On Sunday, I had the pleasure of speaking on my first panel for Sustainable Fashion at the Take Back Your Heath Conference. I'm not usually one to shy away from the limelight, but the importance of the topic had me pretty nervous. Luckily, Robin, the founder of the conference and moderator for our panel, started with, "What are you wearing and how is it sustainable?" which calmed my nerves.
Brimming to share, I stood up and showed everyone my rose bloom Reformation dress (a sample sale steal), my 7 year old gold belt, as well as, my thrifted pumps, thrifted clutch and inherited jewelry.
I also informed everyone that my dress is 100% viscose which means it's biodegradable, before mentioning how I always do my best to take care of my clothes/accessories to keep them out of landfills for as long as possible.
Then, I shared how thrifting is the most environmentally friendly way to shop because the items already exist, thus reducing the waste and pollution caused by virgin production.
After the four other lovely panelists and I shared what we were wearing, we were asked to share some of the harmful chemicals that are found in clothing. In other words, things got real and somewhat terrifying.
Some of the chemicals shared were:
Formaldehyde: (usually found in clothes that are labeled: Iron-Free, Wrinkle-Free, Stain-Resistant or Permanent Press) This chemical often causes headache and/or sore throats. A few solutions would be to wash your new garments a few times before wearing them or buy thrifted, since most of the clothing has already been washed.
Potassium Permanganate: (found in jeans made to look distressed) This is a lightening chemical linked to skin and respiratory irritation. As a solution, don't buy distressed jeans, wear a non-bleached jean for a long time and let it naturally because distressed.
Cotton: (this is not a chemical but it might as well be) Non-organic cotton is the world's dirtiest crop due to its heavy reliance of pesticides and insecticides. One solution is to buy organic cotton or to buy products made up of bamboo, tencel, or industrial hemp.
The unfortunate truth is, even in the eco style space, there hasn't been much focus on the toxic chemicals that are involved in every step of garment production.
So for now, the only real solutions are to buy secondhand, where the toxins have long been washed out, or to spend hours looking for stylish companies that make it a point to offer nontoxic garments.
The thing I stressed the most this Sunday was for people continue to stay informed and to research brands. Then, after finding brands they approve of, check in yearly (essentially researching them again) to make sure the company hasn’t sold out on their mission to provide sustainable/healthy products. No joke, it’s happened to me. A brand I was excited to rep was proudly eco and ethical, but by the time I went to write about them, they were only committed to being ethical.
Lastly, I reminded everyone that it's important for us to use money as a means to vote for the companies that should continue to exist, because in this oligarchy, we the consumers, truly have all the power.
We were the last speakers of the event. When it was done we took pictures and talked outside for a bit before my eco babe friend Karen (who writes Sustainable Daisy) went out to eat with our people.