Fast Fashion is the Environmental Nightmare We Can’t Ignore

Fast Fashion is the Environmental Nightmare We Can’t Ignore

The textile and fashion industry has a long and complex supply chain, with each production step having an environmental impact due to water, material, chemical, and energy use.

Many chemicals used in textile manufacturing are harmful to the environment, factory workers, and consumers. It’s an environmental nightmare we can’t ignore.

The fashion industry produces 150 billion garments a year, and 87% (40 million tons) end up in a landfill where they smolder in an incinerator and pollute the air. But fast fashion has a significant impact on the environment beyond landfill accumulation as well. 

Fashion manufacturers have drastically increased the material throughput in the system.

Fashion brands are now producing almost twice the amount of clothing today compared to just 20 years ago, a 2020 study published by Nature Reviews Earth & Environment points out.

“The fashion industry is facing increasing global scrutiny of its environmentally polluting supply chain operations,” researchers wrote. “Despite the widely publicized environmental impacts, however, the industry continues to grow, in part due to the rise of fast fashion, which relies on cheap manufacturing, frequent consumption, and short-lived garment use.” 

The production of clothes generates a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon dioxide and methane, which contribute to climate change. The fashion industry is responsible for about 4% of global carbon emissions, according to the United Nations Environment Programme’s Sustainable Fashion: Communication Strategy 2021 – 2024, the same as the countries of Germany, France, and the U.K. combined. Unchecked fashion production will account for 26% of all carbon emissions by 2050.

Additionally, the highly toxic dyeing and finishing process of clothes involves a vast amount of water.

It ultimately ends up contaminating rivers and other water bodies with harmful chemicals, disrupting natural ecosystems

To produce a single cotton t-shirt, it takes over 2,700 liters of water, or 900 days’ worth of drinking water, according to The Conscious Club. A pair of jeans takes 3,781 liters of water from cotton production to delivery of the final product to stores. That equates to the emission of around 33.4 kilograms of carbon equivalent. A pair of shoes? Estimates quote over 8,000 liters of water are consumed in the production of a standard pair. 

The amount of water used to make your new outfit
Microfibers from quickly deteriorating fabrics have become a topic of concern among environmentalists.

Up to 85% of human-made pollution on shorelines is from microfibers, according to a 2019 study from the Sheffield Business School, with an additional half million tonnes of microfibers discarded into the oceans annually.

In fact, 62% of all clothing is made partially or entirely of synthetic fibers such as polyester, which is a crude oil derivative. Petroleum, a non-renewable resource, inflicts significant negative impacts on the earth. 

Garments made with blends of manmade fibers are more difficult to recycle. Statistics reflect this stark reality, as only 1% of all discarded clothing is actually recycled. For true recycling to take place, clothing must be collected, sorted, and distributed to recyclers. These systems are grossly inefficient and time and labor-intensive.

However, people are striving to find alternative methods to address this problem.

 In Sweden, researchers are taking innovative steps towards fiber recycling, a process called Blend Re:wind, to try to alleviate the amount of clothing that ends up in landfills.

“The Blend Re:wind separation process makes it possible to recycle mixed-textile clothing, for example, cotton-polyester blends,” according to the Rise Institutes of Sweden. “The reclaimed fibers can then be used as new raw materials in existing textile manufacturing processes.” 

Alternative base materials are another hopeful prospect for designers and consumers to consider. 

A Finnish firm, Infinited Fiber, has developed a cotton alternative called Infinna which is the product of recycled material through a complex process.

“It’s a premium quality textile fiber, which looks and feels natural – like cotton,” CEO Petri Alava told the BBC last September. “And it is solving a major waste problem.”

With enough global business investment to scale such systems to meet the demand, these technologies could drive 80% circularity in the fashion industry.

Fortunately, there is a lot of power in consumer decision-making that can help to reverse the fast fashion trend.

The average American throws away about 80 pounds of clothing every year. Consumers can choose to buy less and consider the concept of a capsule wardrobe, where they purchase a few high-quality essential items rather than numerous cheap ones that will deteriorate quickly. 

Secondhand options are an excellent alternative, with many retailers now offering used clothing sections where one can find gently used clothes at an affordable price. Patagonia, for example, has set up Worn Wear, a program where customers can get existing garments repaired or buy and trade in gently used items from the brand. 

