Nothing I’m Wearing is Ethically Made

Some days everything I have on was bought from a major retailer, is in synthetic fibers (in intense colors that probably required several washes to dye) and was possibly even purchased off the sale rack!

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Yes, I am here everyday posting about all of the beautiful things I’ve found for you to buy that were safely made and relieve poverty and empower women and help, sometimes even relieve stress and harm on the environment.  AND I want all of that to be true about EVERY piece in my wardrobe.  But it’s only in the last year or two that I made that a commitment and I have a closet full of things that were purchased before that.  So what do I do with them?

Mostly, I keep them.  I try and restyle them in ways that are fresh and repair them or spot clean them when needed.  I do my best (I have young messy children) to wash them as infrequently as possible so that they last (and to conserve water in general).

But mostly, I have GRACE for myself and I walk tall, knowing that I’m trying and sometimes being good to others and the environment means keeping what I have, even if it’s story is not exciting and I really just ordered it from Zara (my skirt in the picture).

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I’m also really excited for our upcoming clothing swap in October!  Follow the link here for more INFO. Several of the pieces in my closet that fit the description above will be out that day.  I’m hoping I can switch for something new without completely getting rid of what I have.

So where ever your journey to a conscious closet is at…it is ALL GOOD.  Keep trying, being creative, rewearing, hunting, thrifting and know that you are not alone in it.

As always: Happy Ethical Shopping!

XOXO,

Christina

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This Should Change Your Life

In the last month I have been excited, shocked, surprised and maybe a little annoyed by how many posts on plastics I have seen and read.  Excited because this is definitely something that I have thought about and have had concerns about for a while. Shocked because of what I’m reading. Surprised that so many people at once are getting on this trend (some trends are so valuable, right!?) and Annoyed because do I really want one more thing to avoid!  One more stream to swim against…IMG_2719

Even though avoiding plastics, or trying to minimize them in our clothing, and just in general is so difficult and takes time, energy and resources.  I am watching all of these amazing people who really care, who inspire me daily and I’m starting to feel like maybe I can do this.  I think it’s time our life should change.

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That being said, I have three children, I run two companies and let’s just be real –  I don’t have time for this.  But, my children are now eating the plastic that I’m washing when I wash our synthetic clothing.  Every straw or spoon or cup that I throw away contributes to 6 MILLION tons of waste a year.

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At Route, I am ready for us to start making small changes.  We already purchase pieces made with environmentally sustainable or recycled materials as often as we can.  We use cotton bags to store and wrap our jewelry instead of plastic.  But there is so much more we can do.  After much thinking I have three goals for my family and 3 for Route:

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  1. Switching all shipping packaging to recycled paper products within the next six months.
  2. Finding at least one new partner group that uses organic clothing to include in our line.
  3. Purchasing at least 30% of our jewelry made with recycled materials.

 

My Family (this is so much easier!)

  1. Start bringing metal straws or not use straws at all when we go out.
  2. When I need to buy more plates or cups keeping them plastic free.
  3. Never using disposable plastic wear in our kitchen.

Well, we will see how this goes!  I hope that you are also feeling inspired to think through plastic consumption in your life and that Route can help with that.

Happy Conscious Purchasing!

XOXO,

Christina

Tonle: A New Way

One of our favorite vendors; Tonle, is a company comprised of a caring group of Cambodians and Americans who work together to make a beautiful clothing line happen. Working intentionally in this war torn country, it is unique in its ethical business model as it has created a zero waste model of production. This means Tonle is as environmentally friendly as it is friendly in it’s production process. Tonle upcycles fabrics to make new clothing. ZERO waste. That means even the tags are scraps.
But make no mistake in thinking these pieces look recycled. The empowered artisans they employ celebrate the culture and beauty of Cambodia while making the latest chic fashion statements. The art of garment making is perfected and is demonstrated in the beauty of the clothing and also the care of the community in which it is made.
 
We are so excited to chat with the founder and creative director of Tonle, Rachel Faller, to get the inside scoop on what is happening this holiday season.
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Your zero-waste business model is remarkable and completely different than any other model we’ve ever seen. How have you possibly managed to make this model sustainable?  
 
