Earth Day is right around the corner and many people want to dedicate their April 22nd to Mother Nature while making a meaningful impact. But did you know April 20th – 26th is also Fashion Revolution Week?
With Earth Day and Fashion Revolution Week in the same week, it’s the biggest week of the year for us at Eco-Stylist. What’s Fashion Revolution Week, you ask?
Fashion Revolution Week is held annually on the anniversary of the Rana Plaza incident, where 1138 people were killed in Bangladesh in one of the largest industrial safety disasters in history. It’s a week of action calling attention to the people who make our clothes, and pushing for greater rights, pay, and safety for those folks.
While these are both great causes that many of us think about all 365 days of the year, the attention these issues get during this week presents special opportunities to make an impact. We can strengthen our own personal impact, educate others, and spread awareness for more sustainable living.
Here are 16 impactful activities you can do for Earth Day and Fashion Revolution Week. This could be the first combined list of action items for these 2 events, but we think they go together like peanut butter and jelly.
1. Collect and evaluate all your waste for the day
Being conscious about what we are contributing to landfills can be a great way to reduce our waste long term. When we throw something away, it technically never really goes away; rather, our waste just goes out of our sight and makes its way into a landfill.
According to the U.S. National Park Service, it takes a plastic bottle 450 years to decompose in the environment. Many plastics sit in landfills where they can take 1000 years or more to decompose.
Just think, every plastic chip bag, yogurt container, toothbrush, or any other plastic good you have used in your lifetime is somewhere out in a landfill and will continue to be when your great great great great grandchildren roam this Earth.
Get yourself a pail or jar and have a competition with your friends to see who has the least waste. Post your trash collection on social media with the hashtag #zerowaste to spread the word and encourage others to reduce their waste.
2. Make a plant based, homemade, waste free meal
Making a waste free, low impact meal may seem like a daunting task, but with the help of recipes from chefs like Anne Marie Bonneau and Max La Manna, waste free cooking is a breeze. Shopping for plastic and package free ingredients from bulk bins and farmers markets can be a really cheap and easy way to help the environment.
Additionally, choosing beans over beef can reduce carbon emissions around 96% and reduce your overall greenhouse gas emissions greatly. Enjoying a good meal and helping the environment should be the definition of a twofer.
3. Go thrift shopping and buy second hand
In need of a new shirt or a new pan? Making a trip to your local second hand store or using online services like Poshmark, Freecycle, and The RealReal can be a fun and budget-conscious way to promote more sustainable living.
Who knows, you may be able to find a few diamonds in the rough.
4. Commit to using public transportation or walking for the day
Nowadays, about 88% of Americans own a car. According to University of Minnesota’s Centers for Sustainable Systems, “cars and light trucks emitted 1.1 billion metric tons CO2e or 17% of the 2016 total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions”. By using public transportation, carpooling, or opting to walk instead of driving, you can greatly decrease your carbon footprint and save over $9000 a year!
5. Make reusable produce bags and gift them to your friends
Many people don’t think twice about putting their produce into plastic bags at the store. The average American family uses around 1,500 plastic bags a year without a second thought, but what happens to them once they are out of our sight?
Less than 10% of plastic bags actually get recycled, while the rest make their way into landfills and eventually make their way into our oceans. The estimated 5 trillion plastic bags used worldwide annually are making a huge impact on our environment and there is an easy solution to this big problem.
Round up some old sheets or any other fabric you have, turn on the good ol’ sewing machine, and have at it! Anne-Marie Bonneau has easy to follow patterns for basic cloth produce bags, or if you’re feeling a bit adventurous, you can give her bento bag pattern a try. She also has an informative guide on how to organize a produce bag meetup so you can inspire others to give sustainable living a try!
6. Organize, join, or do your own beach cleanup
Devoting your Earth Day to cleaning up beaches can be a great way to pay homage to our beautiful planet. With just a quick Google search, you can find local cleanups near you.
If there aren’t any scheduled beach clean ups near you, try scheduling one for your community! The Ocean Conservatory has a great guide on how to go about organizing a successful beach cleanup. They also have a really useful interactive map that helps you find local beach cleanups.
You can even do your own beach cleanup (party of 1) and share the number of pieces you picked up on social media. Microplastics are becoming a huge issue for our environment, fellow sea creatures, and waterways, so participating in a beach cleanup can actually save marine lives.
7. Spend some time in nature
Going for a hike, sitting in the sun with a good book, or having a picnic in the park are all great ways to spend time reconnecting with nature. Taking the time to appreciate the planet you live on can be a great way to enjoy Earth Day.
