As a Millennial, I'm Letting Gen-Z School Me On Sustainable Fashion

Allow me to introduce the ray-of-effing-sunshine that is Jazmine Rogers. The YouTube star is living proof that you don’t need to have a PhD in sustainability in order to enact a more eco-friendly lifestyle. Watch just one video on her YouTube channel or take one scroll through her social media feed, and you'll be overcome with a jolt of color you didn't know you needed. More importantly (for me, at least, considering my 2021 goal of becoming a more mindful consumer of fashion), you'll get exposed to a bevy of tips about how to limit your usage of materials and realize, damn, I need to follow her lead stat.

The two of us got to talking, and Rogers told me her mission when shopping is to first and foremost make sure she's investing in high-quality pieces that are made ethically and more sustainably. One brand she frequently turns to is Levi's®, which also happens to be my personal favorite denim label. Turns out, our favorite denim company is committed to creating more environmental initiatives that lower the brand's carbon footprint, noting on its site that, "it’s about making better choices like sourcing more sustainable materials and finding ways to use less water."

Rogers tells me, "I honestly screamed when I put these Levi's® High Loose Jeans on because they felt so amazing. It's made out of Cottonized Hemp, which is one of my favorite sustainable fabrics because of how buttery and breathable the material is. I feel comfortable enough to do a random cartwheel or lounge around the house all day in them. I know most Gen Zers are obsessed with a wide pant right now, but can you blame us? This type of cut is so flattering and is a timeless style that I can see myself wearing for years to come." I needed to know more, not only because I'm just generally interested in anything Rogers has to say, but also because, as a fashion editor, it's vital I have all the intel I need before making an informed decision. Here's Rogers's take on living a more mindful lifestyle.

What are your top five tips for anyone who wants to start living a sustainable lifestyle?

1) Learn: Educating yourself helps ground and guide you while making a positive impact.

2) Evaluate: Take time to assess what mindful practices you're already doing and what areas you'd like to grow in.

3) Community: Feeling like it's you against the world is discouraging, and it doesn’t have to be that way. Befriend others who are on the journey. Sustainability is a growing value in all communities and subcultures, including the ones you're already a part of.

4) Have Fun: Trying new things is exciting. Start your own indoor garden, try new outfit combos with your current wardrobe, cook a new plant-based recipe, etc. Limits enhance creativity, and creativity feeds the soul.

5) Give Yourself Grace: Like any new thing you do, you will mess up, and that is okay! Learning from our mistakes and failures is the only way we can grow.

For someone who is just starting to approach fashion in a more sustainable way, can you give them a starter pack?

To make my wardrobe more sustainable, I follow The Buyerarchy of Needs. Like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, we need to perform actions at the bottom of the pyramid before the top, so I approach building my wardrobe by loving what I already have; then I look to trading/swapping with friends. Next comes thrifting and making my own pieces, and last comes buying something new.

This system is just a tool I've found to be helpful—it isn't a rigid rule. Doing the best you can and advocating for change is all that anyone can ask for.

Your style is beautiful and colorful—explain how you keep shopping fun when sourcing ethical pieces.

As I said earlier, limitations enhance creativity, and I especially believe this applies to sustainable fashion. The challenge of trying to love what I have forces me to try new combinations and get a deeper sense of appreciation for them. Hence my "#RewearThat” hashtag! When I do add new pieces to my wardrobe, I tend to gravitate toward bright colors and funky pattern combos that feel reminiscent of my favorite childhood cartoons. These are easiest to find when I’m thrifting, but I feel like there are more and more sustainable brands that are becoming more eclectic, and I’m here for it.

When did you start living a lower impact lifestye, and what inspired you to do so?

In college, I joined my university's anti-trafficking club and learned how the fashion industry is the main cause of modern-day labor trafficking. I then took an ecology course that helped me fall in love with the environment and showed me our consumeristic habits are destroying it. After that, I knew I needed to change my ambitions and began my anti-fast-fashion challenge, documenting the journey online.

How do you see the future of shopping sustainably evolving?

I first want to say I'm so happy with how much has changed so far. The phrase "sustainable fashion" was something many people didn’t think about just a few years ago. With people continuing to push brands to be better, I hope to see more inclusive sizing, accessible price points, and continued commitment and transparency in treating people and the planet fairly.

What are your thoughts on buying better and wearing longer as a sustainability strategy?

Honestly, a lot of environmental problems would be solved if we all had the access and desire to buy better and less frequently. The way our society is set up, we consume more resources than the earth has to offer and often don't think of the waste created in the process. Our planet cannot sustain this type of consumption for much longer. Though we must hold larger corporations and governments accountable, we all would benefit if everyone took a step back to evaluate their personal consumption and made steps to buy less and invest in quality items when they can. Levi's jeans are made to last. Check out almost any vintage shop—more often than not you can see someone selling a pair from years ago, and they're always in great shape.

Her Denim of Choice

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