The More You Know
This post is a difficult one for me to write. Mostly because I can’t exactly recall the moment when my perspective changed and became definite. It’s all been a slow awakening and I’m still navigating my way through the facts.
I’d taken an environmental science class during my time at Pasadena City College with a very passionate teacher who didn’t teach one thing out of the textbook. She showed documentary after documentary on the agriculture industry and how it was polluting our water systems. She took us on field trips to the Salton Sea, a once thriving lake resort now an apocalyptic wasteland due to pesticide pollution; and she encouraged us to eat raw vegan, which I attempted but failed many times over.
I then moved up to the Bay Area, and continued to ignore the facts while increasing my carbon footprint. Then I met my fiancé in August of 2015. At the time, he was vegetarian thinking of switching over to veganism. Having a baseline knowledge of the benefits of this lifestyle, but a lack of self discipline, I was interested in trying it again — it’s much easier with a partner. And from there the knowledge just kept pouring in and everything else from then until now is a blur.
I lightly knew the facts about the fashion industry — as they parallel those of the meat industry; and just as I started to avoid certain food corporations on my vegan-ish journey, I also started to avoid certain brands such as Forever 21 knowing that ultimately, they were just bad for my health and my planet.
The connection for me was this:
If it takes 2,400 gallons of water to produce one pound of meat (PETA), and your supermarket has 20 pounds of meat stocked on their shelves for Brand X , times 100 supermarket branches across America then that equals to 4,800,000 pounds of fresh water used to produce this week’s shipments worth of meat. Keep in mind, Brand X’s 20 pounds of meat is sitting next to Brand Y & Z who also have 20 pounds of meat stocked at all times, in all 100 supermarket branches across America. Not to mention the gross amounts of pesticides draining into our water systems, and the amounts of chemicals that are injected into the meat we eat (but that’s a whole different story, and blog post).
THEN, according to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tonnes — gets lost or wasted.
That’s a whole lot of resources, pollution, and animal torture for nothing.
Now take that same equation and translate it to clothing. Did you know that it takes 2,720 liters of water to produce one cotton T shirt (Remake.world) and about 40,000 tons of dye gets discharged into the water systems of these poor countries producing these shirts? Think about how many T shirts are stocked at your favorite store, and how quickly they cycle out with the different micro-seasons — 52 micro-seasons to be exact (Huffington Post).
THEN the average American throws away about 81 pounds of clothes equaling to about 26 billion tons of textile waste in our landfills. Most of which is made from synthetic material that isn’t biodegradable.
The people that make our clothes make less than $3/day and have to work insane amount of hours while enduring mental, emotional, and sometimes physical abuse from factory managers.
That’s a whole lot of resources, pollution, and human enslavement for nothing.
Knowing these facts and thinking through these consequences, has made me cringe a little bit every time I think I want to step inside of H & M or Urban Outfitters. Because believe me, I LOVE fashion and I love changing my looks! I now feel trapped in what I know, and this world I live in where every move I make is hurting everyone else down the line. It’s insane.
But just like my approach to veganism, you have to take it one step at a time, and slowly. You can’t expect to make a complete change and be perfect 100% of the time. But we can choose to be aware and make an effort to make the right decision. Which is why I decided to throw a clothes swap party.
Here is How I did it:
- I sent out a facebook invite two months in advance because I was planning it during prime summer vacation time and I wanted to get it on everyone’s radar.
- Then I had to lock down a location which was the hardest part. I looked at places on Peerspace and consulted with my network to find the most affordable location.
- Two weeks leading up to the event, I started to post articles and videos on the event page to give a little reminder to those attending, and spark some interest.
- Did you know there are rules to a clothes swap party? I didn’t. But apparently there are many ways to frame a clothes swap party and here are a few that I liked from Pinterest:
- You can only hold 5 articles of clothing within the first 15 minutes, then everything after that is a free-for-all.
- Separate items by value and swap items based on the value you contributed to.
- Everyone draws a number out of a hat and takes turns in the order of which they drew. They get a certain amount of time to shop, where they place a tag on the items they like. Each item has a max amount of tags it can receive and shoppers will have to rock, paper, scissor battle to win that item.
- I liked this one (although it sounded a bit messy and drawn out) because it reminded me of that Christmas game White Elephant, and could be a bit competitive and fun.
- I created a short Powerpoint presentation to share a few facts and video campaigns that really spoke to me (see them below).
- *Most importantly* Provide adult beverages and snacks.
Lastly, I made it clear that my hope was that they walked out of the event with a different perspective. Many of them were pumped once I gave them some context as to why it was important we were there. I am not an expert, merely a peer learning along with them. Most importantly, we had fun, and I hope to plan this again in the next six months.