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Project Green Challenge: Anna Hankins

Monday, February 11th, 2013

We received this inspiring letter from Anna after she placed 2nd in the Teens Turning Green Project Green Challenge and it was too good not to share with you! We love to hear about young people, especially those in high school (shout out to Wachusett Regional High School) as they begin to see the world around them in a different light.
project-green-challenge-anna-hankinsBefore my Project Green Challenge experience, I was not an informed fashionista. I owned no organic cotton clothing, didn’t think about the true implications of buying second hand, and had little understanding of the social and environmental implications that my conventional clothing purchases were having on the soil, the air, the workers, and my own body. To be completely honest, I don’t think that I wanted to know. I had heard the sweatshop horror stories, but I had never heard of the workers being virtually poisoned in their fields of cotton. And what was all of this was for… a conventional cotton t-shirt that I thought was cool. It requires one-third of a pound of synthetic fertilizers and chemicals to produce enough cotton for one t shirt. But what happened to – for the greater good of mankind?
PGC helped me to rethink – become conscious, become informed. My conventional closet was haunting me, guilt tripping me for my own carelessness. My days of conventional shopping were over – over and done forever. I thought that I was never going to shop at a retail store again because I could not bear to think about supporting bad practices impacting the health and environments around the world. That was until I discovered ethical companies leading the change like prAna, Stewart + Brown, Loomstate, Lara Miller, Eileen Fisher and many others. I quickly realized that these were the companies that I needed to be supporting; these were the companies that were helping to heal the people and the planet.
I received a prAna E.C.O. yoga mat as a prize, which only further added to my overall lifestyle transformation. Thanks to my new yoga mat I found out about an awesome yoga studio in my community, and guess what? It’s an eco-yoga studio. This was the ripple effect – one simple object allowing for my own greater discoveries.
But my transformation was nowhere near complete. I was still struggling to wrap my head around how the world’s conventional fashion industry has become an environmental disaster. I realized this issue of being conscious and intentional with our choices was at the heart of Project Green Challenge and of companies like prAna. These were the people who were going to bring about change and I was going to be a part of this. I needed to learn – I needed to inform others – and I needed to learn some more. Or in this case, I needed to shop, vote with my dollars, and encourage everyone around me to do the same.
At the beginning of October I conducted a clothing drive. I suppose it was my fashion redemption from my years of unknowingly supporting the conventional fashion producers. After I did some research, I learned that most of the clothing I had once loved was in fact made for the dump (Textiles account for nearly four million tons of solid waste every year in our landfills). However, my little clothing drive box was my glimmer of hope. I realized if I could keep at least some items of out landfills, I could redistribute them to those in need. I collected considerably more than I had ever expected to. I donated all the clothing to Abby’s House, a shelter for battered women in Worcester, Massachusetts. It was at that moment that I decided I was going to use clothing to empower people.
In many ways clothing is the identity of a culture. If we are a culture that supports the faults of the mega fashion producers, that says a lot about the consciousness of our government and our citizens. But it is truly the voices of the people, the dollars we spend as consumers, and the products of ethical products made by companies like prAna that will change the way we shop. PrAna’s website says that their products are mindfully designed, built to last – born from the experience. They promote conservation and create positive change. They make their clothing with organic cotton, consider fair trade and manufacturing processes like using wind power. And that’s just where it starts.
I have committed to transition from conventional to conscious thinking and purchasing when it comes to my fashion choices to becoming an ethical fashion advocate. Join me. Become informed and you will become empowered and you WILL be the change!
~ Anna Hankins, High School Senior at WRHS (Holden, Massachusetts)
Learn more about Teens Turning Green