The Sustainable Three G’s: Gift Giving Guide

The week of Black Friday is here. Millions of consumers will leave their warm cozy beds to stand in line, plow over each other, and race through aisles all in the pursuit of getting a great ‘deal.’

What if this year is different? What if we embrace the true meaning of the holiday season: giving to others?

Today I am sharing sustainable and ethical gift giving ideas that give twofold: both to your loved ones as well as the individuals who work so hard to craft them!

For the Animal Lover
e-is-for-elephantsThese whimsical t-shirts will definitely up the casual outfit game and are perfect for any animal lover. Last year, I bought myself (oops!) and my animal loving family members shirts from A is for Animals. Never have I worn a T-shirt so many times. They are styled to pair perfectly with a casual Saturday outfit or disguised under a blazer for the workday. With a percentage of each sale benefiting different animal organizations it’s hard to go wrong.

Another wonderful option for the animal lover on your list is the Orphans’ Project. The Orphans’ Project, developed and run by DSWT (David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust) exists to offer hope for the future of Kenya’s threatened elephant and rhino populations as they struggle against the threat of poaching for their ivory and horn as well as the loss of habitat due to human population pressures and conflict, deforestation, and drought.

Pair an adoption with an E is for Elephants t-shirt for a uniquely thoughtful gift!

For the Minimalist Female Dresser
Capsule wardrobes have been a minimalist dresser’s best friend for years. Compiling a capsule wardrobe however takes time, patience, and hunting down well-designed pieces.

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Finding a garment that is multifunctional, stylish, and comfortable is a tall order. Enter the Jessie Utility Jacket. Worn as a long staple, short and edgy, or a lightweight vest the Jessie Utility Jacket does it all and is a capsule wardrobe dream. This season give your minimalist friend the piece her closet has been missing.

For the Fashionable Mother/Mother-in-Law/Sister/Friend scarf-escalator
For decades French women have embodied effortlessly chic style. There are many elements Parisian women have perfected but none so better than the scarf.  An outfit can go from drab to elegant with the addition of a gorgeous scarf. For the ladies of your life that have overflowing closets or styles that you just can’t put your finger on there is the Natalie Scarf. Made of the softest alpaca you ever did feel the Natalie scarf adds style to any outfit as well as cozy warmth for the upcoming winter months.

I have styled this scarf to keep warm on my walk to work and with ease transitioned it to pull together my otherwise bland black work dress. The colors complement and bring to life neutral wardrobes and can be paired year-round. It has also been wonderful for holiday travel this week, keeping me stylish and warm during long airport stays.

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For the Style Icon 
If a scarf doesn’t push an outfit to full chic completeness a hat certainly will. As a society we have moved away from hats, and I think this is a shame. The history and craftsmanship of hats is as fundamental to fashion as Coco Chanel. This gift giving season if you find yourself wondering what to get that oh-so-stylish loved one in your life then look no further than Yellow 108. Yellow 108’s hats represent authentic American heritage with quality and timeless aesthetics. Crafted with skill and using salvaged and recycled materials these hats have earned the title of sustainable fashion!

For the Significant Other
Whether it’s a new relationship or one that has years of love, buying for the individual closest to you can be a challenge. Too often advertisements tell us we must gift the perfect material item. This holiday season why not focus on a shared experience?

Pack up and Go is a group of world travelers who wish to share their passion for travel with others. By filling out a brief survey of dates, ideal vacation type, and other tidbits, Pack Up and Go will craft the perfect three day/two-night itinerary to a surprise destination. Travel packages are focused around your budget making this gift of travel one for all to enjoy!

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This surprise travel gift pairs wonderfully with an Everlane weekender. A gift within a gift!

For the Father/Father-in-Law/Brother/Friend
With all the gadgets on the market these days and all the cords that go along with them it’s a challenge to not end up with a big ol’ knot. This is Ground has solved this problem with men in mind. Based in Downtown Los Angeles, This is Ground believes that “the craftsman needs to own their own business” keeping all production in L.A and empowering workers. My favorite for this holiday season is the Cordito which effortlessly organizes and stores all the cords we seem to need in our daily routines.

