- Environment: Textile production alone produces 1.2 billion tons of greenhouse gasses every year. Dyes used produce toxic chemicals that pollute waterways. Microfibers make their way into drinking water and aquatic food chains just to mention some downsides.
- Consciousness: What are we passing on to our children? To be a part of a concerned and conscious community who promote sustainable living, breaking down taboos and stigmas towards second hand clothing and recycling in general. All of this of course in style.
- Style: To find unique items. Re discover the faves that went out of stock and mix and match different seasons in new and cool ways. Buy quality that lasts.
- Health: Washed clothes contains less or none chemicals. Most clothes today goes through mainly two different types of treatments:
- Antimicrobial treatments designed to make them mold– and mildew-resistant during their logistically protracted storage in warehouses and transport across the globe in shipping containers.
- A variety of chemical treatments that endow value added properties such as wrinkle-resistant (iron-free/permanent press), stain resistant and/or flame-retardant.
- Economy: Be a smart consumer, buy less and better items and shop second hand when possible.
In the following series we will introduce you to small entrepreneurs, who fought hard to take their business in a sustainable direction. We will share the visions, ideas and the struggles they faced when going against an industry of fast consumerism.
Part 1 : RAHA Clothing
Eisha Saleh is the founder and director of RAHA Clothing. Eisha started this fashion business in 2008 with a business partner under the name Baraka Women, but today Eisha is managing the business from end to end by her self, – all the way from design and concept through to clothing production, sales and marketing and is the designer/director of the business.
”Its part of my responsibility to look after the planet with my work and so I had to change”
A lot of thoughts and concerns made Eisha make a decision to re-brand her business and have just launched the new RAHA Clothing:
”After my business partner left the business in 2013 I hadn’t really been responsible for the clothing production side of the business. I had to learn that quickly and I researched a lot during that first collection on my own. As part of the learning curve came the reality of how clothes are made, the conditions of factories and hours they worked etc. I didn’t understand fabric composition and production either, so as I researched what kind of fabrics I wanted to use and how each fibre performs I learnt a lot about environmental damage, chemicals, dyes, non renewable resources, biodegradability of fabric and even how people made fabrics and their conditions”
After 5 years I was overwhelmed with the dirty industry and retreated into my religion for some relief. I found a Hadith of the Prophet sallalahu alaihi wa sallam “Do not waste water, even if you are by a running stream”. This affected me profoundly as it was all the environmental encouragement I needed.
Finding suitable fabrics and suppliers was not an easy task for Eisha: ”The Australian industry is extremely small and expensive so I had to search for a long time to find what I was looking for. I didn’t want to lose all my customers so pricing couldn’t shoot up way past peoples affordability but at the same time money is usually the reason people cut corners with the environment or taking care of their workers. I kept searching and asking everyone I knew. You have to think outside the box sometimes. I finally found a social enterprise that sells up-cycled fabric rolls from old fashion houses and profits go to the disabled workers they support. This was a great fit for a small business like mine. I also joined many groups online that share resources and tips to improve sustainability”
When I asked Eisha on advice to entrepreneurs following their dream and pursuing something they love while being sustainable her reply was:
”It definitely seems harder before you start. And when you finally get started and its business as usual you realise it wasn’t as hard as you imagined. Its just a change of habit to be sustainable, but it too in time will become a habit. It is more expensive at the outset and taking the cheaper option is very tempting when you have invoices to pay. But stick with it, as giving a healthy planet to our kids is worth it and the longer you do it, the more affordable it gets”
Eisha’s advice towards a more sustainable daily life is to start small and to be consistent:
“For example take reusable plates to your next picnic instead of disposables. Keep this up until its easy for you and doesn’t feel overwhelming. Once you feel good about that change, add a new goal. Take your time, don’t rush with it and feel good about all the little things you achieve, we have enough stress in our lives. Another one to try is every time you finish a product at home replace it with something greener. And join some social groups that can help you with ideas or sticking to goals”
During the next 10 years Eisha is aiming to make RAHA Clothing into a complete closed loop fashion business, using only recycled materials and technologies and developing my own textiles! She also want to teach about sustainability and run programs for new businesses wanting to achieve this kind of accreditation. These things would make me happy, she says.
