The Global Effects of Fast Fashion

The Fast Fashion industry has significant detrimental effects on the rest of the world. The environmental and humanitarian impacts are astounding and only increasing.
The United States alone throws out about 14 million tons of clothing a YEAR. Clothing — especially polyester– is not biodegradable and will end up sitting in landfills for years. Department stores cycle through clothes every few weeks, always trying to bring in the latest styles. It is becoming a global environmental crisis.

Polyester is made from petroleum which is non-renewable. The cotton industry needs a significant amount of water for production and requires many pesticides. The land used for cotton growth can usually only be used for cotton and can destroy surrounding landscapes with excess wash off or resource depletion.

The global clothing industry is also infamous for inhumane labor conditions. Approximately 170 million children work in child labor around the world and the majority of them work in the clothing and textiles industry. They work in every step of the process across the country. The majority of clothing is produced in China, followed by India, Bangladesh, and Taiwan. The conditions are usually terrible with long hours, low pay, and a terrible work environment.

We need to understand how our consumer society effects the rest of the world. There are many organizations that focus on producing fair trade or organic clothing and there are numerous ways to recycle clothing now. Thrift stores have become increasingly popular, and online thrift stores like threadUP allow people to easily share their clothing with people all around the world. There are also many industries that will recycle used textiles into new article of clothing. Many industries focus on no waste and use recycled filaments in production. They are out there– the problem is that they require more effort to find. You’re average teenager cannot walk into a mall and find a fair trade, no-waste clothing store. It is also typically not as cheap which can make it inconvenient or even inaccessible for some people.

My friend, Sophia Anderson, is igniting a business that helps new designers launch their product using all environmental friendly methods. It is a fashion incubator that requires the designers to ensure that their products are made with eco-friendly material in fair working conditions. Hopefully the growth of this industry will inspire change or at least consciousness regarding the impact that every article of clothing has. Because 14 million tons a year is outrageous and unsustainable. We, as a society, must find a way to change the fast fashion industry because cheap and quick cannot last and impacts lives all around the globe.

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The Global Effects of Fast Fashion

The Fast Fashion industry has significant detrimental effects on the rest of the world. The environmental and humanitarian impacts are astounding and only increasing.
The United States alone throws out about 14 million tons of clothing a YEAR. Clothing — especially polyester– is not biodegradable and will end up sitting in landfills for years. Department stores cycle through clothes every few weeks, always trying to bring in the latest styles. It is becoming a global environmental crisis.

Polyester is made from petroleum which is non-renewable. The cotton industry needs a significant amount of water for production and requires many pesticides. The land used for cotton growth can usually only be used for cotton and can destroy surrounding landscapes with excess wash off or resource depletion.

The global clothing industry is also infamous for inhumane labor conditions. Approximately 170 million children work in child labor around the world and the majority of them work in the clothing and textiles industry. They work in every step of the process across the country. The majority of clothing is produced in China, followed by India, Bangladesh, and Taiwan. The conditions are usually terrible with long hours, low pay, and a terrible work environment.

We need to understand how our consumer society effects the rest of the world. There are many organizations that focus on producing fair trade or organic clothing and there are numerous ways to recycle clothing now. Thrift stores have become increasingly popular, and online thrift stores like threadUP allow people to easily share their clothing with people all around the world. There are also many industries that will recycle used textiles into new article of clothing. Many industries focus on no waste and use recycled filaments in production. They are out there– the problem is that they require more effort to find. You’re average teenager cannot walk into a mall and find a fair trade, no-waste clothing store. It is also typically not as cheap which can make it inconvenient or even inaccessible for some people.

My friend, Sophia Anderson, is igniting a business that helps new designers launch their product using all environmental friendly methods. It is a fashion incubator that requires the designers to ensure that their products are made with eco-friendly material in fair working conditions. Hopefully the growth of this industry will inspire change or at least consciousness regarding the impact that every article of clothing has. Because 14 million tons a year is outrageous and unsustainable. We, as a society, must find a way to change the fast fashion industry because cheap and quick cannot last and impacts lives all around the globe.

