In today's Weekend Agenda, New York-based Natasha Halesworth shares what motivated her to leave her corporate job to pursue a career in the eco-fashion industry. Six years later and The Consistency Project is a thriving vintage and second-hand thrift store in Brooklyn, New York. We invite you to join us as Natasha shares her experience in and perspective on the fashion industry, as well as suggestions on how we can lighten our carbon footprint through shopping secondhand.
Imagine a world with no clean water.
With the current state of the planet, we may have to take a statement like this seriously. If you’re reading this you're probably in the same boat as I am: fortunate enough to have access to clean water, and most likely drinking it out of a reusable MiiR water bottle. Just doing our part by avoiding plastic bottled water. Yay us, right?
But, what if we didn’t have access to clean water? What if plastic bottled water was the only way to ensure we were drinking clean water? Would we do it? What if the bodies of water that surround you were contaminated and highly polluted beyond repair? Your favorite lake, river, or ocean. How would that make you feel?
In 2018, I left my corporate job to fully pursue a side venture I had started back in 2014 called The Consistency Project. I was ready for a change, not just in my own life, but in our society as a whole. I was tired of partaking in a culture of “newness” and instead wanted to challenge myself and others to reuse what already existed starting with the clothing we wore. My thought was that if we could incorporate reuse when it came to our clothing, we could start to incorporate this same lifestyle choice in other parts of our lives.
Fortunately, sustainability has recently been at the forefront of many conversations. With that, we have become more aware of the environmental impact of the fashion industry, especially since it happens to be the second largest polluter behind fossil fuels. With our disposable culture and rise of fast fashion, the level of pollution and exploitation of our natural resources through the production of apparel has increased exponentially. Buying “new” has a greater, more negative impact than we may realize.
Next time you’re getting ready, take a look at your closet. More than likely a majority of your clothing has been dyed at some point. Textile dyeing, particularly through synthetic dyes, involves vast amounts of water. Not only that, a lot of times the dyes go back into our environment affecting plant life and clean drinking water, as some dyes don’t ever degrade. In countries with a strong presence of apparel production and manufacturing, most of their rivers and waterways are contaminated beyond repair. But what if half of your closet was actually purchased secondhand?
Now, think about the number of times you’ve seen or received a branded cotton tote bag or t-shirt for an event giveaway or as company “swag.” Although cotton is a natural fiber and better alternative to synthetics, it is known to be a “thirsty” crop. A cotton t-shirt is said to take around 2000 gallons of water to produce. Additionally, conventional cotton is a huge contributor to pollution due to the toxic chemicals and fertilizers used, making it one of the “world’s dirtiest crops.” So what if those branded company shirts were printed on secondhand shirts instead?
The Consistency Project’s mission has been to address issues like these by inspiring a lifestyle of “Secondhand First.” When we choose to buy something secondhand over new, the impact can be huge. Consumption is at an all-time high, and many corporations are finding ways to cut corners to continue to exploit natural resources and underprivileged communities primarily made of women and children. From child labor to abuse in the workplace, these examples barely scratch the surface. Although “new” is sometimes necessary, finding a balance on our consumption and incorporating more secondhand will, in turn, give our planet a chance to recoup from all the damage we’ve done.
So the next time you see an overflowing clothing donation bin or are drinking your clean water in your reusable water bottle, remember that you are fortunate enough to make a difference. Challenge corporations to be transparent about their production process. Support your workplace to incorporate reusables or cut down on unnecessary swag. Inspire your friends and family to consider shopping secondhand. Your individual impact may seem like a drop in the bucket, but consider the ripple effect you can create.
Now imagine a world where everyone chooses secondhand first.
Maybe then, we wouldn’t have to worry about clean water.
Photos by: Ysabella Langdon