All you need is less clothing
While they may cost more upfront, sustainable brands are also worth considering.

They promote ethical production methods and prioritize organic materials, fair labor, and safe working conditions. With these changes in mind, paying more for a staple item in your closet from a sustainable brand may be worth the cost upfront, as these garments can last longer than those from famous “fast fashion” brands like Shein, Zara, and H&M.

Consumers can also extend the lifespan of their clothes by repairing them instead of immediately throwing them out if there’s a hole or missing button. Donating clothes that no longer serve a purpose instead of throwing them into landfills is also a sustainable option, and some brands and stores now have recycling programs that can take back unwanted clothes and recycle them properly.

To make fundamental changes in the fashion industry, there needs to be a deceleration of manufacturing and the introduction of sustainable practices throughout the supply chain, as well as a shift in consumer behavior to decrease clothing purchases and increase garment lifetimes. 

The environmental impact of fast fashion is significant and requires urgent action to achieve sustainable and circular production practices. Small changes in consumer behavior, such as buying less, shopping secondhand options, and purchasing from sustainable brands, can make a big difference in reducing the negative impacts of fast fashion. 

Written by Carley Kimball

Written by Carley Kimball

Freelance Journalist and OPL Content Contributor

“I’ve always tried to implement planet-friendly practices in my life but didn’t quite realize just how much of an impact individuals can make until I was introduced to One Planet Life. I’m so excited to be able to utilize my professional skills to contribute valuable information and positive personal experiences to help make the world a better place.”

Break the Cycle of Fast Fashion and Change the World

Break the Cycle of Fast Fashion and Change the World

Fast Fashion makes large profits for the brand companies while exploiting people and places, driving thoughtless consumerism, and harming our planet.

How often do you find yourself shopping for the next addition to your wardrobe? Most Americans have made a textile purchase within the last few weeks. Fast fashion, the term that describes the production cycle of low-cost, low-quality clothing to meet the demand of rotating trends, has exploded with a rise in consumerism and the help of social media. 

The average American buys 68 garments per year and wears them about 7-8 times. Many garments are worn even less as we have become a culture of disposable clothing. Americans are buying five times as much clothing now as we did in 1980. In a vicious cycle, some brands churn out new collections every week. Unfortunately, your purchases of fast fashion are funding the destructive force in our world.

Who did Fast Fashion take over? 

Fast fashion began in the 1990s and precipitated massive changes in the industry. Up until the 1980s, the United States produced over 60% of the garments Americans purchased. Today, only 3% is produced in America. 

Brands quickly copy or “knock off” what is popular in ready-to-wear shows, making garments cheaper by squeezing production costs wherever they can. These companies use cheap synthetic fabrics that don’t biodegrade, which are sewn by workers in poverty-stricken countries for paltry wages, all while polluting the rivers and landfills of the countries where garments are produced.

As Dana Thomas shares in her book Fashionopolis, “Generally, if a fast-fashion shirt costs $10, the person who made it got ten cents. The factory owners get paid a bit of the remaining $9.90. But the biggest slice of the $9.90 goes to the brand as profits.” These clothes are highly marketed to entice buyers to purchase more clothing for less.  Thomas asserts that the industry has become like a Vegas casino: “You spend freely, recklessly even, and though you’ve probably been rooked, you feel like you’ve won.”  

“Fast fashion swept away a certain kind of common sense know-how and respect surrounding our clothing, from how to recognize a good buy and shop for quality to how to sew on a button and mend a hole in a favorite pair of jeans.” It is time we took back our respect for fashion and stop the vicious fast fashion cycle. 

“Between 2000 and 2014 the price of most goods – everything from bread to cell phones – increased by about 50%. If something cost $100 in 2000 it cost $150 in 2014. But, thanks to the cost-cutting all along the fashion supply chain, clothing prices actually dropped. So consumers bought more clothes. Wore them less. Grew bored with them faster. And got rid of them faster. Throwaway clothes became the norm. “

From Fashionopolis – The Secrets Behind the Clothes We Wear by Dana Thomas

What is the price of fast fashion? 

The clothing business is a big business – an approximately 2 trillion dollar business – and employs hundreds of millions of people around the world. It is the most labor-intensive industry, with 1 out of 6 people in the world working in it.  Hence, it is not surprising that its impact is huge.