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If tech gadgets aren’t a winner for the men on your list or you’re looking for something to show you care then the classic, yet sustainable, beanie is a must. At their core Krochet Kids believes valuing “sustainable economic development programs that support holistic growth” is important. Need I say more?

allbirds-shoesFor the Comfort-Enthusiast
“Turns out the world’s most comfortable shoes are made of wool!” Allbirds are changing the shoe game in a huge way! Founder Tim Brown realized that wool holds all the perfect properties for shoes: minimizes odor, regulates temperature, and wicks moisture, however no one was using this sustainable resource. Allbirds are stylishly designed, comfortable beyond words, and make the perfect gift for those who like to enjoy comfort in style!

For the Skincare Guruone-love-orange
With the sustainable fashion revolution at the forefront of my posts it’s easy to forget that organic skincare is also having a big moment. As our largest organ treating our skin with love and respect is of the utmost importance. For the skincare guru on your list this year give them a One Love Organics 3-2-1 Fantastic Facial Kit. One Love Organics is cruelty-free, eco-cert, and is a Gold Certified Business from Green America. Wow!

As skincare products can be very personal I love the travel size of the 3-2-1 Fantastic Facial Kit. It allows for the trial of a new product without the long commitment. The products smell incredible, feel incredible, and are produced in the U.S at a sustainable manufacturing plant!

For the Holiday HostessIMG_8795 2
With the holiday season comes holiday parties. Deciding what to bring a gracious host/hostess can be challenging, especially if you’re like me and want to venture outside a bottle of wine. I have always found candles and lotion to be crowd pleasers, especially when they are thoughtfully made. Route has teamed up with Larkskin Care putting together the ideal combination of a Route inspiration candle and a Larkskin Care lotion bar. This natural and ethically made pair will take all the guesswork out of what to bring your hard working hostesses this holiday season.

Happy sustainable shopping and the happiest of holidays to you!

Chat next week. With love.
j-sig

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Buying Sustainable is a Process..Just Start (Part Two)

It’s been a week and I’m back with part two of my buying sustainable process guide.

During our week apart I indulged myself a little with my favorite type of sustainable buying, recycled! While visiting home, my sister and I disappeared into the wonderful world of consignment fashion, at our local spot. After multiple arm loads to the dressing room, a few laughs, one moment of almost getting stuck in a pair of corduroy pants, I exited with some amazing finds.

A German made sweater, of 100% wool, the softest black and white sweater made of “baby alpaca” and a brand new, tags still on, hat that is made by a USA based sustainable company. I hit the jackpot in the world of sustainable shopping. What makes it all so exciting, is this can happen 9 times out of 10, if you’re willing to dig for it.

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So without further ado, part two!

Recycle: When I say recycle I do not mean buying shoes that are made of recycled rubber or purses made of recycled plastic, although these are wonderful recycled options. When I say recycle I am talking about, of course, consignment stores or other secondhand clothing options.

Some may cringe at this thought. Wearing something preloved can be a hurdle but I’m here to preach, again, that it is not only good for your wallet and the planet but it can do incredible things for your style.

The pieces I get the most compliments on have come from consignment stores or thrift shops. For every item bought recycled one less item enters the consumption loop, which in turns decreases the amount of waste that ends up in landfills. For every American, 68 pounds of textiles end up in landfills each year according to research found in Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth Cline. The number is only increasing, recycled can help.

Consignment shopping can be overwhelming, I will admit that. Racks are not usually sorted by size but more often color and when you find something you like but not in your size you don’t have the privilege of asking the sales associate to locate what you need. This, I believe, is the beauty of consignment shops. When you find a piece that fits just right and is unique to you the excitement is like nothing felt in the dressing-room of a cookie cutter shop where ten others may be trying on the same piece.

My recommendation to tackling consignment shops? Grab a friend, or a sister, make a day of it and go experiment with a style that is uniquely your own!

