World Environment Day

In honor of World Environment Day, today I will cover the history, goals and accomplishments of this celebrated occasion. 

World Environment Day is the fundamental platform used by the United Nations to promote environmental awareness and action. 

This day is celebrated every year on June 5th to remind people of their duties and responsibilities towards the environment. The event first started in 1972 when the conference on the environment was held in Stockholm, Sweden. It is hosted in a new location every year- along with a new theme; this year it is in Pakistan with the theme of “Reimagine. Recreate. Restore.”

“Reimagine. Recreate. Restore” applies to small changes in daily lives. While the UN has motives regarding larger corporations, the change can start in our own personal lives. Changing lifestyle habits such as planting more trees, reducing single-use plastic usage to reusable materials, switching off lights to save energy; these are all ideas this year’s theme promotes. 

This year, the United Nations will launch ‘UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration’- a 10-year plan that will make the authorities and corporations think on the path of stopping environmental degradation. 

One of the main focuses is protecting natural ecosystems. This year, the UN wants each nation to pledge to reversing the mindless practices that are polluting our cities, coasts and forests (Financial Express). 

According to the US Climate Resilience Toolkit, here are the seven goals identified by the US government in order to help ecosystems cope with the effects of climate change: 

  1. Conserve habitat to support healthy fish, wildlife, and plant populations and ecosystem functions in a changing climate.
  2. Manage species and habitats to protect ecosystem functions and provide sustainable cultural, subsistence recreational, and commercial use in a changing climate.
  3. Enhance capacity for effective management in a changing climate.
  4. Support adaptive management in a changing climate through integrated observation and monitoring and use of decision support tools.
  5. Increase knowledge and information on impacts and responses of fish, wildlife, and plants to a changing climate.
  6. Increase awareness and motivate action to safeguard fish, wildlife, and plants in a changing climate.
  7. Reduce non-climate stressors to help fish, wildlife, plants, and ecosystems adapt to a changing climate.

While the goal is for nations to pledge an attempt to reverse the impacts of unsustainable production and pollution, setting goals is the best way to go about administering change. 


“For too long, we have been exploiting and destroying our planet’s ecosystems. Every three seconds, the world loses enough forest to cover a football pitch and over the last century we have destroyed half of our wetlands. As much as 50 per cent of our coral reefs have already been lost and up to 90 per cent of coral reefs could be lost by 2050, even if global warming is limited to an increase of 1.5°C.

Ecosystem restoration means preventing, halting and reversing this damage – to go from exploiting nature to healing it. This World Environment Day will kick off the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, a global mission to revive billions of hectares, from forests to farmlands, from the top of mountains to the depth of the sea.

Only with healthy ecosystems can we enhance people’s livelihoods, counteract climate change and stop the collapse of biodiversity.”

Official World Environment Day

What is a Green Club?

Green Clubs have taken high schools by storm with the emergence of more “woke” teenagers on the topic of the environment and sustainability. 

East Brunswick SAVE Club Courtyard Garden

According to the United Nations sustainable development goals, eco clubs in schools empower students to participate and take up meaningful environmental activities and projects. They are forums through which students can reach out to influence, engage their parents and neighborhood communities to promote sound environmental behavior. 

Anyone with a platform on sustainability can agree that advocation is just as important as action, and with these clubs, both are possible. 

There are different names for Green Clubs; I’ve heard Eco-Green Club, SAVE (Students Against Violating the Environment) Club and Environmental Club. I am currently a sophomore at East Brunswick High School and am the Vice President of the SAVE Club. Through my experiences with the club and seeing the impact we have made, I have compiled a list of how to start your own club. 

  1. Start small and set goals

With starting a club, it is important to have an initiative and a series of goals. Have one main goal and then mini goals to reach the big picture. Having direction is the focus, begin with projects such as compost piles or recycling collections. You can see the success and student interest levels from these activities, and these projects will show administration the level of commitment. 