You can follow this exciting journey and support RAHA clothing through the Instagram account @rahaclothingau and check out the brand and collection: www.rahaclothing.com.au
This interview was made to you by http://www.anothers-treasure.com – a platform for preloved Modest and Islamic clothing
If your are are small business working towards sustainable goals and would like to share your story, please get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org
By sister Abigail Trumbo, American Muslimah wife, mother, and writer.
A Layperson’s Perspective On Minimalism & Moving Towards Sustainable Living
I can’t remember exactly when I started discovering minimalism, but I’m guessing it was around 2015, when it became “trendy.” That was also around the time I started really trying to understand personal style, because I had begun working in a retail environment where it was my job to style clients. I had never been very thoughtful about what I bought, where I shopped, or my impact on the environment – I thought mainly about prices, and I also had an inherent preference for fully using things instead of throwing away perfectly good items. Thank you, Mom and Dad, for teaching me that! It has definitely been a key part of my growth and greatly informed my current choices.
As I developed a sense of personal style and a “look” (for lack of a better word) for my little family home, I became increasingly aware with how excessive the typical lifestyle in my country is. People are constantly bringing home knick-knacks, believing that they need “a special touch” to turn a house into a home. They have to buy entire pieces of furniture just to hold and display items that only serve maybe one purpose, if any! And fashion? I love it and spend much more time exploring it than I should, but even I am astonished that people shop for fun every single week, buy multiple pieces of new clothing just to try out and purchase items they don’t even like just to be trendy, and who go through textiles and accessories like babies go through diapers. I realized that all this input had created the expectation, even in my mind, that a home was meant to showcase things. I had felt like I needed this thing or that, shelves of trinkets, and so on, to have a really beautiful home that we would enjoy being in. How thankful I am that we did not actually go down that route; alhamdulilah for the financial constraints that barred me from it. Because now I understand better and have learned an entirely new, but to me, so much more natural, approach to style and living comfortably.
My life revolves around my children, and so must my home. I quickly learned that even the most essential pieces of furniture will be subjected to heavy use by busy babies learning to walk and later developing fantastical toddler games! There is no chance for the carefully arranged shelves of things that so many people keep in their homes. It also dictates what I wear, naturally. I downsized my hijab collection significantly because I realized that I was only ever wearing 3 or 4 of the scarves I had, and was just keeping an untidy box in my living room to be dumped out and picked up in an endless cycle. It also took too much time to sort through what I had in my closet for something I was comfortable in, when my little ones were screaming to go outside. I learned how to streamline my wardrobe so that everything could be easily reached and easily used, and I think I’ve finally also understood how to put pieces in it that really reflect who I am and suit my appearance as well. For example, I love colors and I think they are beautiful, but I feel so uncomfortable wearing them that I’ve finally decided not to make them part of my everyday wardrobe. This also limits my interest in changing fashions significantly, since I know what I like and what works for me, and I don’t feel nearly as tempted to get things just because they’re trendy or I like the way someone has styled them. Goodbye to the “will this hijab go with my outfit” dilemma, especially when (like today) we notice it’s snowing and want to sprint straight outside to play!
The longer I live with what would be considered bare-bones essentials and a tight sense of personal style, the more I have enjoyed it. I love that our home has as much open space as possible for rowdy boys to run through and build train tracks and play ring-around-the-rosy. I even divided up their toy collection – which is pretty small – between the bedroom and living room, so we don’t have masses of stuff everywhere but something fun to do wherever I am. (Wherever Mom is, there the little ones go.) Most of all, I love that my children can play freely and my infant can crawl around and discover things without being constantly checked and told not to pull on things! We’re all happy and healthier because everything we own now (for the most part) is useful and oriented to us.
