I’m Aurie Stetzel and I’m a student of sustainable fashion design. Spring 2018 I graduated from San Francisco State University with my BS in Apparel Design & Merchandising and Fall 2018 I begin my MFA in Sustainable Fashion Design, UC Davis.
In June I spent a month working with Turning Heads and Sweet Dreams as a special project intern, diving deep into my passion: sustainable fashion design. I researched sustainable fabric for Sweet Dreams’ products, I sourced organic cotton and vinyl billboard material and I designed a Chico bag using all natural fibers. Also I presented to Sweet Dreams’ members and Summer Boot Campers the most pressing issues facing the fashion industry and some alternatives.
I am totally committed to spreading awareness about the devastating effects of the fashion industry: the problem of plastic micro-fiber pollution in our waterways and oceans, the negative impacts on the environment and communities where the industry harvests and produces as well as the lack of labor rights and regulations caused by the exploitative economy of capitalism.
I’m very grateful to Jane and Dee for this experience. I felt so fortunate to have my first real opportunity to inform young fashion enthusiasts and potential designers of the future about problems in the industry which so desperately need our attention and commitment.
– Aurie Stetzel
Here’s a sample of my presentation
Some Important Vocabulary
- Sustainability – the ability for something, someone, a place/environment or society to keep functioning at a normal, healthy level; to keep on going; to last far into the future.
- Exploitation – taking advantage of a weakened, vulnerable state of people, places and communities; bullying those who can’t defend themselves into doing things that bring them harm because they have no choice; paying as little as possible for as much work and damage as possible.
- Sweatshop – a factory or workshop, especially in the fashion industry, where manual workers are employed at very low wages for long hours & under poor, unsafe conditions.
- Regulation – a law about the safety/environmental conditions, amount produced and/or output, or quality of product in an industry; often a law that protects the environment and people from dangerous working conditions and forced labor as well as the amount of pollution/destruction an industry can cause.
Now people buy more for much less, get much lower quality and as a result waste mountains of clothing & fabrics.
Landfills Over-Burdened and Filling Up
With most dumps/landfills reaching their capacity we are running out of places to put all our trash. It’s flowing out to sea and into our environments, in our food chain! It’s seeping into groundwater, it’s poisoning the air, choking our planet.
Synthetic fabrics are made with “Petrochemicals”
→ Oil and Coal
Emissions from the extraction, manufacturing and waste of these fossil-fuel based fabrics contribute massively to climate change as they off-gas into the air.
Microfibers from our synthetic clothing ends up in our bodies
Small fish & plankton eat microfibers, bigger fish eat those fish, gathering more and more plastic along the way. Eventually it ends up in our own bodies through food or in drinking water!
Impacts on Humans
Many children in countries exploited by unsustainable industry are working 80 hrs a week instead of going to school. Their only water is unclean because it is allowed to be dirtied by irresponsible factories, working conditions are unsafe and unhealthy. Wage doesn’t come close to living expenses.
Economically Trapped in Low-Paying, Unhealthy Jobs
How Has the Burden Shifted?
Industry moves to the next place without labor rights and a poor economy with no other option.
What Can We Do to Help?
- Support labor and environment regulations – they protect the Exploited against greedy corporations
- Get involved with signing & sharing petitions, attending protests
- When old enough to vote, support laws that will strengthen the rights of people and the lands they live on
- Reduce waste by re-purposing, re-using and recycling when possible
- Make new, unique clothes from old stuff that you don’t wear anymore
- When you recycle fabric in SF make sure it’s kept separate & clean or it can’t be recycled
- Don’t support the companies who profit from sweatshops and environmental destruction
- Buy 2nd-hand and sustainable products instead of fast fashion
- Spread awareness
Get Involved! Raise you Voice!