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Eye on Earth: Slow fashion advocates for sustainable practices

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Shopping can be fun, a necessity at times, but the choices we make at checkout can have a big impact on our climate. There are a number of companies in the fashion industry working towards more sustainable practices and slowing down the way products are made and hoping to reverse climate change.

“There is so much fashion waste out there because we over consume… clothes just end up in landfills,” says Carly Burson, Founder and CEO of Laude The Label.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 13.1 Million tons of textiles are trashed each year in the United States. The average American throws away about sixty-five pounds annually.

“Generations ago didn’t consume at the rate that we are consuming at and what we know is that makers and the environment can not sustain the level of our consumption,” Burson explains.

Carly Burson grew up in Massachusetts and has always been passionate about social justice issues and the environment. Her company is a sustainable brand that honors the Earth and the maker, and works with artisans around the world. She urges consumers to slow down and step away from what is called fast fashion.

“Fast fashion really denotes lower quality, low priced, mass produced and machine-made garments that truly quick fully and purposefully and end up in landfills,” Burson says.

According to the UN Environment Program (UNEP), the fast fashion industry is the second biggest consumer of water and is responsible for about ten percent of global carbon emissions.

“Slow fashion is not  just a way of doing business, it’s truly an activist movement that advocates for environmental and social injustices,” Burson tells WBZ.

Slow fashion brands tend to use organic, recycled, eco-friendly materials… offset emissions of production and use fair trade practices. Burson also suggests there are other sustainable options like borrowing clothes, renting or consignment.

“Second hand and thrifting is a great way to consume responsibly,” Burson explains. “Accessibility is a huge problem in the sustainable fashion space.. it costs so much to make things responsibly and sustainably, and not everybody has a disposable income. This is also a way for people to engage with some of those sustainable brands, through rentals.”

Burson also suggests waiting one month before purchasing something new and looking into the companies you plan to buy products from.

“Consumers need to be more thoughtful of who they are willing to support, where they are willing to put their money… and doing more research before supporting a brand. Looking at what’s the material makeup and clothing.  Are clothes made of synthetics which come from fossil fuels… which is not only devastating for the wearing but also the maker and also the environment,” Burson explains.

There is one company with stores right here in Boston that is shooting for the moon when it comes to reducing the impact of climate change.

“If we can send a man to the moon, we can make a shoe with a zero-carbon footprint,” says Hana Kajimura, head of sustainability at the footwear brand Allbirds.

The brand developed a first of its kind… a shoe with no (carbon) footprint called M0.0NSHOT. Instead of the letter O, you’ll notice the there are two zeros in the product name.

“So it’s zero point zero, represents the carbon footprint of the product,” Kajimura states.

Allbirds is dedicated to reducing emission in the fashion industry.

“Goal of reversing climate change through better business, more Specifically figuring out how to make products that with zero impact that ultimately have a positive impact on the environment,” Kajimura tells WBZ.

The company models sustainability in their products on a number of platforms from working directly with farmers, using electric trucking or biofuel and ocean shipping to sourcing traceable and renewable materials.

“The foam that makes up all of our shoes, when we first started that material is called EVA, historically made from oil, and we figured out a way to make it out of sugarcane instead…So it’s chemically the same material but derived from renewable sugarcane instead of oil which helps to reduce the carbon footprint of all of our products dramatically,” Kajimura explains.

Which Allbirds proudly displays in their store like calories on a food label, you’ll know the carbon footprint of the product your purchasing.

“Yea we are talking about carbon footprints of shoes… but I think that is a broader conversation about carbon footprints of our lives and what we can do as individuals to minimize our own impact… and customers can support those businesses that are going that extra step,” Kajimura says.

M0.0NSHOT is expected to be revealed in June and Allbirds is excited to share their learnings and open source them to other companies.

“I’ve always felt the more inspired and excited when the work that Allbirds is doing is able to ripple out to other bigger and much larger companies… In our dream world, by the time the shoe comes out in 2024, we would have signed up other companies to make zero carbon products…with the M0.0NSHOT product we are demonstrating that it is possible,” Kajimura tells WBZ. 

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