And what we don’t use or need, I either give away or donate, so that we can actually bless someone else as well.
I also like that now, when I get dressed and look at myself in the mirror, I feel happy and beautiful. I don’t feel frumpy in florals or prints that don’t suit me, or childish in a rainbow of colors, or inhibited by jewelry that gets ruined by my constant running, playing, cooking, and cleaning. And I love being able to look into my closet and see a rail of pieces that I enjoy wearing, with each one expressing some part of my taste or personality, instead of trying to fit into what other girls are saying is “in” or appease the caprices of my society. I love that my hijabs are easy to hang up and reach in a second, and best of all, that more than half of them were gifts so each one reminds me of someone I care about.
I readily admit that I have been drawn to minimalistic living because of personal preference. While I experimented with style, I found that I always kept coming back to the most basic and simple kinds of things. In my house, too, I literally feel suffocated if things aren’t tidied up and there isn’t plenty of open space. I can’t rest with a lot of things around me – they feel chaotic, weighty, and angry. There is something about the visual of space and natural light that is more soothing than any kind of décor I have ever seen. But as I recognized the kinds of things that worked for me, I inevitably learned why so many other people were moving in this direction, and how the minimalist movement expressed much more than personal tastes.
Our cultures pound consumerism endlessly. Women are especially targeted, as homemakers and as people who are already beautiful and want to accentuate that.
We’re inundated with changing styles, with expectations to look updated, with an urge for new.
And that is so unhealthy not just for us but for the earth that’s bleeding out resources for our seasonally changing interests, and for the mothers and children with sore hands and hungry bellies and aching backs (and worse) who produce those things for us.
Thinking about what we consume and why, moving away from that mindset of entertainment and focusing instead on facilitating our actual lives, has a much bigger impact than our own comfort. It shows that we are aware of who we are and of our connection to everyone else — and to the planet as well!
The things we put in our homes and on our bodies make a visual statement about who we are, and respect for human rights and for nature is a huge part of that. We don’t only use style to show our creativity, but our perspective on our place in the world. Ultimately, we express our sense of morality even through the clothes we put on.
I started developing a minimalistic style from selfish reasons, because it suited me and my budget. But now I feel like my eyes are a little more opened and I am learning how to change the sources I look to for our needs. Now if and when I shop, I feel even better about it because I am doing it meaningfully and thus bringing conscience into the most intimate aspects of my family’s life. From cutting up worn-out clothes to use as cleaning cloths instead of buying wipes, to making sure that every piece of furniture in our home is beautiful and speaks for itself (so that no decoration is needed), to buying secondhand for myself and my children, I am embracing a way of living that is much more in accord with how Allah intended us to be and in harmony with reality. I still have progress to make in how I respect the environment, but I am now equipped with knowing how and why to move forward. Best of all, I’m loosening the stranglehold of consumerism in my life and adjusting my mindset to cut out the frenzied buying and changing to which my generation has been conditioned.
I am sometimes surprised at how far I’ve come in adjusting my life and expectations to minimalism. Just a few years ago, I would have felt like this was a waiting-room period of life and eventually I could finally have a “dream home” filled with things. But now, even if I were rich, I would prefer this kind of life, more or less. I would rather have our beautiful granite-look table that my husband brought, where we eat and learn languages with friends and play and celebrate Ramadan, with my one candle on it that gives off beautiful light and reminds me to be thankful, than decorations everywhere. I would rather buy second-hand clothes that are too good and lovely to be abandoned than keep cycling through new things in the store which burn through our rapidly changing world. I would even rather my children not be inundated with toys, so that they learn to play happily with what they have and use it imaginatively and experiment. I like that everything around us carries our memories and actually means something to us, instead of being “just” a thing.
Gratitude is key, and so is slowing down and seeing the beauty that absolutely fills the world. I have learned to stop and just appreciate the harmony of colors, the way light plays on a surface, and the smell of fresh air through an open window. That’s the kind of life we all want in the end, isn’t it? And that is why minimalistic living is such a wonderful thing. It helps us achieve more contentment and it focuses our eyes on what really is a splendid creation.