Repair: How often does the rubber on the bottom of your heal fall off? The zipper on a favorite pair of jeans bust open because of one too many cookies? In our world of disposable fashion when this occurs we throw the garment away because “heck, I only spent $50 on these shoes so I might as well just go get a new pair”. Clothing has never been as disposable as it is today and that needs to change.

I have come to love repairing shoes, clothes and everything in between. There is something special about the way I feel in my favorite pair of jeans. If the zipper blows out during the holiday season, yes this has definitely happened (a couple times), I don’t want to replace them, I want to repair them.

It is easy to question why repairing something that was so cheap to begin with has any sound logic. So why not invest in higher quality items and ask yourself, before making the purchase, can I repair this item if it wears out? If the answer is no, maybe it’s not of high quality or maybe it won’t be true to your individual style for long enough to wear out, therefore maybe it’s not the right purchase.

Throughout my adolescent years, okay and even sometimes still today, Carrie Bradshaw was living my New York dream. Although we would disagree on her constant over consumption there is one thing she got right, shoe repair. In season three episode fifteen Carrie learns that her trusted cobbler has been replaced with a comic book store. She is devastated because for Carrie throwing away a $500 pair of Manolo’s is not only ludicrous but financially irresponsible. By no means am I advocating to spend unnecessary amounts of money on designer goods, I sure never have, but $150 for a quality shoe is not unreasonable and if repaired regularly will last for decades.

Repurpose: This one just barely made the list. It has only come into my life in the last few months. What I love about repurpose is it was forced upon me. As soon as I stopped shopping at cheap fashion stores and started reevaluating my closet I realized I needed to repurpose items I already owned. Without this change in attitude I would have become frustrated with my wardrobe and probably given in to supporting an industry I adamantly write against.

Repurposing is no easy task. I am fortunate enough to have a very stylish boyfriend, if I do say so myself, and I have been able to incorporate some of his pieces into my rotation, such as a classic destroyed denim jacket (it also works in my favor that the 90’s are back so too then are over-sized pieces). I understand sharing a wardrobe is not a luxury for most women but there are many other options.

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Repurposing your wardrobe takes time and creativity which is the best part. I have rediscovered my style without spending a dime. I’ve taken sweaters that are too low cut in the front and worn them backwards, creating a completely unique and new look.

 

The age old saying “out of sight, out of mind” can be applied to wardrobes. There is something really wonderful about the change in season and pulling out all those long lost garments that have been stored away for months. If you don’t yet do this, give it a try. Pack away your summer clothes, “out of sight, out of mind” and when the ground begins to thaw pulling them out will feel like having an entirely new closet.

It was not long ago that I shopped at fast fashion stores. It was not long ago that I didn’t even consider checking labels before making a purchase and it wasn’t long ago that I stood before an overflowing closet whining “I have nothing to wear” (although that last one still happens from time to time). This process continues to evolve for me.

Over the past few months I have learned a lot about our world and about myself. It is exciting to feel grounded in who I am and in my style more than ever before. This has occurred because I forced myself to reevaluate my shopping habits and my wardrobe. I now work every day to refine my style. To challenge myself. It’s been a wonderfully empowering and creative process that I hope encourages you to give it a try.

 

Chat next week. With Love.

j-sig

Buying Sustainable is a Process…Just Start (Part 1)

Here we are, two weeks in and I have thrown out the term sustainable fashion over and over again. But what truly defines sustainable fashion? How does one begin the process of buying sustainable? How much will I be giving up to only shop sustainable?  I started by asking myself these questions, along with many others.

Sustainable, per Webster, is of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged.

Fashion, per Webster, is defined as a prevailing custom, usage, or style. 

Put together, sustainable fashion is the method of using a style textile so that the textile is not depleted or permanently damaged. This definition, that I word scrambled together, is not the end all be all, however, I have found myself needing a broad definition.

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Be Brave Enough To Start A Conversation That Matters
Determining this broad definition was a challenge. What has been more of a challenge is determining how and where to buy sustainable. What are the requirements needed to meet the title “sustainable”? Do products have to meet every requirement for me to feel confident in making a purchase?