A quick summary of the harm caused by the vicious cycle of fast fashion.

  • Garment jobs were moved offshore, which impacted local economies.  The US garment industry alone lost over 1 million jobs in 15 years (75% of the workforce).  The same happened in many other countries as the work moved to garment workers in poorer countries. 
  • Garment workers in poorer countries do have labor protections; they work in dangerous factories for pennies.  Fewer than 2% of these workers earn a living wage.
  • Garment factories face fierce competition to get brand orders.  One they do get the order, the factory funds upfront the costs of the fabric and all manufacturing costs.  The garments are then shipped to the brand, who may refuse to reimburse the factory if the shipment is late or not as expected, which leaves the factory in a desperate position. Essentially, the brand holds all the power and takes the majority of the profits. 
  • Consumers are increasingly marketed to to buy more and buy cheap.  Caught in the cycle, they buy larger quantities of low quality clothing. 
  • Unwanted clothing creates massive waste; while some consumers give unwanted garments to charity, only 10-20% is reused or sold.  The rest of the unwanted garments are shipped to poorer countries for resale markets, which quashes that country’s local fashion market.  Sadly, the majority of the clothes are not sold in these markets, and the country must now deal with our waste disposal.  To make matters worse, 80% of the people working in these resale markets don’t make a profit. 
  • The garment production industry has a huge environmental impact, using vast amounts of natural resources such as water, energy and chemicals which pollute surrounding waterways and contribute to climate change.  The World Bank estimates that the fashion sector is responsible for nearly 20% of all industrial water pollution annually.
  • While almost everyone else is paying the price for fast fashion, brand executives are making millions a year.  Some of them are the most wealthy people on our planet.
The Vicious Cycle of Fast Fashion
What can we do about it? How do we break the cycle of fast fashion?

Fortunately, there is a lot of power in consumer decision-making that can break the fast fashion cycle. Here are some ways to get started:

  • Assess the current state of your wardrobe. We love Elizabeth L. Cline’s practical approach, detailed in her book The Conscious Closet. (Read our summary.) Elizabeth’s approach to conscious dressing crystalized while she was promoting her book Overdressed. She recommends starting with a wardrobe impact inventory – understanding the number of items in your wardrobe, percentage worn, components, fabrics, and country of origin – and then becoming well-informed about the environmental impacts of fast fashion. She extols sustainable fashion and the art of less & more, shares tips on how to make your garments last, and encourages readers to be a part of the change. Elizabeth’s book is a practical guide about how to say goodbye to fast fashion, 
  • Kick the fast fashion habit. You can change your buying patterns while still looking fabulous!  Commit to new fashion habits by joyfully tracking them on our One Planet Life app. Here are some of the Joyful Changes you can track in our app:

Take a vacation from buying. Avoid buying new from fast fashion brands. 

  1. No buy clothes days
  2. No buy shoes days 
  3. Shop your closet days 
  4. Repair clothing instead of buying new
  5. Buy secondhand clothing

Shop from sustainable brands.

  1. Buy clothing from a sustainable brand
  2. Use clothing rental service for work garments
  3. Use clothing rental service for vacation garments
  4. Use clothing rental service for special event garments
  5. Use clothing rental services for maternity clothes

  • Find sustainable brands. More and more companies are making changes to be more sustainable. They are changing production methods to reduce the impact on the environment and using fair labor in safe working conditions. With these changes in mind, paying more for a staple item in your closet from a sustainable brand may be worth the cost upfront, as these garments can last longer and be in alignment with your values. Finding sustainable brands can be a challenge. We recommend you look at the One Planet Life marketplace, which showcases sustainable brands we recommend. In addition, we are fans of Good on You, which rates fashion brands to assist in choices to drive a sustainable future.

Join One Planet Life in breaking the vicious cycle of fast fashion. We can support more sustainable and ethical fashion practices and still look fabulous! 

Unraveling Fast Fashion, its Impact, and How Consumers Can Demand Better

Unraveling Fast Fashion, its Impact, and How Consumers Can Demand Better

Fast fashion is having a significant impact on people and the planet. We reached out to an expert to learn more.

