By Shayna Gutcho - Mosaic Fellow
Throughout recent years, discussion of sustainability, environmental justice, and generally being kinder to Mother Earth have become mainstream topics. While being mindful of our consumption habits has been a big discussion point, many still feel lost when it comes to everyday environmentally positive swaps. Not to fear! Here a few steps to help you live a more eco-friendly lifestyle with some great reads!
One of the largest contributors to Climate Change is the fashion industry, especially with practice of fast fashion. By definition, fast fashion is exactly what it sounds like: hip trends that are in for a hot second at a jaw-dropping low price. While that may not sound like a problem, these clothes quickly become out of style leaving a large carbon footprint, workers’ rights issues, and the list goes on.
A way to avoid contributing to fast fashion is by researching where you buy your clothes, the production process, and furthermore how the workers of the manufacturer are treated. One effective way to bypass this process though is to thrift your clothing. The Williamsburg area has some great thrift stores including DAV (Disabled American Veterans) and Goodwill. In addition to thrifting, you can also have clothing swaps with your friends or even those in your community. Both options create low cost methods to a plethora of different clothing, guaranteeing you will have fresh fashion instead of fast fashion.
Some amazing reads about Fast Fashion include:
Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth L. Cline
The Conscious Closet: The Revolutionary Guide to Looking Good While Doing Good by Elizabeth L. Cline
One of the best ways to fight the changing climate is not only fight against degradation to the environment, but also continually grow gardens, plant trees, and fight against littering. With the William & Mary campus being next to the gorgeous Lake Matoaka and plenty of flourishing plant life, it is always a goal to keep our community clean.
An excellent e-book to read are Gardens & Landscapes in Historic Building Conservation, this book title is exactly what the book describes which is extremely applicable to the campus at the College.
An insightful rare book to look at from Special Collections is Sylva, or a Discourse of Forest Trees and the Propagation of Timber by John Evelyn in 1662. This book is one of the first about conservation, Evelyn writes about the concern about cutting down fruit trees in relation to the creation of cider.
To put it simply, no one can talk about climate change without discussing the communities that are severely threatened. Through actions such as fracking, coal mining, the location of superfund sites, etc., often communities of color and low-income areas are disproportionally affected by environmental degradation. Areas such as Flint, Standing Rock, and various parts of Appalachia are prey to predatory environmental practices.
It is not only important for the public to be educated about Climate Change, it is important to see environmental racism and speak up if you are in a position of privileged.
Some excellent reads about the Environmental Justice movement include:
Our Roots Run Deep As Ironweed: Appalachian Women and the Fight for Environmental Justice by Shannon Elizabeth Bell (available online)
All Our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life by Winona LaDuke (available online)
Flint Fights Back: Environmental Justice and Democracy in the Flint Water Crisis by Benjamin J. Pauli
La Llorona by Margaret Randall (found in Special Collections)
Being more ecologically friendly is not an overnight process but rather: a journey. What is important is to strive to be more environmentally conscious every day. Throughout your sustainability journey, Swem has amazing resources to help guide you. By trying to be conscious of our consumption and educated about environmental disparities, we can all help make our world a cleaner and better place.