • You get a break from the humdrum of daily routine.

 

      • Let’s face it: daily routine becomes boring after doing the same things day in and day out. When you travel, you are able to have a great recess from the monotony we tend to get stuck in.

 

  • Life is short, why not live it to the fullest?

 

    • The lifespan of an average American is only 78 years; why not have as many adventures as possible? To explore is to fulfill a rather youthful desire in one’s heart, and to do so brings such a fundamental joy.

 

With all of the lovely things that the world has to offer, why not take advantage of anything you can? Travel isn’t always easily accessible, but it could also be walking on a different road or reading a book from the library about a different country; anybody can travel anywhere they’d like and reap the benefits that it brings. Peace out.

 

By: Aly Sickles