Fridays with the Filthy Fashionista - Pilot Episode

Bringing you the latest in sustainable fashion news, sector trends addressing climate change and voices from fashion change makers around the globe

You can view the full livestream on Facebook here.

Kiersten: Welcome everyone to Friday’s with the Filthy Fashionista. I’m Kiersten Iwai, a digital and climate campaigner at Stand. I’m so excited to introduce to you the pilot episode of what we hope is a monthly series featuring Kristina, the Filthy Fashionista.

Kristina: I’m your Filthy Fashionista coming to you live from California! Fridays with the Filthy Fashionista will bring you the latest in sustainable fashion news, sector trends addressing climate change and voices from fashion change makers around the globe. For this first episode we’re going to introduce you to the world of sustainable fashion and the Too Dirty to Wear campaign we launched almost two years ago with Stand.earth. 

Kiersten: Wonderful. Welcome again to everyone tuning in. Let’s get started. What’s the inspiration behind the Filthy Fashionista?

Kristina: Well the inspiration initially came from wanting to give folks a closer look at the work we’re doing on the Too Dirty to Wear fashion campaign. But also it came from wanting to create a space that is uniquely talking about the fashion industry’s role in addressing climate change. 

The fashion industry is a multibillion dollar sector of the economy that potentially holds the keys to catalyzing major shifts in renewable energy across the globe. This would result in considerable reductions in carbon emissions, creating truly sustainable fashion could help keep us on a 2 degree pathway. That’s enough to inspire a space for conversation.,

Kiersten: So what about “sustainable fashion”?

Kristina: Sustainable fashion is mostly a nice idea. It's this idea that fashion can be created and consumed with little to no impact on the planet. Unfortunately the way it works in reality is that sustainable fashion tends to be buzzwords that major companies use to appeal to its consumers. As more and more of us demand eco-friendly products, companies then create eco-friendly policies--like recycling policies that incentivize returning old clothes for a discount, or policies that produce clothes using less water.. While these are good things, truly sustainable fashion would seek to have a zero or negative carbon output from its global supply chain. And not many major brands have commited to make that happen yet.

While there are definitely small companies that are authentically sustainable and eco-friendly, their clothing tends to be more expensive and less accessible to people of color and those with low incomes. So it’s really up to major brands to lead the way and address the huge carbon footprint of the fashion industry’s global supply chain network before we can say we have accessible sustainable fashion. 

Kiersten: Wow. We often hear about how wasteful the fashion industry is. But we don’t often hear about it from this climate angle. Can you tell me a little more?

Kristina: Of course. If we image that the fashion industry is a country, it ranks number four for climate pollution behind, China, the US, and Europe. It's responsible for nearly 10% of global climate emissions, and that number is expected to more than double by 2050 making it responsible for more than 25% of the world’s emission. That is significant. So where is all this pollution coming from? As I mentioned earlier, it’s coming from these companies' supply chain. In places like China, Vietnam and India, factories that manufacture clothing get their electricity from coal power stations that have major impacts on the local air quality and contribute to the upsurge in climate related catastrophes that we’re seeing. 

The fashion industry alone could be responsible for nearly 40,000 climate change deaths per year. Growing climate impacts in the fashion industry mean more people individually at risk.  

Kiersten: So that’s really heavy and has some serious consequences. I’m assuming that most of these consumers come from countries like the United States. With all that being said, what can be done to address these impacts? What can consumers do? 

Kristina: Well first and foremostm, companies need to use their economic power to immediately reduce carbon emissions and create a large scale shift to renewables across the industry’s supply chains. This looks like 4 things:

  • 90% reduction in greenhouse gas emission by 2025 in all owned and operated facilities (Scope 1 and 2);
  • 40% or higher absolute reduction in total greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 in the full supply chain (Scope 3);
  • Transition to renewable energy, with a minimum of 50% of energy sourced through renewables by 2035; and
  • Long-term carbon emission reduction of at least 66% by 2050 for the entire supply chain.

These are the demands of our Too Dirty Wear fashion campaign and are in line with the Paris Climate Agreement. 

And to answer your second question: what can consumers do? They can flex their economic dollars, which i’ll talk about in a moment, support the work of campaigns like ours which seek to put companies on blast for their pollution, and light a fire under them to take climate action. 

Kiersten: Thank you for outlining all of that. So both of us work on the Too Dirty To Wear campaign, and this summer we had a huge announcement from beloved jeans icon Levi Strauss and Co, the target of our Too Dirty to Wear Campaign on their climate commitments. For someone who isn’t too familiar with this work, describe what is the significance of the commitment put forth by Levi’s.

Kristina: Yea definitely. Last November we launched our Too Dirty to Wear fashion campaign and targeted Levi’s to address its climate pollution. Now this was a bold move on our end. We took on an iconic brand with a solid environmental reputation and super fly brand ambassadors and human rights advocates like Wiz Kalifa and Traci Ellis Ross. But it wasn’t for nothing. Levi’s annual carbon footprint is equal to that of 5 million cars and up until late July, they weren’t doing anything to change this. We campaigned for nearly a year using a variety of tactics which included but was not limited to taking our pants off in flagship stores in NY and San Francisco. While we definitely had a bunch of fun, our asks were serious and Levi’s listened. It’s climate announcement included both of our short term 2025 asks! 

Kiersten: So what happens next? Is Levi’s the trend or the anomaly?

Kristina: I think this is just the beginning of a trend of authentic change. As a part of the Too Dirty to Wear campaign, we communicate directly with some of the worlds largests brands about their climate commitments. And during the course of our communications over the past few months, its clear that companies are taking sustainability seriously and understand the urgency of the matter. And more apparel brands are joining the Science Based Targets Initiative to address the climate pollution, like Nike and Chanel. Beyond that, we’re seeing signals of industry collaborations with the Fashion Charter being announced at COP24, this year's climate summit. And the inside scoop tells us that we can anticipate more announcements like Levi’s in the coming months. 

Kiersten: We’ll be sure to keep our eye out for that.

We’re right in the middle of holiday season, some of you just went Black Friday shopping, I got sucked into Cyber Monday shopping, and some of you are still hiding from your shopping lists. How can a consumer navigate everything?

Kristina: As consumers we need to remember to flex our dollars to send signals to companies that we are paying attention and want sustainable clothing. To do this here are three things people should know before shopping and three things they can do to reduce personal impact.

Three things to know before you buy:

  • How transparent is a company in its social and environmental impact? Are they telling us about their dirt?
  • Does a company conserve water and limit toxics in its manufacturing process? Not doing so can have serious impacts on local communities.
  • What is a company doing to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions? 

Three things to do to have an eco friendly holiday:

  • REDUCE by hand making hand gifts from things you already have.
  • REUSE by purchasing from local thrift stores and secondhand shops.
  • RECYCLE by purchasing from online marketplaces where your neighbors and community members post used stuff for sale.

If you weren’t able to write that down no worries! You can find this list of things to know and do in my latest blog at https://www.stand.earth/toodirtytowear. The blog is called "The Climate-Friendly Company You Should Be Buying From This Holiday Season."

Kiersten: Thank you so much Filthy Fashionista. If you enjoyed this and would like to see more, please like and share this video and leave us a comment and question below :)