I strongly believe that reducing what we consume is a must for the future of our planet, if not for our sake, for our children’s.
But I also believe that it is beneficial for us as people and that it’s not about being monochromatic, boring, or hard on yourself or others. It’s about recognizing who you are and what you love and celebrating that. So when you think about minimalism, please don’t think that you have to have a white and gray Scandinavian aesthetic, or that minimalism means only modernism and tight living. Just look around you, notice what really makes you smile and what brings that sense of delight and rightness to your eyes, and recognize what supports you in being fully you and living out who you are, and free yourself from the rest.
Abigail Trumbo is an aspiring writer from Richmond, Virginia, USA, and became one of many American Muslims in 2013. She’s worked in a variety of settings: an accounting office, a university office for international students, as a home health aide, and in retail. She returned to school in 2015 to study for a career as a teacher, but decided to be a stay-at-home mother when she had her first child. Since then she has begun writing again and dreams of compiling a book of short stories as well as a novel geared toward Muslim young adults. She also started a blog where she writes about growth and identity as a Muslim woman and plans to advocate and educate for mental health from an Islamic perspective. You can follow her work at https://authorialaspirations.blogspot.com/.
When I used to work as a volunteer at Oxfam as a teenager, in nearby trendy Coventry Garden, London, I would marvel at the amount of good, quality clothes available to the public, at a fairly cheap price. Some items were new, in that the original price tags were still attached, while others had the look of being worn, but still in good condition.
Years later, as an adult and a mom of two young kids, I would still occasionally browse through some vintage clothing stores, as well as browse online for some pre-loved items.
We no longer live in the UK, or in the West, as my family had moved back to our native country, Malaysia. Hence, no access to Oxfam. However, there are plenty of vintage clothing stores and ‘bundle’ stores which sell fashionable pre-loved clothes from the West or from Japan.
Limited Pre-Loved Modest Fashion Options
Even in a majority Muslim country, these preloved clothing stores do not stock any Muslimah fashion clothings, as they only have Western style clothing. But I still do purchase from these stores, on the odd occasion when I need to find a jacket to travel to a country of cooler climate.
My interest in pre-loved clothing peaked when I recently found out about the fashion industry in general. If anything, these have brought a renewed sense of social activism in me, which have stayed quiet since I left my teenage years.
Top 5 Reasons To Shop Pre-Loved Clothes
#1 – Pollution
The Fashion Industry is considered the second most polluting industry globally, after the oil industry, according to the United Nations (UN).
Total greenhouse gas emission from textiles production is 1.2 billion tonnes annually. That’s more pollution than the aviation and the shipping industry combined!
#2 – High Water Consumption
Did you know that 10,000 liters of water is needed to make 1 pair of jeans? That is the equivalent of one person drinking water of 7 years!!!
That is such as waste of an essential resource!. Remember that water is life, water is needed to sustain lives, and here we are wasting it over jeans and other throwaway clothing.
#3 – Wasteful Consumption
We consume more but use less. Consider the statistics:
- 40% of our clothes in wardrobes are hardly worn
- We purchase 60% more clothes than we did in year 2000, but we only keep them for half the time we used to
As Muslims, we should remember that our faith requires us to be modest, moderate and not to waste:
O Children of Adam! Dress properly at every place of worship, and eat and drink, but do not be excessive. He does not love the transgressors, Surah: 7, Verse: 31
And those who, when they spend, are neither wasteful nor stingy, but choose a middle course between that, Surah: 25, Verse: 6
#4 – Sweat Shops
The fashion industry is heavily dependent on sweat shops.
What are sweat shops and why should you care?
Sweat shops are basically labor-intensive factories filled by low-skilled, low-wage earners, typically women and children. They are typically in low-income countries, where labor laws are weak and do not protect the workers.
