This past weekend, I threw a surprise birthday brunch for my sister. She is always so thoughtful when it comes to special occasions so I wanted to return the favor and do something special for her! Her birthday was on a Saturday in June so I thought it would be the perfect time to host a backyard brunch party near the pool! Here are some photos from the day and how I decorated the main table! To add a little background info, I used a lot of dishes and decorations that I had and I found a TON of pieces at my local thrift store. I am continuing to learn about how much impact we have on the earth and how much waste we produce. For this party, I wanted to minimize some of the plastic and trash accumulated so I used a lot of re-usable pieces.
The glasses, napkin rings, placemats, vases, and candle holders above were all purchased from Goodwill! In the photo below, I pretty much thrifted all of the serving pieces and decor as well! It really is possible to throw a party on a budget!
The chairs were something that I thought would really add a bohemian feel and California vibe. The four cane-back chairs I found off of Facebook Marketplace last year and brought them from my boyfriend’s apartment specifically for this party (yes I know I am extra). The vintage lawn chair we had and the four wicker chairs (larger) I found at Goodwill a week before on sale for $5 a piece! It is crazy as to what you can find at thrift stores to use for parties and events!
Lastly, I wanted to share with you all the yummy cocktail recipe that I made for the party. I have been working with Bachman’s, a local florist and garden center, all spring to learn about fresh living and how to grow and incorporate fresh herbs and produce into your life. A few months back I started my herb garden and it has been so fun watching it grow and using them every few days while cooking or trying new recipes! I used my fresh lavender for this recipe and it was the PERFECT touch! Keep reading for a super simple summer cocktail idea!
Grapefruit Gin Fiz
Grapefruit Juice (not cocktail)
Directions: To start, muddle both the grapefruit and cucumber together. Add your desired amount of gin. Add tonic water and a splash of grapefruit juice. Lastly, garnish your drink with a slice of grapefruit, cucumber, and a piece of fresh lavender and you are ready to go!
This recipe only took about five minutes to make and it ended up being a huge hit at the party (not to mention very cute). If you are 21 or older, you definitely need to try this cocktail at your next summer get-together! It can most definitely be made without the gin as well!
Did you know that in the USA alone, almost 23 million tons of clothes are thrown away every year? That’s about 46 pounds per person, per year! Similarly, on average, shoppers purchase 60% more clothing every year, and that clothing lasts only half as long as it did just 15 years ago.
What is the cause of this enormous amount of waste? Answer: fast fashion.
The term “fast fashion” is often defined as, “An approach to the design, creation, and marketing of clothing fashions that emphasizes making fashion trends quickly and cheaply available to consumers.”
The whole concept of fast fashion is based around the idea of producing clothes quickly, for the cheapest possible cost. Up until the mid-twentieth century, the fashion industry ran on four seasons a year: fall, winter, spring, and summer. Previously, there was true artistry and thought that went into the creation of the newest fashion line. Designers would spend months planning ahead for each season to predict what they believed customers would want and to produce a line which was built upon pride, creativity, and progress. Today, there are 52 “micro-seasons” per year. Therefore, this means that there will be new clothing pieces released every single week. This quick turnaround causes the consumer to constantly feel like they need more and feel as though they are consistently behind the trends. Companies like H&M and Forever 21 get daily shipments of new styles. Other companies, like TopShop, introduce over 400 new styles a week on their website. Zara was one of the first to start the trend by shifting to bi-weekly deliveries of new merchandise. Since then, it has become the norm to have an enormous supply of stock at all times.
Companies/brands do this by keeping their production costs extremely low and their advertising budgets high. To produce on such a quick timeline, fast fashion brands highly utilize trend replication. This means that they steal designs from other people/brands who have spent a lot of time and energy creating their ideas. “Many people debated what came first—the desire for fresh looks at an alarming rate or the industry’s top players convincing us that we are behind trends as soon as we see them being worn. It’s hard to say, but there is no doubt there is a thirst for the “next best thing” every day of our consumer-driven lives.” – Audrey Stanton (ethical fashion columnist)
When you think about how this quick production is possible, the answer is found in producing high volumes of CHEAP clothing. To continue with this cycle, fast fashion items are designed to fall apart so that you will replace them quickly.