One Planet Life had the wonderful opportunity to speak with Dr. Karin J. Bohleke, director of the Fashion Archives and Museum of Shippensburg University, regarding the varied impacts of fast fashion, its historic rise in popularity, and how we, as consumers, can make changes to shift the tide in support of a more sustainable model. 

Q: What is your definition of fast fashion, and how do you think it’s impacted today’s fashion industry?

A: When I think about fast fashion, I think about the rapid production of multiple collections by design houses – and by that, I don’t necessarily mean designers in the French “couture” sense of the term – and the constant disposability of goods that have to be replaced very quickly by new items. 

When you think about it, historically, designers had to come out with their spring/summer, fall/winter, and their resort collections. They only had to come up with three collections per year, so they could spend time developing their ideas. Now, young designers are expected to turn out a new collection every three to six weeks. It leads to burnout, poor designs, and overproduction.

 rapid production of multiple collections by design houses
Q: What are some of the environmental consequences of fast fashion, and how do they compare to past historical fashion practices?

A: There are several issues at stake; one is the dye agents, the colorants used for the fabrics. The United States outsourced most of its dye houses to developing nations, so their waterways would be polluted and not our own. Traditional dyeing operations also require a lot of water.

Another aspect is that most clothing is made using artificial fibers, and many of them are petroleum-based. When we are talking about natural fibers such as cotton, increased production leads to increased use of pesticides. 

The popularity of certain fibers is damaging the environment. Most cashmere comes from Mongolia. Western greed for cashmere has led Mongolians to increase the number of cashmere goat herds, and they are devastating the environment in Mongolia. So we have an active consumption issue there due to species overpopulation. That’s another example. 

And when you think about the greenhouse gasses for production all along the way – we’re using water, we’re using land, we’re putting emissions into the air. 

There are also labor costs associated with cheap fast fashion – and that is outsourced sweatshop labor. Since many of these workers are women, it does entrap women in cycles of poverty.

Q: That actually leads to another topic I wanted to touch on – the exploitation of workers, low-income communities, and some methods on how we can address this issue.

A: Fair trade is becoming an important factor in mitigating this through fair wage concepts, but sometimes companies get away with ignoring this through a series of subcontracts. By the time you get to the sweatshop, you have subcontracted from fair trade and more expensive labor to unmonitored, exploitative labor. 

There are technological advances taking place to use less water with dyes. In other countries, they are growing hemp, which works the same way as cotton and linen do; and I’m simplifying here. Hemp requires a fraction of the water and a fraction of the pesticides but can produce the same amount of yardage with smaller land plots. So there is some shifting to sustainable fibers.

There are a number of companies that are investing in zero-carbon production. There are also companies in Sweden that are taking innovative steps towards fiber recycling so abandoned clothing can be taken out of the landfill and turned into either clothing or something else. This is where our manmade fibers are an issue because they don’t recycle as easily as natural fibers do. If you’ve got 100% wool, 100% cotton, 100% linen, 100% silk – that recycles more readily than artificial polyester and similar petroleum-based fibers that are often complex blends.

Q: Looking at the shift into fast fashion, can you pinpoint when that started to take place and why?

A: The roots really begin in the late 1960s with the Youthquake fashions. That’s when you start to see fads that change quickly. It was the expectation, particularly among young people, that they were going to change their styles quickly. The difference is that things were still very well made during this time period. When you pick up a dress from the 1960s, it’s beautifully made, even if it was considered sort of disposable at the time. 

Even remembering my own shopping days as a college student in the 1980s and 1990s; I still own pieces that I bought at that time that are amazingly well done. I really blame more recent decades for the fast fashion that we now associate with very low-quality fabrics as a base, as well as simplified construction. A lot of fast fashion is going back to simple T-shaped designs: everything is based on squares and rectangles. 

1960s Dress
Q: Would you say that fast fashion is highly representative of women’s fashion more than men’s? Or has that shifted as we see trends change?

A: Yes and no. It hits women harder. They want us to be clothes horses, constantly changing our wardrobes and our outfits. It is hitting men in another way. You will never get away with removing the pockets in a man’s work trousers, like your dressy khaki. Guys would never do without that, but women now get excited when a garment comes with a built-in pocket because it is so rare. But I have noticed over the years in shopping for my husband that the quality of fabrics is going down for men as well. It’s not as bad as it is for women, but I’ve noticed it. I’ve also seen it in, for example, unisex goods such as T-shirts. The fabric quality is deteriorating for both men and for women – getting thinner and thinner. The fibers are very badly spun. And these are the T-shirts that start developing spontaneous holes by the third wash.