  1. Seize surveys and feedback

Before each project, send out surveys to members to see the level of knowledge they have on that particular topic. You will be able to implement these tactics into your own ideas. Send the surveys to other parents and teachers so you can maximize your own knowledge. Along with this, collect feedback after your projects. This way you can understand what others viewed as successes/failures, what you can change for next time and overall what to do to guarantee better results. 

  1. Advertise and grow your platform

The best way to do this is to recruit school/community members. Spread event information on social medias, create posters to hang in local hotspots and personally reach out to influential individuals. This can also lead to partnerships and donations. Other classrooms have seen success with this step, specifically with bird feeders, where they got local donations of seeds and building materials just by asking. 

  1. Document your progress

Spreading information about growing the club also involves showing the world your progress as a group. Create a website to keep onlookers and participants up-to-date, and regularly upload to social media. If the public can see what you have accomplished, they are more likely to take your club seriously, consequently gaining more followers and growing your platform. Directly communicate with your audience and keep them involved every step of the way. 

The biggest thing to remember is that you are putting in effort, and you need to be able to show results. The results may be small, but they will add up and eventually shape up into your main goal. Documenting your progress will tie all your hard work together, and you will capture unforgettable moments. 

Follow this list and keep an eye out for my next blog post, where I will touch upon activity specifics for your Green Club!

Make Earth Day Every Day

Every year, Earth day falls on April 22nd. Throughout the world, we see people posting about the environment and lifestyle changes they vow to follow for a better ecological future. While it is great to see the participation, most people make these switches for the day (at most a week) and then forget about it. 

When you think about Earth day, it is possible that the first thing that comes to mind is planting a tree and being done with it. While this is a viable solution, there are easier ways to go about “saving the planet”- simpler and more long term ideas that can be carried out daily. Planting a tree is a one time thing, and while it helps decrease a city’s temperature by up to 10 degrees and provides fresher air (among other things), there are other options. Here I will introduce a list of insanely simple ways you can make a difference. 

  1. Ride your bike

According to the EPA, motor vehicles collectively cause 75 percent of carbon monoxide pollution in the U.S and while the U.S. has 30 percent of the world’s automobiles, it contributes about half of the world’s emissions from cars. A 2015 study by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy concluded that a 20 percent increase in cycling worldwide could “cut carbon dioxide emissions from urban passenger transport by nearly 11 percent in 2050.” Biking will not only reduce carbon emissions, it also provides a great workout! For the occasions you can’t use a bike, try carpooling or public transportation!

  1. Buy reusable items 

Replacing plastic items with reusable alternatives is a better option both financially and environmentally. With this, you don’t have to make the switch to organic shampoo bars and toothbrushes right away, you have the freedom to start small. 

Bags -Every local grocery store has reusable tote bags, pick one up on your next shopping trip and then keep it in the trunk for future use. In California, shoppers are dimed for each plastic bag they walk out with, and other states are following their lead. They will be charged for each singular use of a plastic bag, a great way to prevent usage. 

Water Bottles – Drinking from plastic water bottles is becoming an increasingly shameful practice. Water bottles come in more shapes and sizes than any other object, and with the limitless options, there is no reason to use plastic bottles. Despite the convenience of having pre-filled bottles, America’s demand for bottled water uses more than 17 million barrels of oil annually, enough to fuel 1.3 million cars for a year. That’s not including the oil used for transportation. With the 50 billion plastic bottles used annually in America, only 9 percent is recycled. The rest goes into landfills, water bodies and litter on the streets. Along with the environmental repercussions, the monetary spendings on plastic bottles is comparatively much higher. The recommendation to drink 8 glasses of water a day equals about $.49 per year; that same amount of bottled water is about $1,400.  

  1. Buy local produce 

Through buying from farmers markets, you are not only helping support small businesses, it has a better environmental effect. The transportation emissions for the produce shipped to grocery stores and big name locations add up. It takes approximately 1,500 miles for the produce to reach the stores and the shipping causes pollution plus an increase of fossil fuel consumption and carbon emissions.