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Israel, Part III: Weekend Travel, Pictures

Happy 2018!

Despite good intentions, I never wrote that third reflection on this summer. Fall ’17 was a trial by fire. I’ve scarcely had time to reflect on some big life events that happened this semester, let alone the fact that I was in Israel this summer. Now that I’m on the other side of the fire, I’ve been able to reminisce and look through photos from the summer. Here are some pictures from my three weekend excursions.

Weekend One: Jerusalem

After the week-long pre-dig tour and a short excursion to Caesarea’s beach on Thursday, all of the student volunteers were dropped off unceremoniously at a train station and left us to fend for ourselves. Five other OU students and I caught a train to Jerusalem.

(One of my greatest fears about studying abroad before this trip was being in a country where I didn’t speak the language and having to get from one place to another using public transportation. Well, now I’ve been there and done that. It is a bit scary. But we did it.)

On Friday, our adventure began. Being a cheapskate, I starkly refused to take cabs anywhere, and as a result, three of the six of us walked 15 miles that day and got acquainted with the city in a way that wouldn’t have been quite the same otherwise. Brennan, Aaron, and I circled from our hotel around the southern periphery of the Old City and to the Mount of Olives.

The Garden of Gethsemane, gently surrounded by the Church of All Nations and fully enclosed by a wall covered in pink blossoms, was a sanctuary. Morning light shone through leaves of the twisted olive trees, and despite the presence of other visitors, the air was quiet. Through the peace of this garden I felt a sense of melancholy. I imagined Jesus’ sorrow as he prayed, “Not my will, but Yours.” And I felt an enormous sense of gratitude for what he did next.

After some more exploring at the Mount of Olives, the three of us gradually wandered through colorful, modern Jerusalem until we found the Mahane Yehuda marketplace, a culinary highlight of the city. Since sundown and Shabbat we quickly approaching, everyone was making a last-minute run to the store or the market to prepare for the coming day of rest. So, the market was packed. The narrow walkway was full of wheeled shopping bags, tourists like us, and fresh challah bread.

After afternoon naps, we met up with the rest of the OU group for dinner. We signed up for a program that matched us to a family in the neighborhood who would host us for a Shabbat meal. This meal was one of my favorite parts of this trip.

Our host family prepared for us and the other families around the table (from Poland, France, and Michigan) a complete five-course meal. The cuisine was European and Middle Eastern, a blend of influences from immigrants from around the world. Though the food was excellent, the best part about the meal was learning about Shabbat traditions from our host family.

The world really closes down for a day – the next day, we experienced the quiet streets for ourselves. All food is purchased, all meals are made ahead of time so that no work has to be done on the Sabbath. Little technology is allowed – if you need a piece of information, you may consult a book or a friend, but not Google. Most families don’t walk far or drive at all, and all public transportation is closed.

A day of true rest really is a gift. Why, I wondered, does much of the world forgo this gift? Are we really too busy, too important to take a day off? Experiencing Shabbat makes me want to incorporate a day of rest into my own schedule, no matter how much preparation and catching up that entails for the other six days. It would be worth the effort.

 

Weekend Two: Jerusalem again

On the second weekend, I returned to Jerusalem with a group of friends from the dig. We walked a lot this weekend, too, and got lost quite a few times.

We stayed in a hostel with beds on the rooftops with panoramic views of steeples and stars. (I slept inside, but the idea is romantic, isn’t it?)

This weekend, a fesitval of lights was going on throughout the Old City and the surrounding area.