Sustainable means something different to every individual pursuing this journey. Some take it 100% at face value, buying goods that are only made of organically grown materials, in which resource depletion does not occur. Others believe sustainable is paying a fair, living wage and yet still others believe sustainable is only buying recycled, re-purposed or reused products.

There are so many ways to go about this process and all are great.

I’ve broken sustainable purchasing into a few categories. I strive to base, almost, all my purchases with these categories in mind. It’s impossible to buy completely sustainable 100% of the time, in my life and the life of many others, it’s just not realistic. And that’s okay.

My categories are: ethical, organic, recycle, repair, and repurpose.

But what does this all mean…

Ethical: Ethically made goods are ones in which the individuals in the product chain are paid a living wage, do not work in hazardous environments and are afforded basic human rights.

In China, officially $42.3 million people live in poverty, reported Ellen Ruppel Shell in her book Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture. This was 2009. The Chinese population has only grown since then thus has the number living under the poverty level. What many don’t know is in China the official poverty line is drawn at $156 a year, versus the World Bank poverty limit of $456 a year writes Shell. This translates to millions more living at or well below the poverty level, many of whom work in the factories that make all the cheap goods Americans have come to rely on.

Before learning these heartbreaking details I knew of the sweatshops of many third world countries, of the deaths that occurred, the hours that were worked, and the lost childhoods, all so that I could wear a $5 shirt from Forever 21. Now, knowing more, it is even more important to me to purchase goods that make a difference in the life of the individual who made it.

Luckily, in today’s educated society finding companies that carry these products does not hold the challenge that ethical shoppers use to face. Where we choose to spend our hard-earned dollars matters, so chose to spend on products that support and empower workers.

Organic: This category has been more of a search for me. Many companies have begun using organic cotton or other natural fibers but it is still an adventure finding these products. Organic and other natural fibers hold such importance as the process of growing, processing and disposing of them does not deplete resources, as well as chemicals are not used throughout the process. Cotton and other cellulose fabrics are durable and if they make the unfortunate trip to the landfill they do not contribute to methane secretion which causes greenhouse gas buildup.

As clothing interacts with our body all day everyday it is important to remember that our skin, our largest organ, is absorbing aspects of these fibers. Dozens of chemicals are used during the process of harvesting, treating and dying cotton, which then enter our integument system. Research is still in process to pin point the numerous negative impacts of our constant interaction with these chemicals but is it really a chance worth taking?

Give organic a try, treat your body and earth with some respect, our generation and the next generation will thank you.

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“There is no beauty in the finest cloth if it makes hunger and unhappiness” Mahatma Gandhi
With the hope of keeping you wanting more, and to not overwhelm with information, I am going to leave recycle (my favorite), repair and repurpose for next week!

No matter how you chose to start the process of buying sustainable remember, it is a process and the best part of any process is all you need to do is start.

Chat next week. With Love.

j-sig

Partner Spotlight: An Interview with Katie of Elegantees

My ideal top is one I can move around in without showing skin, needs no special bra, and one I don’t regret wearing three hours into work. It needs to make me look great and be versatile enough to fit with different jewelry and bottom sets. In addition to being captivating, versatile, and comfortable, I’d also like my top to save women’s lives.

Almost sounds too good to be true. Enter Elegantees.

Let us reintroduce you to the beautiful cotton clothing designed for the everyday woman who is socially conscious and loves to look good. This October I had the opportunity to speak with the founder of Elegantees, Katie Martinez, to get an idea of how she came up with this genius company and how it works.  We talked style and the holiday rush and what that means to her company.

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Tell us more about the concept behind the beauty in your more conservative fashion pieces. How does your clothing reflect the models and the everyday consumer purchasing Elegantees?

I designed Elegantees because shopping was hard. I needed tops that were pretty and comfortable, and with proper coverage. Having spent my life both on a farm in Iowa, and in the Fashion District of New York City, I’ve seen two extremes in the way women dress. A common approach is to avoid fashion altogether and wear the same tee and jeans or leggings daily. The other extreme is to place so much emphasis on fashion that it becomes an identity. Elegantees is for the woman who seeks to find a balance between fashion and life, with a tee that looks like more than a tee.