Q: From your perspective, how can consumers make informed decisions about the clothes they buy and reduce their contribution to the fast fashion industry?

A: I’m actually a 19th-century specialist, but the attitudes towards clothing they had back then are very relevant today. They had a number of proverbs, and one was, “Don’t throw good money after bad.” We work hard for our money and should vote with our wallets. Don’t buy something that’s badly made that is going to fall apart. That’s the first thing I would recommend to anybody. We are better off saving our money and buying a higher quality product. 

I’d also say, and this is another 19th-century principle that’s highly relevant, “Buy less but buy well.” We don’t need a ton of pieces in our wardrobe. We need classic, quality garments that will last. Say you get a T-shirt. It’s the perfect color. You love it. You pay $10 for it, and it falls apart. It’s developing those holes in the third wash, and you’ve worn it, let’s say, six times. How much did that T-shirt cost per wear? Whereas say you save up money and buy a $25 or $30 T-shirt that is really good cotton and is really going to last, and you wear that T-shirt for two years. Which item is more expensive? 

The fast fashion industry is seducing us with a low price at the purchase point and trying to make us think that we won’t notice that we’re actually having to spend more to have fewer wearable items in our wardrobe. 

I’d also say that, especially our staple goods, the things we come back to again and again – those are the ones where we do want to spend and invest good money. The ephemeral things, the fads, save that for accessories. ‘FAD’ stands for ‘For A Day.’ That’s how long it’s fashionable.

Q: Can you speak more to the rise of vintage fashions?

I love going to vintage clothing stores. As a student preparing for job interviews, I bought a tailored suit in the 1980s that I still wear, and all I did was take out the jumbo shoulder pads.  I substituted thinner shoulder pads, and the suit is still a knockout. It’s a skirt with a jacket inspired by the fashions of the 1940s. The skirt even has two pockets! The lines of the jacket are fabulous. It’s a gorgeous 100% wool exterior, and it’s still pristine after many wearings. 

We also need to learn to repair our clothes and maintain our wardrobes. 

Some of the classic problems, especially if you have wools, of course, revolve around keeping the moths at bay. That’s where a nice garment bag can help. 

The typical repair you have to deal with is a button falling off. Learning to sew a button on yourself is a basic skill, right up there with learning how to swim. Sometimes a hook will come off, and functionally, that’s the same thing. Every now and again, a seam will split. That’s an easy thing to fix as well. So we’re not talking about developing extensive skills. These are things that don’t necessarily require investment in a sewing machine unless you have a real interest in learning how to alter and make your own clothing. 

Vintage Clothing Store
Person sewing button nto shirt

Jazzing up a jacket can be as simple as replacing the buttons for a new look. There are tricks too. Say you lose a main button, but there’s a similar one on the cuff. You can take the one from the cuff to keep this line preserved and then maybe even put something different on the cuffs. Nobody will notice. Or if you lose a top button, you take a button from the bottom and put it on the top. Put the slight mismatch down below, away from your face, and nobody will notice.

Q: How do you see the fashion industry changing within the next five to 10 years?

A: I think that any change will have to be consumer driven. As long as the shoddy goods associated with fast fashion remain profitable, that business model will continue to exist. Not to be negative, but it underscores the importance of consumers voting with their wallets. Really, education has to take place at the consumer level, and I think a lot of change is driven by young people who are waking up to the real economic costs of fast fashion. But at the same time, their own education is short-changing so many of them: traditional home economics courses have largely vanished from most high school curricula, and if no one is at home who can teach them about clothing care, they have to look elsewhere to learn. Fortunately, there are many online venues, but they have to want to make the effort, and, speaking more broadly, everyone has to commit to personal change. 

Written by Carley Kimball

Written by Carley Kimball

Freelance Journalist and OPL Content Contributor

“I’ve always tried to implement planet-friendly practices in my life but didn’t quite realize just how much of an impact individuals can make until I was introduced to One Planet Life. I’m so excited to be able to utilize my professional skills to contribute valuable information and positive personal experiences to help make the world a better place.”