On average, shoppers purchase 60% more clothing every year and said clothing lasts only half as long as it did 15 years ago.
Between 1992 and 2002 the time we keep our clothes decreased by 50%.
Fast fashion is predicted to increase ~60% by the year 2030.
Besides the overproduction that is occurring with these 52 micro seasons a year is the problem of over-consumption. Fast fashion causes trends to become shorter lived and people wanting the next new thing even sooner. Compared to the 1980s, we are buying 400% of what we did then. In 2014, the average American bought 35 POUNDS of new clothing. How does someone possibly need that much clothing? The answer? They don’t. Many people admit to having unused clothes in their closet. People realize they are buying too much and obtaining clothes they don’t really love. After a few months or a year of sitting untouched in the back corner of a closet, people realize that they should let go. With books and tv shows like Marie Kondo’s best seller on “decluttering”, people are becoming aware that they have too much. It is great that the lesson is being shared to let go of things that don’t add joy to your life and are adding chaos to your home. What is not so great is that the volume of clothing that Americans are tossing has doubled from 7 million to 14 million tons a year, or an astounding 80 pounds per person. People are either throwing their clothing straight in the trash or donating it to a thrift store. While people like to feel like they are doing something good by giving to charity, what they don’t realize is that in the U.S. we don’t have enough people who NEED clothes on the scale at which we are donating. Related to that, a lot of the clothing that people are donating to thrift store people don’t want? The fast fashion movement is producing clothing that is made from cheap materials resulting in clothes that do not last. By the time these clothes are worn 6-7 times they are basically falling apart. They are not of the quality as they were when purchased and they are not wanted at a thrift store to resell. What do these thrift stores do with the unwanted clothes? You guessed it: they throw them away, adding to the giant mountain of clothing waste we are creating. According to the Council for Textile Recycling approximately only “10-20 percent of the 2 million tons of textiles donated in the United States end up on the racks of domestic thrift stores.”
It is natural to think of carbon spewing factories, oil refineries pumping gas, large vehicles emitting CO2 and other strong visuals, when you think of pollution. What you don’t think of is the fashion industry. “What comes to a surprise to many is the fact that the fashion industry has been called out as the second most environmentally damaging industry (behind coal).” -EcoWatch.
A few more statistics on the toll that fast fashion is taking on our environment:
The fashion industry produced 92 million tons of waste in 2015 alone.
Textiles are one of the fastest growing sources of waste globally. As our consumption increases our environmental impact in the form of waste also increases.
In North America, we produce about 25 billion tons per year of textile waste. We use petrochemical-based materials, i.e. plastic polymers to produce a large portion of this waste. Just like other plastic materials, they do not biodegrade. Instead, they slowing break down into smaller and smaller pieces called microfibres.
The dyes and chemicals used to make these clothes also leach into the earth. This often causes contamination of water and soil.
The fast fashion industry is responsible for producing 20% of global wastewater.
On top of the negative effect the fast fashion industry is having on our environment, it is also negatively affecting our economy fiscally. Trashing this amount of clothing is also a HUGE waste of money. Nationwide, our local government pays $45 per ton of waste just to send it to a landfill. It costs New York City $20.6 million annually to ship textiles to landfills and incinerators. We are filling up our landfills here in the U.S. so quickly that we have begun to ship our clothing waste across seas to fill landfills of less developed countries. This also adds unnecessary costs. We shouldn’t be producing this much waste as it is!
Along with the effects fast fashion has on our earth, these methods also affect the humans who wear the clothing, AND the humans who make them. “Some garments and accessories even have dangerous amounts of lead in them, and exposure to lead increases one’s risk of infertility, heart attacks and more. Skin is the largest organ of the body and putting on these poorly made items on it is dangerous all on its own.” -Huffington Post. When I first started researching fast fashion I was quick to become aware of the environmental disturbance we were creating but I had no idea that some of the materials our clothing was made of could be harmful to our bodies.
This danger only grows in the factories, towns, and homes which are used to produce fast fashion items. A garment worker’s health is constantly being jeopardized through their long hours, lack of resources, exposure to harmful chemicals, and often physical abuse. The people who make fast fashion clothing have been confirmed to be underpaid, underfed, and pushed to their limits because there are often few other options. These large fast fashion companies are only concerned with one thing: profits. There is no room in their equation to pay their workers fairly when they producing as much as they are and are trying to make as much money as possible.