  1. Take shorter showers 

Shorter showers save water along with the energy used to heat the water. With a standard non-conserving showerhead spraying over five gallons per minute (GPM), reducing your shower time from eight to three minutes would save you 25 gallons of water. Over a lifetime of showers, that’s enough to fill an Olympic tub. You can also use  low-flow showerhead to save even more water. (Get Out of the Shower.)

  1. Buy sustainable fashion

There are many ways to shop sustainably, from thrifting to simply choosing ethical materials. 

Check out 5 Tips For a Sustainable Closet for more in-depth information and ideas!

On Earth day, I posted on Instagram, briefly describing 5 ways to limit your unsustainable choices. 

Check it out, like and share with your friends and families to spread the word!

Best Ecological Ways to Dispose of Dog Poop

Two weeks ago, my family and I made a trip to Pennsylvania and came back with a puppy. We had been discussing with my Uncle’s family, about the possibility of getting two puppies for our respective families; 5 days after the idea was brought to the table, we welcomed two new members into our lives. 

As the days went by I learned a lot about dogs. Of course, most of the things our beloved Socrates did matched up with what we were theoretically prepared for, but actually witnessing and living through it is VERY different from a theory. 

9 week old Mini Goldendoodle, Socrates (Soccs) on his walk.

Puppies poop a LOT. They have a high metabolism and they are growing which requires them to have a lot of energy. Because of this, they need to eat more often during the day which then results in more poops. They have smaller stomachs, and we need to feed them in small chunks. Then they go out for their exercise and the cycle repeats… the number of poop bags you use start adding up. 

3-4 times a day, multiply that by 30 days a month, you reach about 1440 bags per year. Think about how much nonbiodegradable waste that creates. America’s 83 million pet dogs produce some 10.6 million tons of poop every year, and with the urban norm of picking up your dog’s poop, plastic waste has multiplied since the 50s- back when people didn’t pick up dog poop. The increase was so significant, California considered a plastic bag ban. Just consider the impact. 

Often, you’ll see people using the handy plastic bags and dispensers, perfect for taking on walks and specifically made for scooping poops. Depending on the circumstance, there are different ways you can go about sustainably cleaning up your dog’s poop.

Eco- Friendly Dog Poop Bags

Since most dog owners already rely on plastic poop bags, switching to sustainably developed models would be the least disruptive method. The guidelines regarding sustainably created dog bags are vague, so many companies throw on a label saying “biodegradable” or “dissolves,” but the first step is to take the research portion into your own hands.

According to Nikki Collier, LeashLess Lab, make sure that whatever biodegradable poop bags you choose hold themselves to the ASTM and USDA Certified Biobased specifications because they are the coveted standards. The ASTM D6400 specification is the highest badge of honor a product can carry and is given to products that actually compost. 

Also check out, a site which compiles compostable products on Amazon and keeps it as a list for your reference. 

Pet Waste Composter

Dog poop is compostable, however it requires special treatment and cannot be thrown in with your regular compost pile. 

The Zero Waste Pet explains the system: You dig a big hole, “plant” the system, then you add your dog’s poop and a digester to break it all down. A few key points: It needs to be buried far from any edible gardens, and it needs to be far from natural water sources. 

One of the most popular pet waste composters is the Doggie Dooley.

Another option is DIY composting. Refer to the USDA guidelines, which includes  some of the risks, additional tips, and even a printable tracking sheet to monitor your compost pile.

Flush it Down the Toilet

Yes, you read that right. Dog poop contains similar properties to human poop, and since the majority of water-treatment facilities are equipped for handling fecal matter infused water, the change will do no harm to your water system.

The EPA explains how flushing your dog’s poop is the most sustainable way to go about dealing with it. Additionally, if you are not comfortable with picking up your dog poop with toilet paper, flushable dog poop bags are available. Flush Puppies is a good option, made from Polyvinyl Alcohol (PVA) – a water soluble alternative to regular plastic. However, this only works if you don’t have a septic tank!

