September has always been an important month for fashion. It's the month of September Issues and New York Fashion Week. It's the month of back to school shopping (and, let's not forget, pencils!). It heralds the end of summer and the beginning of a new wardrobe.
Accordingly, September has been a huge month for shopping. And, following fashion week and back to school trends, we have shopped. A lot. Studies tell us that 80 billion pieces of clothing are purchased worldwide each year, which is 400% more than a decade ago. You read that correctly, 400%!
Fashion is one of the most polluting industries in the world. And, the 1,135 people who died in the 2013 collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh are a constant reminder of the inhumane conditions garment workers suffer throughout the globe in order to produce the magnitude of clothing we consume.
It wasn't until recently that many of us have started to realize the true cost of the fashion industry. Granted, unless you're in the industry, clothing shopping may be an unconscious activity much like that of grocery shopping. It's something you need to do, plan to do within your budget, and do fairly often. We rarely think about the global impact of shopping.
Moved by these horrifying facts, people everywhere are using September to make the unconscious conscious and provide an education in sustainable living. From a news outlet and a clothing brand, here are two of our favorite #sustainableseptember movements:
This campaign challenges consumers to ask questions about the clothing they buy — to stop and think before they indulge in the fast fashion of another H&M sale. And we think this challenge is good news.
The folks at BrainTree Clothing have built their brand around, what they call, "thoughtful clothing." From their own design and manufacturing of the clothing to teaching customers how to give their threads long life, BrainTree Clothing is committed to breaking the cycle of fast fashion.
And in September, as a brand, they are giving their customers an education in organic clothing and living — with articles such as, 5 Ways to Go Organic This September. Imagine that, a brand that not only doesn't contribute to fashion industry waste, but is committed to reversing its effects. We think this movement is good news.
"Sustainable September" isn't about creating shopper's guilt about all the clothing we've already consumed. Guilt won't help. Instead, it's about recognizing that people everywhere are making REAL efforts towards raising awareness by reducing waste, shopping consciously, and encouraging others to continue in these efforts.
So whether you're starting your own Reclaim movement or ethical clothing line or simply refusing to buy a $5 tee because "it's cheap", you can so easily join in this effort. The good news is, if you've made it this far in the article, you're already one step ahead. Hooray for #sustainableseptember!