sus Holiday Gift Guide 2017

sus - byta gift guide
photo by @mybyta

There’s nothing like the spam of promotional emails, ads, and social media posts for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday to remind us it is officially the holiday season. While we all like to think the holidays are about spending quality time with friends, family, and loved ones, it is now more emphasized on indulgence, excess, and consumerism. Giving gifts is a beautiful thing, but instead of adding thoughtless tchotchkes to your cart, why not give something sustainable – something that sends an important message about the environment.

Byta Tumbler – a stainless steel tumbler in a variety of beautiful colors. Billions, yes billions of coffee cups are sent to the landfills every year. Help reduce this by bringing your own cup or byta to the coffee shop. Proceeds from each byta also go to the Ocean Conservancy and the Environmental Defense Fund.

Bkr Bottle – a glass water bottle with decorative and colored silicone sleeves in various sizes. Similar to coffee cups, billions of plastic bottles are also sent to the landfills every year. Carry a cute reusable water bottle that you can’t help show off 24/7 at places that can charge $2-4 for a water, like at your gym or fitness studio, movie theater, airport, park, fast-service restaurant, and the list goes on.

WinterStar-250ml

Apolis Market Bag – a reusable market bag made of natural jute fiber handcrafted in Bangladesh and finished in California. Apolis provides safe and ethical working conditions for mothers in Bangladesh through the sales of these bags. The bag can be used for trips to the farmer’s market, grocery store, flea markets, etc. I have one and I get compliments on it every time I take it out. I love that it’s roomy, sturdy, and timeless.

Baggu Bag – a reusable bag made of nylon that can be folded into a small pouch, so I never leave home without them (hello impromptu shopping trips.) They come in fun colors, designs, and sizes, and are also machine washable. Single use plastic bags often can’t be recycled with other hard plastics and take a lot of energy to manufacture. They can also unfortunately end up in our oceans and disrupt marine life.

Jade Yoga Mat – a yoga mat made from natural rubber tapped from rubber trees. Most yoga mats are made from PVC or other synthetic rubbers, which can’t be recycled or broken down easily in landfills. Jade plants a tree for every yoga mat sold.

Girlfriend Collective Apparel – yoga and workout apparel made ethically from recycled water bottles. They’re very transparent. Look good and feel (sustainably) good at the same time.

Donate to a cause – Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund, etc. There’s literally tons of organizations both locally and worldwide that offer gift donations or donations in the name of your gift receiver. Research and choose an organization at your discretion, especially since there’s been a lot of chatter about which organizations are more trustworthy than others.

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Fashion Brands That Care About The Environment

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I’ll admit that when I was in high school applying to fashion colleges, I didn’t connect the dots between the fashion industry and environmental sustainability. Like most people, my go-to stores for new clothes back in the day were fast-fashion spots like H&M, Forever 21, Zara, etc., without even understanding what fast-fashion truly meant. When I went on to study fashion in college, I learned so much about the life cycle of clothing and trends. From raw materials to the bitter end of markups and clearance, I realized most clothes either end up in your closet or in a landfill. More than 15 million tons every year, to be exact.

Sustainability can be applied in every stage of this life cycle whether it’s in materials and quality, labor and ethics, or recycling and waste. More consumers are demanding sustainable options and transparency about factory and labor conditions. Similar to the food industry, they want to know what went into producing their garments and accessories. As this demand grows, fashion brands have a responsibility to answer what role they want to play in sustainability.

Some brands are fully committed and want to be known as a completely sustainable brand. Some are transparent about labor conditions, but may still use new or imported materials. And some are just in limbo saying, “we’re working on it, we promise.”

If you need an intro to your new sus style, I’ve compiled a list of brands with various levels of sustainable efforts.

sus level – born to sus

These are brands that have sustainability in their mission statement. Most of them are Certified B Corporations, which means they’ve gone through the tough process and assessments of meeting social and environmental performance standards.

Reformation
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Category: Fun and trendy women’s apparel
Sustainable Practices: Certified B Corp., carbon footprint report for each garment, ethical and green labor conditions, in-store recycling program, recyclable and reusable packaging, local sourcing and recycled materials, responsible supply chain and production, employee community service

Patagonia
sus - fashion - patagonia mens
Category: Outdoor Women and Men’s clothing
Sustainable Practices: Certified B Corp., company Activism, ethical labor conditions, natural and recycled materials, responsible supply chain and production, in-store reuse and recycling program, employee community service

Eileen Fisher
sus - fashion - eileen fisher
Category: Women’s apparel and accessories
Sustainable Practices: Certified B Corp., company Activism, ethical labor conditions, natural and recycled materials, responsible supply chain and production, in-store recycling, program employee community service

Threads 4 Thought
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Category: Women’s and Men’s apparel, Women’s active wear and accessories
Sustainable Practices: Certified B Corp., responsible supply chain and production, organic and recycled materials,

Stella McCartney 
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Category: Women’s and Men’s apparel, accessories, and shoes
Sustainable Practices: Animal-free, responsible supply chain and production, recyclable packaging, eco-friendly office and stores

sus level – design over everything

These are brands that value great design and with that comes a transparent supply model with ethical labor conditions.

Hanky Panky
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Category: Lingerie and sleepwear
Sustainable Practices: Made in USA, ethical labor conditions

Everlane
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Category: Women’s and Men’s basic/staple apparel, shoes, and accessories
Sustainable Practices: Transparent pricing, ethical labor conditions

Nisolo
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Category: Women’s and Men’s shoes and accessories
Sustainable Practices: Responsible supply chain and production, ethical labor conditions

sus level – working on it

These are brands that aren’t marketed as sustainable, but still believe in corporate social responsibility and have programs that give back to the community and environment.

Madewell
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Category: Women’s apparel, shoes, and accessories
Sustainable Practices: Improving responsible sourcing, supply chain, and production, denim recycling*, and beach cleanups
*You get $20 off your next pair of jeans when you bring in an old one to recycle

& Other Stories
sus - fashion - otherstories
Category: Women’s apparel, shoes, and accessories
Sustainable Practices: In-store textile recycling*
*You get 10% off your next purchase when you bring in a bag of old textiles.

I’m going to try to end each post with a challenge for you lovely readers. This post’s challenge is to look through your closet and research the brands you normally wear. What are their sustainable practices? Do they have a socially responsible page on their website? Doing your research is a good way to start being more mindful about your shopping habits!