If you’re a guilty longtime dog owner with a reliance on plastic doggie bags, don’t worry! It’s never too late to make the switch to more sustainably options. Start slow with eco-friendly bags, if you don’t want to switch to composting and flushing just yet. 

Remember, that these small, simple changes will have long term effects. 

Did Covid-19 Increase Fashion Sustainability?

The spread of Coronavirus was the beginning of a stay-at- home era. The pandemic taught people how to live without touch; less face to face interactions, less occasions to shop for, and less reasons to go out. As a result of the conditions brought forth by Coronavirus, people have been given an opportunity to rethink their purchases and switch to smarter ways of living. 

Without reason to go out, the opportunity to switch to sustainable fashion was presented. Sustainable fashion includes environmentally friendly production, resources and disposal, along with better quality materials- therefore beneficial to both wallets and the planet. With stronger material, people are less prone to go out and continuously buy clothing, therefore creating less waste. Sustainable fashion provided numerous benefits, and the pandemic created the perfect transition opportunity. 

In recent journalism and market studies, there has been a sense of hope around rampant U.S. consumerism. According to an Accenture study, consumer habits have been rapidly changing during the pandemic, and will be permanently altered toward ethical and sustainable consumption; which will be the primary concern of the majority of shoppers going forward. Forty-five percent of those polled said they were making more sustainable decisions, and they expect to continue these choices after the pandemic. Genomatica conducted a survey in July that echoed these sentiments: During the pandemic, 85 percent of Americans thought about sustainability “the same amount or more,” and 56 percent “want both the government and brands to emphasize sustainability even when dealing with other problems.”

While the pandemic allowed people to consider new lifestyles by choice, many others were forced into more minimalistic ways, and then later realized the benefits. Restaurants were shut down, leading to an increase in grocery shopping and self-reliance. The world became virtual and no longer was there a need to purchase new clothes every week when they could get by in their pajamas. 

However, on the flip side, some handled the change of circumstances differently, and this can be tied back to financial and income levels. 33 percent of customers were financially constrained, with less disposable income than before the recession, and began shopping more cost-consciously, while 26 percent actually raised both their disposable income and free time, and chose to enjoy new leisure pursuits. The largest contributing factor to fast fashion’s appeal are the low prices, and with the financial losses caused by the pandemic, many people saw the short-lived financial benefit and were convinced. However, the quality and style of these clothes promise single wears, and long term, being forced into the purchase/disposal cycle the fast fashion companies promote would only cause further strain on a fiscal level. 

With those who gave into “boredom buying,” came the drawbacks of online shopping. Online shopping adds a list of steps, which put together, are far more detrimental to the environment than in-person alternatives. The added materials of the packages the clothing is shipped in, plus the transportation costs lead to more problems in need of sustainable solutions. 

There have been some recent positive developments in the long-term feasibility of online shopping. Amazon has placed an order for 100,000 electric delivery trucks, therefore relying on more sustainable methods of transportation. Additionally, retail pickup lockers are becoming more popular as a substitute for goods being delivered incrementally to customers’ homes. The secondhand market on the internet has also been appealing: According to ThredUp, the resale industry is worth $20 billion right now and is projected to double in size by 2022. This can be accredited to the rise of thrifting amongst younger generations and the popular apps like Depop and Poshmark (Fashionista).  

The need to reclaim a sense of normalcy and power is also a factor in pandemic consumption patterns. This is known in China as “revenge shopping,” which refers to a person’s enthusiastic return to the shopping scene after being forced to withhold funds for a long period of time. Since so many of the conventional outlets for pleasure — movie theaters, malls, parties — have been suspended, people cling to the feeling of materialistic satisfaction that online shopping offers (Fashionista). 