Now that you understand what ethical fashion is and how big of an impact it is having on our lives, you may ask what the solution is? There are multiple ways that you can change your actions and start to build an ethical closet.
How to Build a More Ethical Closet:
Appreciate and take care of the clothes that you already own
Shop less, choose better! (only buy pieces that you 100% LOVE)
Purchase high quality and well made clothes (invest in QUALITY not quantity.) (buying high quality is more eco-friendly because they will last longer and need to be replaced less often).
Buy vintage or second hand (save clothes from becoming landfill waste! This is my favorite way to shop ethically. Vintage clothing was made with high quality materials and creative designs).
Support ethical brands (there are many ethical brands out there that focus on the materials they use and the way they treat their workers).
I hope by reading this article you realize what fast fashion is and how big of an impact it is having on our society and our bodies. I am not asking you to make a 180 degree switch but maybe you will take a moment to think before you make your next impulsive purchase. Do I really love this piece? Am I going to love it in a few months?
Thank you so much for reading and come back soon as I will be sharing lots more about ethical fashion!
Anuschka Rees. “5 Ways to Build A More Ethical Closet (No Matter Your Budget).” Anuschka Rees, Anuschka Rees, 26 May 2016, anuschkarees.com/blog/2016/5/26/5-ways-to-build-a-more-ethical-closet-no-matter-your-budget.
“Blog.” 5 Myths About Used Clothing – Planet Aid, Inc., www.planetaid.org/blog/5-myths-about-used-clothing.
Maxine Bédat (2016), Our love of cheap clothing has a hidden cost – it’s time for a fashion revolution, 22nd April 2016, World Economic Forum.
Newsweek (2016), Fast Fashion is Creating an Environmental Crisis, 1st September 2016.
Stanton, Audrey. “What Is Fast Fashion, Anyway?” The Good Trade, The Good Trade, 8 Oct. 2018, www.thegoodtrade.com/features/what-is-fast-fashion.
Lohr, Shannon Whitehead, and Shannon Whitehead Lohr. “5 Truths the Fast Fashion Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 19 Oct. 2014, www.huffpost.com/entry/5-truths-the-fast-fashion_n_5690575.
Did you know that Americans produce over 4 million tons of waste from wrapping paper alone every holiday season?
One of my favorite things about giving gifts at Christmas time is the chance to be creative when wrapping the gifts. What I didn’t realize, is how much waste is produced by Americans at Christmas time. Most wrapping paper is NOT recyclable and ends up filling our landfills in the U.S., and even abroad. We have so much waste that we have to ship it to other countries just to have somewhere to put it. How does that make sense? What I thought was a fun holiday tradition is actually terrible for the environment, and has a detrimental impact to our ecosystem. I was intrigued to learn more about alternatives. When I found out this minimalist brown wrapping paper was recyclable we loaded up our cart on Amazon. I had always liked the clean look and my Pinterest board was filled with ideas on how to make it fun. I thought I should share with all of you a few different ways to wrap your presents that would be a little more eco-friendly! I realize that some of the ribbon and gift bags I used are not recyclable but they can still be a good option if you REUSE them. I found some of the ribbon at the thrift store and some we already had at home. Gift tags are also commonly thrown away at the holidays. Try saving them and using them at least twice! I found these gorgeous glitter shaped tags that I will be reusing year after year at Target.
If you look closely at the gifts in my pictures I used a variety of materials for all sorts of looks and styles. I wanted to add a little sparkle for my mom and sister but I used twine and some more natural pieces for an earthy look for other gifts. I also love to put small pieces of greens, ornaments, or things I find outside to add a special touch to my gifts! I really love all of the felt ornaments that are popular right now and thought it would be fun to add an ornament to the outside of a gift as part of the present! Another great option is to wrap your gifts in things you have at home. A few fun ideas are to use old maps, magazines, or even shopping bags to wrap the gift itself. There are so many great alternatives! Happy Holidays and please think twice about how you wrap your gifts this year!