Sustainable is Attainable

The following is an article I wrote in Journalism class as part of a group project to create an original magazine. Since we chose minimalism as our theme, I decided to look at capsule wardrobe challenges and the emergence of eco-friendly clothing options in Winnipeg:

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Photo taken at Modern Supply Co. in Winnipeg, MB.

Teresa Looy has no problem sharing the contents of her closet with a complete stranger.

After learning of Courtney Carver’s Project 333, a movement of wearing 33 items of clothing or less for three months, Looy decided to take part in her first minimalist fashion challenge.

Carver, who runs the blog “Be More with Less,” has over 38,000 followers on Instagram.

“There’s all kinds of minimalist fashion challenges in terms of capsule wardrobes, and Project 333 is just one way to do it,” Looy said. “Clothing is a great way to concentrate that simplicity because it’s something we don’t have much attachment to.”

Looy, who works at Winnipeg’s Green Action Centre, says the production, distribution and disposal of clothing makes up 10 per cent of global carbon emissions. After learning about the textile industry, she decided to pare down her clothing.

“It’s amazing how much easier it is to get ready in the morning and keep my room clean when I only have 33 items in my dresser,” Looy said.

According to a Huffington Post article titled “We Shouldn’t Be Filling Up Our Landfills with Clothing,” Canada produces enough textile waste in one year to create a mountain three times the size of Toronto’s Rogers Centre stadium.

Despite 85 per cent of Canada’s apparel ending up in landfills, no Canadian province or territory has a textile recycling program in place.

“I do my best to focus on eco-friendly,” Looy said. “It’s not everywhere yet, but I’ve been learning the principle of, ‘Buy nice, not twice.’ That’s something out there in the sustainable fashion community.”

But Looy’s experience went beyond decluttering her closet.

“Clothing wasn’t what it was about in the end,” Looy said. “It’s about who we are and who we want to be. Clothing should facilitate who we are, not be who we are.”

According to an article published by the peer-reviewed journal Fashion Theory titled “Fast Fashion, Sustainability, and the Ethical Appeal of Luxury Brands,” ‘fast fashion’ describes low-cost attire made to mimic luxury brands. In what used to be a turnaround time of six months, clothing companies like Zara are now narrowing this period down to mere weeks.

While fast fashion may be the easier option, it’s not the environmentally friendly one. The manufacturing of cheap clothing leads to high consumption rates and the exploitation of factory workers.

But designers across Canada are beginning to turn to eco-friendly options, making it easier for consumers to shop consciously.

VOILÀ Designs, located in south Osborne, is one Winnipeg-based clothing store specializing in sustainable, slow fashion. Andréanne Dandeneau owns the Métis clothing label. In the back of the showroom, rows of fair trade, organic textiles rest on shelves between sewing machines and other equipment.

Dandeneau says the fabrics she uses are either bamboo-derived or organic cotton. They are also knit and dyed in Toronto before being shipped back to Winnipeg. Dandeneau’s seamstress then cuts and sews each piece in-store.

“Slow fashion is buying local,” Dandeneau said. “Some designers Winnipeg may not use organic cotton or bamboo, but producing small runs reduces their carbon footprints.”

Eco-friendly alternatives have been part of Dandeneau’s life since she was a child.

“I was brought up not buying a lot,” Dandeneau said. “My mom said, ‘If you’re going to want to do something with your life, make sure you help people.’ So I asked myself, ‘How do I help the world in a way that it’s okay to make more stuff?’ That’s how I decided to keep my line eco-friendly.”

Dandeneau isn’t sure if similar questions are asked of this generation, but talking about it may lead to more people listening.

“Conversations start and then you begin asking your own questions,” Dandeneau said.

With sustainable options becoming more popular and readily available, it’s clear the minimalist movement has begun to take over the wardrobe.

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