With evidence pointing to each side, the fact is that both the fashion industry and consumers must be held accountable. The biggest move that needs to be made is a mindset shift, and self conscious actions. The gap between consumer surveys and consumer action is massive and has taught the lesson that transitioning to a sustainable economy needs to be supported by more than just personal wishes for change. 

What is Greenwashing?

Over the years, demand for “green” clothing has increased, with more people being interested in purchasing sustainable clothing than ever before. Growing interest in sustainably produced garments has also started a trend in the fashion industry, known as “greenwashing.”

The conflict between trendy, good quality and eco-friendly clothes has forced many companies to change their ways of production, especially seen through media claims. Greenwashing refers to companies who claim they are manufacturing their products sustainably, when they usually are not. The main risk of greenwashing is that it may trick individuals into behaving unsustainably. One may want to purchase their goods if a business claims they’re eco-friendly. If these environmental statements turn out to be incorrect, then by supporting the business, they have accidentally contributed to damaging the environment.

Greenwashing takes place when more time and money is expended by a company or organization on promoting itself as environmentally friendly than on reducing their environmental effect. It is a cynical advertisement ploy designed to confuse customers who choose to purchase products and services from environmentally friendly brands.

Despite the manipulation techniques many of these brands employ, there are ways to spot greenwashing in the fashion industry and properly become an eco-friendly shopper.

1.Look for statistics.

Many companies will claim their products are “sustainably made” or “environmentally friendly,” but before taking their word for it, it is important to look for evidence to back up their claims. Instead of accepting them at face value, the best way to find out whether brands are greenwashing is by searching for statistics that support their arguments. Research and see what percentage of their clothing is actually made from sustainable materials. Amina Razvi, executive director of Sustainable Apparel Coalition, explains “Companies truly committed to sustainable practices are setting ambitious goals that can be backed by science. They measure and are committed to reducing environmental impacts [every year].” See if the brands have sustainable development goals and what they have done to reach them. 

2.Know the difference between natural and sustainable.

Many natural materials that are promoted as vegan and eco-friendly are produced in unhealthy ways, often with overuse of chemicals and pesticides which ruin the Earth. Examples include bamboo and viscose. According to Canopy, 150 million trees are cut down for viscose production every year; production of viscose leads to major deforestation. Growing bamboo requires the use of large amounts of pesticides chemicals, and the transformation of bamboo to fabric requires even more. This is highly pollutive to the environment, and the waste the process creates rapidly increases in order to sustain the fast-growing and producing fibre. 

3.Trust brands with comprehensive and open goals.

Brands that focus on transforming their entire clothing production process, from designing to waste distribution, to more sustainable alternatives are the most trustworthy groups. Razvi explains, “Leading companies are integrating sustainability into everything they do — not just one collection or a handful of pieces. Sustainability touches every aspect of the business and should be integrated as such, from headquarters, to design, manufacturing, shipping, and sales.”

The best way to steer clear of greenwashing is to research before you buy. This way, you not only buy garments better for the environment, but you will get more insight on the quality and worth of what you purchase. 

Carbon Neutrality in the Fashion Industry

The fashion industry accounts for 10% global carbon emissions, using more energy and releasing more toxins than aviation and shipping combined. Climate change and the issues that expand along with it are slowly impending and proposing new resourceless forms of livelihood. One of the biggest issues causing climate change are carbon emissions, specifically created by the fast fashion industry. 

Environmental nonprofits all over the world are supporting the idea of “fossil-free” routes, encouraging fashion brands to partake in a new, cleaner journey of clothing production. They provided a 5 step plan which (simplified) reads as follows:

  1. Setting ambitious climate commitments with full transparency
  2. Centring renewable energy in supply chain decisions with specific commitments to phase out coal
  3. Advocating for renewable energy policies in supply chain countries
  4. Sourcing lower carbon and longer lasting materials
  5. Reducing the climate impacts of shipping

With this, brands are beginning to announce “carbon neutral” plans for further production.