Last weekend, the other OU students and I had taken a tour of the Old City during Shabbat. I enjoyed seeing the city then, but I felt rushed and a bit shortchanged by this tour. (The first stop on the tour was a “licensed” shop selling olive wood at exorbitant prices – though, just for us, the shopkeeper was offering everything at the store for half price! I felt a bit of Jesus’ anger when he turned the money-changers’ tables. The expensive shops gave the centuries-old streets the feel of a “den of thieves.” But I digress…) On the second weekend, I was able to wander through the Old City at a much more savory pace.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was an experience. I am still blown away by the sheer number of countries represented by the visitors to this church. My friends and I had a chat with a couple from Indonesia while waiting in a line.

 

Weekend Three: Ein Gedi, Masada, the Dead Sea

A dozen new friends and I rented a bus to take us three hours south to the desert (with the permission and help of our supervisors, of course). We encountered a strange, alien landscape.

Our first stop was the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve. We made a short hike to King David’s Waterfall.

Next stop: Masada. It was more spectacular than I imagined. Pictures do not do this place – or the view – justice.

I learned about the Siege of Masada during a class last spring and since then had been eager to visit. The story as told by Josephus is tragic. Here, the Romans, striving to regain control of Judea, besieged one of the last remaining groups of Zealots who took shelter in this fortress. When the Romans built a ramp up to the fortress and broke down the door, they found that the rebels had chosen death by suicide rather than surrender. After this, the Romans sold many of the Jews into slavery throughout the Mediterranean.

It was eerie walking through the places where these rebels had survived. It is miraculous that they were able to survive for so long in such conditions, in such a remote place.

We ended the day at the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea is half its original size and only shrinking. I’m glad I got to see enjoy the bathlike, stinging, buoyant water this summer, because the Dead Sea might not exist for much longer.

Climate Change (and a Nervous Environmental Sustainability Major)

This year has been the second hottest on record proceeded only by 2016. The increasing pattern of devastating storms and extreme weather patterns such as droughts and flooding have developed even more into a global crisis. Many countries are not equipped to deal with these dramatic changes in their environment. Millions of lives and homes are being put on the line by shortsightedness.

Many people have attempted to lesson our negative impact on the environment by taking measures such as driving less, recycling, conserving water etc, but these individual changes in behavior are simply not enough to create the dramatic change necessary to match our escalating rates of pollution. Massive corporations contribute over 70% of all greenhouse emissions. The oil, fashion, and agricultural industry are wrought with massive amount of pollution and water waste and yet the individual is often blamed and any legal action made against these industries rarely finds any footing. This lack of regulation and responsibility for our consumer culture is far more to blame than one person not becoming a vegan. The question is what can we, as active and engaged citizens, do to lesson the impact of these major corporations and the political systems in which they thrive?

 

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Holding On to Hope

Twenty seventeen has been a turbulent year to say the least. What with the myriad of natural disasters paired with our commander in chief threatening nuclear war via twitter, optimism has been as difficult to hold onto as a wet bar of soap. However, I’ve been able to find a few silver linings in this current nebulous storm cloud of current global politics.

Australia achieved marriage equality,  women in Saudi Arabia are now allowed too drive, the Affordable Care Act survived so far, Macron won against Le Pen, Ratko Mladic was brought to justice, Roy Moore lost the election, and thousands upon thousands of women across the country and the world are taking a stand against sexual assault.

However, these highlights often seem overshadowed by the multitude of problems in the world. I have to remind myself that progress is being made, slowly but surely, and that thing will get better if we work together and start fixing these issues at the source, rather than treating symptoms.

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Unity in the Global Economy

In November I was able to attend this event showcasing cultural diversity in global economics. It was held by the Price College of Business.  Although I was not able to stay for as long as I wanted, I was thoroughly impressed and enlightened by the event. The myriad of booths and presentations gave me new insight into the economic systems of countries around the world.

I have just began studying business and international business more concretely this semester, so this event was able to fill in a lot of the gaps of my currently limited knowledge of the subject. It was very interesting to be able to hear about different systems of economics and how the global market has effected various countries in different ways. Diversity in the workplace, is also a very important issue, which I was glad to see represented and discussed.

