A newspaper wedding gown? That’s what I thought, too, when I saw this article. Designer Gary Harvey’s contribution to an exhibition called “Food for Thought: Sustainable Fashion,” was created out of 40 newspapers. He wants people to create their own fashion statements rather than following the trendy. The way the fashion industry encourages people to throw out clothing several times a year doesn’t make good financial or environmental sense, in Harvey’s opinion.

Sustainable fashion deals with the issues of materials and manufacturing processes in the fashion industry, encouraging practices that are environmentally friendly as well as socially responsible. So traditional cotton–which takes lots of fertilizers and pesticides to grow and additional chemicals to process–is out, and organic cotton or alternative natural fibers such as hemp, silk, wool, and flax are in.

Even better are recycled, reclaimed, or vintage fabrics because there are no growing or manufacturing issues with these materials. Now & Zen in Seal Rock, Oregon offers one-of-a-kind bags and purses made from recycled, felted knits, woven fabrics and baubles. (I especially love the fortune cookie bags!)

Many other fashion and accessories businesses use vintage fabrics or recycled materials for their products. I wrote about these Bazura bags in an earlier blog; finding creative ways to repurpose waste materials (like juice boxes) benefits everyone.

For the environmentally conscious there is, of course, always shopping at Kaight: Recycled plastic shoes, organic cotton pillows, hand printed recycled note cards. Or check out Etsy for recycled scarves, vintage items, and hemp clothing. For inspiration, try the “weedrobes” of Nicole Dextras or the Textile art of Ysabel de Maisonneuve.

I’m hoping that sustainable fashion– with its social consciousness and attention to my pocketbook–isn’t just another trend!