Two tough but unassailable facts — we buy too much, and throw away much more.
The world consumes about 80 billion new pieces of clothing each year, according to “The True Cost,” a documentary on fast fashion — cheap, trendy, disposable clothes churned out at a frantic pace by brands like Zara, H&M and Topshop. To make room for all that stuff, Americans alone toss away 16.2 million tons of textiles, of which only 16 percent gets recycled, according to figures from the Environmental Protection Agency.
Earth Day is April 22, but with stats as depressing as those, it may seem doubtful that just one eco-conscious consumer can make an impact. But Paul Mitchell co-founder John Paul DeJoria disagrees.
“We’re all individuals, and we have what I call the ‘power of one,’ ” said the hair-care billionaire, in a speech at the Environmental Media Association’s Impact Summit in Beverly Hills last month.
Individual consumers can still have an impact, he fervently believes, by seeking out sustainable brands that have invested in “green” technologies or reducing their carbon footprint.
Tom Cridland is making an effort. In the past two years, the gangly 26-year-old British menswear designer has tried to start a conversation about our shopaholic buy-buy-buy mentality by offering tees, sweatshirts and jackets with a 30-year guarantee — over the next three decades, his company will mend or replace any worn or damaged items bought from them, free of charge. His items are not the most cutting-edge, style-wise, but they’re sure built to last.
For other ways you can make a difference, check out these brands. There’s never been a better time to go green.
Built to last
To combat fast fashions pollution and landfill excess, British upstart designer Tom Cridland's 30 Year Collection tees, sweatshirts and jackets (pictured) with free mending guaranteed for 30 years. The jackets, in heavy cotton with reinforced seams, start at 199 British pounds (about $250) at tomcridland.com
Say it sustainably
Spoken by Chamilia, a new line of chatty bangles with more than 40 sayings made from recycled sterling silver (some styles also come in 14-karat yellow gold or rose gold); $39 to $69 each at chamilia.com
Rumi X leggings and bra tops are made from recycled plastic water bottles (minimizing the eight million tons of plastic dumped into oceans each year) and used coffee grounds (which help absorb moisture and odor); here, the Seek top, $48, and bottom, $78 at rumixfeelgood.com
Flip you for it
Talking green is one thing, but walking the walk is better, and Havaianas assists with its annual conservation line this year in octopus, seahorse and turtle prints with 7 percent of proceeds benefiting nonprofit Conservation International; $26 at us.havaianas.com
H&Ms new Conscious Exclusive special occasions line for men and women is made with sustainable materials like Bionic, a polyester derived from recycled shoreline plastic and used in this sweeping ruffle gown; $249 starting April 20 at select H&M stores and hm.com
With Arkwear, you wear your eco-aware heart on your chest, not your sleeve each polo (in comfy Peruvian Pima cotton) bears the embroidered image of threatened species the Sumatran tiger, bumble bee, sperm whale, etc; $95 (5 percent of sales benefits the Wildlife Conservation Society), at select Bloomingdales and arkwear.com
A greener diamond
To stem the flow of blood diamonds that support corrupt regimes of war-torn nations, MiaDonna offers lab-created diamonds (gems made by replicating the intense heat and pressure that forms them underground. But instead of millennia, it takes about three months); $181 to $34,200 (depending on clarity, cut, carat size) at miadonna.com
A sweet deal
Paul Mitchell has played a key role in pushing the beauty industry to be more Earth-friendly since 1989, when it signed PETAs pledge to never test its products on animals (making it the first hair-care company to publicly oppose animal testing). The brand also uses solar power at its farm in Hawaii, and takes pains not to harm ecosystems when harvesting botanical ingredients. Neon, its newest line for teens infused with natural sugar, includes Neon Sugar Twist, a scrunch-it-in cream for surfer-girl waves; $11.99 at Ulta.com and neonhair.com. For the latest from other eco-aware beauty brands, see The Beauty Spot.
Milk and honey
The Body Shop Almond Milk & Honey collection, including body lotion, hand cream, gently exfoliating scrub ($24, pictured) and more, contains almond oil (from Spain) and honey (from Ethiopia, where they work with bee whisperers to improve beekeeping practices); at thebodyshop.com
Phlur fragrances feature recycled-glass bottles and eco-friendly ingredients like a lab-created version of Indian sandalwood (which is near extinction), and vetiver introduced to Madagascar farmers (to diversify their crops); $85 each or $15 for three trial vials at phlur.com
Urban Decay Pro Brushes 29 in all, tackling foundation, finishing powder, eyeliner and more are made with recycled aluminum handles and soft bristles from recycled plastic bottles (which wont hold onto bacteria as animal hair can); this contour definition pro brush, $32, is available at urbandecay.com