Duo lauds conscious consumption
How far we have come from the Greatest Generation, our grandparents and great-grandparents who grew up with nothing and learned to conserve, saving everything from scraps of aluminum paper to old Christmas wrap, newspaper and rubber bands with the notion they may come in handy at some point.
I grew up in Waipahu, once home to sugar plantations, where the plantation mentality of thrift thrived, so I have always been super-conscious about limiting waste, recycling, upcycling and leaving a small footprint on the planet.
So it's ironic that I write about fashion, which I love, though I'm no fan of its vicious cycle of use and waste. It really shouldn't be this way. Yes, I talk about fashion and the trends as a matter of news, but it is not my intention to sell anyone on these new ideas. I just describe what's out there, and maybe it fits into your lifestyle or not, but no one needs to buy into every trend.
Author Elizabeth Cline wrote eloquently on the subject in 2013 with the release of her book, “Over-Dressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion.” She noted: “Well into the twentieth century, clothes were pricey and precious enough that they were mended and cared for and reimagined countless times, and most people had a few outfits that they wore until they wore them out. How things have changed. We’ve gone from making good use of the clothes we own to buying things we’ll never or barely wear. We are caught in a cycle of consumption and waste that is unsettling at best and unsatisfying at its core.”
This video from Adam Curtis' series "Century of the Self" is long but worth watching, discussing everything from the start of the war on drugs, to the birth of public relations, and the use of Sigmund Freud's theories to create a nation of consumers, beginning in the mid-20th century. Essentially, it tells us we've all been brainwashed.
Although I dislike the idea of fast fashion, I'm not immune to the charms of accessible price points. In limited quantity, I consider H&M and Forever21 my friends, but when you're on a steady diet of gorging and purging fast fashion, then the whole planet is in trouble. I have done the thing where I've picked up five pieces at once because they were so cheap, then gone home and hated them. I didn't like the flimsiness and I didn't feel good wearing them. A double whammy wasting money and natural resources.
There are people who scoff at the high price of designer fashion but I consider it to be less wasteful. When you spend more money, more consideration and thought goes into your decision. You end up with fewer, but higher quality pieces that you keep and wear longer.
I wonder how many people think of the implications of consumerism when they're on their shopping sprees?
But discarding items is just one level of environmental waste. About two years ago Greenpeace released its report, “Toxic Threads: The Big Fashion Stitch-Up,” detailing environmental degradation caused by toxic chemicals used in the production of clothing.
After its release, companies like Zara, H&M, and Levi Strauss & Co. committed to zero discharge of hazardous chemicals throughout its entire supply chain and products by 2020.
There is also a Slow Fashion Movement that is growing, advocated by such groups as the Centre for Sustainable Fashion and Ethical Fashion Forum, aims to support sustainable social and environmental practices within the fashion industry.
Conscious Designers Hawaii is aiming to the same for Hawaii, founded by Tsubaki Himé eco-clothing designer Camille Mori and marketing professional Olivia Wong. My story about them appears in print today.
Mori, a student of religion and Buddhism said, “I was reading a lot of books pertaining to sustainability and shocked by the amount of waste generated by the fashion industry, and how people don’t talk about it. They talk about waste in food and other industries, but not fashion.
“When I was younger I never really thought about these things, so it was kind of a wake-up call. I thought of how much people buy and get rid of the next season. We want to promote the idea of making things last, mending, repurposing or donating them.
“A lot of it had to do with my education. When you study Buddhism, you’re taught not to be attached to objects, to think about your actions and the consequences of your actions.”
Wong said it helps to buy local when you can and seek out companies involved in socially conscious endeavors, such as Love Me Knots, a jewelry company featuring the work of Sophia Vuong and Jaclyn Park, that pursues its own socially minded work, including donating a portion of sales to human and animal welfare causes, including 20 percent of sales to such establishments as the ASPCA and Hawaiian Humane Society.
Conscious Designers Hawaii aims to host popup shops to raise funds for such causes as Dress a Girl Around the World, and encourage more designers to create sustainable brands in Hawaii.
Keep up with Conscious Designers Hawaii on Facebook. Love Me Knots jewelry is available online at http://lovemeknotshi.com
Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.