The New Style: Focusing on Sustainability and Meaning
The world was already reeling from extreme weather events brought about by global warming when the pandemic occurred. From crisis upon crisis, many people have come to realize that fundamental change is necessary. For global carbon emissions of net-zero by 2050 and mitigate climate change to be achieved, sustainability must be the basis of every action.
In addition, because of a life-threatening virus, people now seek more meaning in life. Sustainability and meaning now permeate all aspects of many people’s behavior, from their choice of homes and furnishings to clothes and accessories.
In the last few years, international organizations and countries have been taking renewed interest in pushing sustainability solutions. The WWF Singapore sustainable finance has been talking about the need for business organizations to start moving towards cleaner goals. This includes everything from changing their energy sources to ensuring zero wastage of resources in their day-to-day operations.
Jewelry is not only for ornamentation. They are also profoundly symbolic in relationships, engagements, and weddings. However, gold mining, especially by large companies, is highly destructive to nature and people. Mercury and cyanide are used, and these chemicals poison the land and water, as well as miners.
Research has shown that producing a single 18 karat wedding ring results in waste amounting to 20 tons. Platinum mining is no less damaging because only a single ounce of platinum comes from 18 tons of processed ore. In the process, there is high use of water and electricity and high carbon emissions.
To avoid buying new gold and platinum jewelry, many couples now prefer to reuse jewelry handed down in the family. This also has more meaning. Not many couples are fortunate enough to have this option, though.
One popular choice for engagement and wedding rings these days are silicone rings. Also, bracelets made of silicone are used as promise bracelets and friendship bracelets. They are likewise favored as accessories. The advantage of silicon is that it is non-toxic, comfortable on the skin, does not conduct heat or electricity, and is environmentally friendly.
The movement for sustainable clothing revolves around the idea of using one’s existing wardrobe until each item’s end of life. Once it is no longer helpful as clothing, it can be recycled for many other uses, such as quilts, potholders, and other items. Once those are no longer useful, fabric pulp can be recycled into paper. The idea is to conserve resources as much as possible.
For those who have clothes that no longer fit or have an excess of clothes, these can be sold in second-hand markets. This way, the clothes will still be helpful for others. When there is a need to buy replacements, second-hand markets are also the best source because no new resources will be used for making new clothes.
Even before the pandemic, there have already been many groups in many countries that support second-hand clothing. For instance, ThredUp is an online store that sells second-hand clothes and accepts them to sell on consignment.
Now, even brands are getting into it. Madewell, a denim brand that the J. Crew Group owns, now accepts trade-ins of old jeans from its customers for a $20 credit. It will sell the used jeans through ThredUp. Items that are no longer usable will be sent for recycling to the Cotton Blue Jeans Go Green Denim Recycling program. The denim is then made into insulation, among other materials.
Based in the United Kingdom, Dotte is also an online store that buys and sells used children’s clothes. This is much needed because children outgrow their clothes so fast and need replacements that fit. Parents can list items for free, and the store gets 15 percent from every sale. By buying and selling used clothes, people can prevent carbons emissions of about 75 percent from clothing production and 79 percent from landfills.
New technology can also assist the sustainable clothing movement. Finnish company Infinited Fiber creates cellulose carbamate fiber called Infinna that mimics the look and feel of cotton but is made out of waste materials such as old fabric, paper, cardboard, and crop waste from wheat, rice, and straw. They call it circular fashion and textile technology, and the resulting material is naturally anti-microbial.
According to Infinited Fiber, the world produces over 92 million metric tons of waste from textiles every year, either incinerated or going to landfills. While this is happening, there is also an increasing demand for new fabrics, depleting natural resources.
The prediction from Textile Exchange is that the textile fiber market worldwide will reach 146 million metric tons in 2030. The circular technology for Infinna will enable the production of textiles from waste, reducing the usage of new resources and producing more waste. Adidas and H&M are among the investors of Infinited Fiber.
A Lifestyle Free of Burdens
Once you are enlightened about the damage certain practices do to the environment and people, turning your back on them creates a heaviness. On the other hand, turning to cleaner alternatives frees you from that burden. Living green with intention makes life more meaningful.