Telltale Signs of Spring in the Forest Give Us Joy

Telltale Signs of Spring in the Forest Give Us Joy

In the northeast, mid-Atlantic spring has sprung, and telltale signs in the forest are revealing themselves everywhere. 

Leaves form on maple trees and other deciduous trees and shrubs; they react to a change in light duration, known as photoperiods – when shorter nights and longer days of sun exposure spur new growth. Forsythias bloom, their bright yellow color magnificently beautiful, promising sunny months ahead. Magnolia trees are blossoming in light and dark shades of pink, fuchsia, and purple. Snowdrops, crocuses, daffodils, hyacinths, and dandelions are peeping out from the ground, their petals signaling the arrival of milder temperatures.

The forest and wildlife are awakening. Birds are returning from migration and settling back into their northern homes. A red-winged blackbird perches high in a tree, while American robins fly to and fro, readying their nests, and mourning doves scuttle close to the ground in search of food.  The chorus of bird calls reverberates everywhere, a cheerful early morning alarm clock for all.  Right now, it is easy to see the various birds that inhabit these forests, as they are easy to spot until the deciduous canopy becomes complete with green leaves. 

Here is what we uncovered during our last nature adventure:


Signs of Spring
Watching Earth’s creatures in spring is fascinating.

There are many online resources you can access to learn more about the beauty around us:

Check out a “Sky Dance.” The American Woodcock, native to North America, puts on quite a show to capture a female’s attention. Aldo Leopold writes about these fascinating birds in his book, A Sand County Almanac. American Woodcocks are swift in the air and are difficult to photograph, as they blend into the natural colors of the woodlands this time of year. Check out the American Woodcock’s most unusual mating ritual here. One videographer even set their mating dance to music!

Listen to spring peepers. American Tree Frogs, also known as “spring peepers,” produce their loud mating calls in the early dawn and late dusk hours.  They inhabit and breed in secret isolated vernal pools, which are temporary bodies of water created from melting snow and rainwater.  You can learn more about vernal pools and wildlife’s dependency on them on our One Planet Life post

Marvel at spectacular spring ephemerals.  Dainty, delicate spring flowers are peeping from the forest floor and walking trails.  These early flowers, known as spring ephemerals, only bloom briefly, announcing the start of the spring season and dappling the forest with color.  Purple, yellow, and white violets grow near decomposing logs among ancient flowerless mosses in various shapes and hues of green. The mosses hold moisture on whatever surface they have found, their spores alive and ready for water to help them spread through the woodlands. It is indeed such a wonderfully enchanting time to spend in the forest, to see it come alive and experience and appreciates the beauty of spring growth maturing into a lush green landscape. 

As you go along your nature walks this spring, look for scattered clumps of garlic chives, purple dead nettle (which is edible and part of the mint family), elf cups, and buds of native and invasive species plants that are being formed.  Mullins, Poison Hemlock, Garlic Mustard, and Wild Roses are just a few of the many species waking up from their winter slumber. 

You can learn even more about spring ephemerals, birding, amphibians, vernal pools, mosses, and fungi by participating in local, county, and state park events.  Most of these local programs are free and can help you become a citizen/community scientist, where you can understand the timing events of our natural world and help your communities collect data for research and education.  Get out there and experience the beauty of spring!

Written by Yvonne Dwyer

Written by Yvonne Dwyer

Master Naturalist and OPL Content Contributor

“It is truly an honor for me to be a contributor to One Planet Life. By sharing my experiences and lifetime of learning, I hope to inspire conservation, sustainability, stewardship, and awareness of enjoying the natural wonders of the world for the wellbeing of people and the planet.”

Furnace Run Park’s Ecosystem Will Thrive Thanks To The Community

Furnace Run Park’s Ecosystem Will Thrive Thanks To The Community

Through Rain and Sunshine, Volunteers Plant Nearly 15,000 Trees at Local Nature Park

Furnace Run Park, spanning 226 acres in Shippensburg, PA, is getting a facelift just in time for Earth Day. A collaborative effort between the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DCNR), the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, and various volunteers from the local community brought about the planting of an impressive 14,500 bare-root trees on April 14th and 15th.

