By: Mackenzie Winebold
Stop what you’re doing, and go open up your closet. Take out a few of your shirts, and read the labels. Where are they made? What fibers and fabric are in the shirt? On a regular day-to-day basis, we overlook these small details. We prioritize our lives in order of importance, and our clothing labels fall low. The last thing to cross our mind is the damage our clothes can have on the environment. So what can you do? By taking just an extra 10 minutes out of the day to learn about conscious consumerism and sustainable practices, you could have a substantial impact on the way the world consumes.
One local Colorado company has already made great strides in changing the way we shop for our personal clothing. As well as, working with others to raise awareness.
ONNO T-Shirt Company located in Boulder, CO was founded in 2007 by Jack Kanefield, a Boulderite and graduate of the University of Colorado. His inspiration to create ONNO came about during his personal shopping experiences and the disappoint he felt upon learning just how products are made. He envisioned creating a t-shirt that felt great but also had a low environmental impact. All the products at ONNO use sustainable fibers like bamboo, hemp, organic cotton, and Pima.
“We look for the best materials, and the best way to manufacture them, but we keep our overhead low to provide a great price for the customer,” said Emily Wright, Director of Operations and Marketing at ONNO.
ONNO recently collaborated with SunMountain Center to provide organic cotton tote bags for purchase. The bags are GOTS certified, which is a comprehensive process that covers pesticide use, water use, labor practices, even down to the recycled packaging the products are shipped in.
“In terms of value, you’re getting a product that provided several people a good job at a livable wage and has a limited impact on the environment. We think those ethics combined with a really nice end product, is worth more than the sum of their parts,” said Wright.
The design on the SunMountain tote bags, created by SunWellness Art Director, Nicholas Baranek, features the phrase, “Growing Consciousness” with bright, orange marigolds circling around. The marigolds can represent the humblest of creation and beauty within our world. It was quoted on Quora.com, an information sharing site, that marigolds are like the sun — it returns in full each summer and hides away in the winter. In other words, you must find your balance between shining and keeping your light under wraps. SunMountain Center chose the marigolds to represent their mission statement. The statement reads, “SunMountain Center strives to offer a sacred and meditative space to deepen the connections and expand the consciousness of our guests.”
Sara Blanchette, SunMountain’s guest experience manager, said they want to continue to foster this message outside of SunMountain, and the totes were a unique way to do so. SunMountain has plans to grow marigolds on the property this Spring to further root the totes message.
The inspiration behind the totes also grew from SunMountain’s urban farm. Jeremy Tackett is the Smokebrush Farm manager at SunMountain. He oversees all farm operations and leads monthly farm tours on the property. He often gets asked on tours what exactly is grown there. His response is moving. He tells guests that, yes, physical items grow here on the farm. The more important thing that continues to grow is the non-physical things like presence, awareness, kindness, support, community, and sustainability. The items that grow at SunMountain are deeper than just the five senses.
The “Growing Consciousness” totes are for sale at the SunMountain Center retail shop. Twenty percent of profit made goes back to the farm. Because after all, growing consciousness is more than just a message on a tote. It’s a lifestyle we can all foster and carry with us.
ONNO is just one of many companies that inspire conscious consumerism. Being a conscious consumer requires a little extra time and dedication when purchasing products.
Some tips and ideas to consider during your next shopping trip could be:
- Read the fine print – see where your product was made, what materials were used in making it, and see if portions of your purchase are being donated and how much is being donated.
- Shop small – the more you spend local, the more your money stays local. Your favorite knick-knack store is closing, but you still purchase items on the internet? If you feel strongly about having local, independent businesses, you should make a great effort to support them!
- Divest – learning this helpful and life-changing strategy could change the face of consumerism. If you are investing, or want to start investing, do your research and see where your money is going. It is super important to know where your hard-earned dollar is going and who it is supporting. If you see something that seems a bit odd or you feel is unethical, allocate those dollars elsewhere.
- Hold your brands accountable – if you love a specific brand and want to continue to purchase from them, make sure you continually let them know how you feel about a marketing campaign they are running or if you believe something they are doing is unethical. Care about your shopping habits and take action on it. Companies will start to take notes. Unethical habits won’t change unless we do!