8. Read a book about sustainable living from your local library
Disconnecting from electronics and educating yourself about sustainable living with a secondhand book can be a fun and eco friendly way to spend your Earth Day. Renting used books from the library cuts down on paper usage, supports your local library, and it’s free!
Reading is a great way to learn about the ins and outs of sustainable living while taking a break from digital overload.
9. Pick up trash, take a picture of it, and slap on #trashtag
Have you heard about #trashtag? It’s currently all the craze among Millenials and Gen Z folks. You can organize a trash cleanup in your community or just do your own.
Be sure to share on social media when you’re done to get others excited about it, using #trashtag. While communal trash cleanups may not be possible during social distancing, you can certainly join an organized trash cleanup once life returns to normal.
10. Try a meatless challenge
Trying a vegetarian or vegan diet for a week or even a month can make a big environmental impact. According to EWG, eating one less burger a week is “like taking your car off the road for 320 miles.” Furthermore,
“If everyone in the U.S. ate no meat or cheese just one day a week, it would be like not driving 91 billion miles – or taking 7.6 million cars off the road.”
While chicken, tuna, and eggs are all lower than beef on CO2 emissions, plant based foods like rice, potatoes, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds fall close to nothing when it comes to CO2 emissions.
Beans, tempeh, tofu, and seitan can all make great substitutes for meat. Swap your beef burger for a delicious plant based burger or try lentil sloppy joes instead of beef ones.
11. Purchase a carbon offset
A carbon offset effectively offsets one’s carbon footprint by supporting clean energy projects like windmill energy companies, or planting trees to reduce the amount of CO2 in our environment. Companies like Terrapass allow you to purchase a one time carbon offset or to make a yearly, biyearly, or monthly carbon offset.
Carbon offsets are an effective, easy, affordable, and gratifying way to reduce greenhouse gases. Plus, you get a super cool certificate when you purchase one that you can proudly show off to your friends.
Fashion Revolution Week
Fashion Revolution week runs from April 20nd-26th this year. It’s a great chance to embrace, support, and educate others about ethical and sustainable fashion.
Fashion Revolution works to “unite people and organisations to work together towards radically changing the way our clothes are sourced, produced and consumed.” Here are some things that you can do for Fashion Revolution Week:
12. Attend an event
Fashion Revolution has a whole list of events all around the world for Fashion Revolution Week. If you’re in Australia, you can join the Slow Fashion Challenge or if you are in the UK, consider attending The Antidote To Fast Fashion by Lone Design. There are many different electrifying events around the world that you won’t want to miss!
13. Post to social media using #WhoMadeMyClothes
Take a picture of your favorite piece of clothing with the tag out, using the hashtag #WhoMadeMyClothes and tagging the brand in the post. This is a great opportunity to tell the brand you care who made your clothes and want them to be more transparent about their supply chain.
This core activity of Fashion Revolution Week helps shed the spotlight on clothing makers, advocating for them to have better rights and pay, no matter how far away they are. It’s also a great chance to share your favorite ethically made and sustainably sourced outfits on social media.
14. Pose with a poster
Fashion Revolution has quite a few different posters on their website that you can download and print for free! Print your favorite one (on scrap paper of course!) and pose in your favorite outfit. Make sure to use the hashtag #WhoMadeMyClothes to help spread the world.
15. Send a message to a brand
Do you ever find the perfect shirt, only to realize that it was most likely made by someone bonded by child or slave labor? Although boycotting fast fashion can reduce supply and demand, voicing the truth and educating can make even bigger changes.
As a consumer, using your voice to ask companies to change has impact, especially when paired with your decision to vote with your dollars for good brands. Fashion Revolution offers a pre-written email because who has time to type?
16. Find a film screening near you
During Earth Day and Fashion Revolution Week there are many film screenings taking place of documentaries about the fashion industry and sustainable living, such as The True Cost and River Blue. Check with local libraries, theaters, and sustainable shops and clubs for times and dates of screenings near you.
Alternatively, you can watch an environmental film right from home. Get your popcorn ready because this week is going to be packed with enlightening, educational, and inspirational movies!
What Will You Do?
Working towards a more sustainable lifestyle is something many of us practice everyday. We make little changes to reduce our personal environmental impact and live a more conscious life.
Doing something special for Earth Day and Fashion Revolution Week is a great way to try something new, join an event, spread awareness, and get your friends involved in conscious living. What will you be doing for Earth Day + Fashion Revolution Week this year?
Got some ideas of your own? Please share them in the comments so others can get inspired.
Asher is a writer at Eco-Stylist. In addition to sustainable fashion, environmental activism, and a zero waste lifestyle, Asher’s interests include cooking, nutrition, and learning about the human body and medicine. He’s pursuing a career in medicine while advocating for slow fashion and the environment.