By Jayna Milan | Feb 6, 2018

When you think of ‘sustainable fashion’, does your mind evoke images of dated hippie clothes, or maybe bizarre runway fashion? While not entirely wrong, this popular perception is greatly flawed. To dispel this misbelief, the student group Net Impact recently hosted a Sustainable Fashion Panel with speakers Sean Schmidt from UW Sustainability and Richelle Bush from Buffalo Exchange. Both speakers shed light on what advancements and regressions the fashion industry has recently made, and how to consciously consume without sacrificing your style. Here are a couple of interesting points that Sqwatch took away from the event!

True Cost of Being green

One compelling question that our speakers asked the audience was: what’s the true cost of consuming green products? "Being green" has become a recent trendy selling point, and many companies bank on consumers who are willing to invest extra money towards green appliances, technology, clothes, etc. However, more often than not, the total price increase doesn't really reflect product improvement - it’s simply marketing. Thus, how do we demand companies lower the inflated prices so that we can pay the true cost of these products?

Greenwashing

Despite how much we try to distinguish which product on the shelf has the lowest environmental impact, it’s often easy to fall for misleading greenwashing on products. Yet, as frustrating as it is, Sean played devil’s advocate when asked: "Can greenwashing be a good thing?" He said that while we all dislike greenwashing, its subtle effects can actually raise the bar for environmental standards. If a company prints something on their label that can not be proven, they can get into serious legal trouble if a customer takes them to court. Thus, consumers should demand greater transparency from companies to assure that their promises are met.

Expressing yourself

A word of advice from Sean on being your most sustainable self: "Nobody is perfect, but whether you're the mom next door or Madonna, we can all make more sustainable personal lifestyle choices. Fashion and true 'style' aren't about trends, labels, and conformity, they are about expressing ourselves and our individuality in the clothes, shoes, watches, hats, etc. we choose to buy. So, fashion is the perfect way to express our sustainably stylish selves.”

Thanks to Richelle and Sean for taking the time to discuss this important issue with us, and to Net Impact for hosting the event!