In short, it is always a challenge! And each time we create a new collection, we have fabrics that we have to recycle from the previous collections. Some people have commented that our products should be cheaper because we pay so little for the materials. And it is true that the materials are cheaper because they come to us in smaller pieces that other companies consider not usable. However in reality it is much more expensive to produce this way because we have to take time to first of all pick out the materials, hand cut them, sort them, and then process all the small scraps. Of course, hand knitting and weaving new fabrics is tedious. What we love about the process is in the end much more of the final price goes to the artisans than to material costs. Big win! But it doesn’t mean it is cheap! 
 
Would you say consumers are enticed more by the zero waste aspect or the fair employment aspect of the business? Does one hold more weight than the other?
 

It’s hard to say which is more important to people, but I will say that the zero-waste aspect of our business gets quite a bit of attention because it is quite unique. There are few companies in the world doing what we are doing in that regard so I think that really stands out to people, and it piques their curiosity – they want to know more about the process and learn what zero-waste means to us. Personally speaking, I think they are both very important, because first of all I know all the people who make our products and how much this work means to them; they are like family to me as well. At the end of the day though, our environmental mission and social mission go hand-in-hand; people who live in places that are deeply affected by pollution from the garment industry, like Cambodia, can testify to that.

 
Tell us about your exciting local partnership that is helping produce the new line this holiday season?
Weaves of Cambodia! We send them the smallest scraps left from our production and they hand-cut them into new yarn, and weave them into new fabrics. The whole process is quite tedious but the products are uniquely beautiful. Many of the weavers have disabilities from landmine accidents, as this region of the country has been war torn until the late 1990’s. Landmine clearance has really just begun in the last 15 years. This work creates not only a vital revenue stream for them but they say that the work and the community is really important and meaningful as well. The weaving is integrated in most all our products, however some of the new line statements which show the handwoven work is the sol triangle tote, srey crop top srey long vest. and the phnom scarf.
What are your plans to grow and keep things going?
Thinking about growth is very interesting because as a zero-waste company – we don’t want our growth to come at the cost of the planet. But at the same time, growth of companies like tonlé mean that more artisans are employed with fair and livable wages, and hopefully reducing the number of toxic products that are produced. So we continue to think about growth with all the caveats attached regarding staying true to our principals and mission.

Why Swap Clothing?

I often have clothing I no longer wear and struggle with what to do with it. I never mind donating things to resellers, but have read so many accounts over the years of clothing that gets donated being thrown away. Somehow between consumers and businesses, in the U. S. alone, we dispose of 15 million tons of clothing waste a year. Most of which is synthetic and synthetic fibers take 100s of years to decompose. Only 15% of consumer pre-used clothing is recycled or reused, the rest of what we give away ends up in a landfill.

 

So, let’s buy less, buy recycled (Tonle, one of our partner groups works with only recycled fabrics), buy natural fibers AND on Sunday, SWAP what we don’t want anymore for something someone else has that we do want.

While we are at it, we’ll make it a party and offer some new clothing to purchase to pair with what is used. Hopefully, this will be really fun way to move our wardrobes and our clothing garbage in a more conscious direction. Link for event details and tickets is here.

Here is how it will work:

  1. Choose 5 to 10 pieces from your closet that you want to get rid of, any size, any season, but only women’s clothing, jewelry or accessories.
  2. Bring all of them to the Clothing Swap
  3. When you arrive you will be asked to put a label with your name on any clothing that you would want returned when you are done. If you have items that you’d like us to dispose of, we will do that in the most ethical way that we can find.
  4. We will organize your clothing by size on our racks.
  5. The swapping will begin 45 minutes after our event starts (so at 4:45).   While you wait please feel free to shop our vendors that are joining us.
  6. At 4:45 you are welcome to walk around and choose 5-10 pieces of your own to take home with you.

We will be “shopping” on the honors system. If you see something and want it, take it but please do not take more than the number of items you brought. If someone is holding something, it is off limits. Let’s abide by some basic rules, treat each other the way you would be treated and know that this is just for fun to find a new happy home for our stuff and hopefully get a great piece or two that we will wear in return.

Can’t wait to see you there and talk about swapping, reselling and all things ethical fashion.

Much love,

Christina

 

Resources We Rely On

I got into a great conversation this weekend with a friend about how to know which companies we buy from are ethical or not AND what harm we are causing with our purchasing. A fitting question as we celebrate Independence Day this week.

Continue reading “Resources We Rely On”