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International Prom

One of the highlights of my semester was attending the International Prom. I was very fun and engaging to be able to dance to such a wide variety of music with so many people from so many places. The International Prom is an annual event organized by the International Advisory Committee every fall semester. This free social/Cultural event seeks to bring all OU students together, both domestic and international, for a wonderful dance night featuring great music from all corners of the world. It’s their goal at the International Prom to blend the unique American prom traditions with international music into a melting-pot of a party. This year’s theme was Hollywood Night, so everyone was dressed to the nines and the ballroom was decked out in old Hollywood decor.

I’ve attended the prom in previous years, but this was honestly one of the best yet. The ballroom was absolutely packed and I had the opportunity to meet so many new people.

Image may contain: night

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International Prom

One of the highlights of my semester was attending the International Prom. I was very fun and engaging to be able to dance to such a wide variety of music with so many people from so many places. The International Prom is an annual event organized by the International Advisory Committee every fall semester. This free social/Cultural event seeks to bring all OU students together, both domestic and international, for a wonderful dance night featuring great music from all corners of the world. It’s their goal at the International Prom to blend the unique American prom traditions with international music into a melting-pot of a party. This year’s theme was Hollywood Night, so everyone was dressed to the nines and the ballroom was decked out in old Hollywood decor.

I’ve attended the prom in previous years, but this was honestly one of the best yet. The ballroom was absolutely packed and I had the opportunity to meet so many new people.

Image may contain: night

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New Year, Worldwide

Happy New Year! Since it is the beginning of 2018 I thought it would be interesting to look at New Year’s traditions around the world.

 

Here in America we drink champagne and give each other kisses at midnight, but many countries have very different ideas of ringing in the new year. For example, in Spain it is customary to eat 12 grapes at midnight, one for each chime of the clock, to bring luck. In certain parts of Scotland, people swing large fireballs over their heads in a tradition that is said to ward off evil spirits. In Denmark, broken glass is meant to be a sign of good fortune so people smash china and drop it on friends’ doorsteps to bring them good luck in the new year. People in Colombia and Ecuador make and burn puppets or scarecrows to symbolize leaving bad people or things in the past. Joya no kane is the traditional ceremony of bell-ringing in Japan that dates back to Buddhist beliefs, where the bells are rung 108 times to represent each of the worldly desires or sins. In Greece, hanging an onion in your front doorway signifies rebirth and regrowth. And on New Year’s in Germany, people eat filled donuts as part of their “Silvester” celebrations.

 

So as you can see, there are many different ways of celebrating the new year. Whether you were stuffing your mouth with grapes, breaking plates, toasting, or getting a New Year’s kiss, I hope you had a fun night and have a prosperous 2018.

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GEF Fall meeting

This fall we had our GEF Fall meeting and it focused on the Fulbright Scholarship. We went over exactly what the program is (both the teaching scholarship and the research scholarship), how and when to apply for the scholarship, how exactly to navigate the website, and advice on applying for the scholarship. I really was so thankful to have the fall meeting be about applying to the fulbright because it is something I am very interested in and have been thinking about since Freshman year. In the meeting I learned that picking a location is sort of a strategic thing because some locations have a ton more applicants than others, but only accept 1 or 2 applicants per cycle. I am thinking about either applying to do research in Uganda, which has accepted applicants for the past 3 years, or the Dominican Republic. I am thinking about Uganda because I have already studied abroad there twice, and have done really meaningful research that I could easily work off of if I went back for a fulbright. I also have established many relationships in Uganda that could help me to stand out as an applicant. I am considering applying to the Dominican Republic because I am taking a lot of Spanish, and have even decided to minor in it, so I would have the language skills for the location and it would give me an amazing opportunity to get even better at the language. The Dominican Republic also has many of the same infrastructure problems as Uganda, which I would be focusing on for my research, so I already have some knowledge about the field.

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