According to this article, many of the popular high street, fast fashion stores still employ sweat shop workers, including child labourers.
#5 – Fashion Landfills
Fashion fills US landfills:10 million tonnes of clothes go to landfills, with only 2.4 million tonnes are recycled.
Again, this is such a waste and lends to more pollution.
How You Can Help Change The World
You might think that, you’re just one person. How can you change the world?
It’s all about collective effort. You’re just one person, but collectively, as a group that’s concerned about the environment, you can make a difference. Just by making different choices.
Before you think about your next fashion item, consider how you can help by:
- Recycle your existing clothes, or give hand-me-downs to your kids
- Buy pre-loved clothing, and save the planet AND your money
- Donate pre-loved clothes, and get some rewards for your Akhirah
- Sell your pre-loved clothes, and earn some side income
About The Author:
Farah I is a content writer for Halalop.com . She’s often interested in issues concerning Muslim women, tech startups and Muslim businesses. Her prior work experience was in finance and marketing. She has an MBA and a Bachelors’s in Management. However, she chose remote work to be with her young kids.
Have you done any changes in your life towards sustainable living? From thoughts to actions, anything counts and we would like to inspire others by sharing YOUR story.
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We would love to hear from you ❤
Taking good pictures of clothing is not an easy task. We found a guide with some suggestions on how to make your items look good on pictures. You don’t have to follow all the steps, but maybe you will get a few new ideas. Take a look by clicking here
Solene Rauturier (goodonyou.eco) wrote this article explaining what Fast Fashion is, the impacts and how it started.
Clothes shopping used to be an occasional event – something that happened a few times a year when the seasons changed, or we outgrew what we had. But about 20 years ago something changed. Clothes became cheaper, trend cycles sped up and shopping became a form of entertainment. Enter Fast Fashion – and the global chains that now dominate our high streets and online. But what is Fast Fashion? And how does it impact people and planet?
It was all too good to be true. All these stores selling cool, trendy clothing you could buy with your loose change, wear once and then throw away. Suddenly everyone could afford to dress like their favourite celebrity, or wear the latest trends fresh from the catwalk.
Then in 2013 the world got a reality check when the Rana Plaza clothing manufacturing complex in Bangladesh collapsed, killing over 1,000 workers. That’s when consumers really started questioning Fast Fashion and wondering what was the true cost of those $5 t-shirts. If you’re reading this article, you’re probably already aware of Fast Fashion’s dark side, but it’s worth exploring how the industry got to this point
Fast fashion can be defined as cheap, trendy clothing, that samples ideas from the catwalk or celebrity culture and turns them into garments in high street stores at breakneck speed.
How did Fast Fashion happen?
To understand how Fast Fashion came to be, we need to rewind a tiny bit. Before the 1800s, fashion was slow. You had to source your own materials like wool or leather, prepare them, weave them and then make the clothes.
The Industrial Revolution introduced new technology – like the sewing machine. Clothes became easier, quicker and cheaper to make. Dressmaking shops emerged to cater for the middle classes.
A lot of these dressmaking shops used teams of garment workers or home workers. It was around this time that sweatshops emerged, along with some familiar safety issues. The first major garment factory disaster was when fire broke out in New York’s Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in 1911. It claimed the lives of 146 garment workers, many of whom were young, female immigrants.
By the 1960s and 70s, young people were creating new trends and clothing became a form of personal expression, but there was still a distinction between high fashion and high street.
In the late 1990s and 2000s, low-cost fashion reached its zenith. Online shopping took off, and Fast Fashion retailers like H&M, Zara and Topshop took over the high street. These brands took the looks and design elements from the top fashion houses and reproduced them quickly and cheaply. With everyone now able to shop for on-trend clothes whenever they wanted, it’s easy to understand how the phenomenon caught on.
What’s the impact of Fast Fashion?