Starting with the famous shoe brand, Allbirds. They released a statement, expressing they were going “100% carbon neutral” in order to address the fact that each company within this industry has a role to play. This followed the first ever carbon neutral product introduced in popular apparel and shoe store, Everlane. Clothing producers, Reformation, followed up with a statement and staying true to their claims of being carbon neutral since 2015. These brands are most popular with the younger generations, who have already shown great advancement in sustainability projects.

The millennial-friendly brands were joined in their sustainability journey by more luxury brands, such as Gabriela Hearst. They hosted the first carbon-neutral runway show at New York Fashion Week. The introduction of Gabriela Hearst sustainable collections in New York fashion week was notable following the backlash during London Fashion Week.  Extinction Rebellion (XR) launched a campaign which called on the British Fashion Council to cancel London Fashion Week. This demand wasn’t met; as a result, protestors staged ‘die-ins’ and a ‘fashion week funeral’, urging the fashion industry to take drastic action (Carbon Neutral Fashion Brands). 

French luxury group, Kering pledged to “become carbon neutral within its own operations and across the entire supply chain.” As a result of this, there was a notable rise in ‘carbon neutral’ fashion shows

To summarize the phrase, carbon neutrality refers to achieving net zero carbon dioxide emissions by matching carbon dioxide emissions with reduction or actually removing carbon dioxide emissions entirely; often by carbon offsetting or the transition to the “post-carbon economy.” (Carbon Neutrality).

However, claiming to transition into fully carbon neutral ways is easier said than done. Rather than cutting down on toxic processing to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide release, most companies who claim to be carbon neutral, achieve this through offsetting. 

Explained through XR Fashion Boycott team, representative Sara Arnold says “Brands are saying that they have carbon emissions which are essential; that instead of cutting them out, they’ll offset. So you calculate: there were that many flights taken, so we’ll plant this many trees. But carbon emissions have knock-on effects which should be taken into account, and there are feedback loops. We’re getting closer to tipping point.” (Carbon Neutral Fashion Brands). The external factors to consider are not taken into consideration because of the automatic assumption that small actions do not add up. She gives the example of a worker who lands a job planting trees, and celebrates by booking a holiday for his family, thus upping his emissions (Carbon Neutral Fashion Brands). 

The process of agricultural growth contains factors which prove harmful for the environment, longterm. The uses of agrochemicals on the land can be put into question, or the use of fossil-fuel based materials such as nylon and polyester. In order to become 100% carbon neutral, there are many parts of the industry to take into consideration. 

True carbon neutrality is a step forward in the journey to fashion sustainability. Still, in order to make an everlasting mark on the process, it is imperative for brands all over the world to partake in ethical processes from beginning to end. 

Gender Based Abuse in the Fashion Industry

Fast Fashion production cycles impact work conditions for women in the garment industry. Each fast fashion factory relies on unrelenting systematic gender-based violence and harassment, and the rate at which these grievances occur make it a normal situation for the workers. 

Manufacturing and factory occupations have been male-dominated areas of work, so when women enter the field, they are considered outsiders, therefore becoming victims of harassment. 

From January to May 2018, the Asia Floor Wage Alliance and Global Labor Justice  researchers documented gender based violence reported by female garment workers in 5 countries; Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka. The data was placed in five categories of violence: 

  1. Sexual harm and stigma
  2. Gendered industrial discipline practices
  3. Physically extractive labor practices—a practice termed mining of the body 
  4. Unsafe workplaces
  5. Production of insecurity through the reliance on contract labor 
    1. Threats of termination
    2. Barriers to freedom of association
    3. Retaliation for reporting

Fast fashion, production targets, and gender-based violence in Asian garment supply chains

Proven by the research, “over 540 workers alleged abusive incidents and reportedly blamed their employers for imposing lightning-quick turnarounds and minimal overhead costs” (Hundreds of H&M and Gap Factory Workers Abused Daily: Report).

