5 ways companies are making gorgeous clothes that are the opposite of fast fashion.
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Savers

It's easy to get a little carried away when shopping — after all, so many new clothes are so cheap these days.

Most of us are at least a little guilty of taking advantage. In the United States, we are buying five times more clothing than we did in the 1980s.

And we all know how much the '80s had going on. GIF via Kool-Aid Koolers.


I mean, if you could buy five shirts for the price of one, why wouldn't you? The world of fast fashion gives us more options to mix up our wardrobes whenever we feel like it. And if you're like me, more clothes means not having to do laundry as often.

Cheap new clothes — and more of them — can feel awesome in the moment. But our trend-of-the-moment shopping habits are actually doing damage in a number of ways. One of the problems: We are barely recycling any of our leftover clothes.

The average American throws away about 80 pounds of textile waste every year.

It's no question that number will continue to grow unless we start donating them (hello, thrift stores!) or buy less. As more information comes out about the harm fast fashion is causing to the planet, consumers and companies are starting to think twice.

People are beginning to see through the craze that is fast fashion and into a more thoughtful and eco-friendly approach.

Here are five unique ways products and materials are being reused to make clothing and accessories today:

1. Food ... that you can wear?

As if coffee wasn't already the best, now it can be worn.

I can't even fathom the number of times I've dumped out coffee grounds after making a cup of joe. When you multiply that times the millions and millions of people who make coffee every day, that's a lot of coffee grounds going to waste.

Singtex, a company from Taiwan, is turning those wasted grounds into fabric for clothes. They use an innovative technology named S.Café that incorporates coffee grounds into fibers to help control odors and protect fabrics from ultraviolet rays.

Image via How Can I Recycle This/Flickr.

It's official: Coffee has superpowers.

You know what else does? Coconut. Coconut is known for a lot of uses, such as milk, oil, and suntan lotion. The company Cocona has found another way to use it: by turning coconut shells into yarns and fibers.

The threads they create through activated carbon from coconut shells provide a lightweight and comfortable product that can stand the test of time in a variety of products.

Image via Cocona.

Other foods are being used to create clothes, too, like sour milk and wine. A sour milk dress! Can you imagine? Maybe someday we'll all be wearing food. Can you turn Cheetos into yarn?

2. You can now take your airplane seat everywhere you go.

When Southwest Airlines decided to redesign their cabins in 2014, that meant getting rid of 80,000 leather seats.

Looptworks, a company from Portland, Oregon, knew they could put those seats to good use. They teamed up with Southwest to turn their old leather seat covers into fashionable products like purses and duffle bags. And fashionable they are.

Image via Looptworks, used with permission.

Even better is the process of making them. The Baltimore Sun reports that the company is working with Garten Services, a nonprofit that trains and employs adults with disabilities, to deconstruct and clean the seats before turning them into bags.

3. Dumpster fashion is the new black.

Artist and environmental advocate Nancy Judd is turning heads with her business Recycle Runway. Whether she's creating clothes from old Barack Obama campaign flyers, aluminum cans, crime scene tape, or even the vinyl top of a convertible, Nancy's designs always have one thing in common: They're pure garbage.

This is made of CRUSHED GLASS. Images by Nancy Judd, used with permission.

A cassette and video tape coat, helloooo!

Epic dress made of aluminum cans. I'm obsessed.

She says she got into "dumpster couture" when she realized that art and fashion could be used to raise the public's environmental consciousness. And she's stuck to that idea over the years, using all of her creations to educate about conservation.

She told The Wall Street Journal that she once spent 400 hours unspooling cassettes and crocheting the crinkled tape into a fake-fur coat — taking a very literal approach to the term slow fashion.


4. Your clothes could come from the big blue sea.

A massive project is underway in the Mediterranean, and you may see people wearing it someday.

It's called "Upcycling the Oceans" and is an undertaking by the group Ecoalf. Their goal? To transform the plastic debris found in the Mediterranean into thread to make fabric.

They're seeing a lot of success, having already collected 39 tons of garbage since September 2015.

They hope to show that not only is cleaning the oceans possible, but the materials collected can be recycled into pellets, thread, fabric, and other products.

Image via Ecoalf.

5. Using only what large manufactures leave behind.

Advancements in technology have made fast fashion the norm: large scale production at ridiculously fast speeds. That model, while bringing in huge profits, comes with a whole host of problems. One of them that often gets overlooked is all the material wasted in production.

The average garment factory wastes up to 40% of its perfectly usable materials. Cambodia-based company tonlé is holding them accountable — and creating a smart business out of it.

Tonlé takes the scraps that manufactures don't use and turns them into beautiful products. About 90% of their materials come from big garment factories, and 10% are made from local and sustainable suppliers.

By doing what the large manufactures won't, they are helping to offset the huge global impact fast fashion has on the planet while showing what true sustainability means.

Is fast fashion on its way out? Probably not. But it's neat to see people creating — and demanding — fashion that's a little gentler on the planet.

Not everyone can whip up a dress from coffee grounds or turn their old Paula Abdul cassette tapes into an outfit. But these creative approaches to fashion are a great way to get people to think outside of the mass-produced clothing racks, and about how to reuse things they already own.

After all, clothes are way more fun when they're unique — and Earth-friendly.

Researchers at Harvard University have studied the connection between spanking and kids' brain development for the first time, and their findings echo what studies have indicated for years: Spanking isn't good for children.

Comments on this article will no doubt be filled with people who a) say they were spanked and "turned out fine" or b) say that the reason kids are [fill in the blank with some societal ill] these days are because they aren't spanked. However, a growing body of research points to spanking creating more problems than it solves.

"We know that children whose families use corporal punishment are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, behavior problems, and other mental health problems, but many people don't think about spanking as a form of violence," said Katie A. McLaughlin, director of the Stress & Development Lab in the Department of Psychology, and the senior researcher on the study which was published Friday in the journal Child Development. "In this study, we wanted to examine whether there was an impact of spanking at a neurobiological level, in terms of how the brain is developing."

You can read the entire study here, but the gist is that kids' brain activity was measured using an MRI machine as they reacted to photos of actors displaying "fearful" and "neutral" faces. What researchers found was that kids who had been spanked had similar brain neural responses to fearful faces as kids who had been abused.

"There were no regions of the brain where activation to fearful relative to neutral faces differed between children who were abused and children who were spanked," the authors wrote in a statement.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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