Our aim is to break away from the unrealistic standards of beauty. I believe that ideal beauty is an expression of something that comes from the inside. When a woman takes care of herself, and others with kindness, she’s at the height of beauty. True beauty is in being clothed in strength and dignity.

What does it mean to your business when people choose to do their holiday shopping with you? Specifically, what will it mean this 2017 season?

It means a lot! Holiday shopping sustains our operations, and provides for my family and our nonprofit partner. Revenue from the Elegantees sewing center funds rescue operations at one of the border stations at Nepal-India. Each border station rescues two to three thousand victims each year. The sewing center provides full time work for 17 people, most of them are women. I want to hire 3 more seamstresses by end of this year. If we hit a certain number in sales, it will happen. We are normally slower in the summer months, so being able to set aside that cash reserve as savings will ensure nobody gets laid off.

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Katie with her beautiful daughter in Elegantees!

Holiday shopping is not just about gift giving for the new and growing companies that Route partners with.  Your purchase from them can make huge and lasting growth happen in their business – often in the form of more employment for people who need it the most.

We have LOVED getting to know Katie and her staff as we have worked with them and watched their growth.  Consider including an Elegantees purchase in your holiday gift giving to help make their goals and dreams for their company come true!

Happy Ethical Shopping!

Love,

Liz, Christina and the Route Team

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”

#FASHREV

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Four years ago this week, on April 24, 2013, 1,134 people were killed and 2,500 injured when the clothing factory, Rana Plaza complex, collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

There are thousands more places around the world where children and adults are still forced to work in unsafe places and for far less money than is fair.

Fashion Revolution Week,  April 24-30, 2017 is a time for people from all over the world to come together, question, protest, and make our voices heard.  Route exists to raise awareness, to provide alternatives, and to support organizations that are changing the status quo that hurts so many. We are SO proud to work with so many partner groups that care so deeply about their makers.

So, what can we/you do this week and beyond? Wear your shirt inside out this week.  Ask hard questions. Find out where your clothes are made.  Take a picture of your clothing label, tag the brand, and ask #whomademyclothes? Purchase secondhand, purchase ethically.

Here’s more info on how to join the revolution: http://fashionrevolution.org/

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Partner Feature: 31Bits

Similar to Roūte, 31Bits was started by women who believed every purchase made can have a negative impact or a positive impact in the world. They use fashion and design to help women to rise above poverty.

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The “31” comes from Proverbs 31, where it describes a diligent woman providing and caring for her family.  The “bits” comes from what the beads are made out of…bits of paper! 31Bits products are carefully crafted by hand by skilled artisans in Uganda and Indonesia.

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Their beaded products are made in Uganda from rolled up paper, sealed with a water-based varnish. Making beads from paper is a technique found throughout Eastern Africa. Their metal products and accents are made in Indonesia by skilled artisans who have spent years learning the craft.

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Every time our customers make a purchase, they are having a direct impact on the lives of our artisans and their families. Shop 31Bits necklaces in store or online.

Blogger: Saloni Gami, Route Intern

Film Screening: True Cost

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On Monday, March 13th, we hosted our first in-store documentary screening. Columbia community members were invited for an open-house style screening of the film, The True Cost, by director Andrew Morgan.

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The film explores the impact of the garment industry and how clothes we wear affect the world we live in. From where and how our clothes are made to who makes them, the film raised many questions surrounding the ethical production of garments and why we at Route are so passionate about knowing where and who made what we wear.

Following the film, Rafiqul Islam Rana, a graduate teaching assistant with the college of Textile and Apparel Management led a discussion surrounding his experience in the production of ready-made garments in Bangladesh.

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He shared about his experience in the industry and why coming to pursue graduate school in the U.S. can have an impact there. Those who attended were able to ask him questions and overall the evening was eye-opening and an intriguing look into what goes into making our clothes. We at Route hope to continue the conversation started here by hosting more monthly events partnering with various local organizations and campus groups. We would love to see you in store soon!

Blogger: Kaitlyn Henke, Route Intern