Gender based violence is almost predictable in the environment created by the relentless fast fashion industry. Through impossible supply demand and release of new products daily, workers are worked to the bone in order to keep up with pressures and order. The low-wage occupations push the women to reach production targets with clear repercussions if they fail. 

The reports include many workplace malpractices, including GBV and general mistreatment. Rape, slapping, bullying and misuse of power to pursue inappropriate and forced relationships were very common amongst female workers. (GBV in GAP Garment Supply Chain).

In a report filed against an H&M factory in Bangalore states that the batch supervisor came in and physically assaulted one of the female workers for not reaching her target quota. The report describes the situation and following the assault, the worker, Radhika, filed a complaint. The supervisor was told to stop harassing her, but the situation never got better. 

When women in the manufacturing branch of fast fashion industries complain about harassment, their cries are overlooked. “In an Indian factory, Roja R., a married woman in her 30s, worked in the cutting division. She described how her supervisor stalked and repeatedly called her cell phone after work hours asking for sexual favors, promising that he would give her a lighter workload and sanction time-off whenever she wanted. When she complained to the factory’s administration, they said that he was a supervisor who had high productivity and told her such harassment was “normal” and that she needed to take it in stride.” (Combating Sexual Harassment in Garment Industry). 

Generally, one in six women are faced with gender based assault. In factories and workplaces, 50% of women have stepped out and complained about gender based violence, but the number of women who are assaulted and forced to keep quiet create a much larger ratio. 

“Of the 763 women interviewed in factories, in three Vietnamese provinces, 43.1% said they had suffered at  least one form of violence and/or harassment in the previous year. A large majority of those interviewed said they had experienced unwelcome verbal abuse and harassment in the past year. A third had experienced physical harassment such as kissing, touching, hitting, punching, or leaning.” (Sexual Abuse Fast Fashion ). 

Advocation for women’s rights and action plans against gender based inequalities have been addressing these issues for years now. However, until these allegations are taken seriously in the light of the public, the harassment and abuse will continue. Lives are ruined every day, and they will continue to unless people begin to take action and understand the distinctness of GBV and its effects. 

Read 6 Ways to End Gender Based Violence for a rundown of the issue.  

Make Your Holidays More Sustainable

Christmas is coming up, and along with loads of presents, decorations and excessive food, it’s the perfect time to celebrate sustainably. It is not difficult to enjoy Christmas in a more eco-friendly way, from choosing a sustainable tree, to ethical christmas gifts; here is a list to guide you through your journey to a more ethical holiday season. 

Christmas Trees

For years the debate of real Christmas trees vs. artificial Christmas trees has created a divide. Despite your preference, there is always a way to make your choice more sustainable. 

If you prefer a real tree, solely purchase those with an FSC Certification, proving it was produced sustainably. To take the next step, keep an eye out for Soil Association stamp to ensure it’s organic. Regarding disposal, after the holidays, take your tree to a local tip. Many communities offer free Christmas tree recycling to make mulch, compost, and woodchips from the trees. 

If you choose to purchase an artificial tree, look to buy second hand. If you have searched on eBay, Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace but have not found anything, look to buy a new artificial tree that will last a lifetime, rather than one which needs replacement after every few years. 


Choosing sustainable decorations that last a lifetime will not only help the environment, but over time, your wallet too. Without the eco-friendly options, the extra waste amounts to 25 million tons of garbage, or about 1 million extra tons per week! If every family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet (FAQ Holiday Waste Prevention). An extra 30% of rubbish is produced and discarded throughout the festive period when compared with the rest of the year, the additional waste amounting to about 3 million tons. The UK will also throw away approximately 500 tons of Christmas lights each year (An Often Overlooked Part of Christmas). 

Decorations made from recycled glass, fabric and wood are better alternatives when compared to more common, non recyclable materials, such as PVC options. Additionally, investing in more expensive, yet sustainable decorations will last a much longer time. Purchasing timeless, classical designs and decor is highly recommended. 

Gift Wrapping

Green Gift Wrap : Brown paper wrapping with raffia and sprigs.