Fast Fashion’s impact on the planet is huge. The pressure to reduce costs and speed up production time means that environmental corners are more likely to be cut. Fast Fashion’s negative impact includes its use of cheap, toxic textile dyes – with the fashion industry the second largest polluter of clean water globally after agriculture. That’s why Greenpeace has been pressuring brands to remove dangerous chemicals from their supply chains through its Detox The Catwalk campaign.
Cheap textiles also increase Fast Fashion’s impact. Polyester is one of the most popular fabrics. It’s derived from fossil fuels, contributing to global warming, and can shed microfibres that add to the increasing levels of plastic in our oceans when it’s put through a wash. But even ‘natural fabrics’ can be a problem at the scale fast fashion demands. Cotton requires enormous quantities of water and pesticides in developing countries. This results in risks of drought, creates huge amounts on stress on water basins and other environmental concerns biodiversity and soil quality, competition for resources between companies and local communities.
The constant speed and demand means there is also increasing stress on other environmental concerns such as land clearing, biodiversity and soil quality that may be at risk of drought. While the processing of leather also impacts on the environment, with 300kgs of chemicals being added for every 900kg of animal hides tanned.
The speed at which garments are produced also means that more and more clothes are disposed of by consumers, creating a huge amount of textile waste. In the UK alone, 235 million pieces of clothing were thought to have been sent to landfill in spring 2017.
As well as the environmental cost of Fast Fashion, there’s a human cost.
Fast Fashion impacts garment workers, who have been found to work in dangerous environments, for low wages and without basic human rights. Further down the supply chain, there are the farmers who may work with toxic chemicals that can have devastating impacts on their physical and mental health, a plight highlighted by the documentary The True Cost.
Animals are also impacted by Fast Fashion, as the toxic dyes that are released in waterways and microfibres that can be ingested by ocean life. When animal products such as leather and fur are used, animal welfare is put at risk. A recent scandal revealed that real fur, including cat fur, is actually being passed off as faux fur to unknowing shoppers in the UK. The truth is that there is so much real fur being produced under terrible conditions in fur farms, that it’s actually become cheaper to produce and buy than faux fur.
Finally Fast Fashion can impact consumers themselves, encouraging the “throw-away” culture because of both the built-in obsolescence of the products and the speed at which trends are produced. Fast Fashion makes us believe we need to shop more and more to stay on top of trends, creating a constant sense of need and ultimate disatisfaction. The trend has also been criticized on intellectual property grounds, with some designers alleging that their designs have been illegally mass-produced by retailers.
I grew up with a belief that buying second hand clothing was cool. My friends and I would search local thrift shops and trendy vintage shops in Copenhagen and mix and match unique items and save money at the same time. Later in life I learned about a totally different and negative belief regarding secondhand shopping.
And why would this be a problem?
To dress modest has become both cool and mainstream and the days with no options are (thank God!) over. However, the shift towards mass production of clothing is resulting in pollution, more waste and other negative environmental impacts.
Even though the market is now filled with modest clothing the view on buying secondhand has only changed very little. To be frank: it’s a taboo in many cultures to buy secondhand. We all have a story or experience to prove it.
With Another’s Treasure I go against this view and have developed a marketplace and platform where you can sell and buy used Modest clothing. What can be one womans trash, can be Another’s Treasure.
What is the aim of the project?
- Break down taboos and educate on conscious consumerism: Buy less, choose well, support quality.
- Promote an easy option for consumers of Modest Clothing to choose at least one sustainable and budget friendly way to dress in good quality.
How will this support small entrepreneurs and quality brands?
With an outlet where you can sell purchased items you are more likely to invest in quality. Buy less, but quality. Searching through the marketplace you will discover and try out new brands and items and invest in future quality purchases instead of buying cheap, low quality items.
Below I have listed 5 solid arguments to join this movement. Let’s work with our own prejudice about secondhand clothing and dig into why second hand shopping is growing and trending in Scandinavian countries, just to mention some.
The world is suffering due to fast trends, fast fashion and increased consumerism. Lets change that direction!
Hope to see you around!
Katja Kathrine Larsen
Founder and CEO, Anothers Treasure