Sustainability and Responsibility
Updated: May 13
At the Phoenix in Carytown we are thinking ahead to the future.
What will our role be as a leader in the fashion industry in Richmond, Virginia? How do we mitigate the impact clothing has on the environment with our desire to buy and wear items that we love?
My response is to shop local, buy for value rather than price, and to choose clothing made closer to home. A creatively designed wardrobe with consultation from knowledgable staff will help you to choose carefully.
What Happens When You Shop Local
Here’s what happens when you “shop local.” 1. More of your money will be kept in your local economy For every $100 you spend at locally owned businesses, $68 will stay in the community. What happens when you spend that same $100 at a national chain? Only $43 stays in the community.* When you shop online nothing goes back into your community. 2. You embrace what makes your community unique You wouldn’t want your house to look like everyone else’s in the U.S. So why would you want your community to look that way? 3. You create local jobs Local businesses are better at creating higher-paying jobs for your neighbors. When you shop locally, you help create jobs for teachers, firemen, police officers, and many other essential professions. 4. You help the environment Buying from a locally owned business conserves energy and resources in the form of less fuel for transportation and less packaging. 5. You nurture community Local business owners know you, and you know them. Studies have shown that local businesses donate to community causes at more than twice the rate of chains. 6. You conserve your tax dollars Shopping in a local business district means less infrastructure, less maintenance, and more money available to beautify your community. Also, spending locally instead of online ensures that your sales taxes are reinvested where they belong— in your community! 7. You create more choice Locally owned businesses pick the items and products they sell based on what they know you like and want. Local businesses carry a wider array of unique products because they buy for their own individual markets. 8. You took advantage of their expertise You are their friends and neighbors, and locally owned businesses have a vested interest in knowing how to serve you. They’re passionate about what they do. Why not take advantage of it? 9. You invested in entrepreneurship Creativity and entrepreneurship are what the American economy is founded upon. Nurturing local business ensures a strong community. 10. You made your community a destination The more interesting and unique you community, the more we will attract new neighbors, visitors and guests. This benefits everyone! *Source: Civic Economics – Andersonville Study of Retail Economics.
The most important factor determining the sustainability of the garment is how long it will last and how long the customer will keep the item in their wardrobe as relevant.
If the garment is well made and of great quality fabric these factors will contribute to the long shelf life of the garment in the person's wardrobe. If the fabrics used in making the garments are of high quality and natural fabrics such as cotton, linen, silk, and wool then there will be a smaller footprint and less pollution to the environment. However Polyester has some upsides we may want to consider. It uses no pesticides, less water, no use of land, and has long lifespan. The negative effects are the CO2 emissions and the waste issue. Therefore it is best to use this fabric as a blend for increasing the longevity of certain garments.
For many of us the reduction of the environmental footprint is a ongoing and continuous process of small steps. When we purchase clothing we often don't stop to think about the CO2 emissions, pesticides, water consumption, use of agricultural land, waste management, or the impacts on the oceans and rivers
The dying process is something that we also need to consider when purchasing a garment During the coloration process, a large percentage of the dye does not bind to the fabric and is lost to the wastewater stream. Approximately 10-15% dyes are released into the environment during dyeing process making the effluent highly colored and aesthetically unpleasant. Public perception of water quality is greatly influenced by the colour. So, the removal of colour from wastewater is often viewed as more important than the removal of the soluble colourless organic substances. Such was the case in 2011 in northern China when the Jian river turned red as the result of an illegal dye dump from a local chemical plant. Local residents and farmers near rivers which have been turned different colours have reported health problems and wonder if the food they are obliged to grow in nearby fields is safe to eat, reporting also that all the fish died, and the lifeless river turned to sludge. The dying process discharges many chemicals through the polluted water and chemicals, which results in the death of aquatic life, the ruining of soils and poisoning of drinking water. The environmental impact of the colouring process is significant and the laws that are in place, have been seen to be not well enforced, such as in China, as can be seen with the Jian river incident. During the dyeing process an average t-shirt will use 16-20 litres of water, which means that on average, the global textile industry discharges 40,000 – 50,000 tons of dye into the water system. A great environmental concern with dyes is the absorption and reflection of sunlight entering the water. Light absorption diminishes photosynthetic activity of algae and seriously influence on the food chain as the algae are the base of the food chain, thus affecting every organism above it. The lack of algae is one of the main reasons that the aquatic life suffers in areas that dyes are discharged, but another is because of the toxicity of the dyes themselves.
Wash and care. Taking care of our clothing when washing is one of the things we often overlook as important. The biggest drawback of dry cleaning is that it will shorten the life of your garment. Since it's a strong process that immerses your clothes in a solvent, uses friction as part of the cleaning, and puts your expensive clothing at risk of damage try to dry clean your garments as minimally as possible. Hand washing or delicate washing in the machine is the preferable mode of cleaning your clothing.
Air drying will save your clothes. Have you ever cleaned the lint trap in your dryer? Well, we have some news for you! The lint that is scraped off of a dryer’s lint trap after each load is visible evidence of the dryer shortening the life of your clothes. Even after using gentle, natural laundry pods to wash your clothes, they can still get damaged in the dryer.
Transportation costs and trusted suppliers. This is one of the most important things about buying local and buying clothes made in the USA.
MY TWO CENTS ON THIS:
BUY WHAT YOU LOVE
LOVE WHAT YOU BUY
MAKE YOUR DECISIONS BASED ON VALUE NOT PRICE.