After picking out your gifts, it’s time for the gift wrapping. Keep an eye out for environmentally friendly gift wrap, be creative!

  • Reuse gift bags, boxes and tissues from previous years and events. If you don’t have any saved, start saving this year!
  • Use recycled brown paper for wrapping and spice it up with a ribbon or artsy finish using string, pine tree sprigs or raffia. 
  • Wrap your presents in a fabric scarf. A two in one gift idea, and the recipient will love it!
  • If buying new wrapping paper, choose reusable/recyclable materials, try to avoid foil and glitter bearing paper. (16 Tips for an Eco-Friendly Christmas)

Create new sustainable traditions and adopt them for a new, happier life (which comes with a smaller footprint)!

Water and Fashion: RiverBlue Summary

Film Synopsis

Through harsh chemical manufacturing processes and the irresponsible disposal of toxic chemical waste, one of our favorite iconic products has destroyed rivers and impacted the lives of people who count on these waterways for their survival. RIVERBLUE brings awareness to the destruction of some of the world’s most vital rivers through the manufacturing of our clothing, but will also act as a demand for significant change in the textile industry from the top fashion brands that can make a difference. (Visit RiverBlue

RIVERBLUE – Collective Eye Films

Award-winning documentary, RiverBlue, narrated by water-supporter Jason Priestley observes internationally celebrated river conservationist, Mark Angelo in an adventure to uncover the secrets of the fashion industry. Travelling all over the globe to investigate the world’s second most polluting industry, this documentary exposes images and anecdotes addressing issues the industry progresses upon and the destruction it’s doing to the planet. It focuses on the river destruction, the effects on humanity and possible hope for a future in sustainability. 

Specifically addressing the world’s most untarnished waterways to the most polluted, the film introduces viewers to the tragically under-reported water pollution problem. Through the harsh chemical production process and improper disposal of waste created during manufacturing, the creation of our everyday clothing is the cause of water-body deterioration (Water Docs). 

The documentary’s trailer addresses the necessity for water and the way it accommodates all of our needs as humans. The need for water remains the same, however the usage of water bodies grows progressively worse over time, especially with the implementation of factories and manufacturers in the present day. Because of irresponsible waste disposal, rivers across the world are deeply impacted by the dumping of poisonous toxic material. Each piece of clothing comes with a cost. Each part of the clothing production process has proved harmful to the environment. Starting with the removal of ecosystems to create factories, to stripping land of nutrients by growing energy-sucking crops like cotton. Then the fabric dye used in the designing process containing hazardous materials, the distribution of garments spreading air pollution, and finally, the disposal process of waste and used garments. The chemicals used in production processes do not break down, instead they travel around the world. The trailer specifically touches upon how companies divert attention from their manufacturing and waste disposal processes and keep their customers in the dark. The factory pipes are underground so nobody can see the factories dumping materials into water; contaminated liquids and materials are then placed into irrigation canals and this enters the food chain. 

The Fashion Industry and Water: Statistics

80 billion garments of clothes are being delivered out of factories per year (The High Price of Fast Fashion), creating tons of waste through production and disposal.

Nearly 20% of global water waste is produced by the fashion industry (United Nations Partnership on Sustainable Fashion and the SDG’s) and textile dyeing is the second largest polluter of water globally.

It takes around 2,000 gallons of water to make a typical pair of jeans (UN Environment Program) and 20,000 liters of water is used to create one kilogram of cotton, which is equal to one tshirt and a pair of jeans (World Wildlife Foundation).

Overall, the textile industry is one of the top 3 water wasting industries, discharging over 2.5 billion tons of waste water annually (Edge Fashion Intelligence).  

The fashion industry and its impact on water purity and availability is an unavoidable subject when addressing sustainability. Open your eyes and see how the creation of garments has progressed in such a way it has caused water to globally regress. 

“Buying something at a lower price actually contributes to the death, illness and suffering of people in some other part of the world” (RiverBlue Trailer