The two quarries, totaling about 25 acres, were graded when Southampton Township gained possession of the park nearly five years ago; however, regrowth was non-existent, and the steep slopes began to erode, according to a press release from the township

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation donated all of the bare-root native trees, chosen for either their contribution to wildlife or to add seasonal beauty, according to Maria Misner, Southampton Township’s Planning/Zoning Officer. Funding for the project also came from the Township’s ARPA, Covid-19 relief fund.

“The whole project is a passion project – and it almost didn’t happen so many times,” Misner said. “But every step along the way – it happened.”

Volunteers descended on the park Friday and Saturday, braving both rain and sunshine, to plant the young saplings around the quarries. 

“We were relying on the volunteers, and they’re really showing up to plant them,” Misner said. “I’m just so happy that people came out in this weather.”

Danny and Sheena Mowers live nearby and came out to plant trees despite storms on the radar.

“We thought it would be a good thing to do – a green thing to do – for our kids and their kids in the future,” Sheena explained. “It will be a great thing for the community, a place for people to bring their kids and dogs to play.”

The quarries will be seeded with pollinator plants as well to further stabilize the slopes, prevent invasive species, add wildflower beauty, and provide habitat and food for wildlife while the trees grow.

15,000 Trees Donated to Furnace Run Park
Two quarries became Furnace Run Park
Further enhancements to the park, such as the construction of a Central Visitor Center, are slated to begin this summer.

The enhancements will provide a space for environmental education and community activities. The center will be funded through a partial grant from DCNR. 

Park planning and landscaping engineering for the project is being funded through an IMPACT grant received by the Franklin County Commissioners.

Furnace Run Park’s revitalization is a perfect example of how, with a combination of grant funding and a community willing to sow roots for the next generation, a beautiful place can grow and recover into the natural greenspace it was meant to be. 

Written by Carley Kimball

Written by Carley Kimball

Freelance Journalist and OPL Content Contributor

“I’ve always tried to implement planet-friendly practices in my life but didn’t quite realize just how much of an impact individuals can make until I was introduced to One Planet Life. I’m so excited to be able to utilize my professional skills to contribute valuable information and positive personal experiences to help make the world a better place.”

OPL Spotlight: Self-Reliance and Sustainability Go Hand-in-Hand for Carley

OPL Spotlight: Self-Reliance and Sustainability Go Hand-in-Hand for Carley

I’ve realized that my sustainability journey is, at its core, a journey toward low-impact, self-reliant living.

It’s hard for me to pinpoint exactly where my sustainability journey began. I’ve always been someone who cared about the environment, especially considering that my main hobbies involve gaining pleasure from natural spaces.

I really credit my sanity most days to getting out on a nice hike with my dogs. Spending much of my day in front of a computer screen, having the chance to unplug gives me an opportunity to refresh my mind and body. When I am out in the woods, taking in the sights, sounds, and smells, it makes me realize just what is at stake if we don’t do our part in protecting natural green spaces. During our hikes, I always keep an eye out for the trash to collect and bring out with me, a small act at the moment that certainly adds up over time.

Striving for Self-Reliance with Help from the Community

Since my husband and I live in a rural area, we have the wonderful opportunity to support – and participate in – the local food chain economy.

I’ve learned so much about the horrors of the industrialized food chain that’s become the standard in the United States from The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollen and The Secret Life of Groceries by Benjamin Lorr. (Read our book summary.) It’s opened my eyes to just how much of a positive impact you can make in the world by eating what’s been grown and raised locally. By shopping at the local farmers’ markets, we not only are able to eat the freshest products, but we’ve also gained invaluable relationships along the way.

We try to eat a balanced diet that doesn’t solely rely on meat. However, on the days that meat is on the menu, we always try to source locally. If we haven’t harvested and processed enough venison ourselves for the year during hunting season, we’ve found a wonderful farm to be our source. I’ve had the chance to visit Grace’s Family Farm, and the ability to see the cattle happily grazing in the way their biology intended, instead of being raised on an industrial scale, gives me peace in knowing that our purchase supports a local, sustainable part of the community.

Humble Roots Mushroom Farm is another gem we’ve found at our local farmers market. Mushrooms are a delicious substitute for meat. My husband and I are avid mushroom hunters, but we aren’t always lucky enough to find them every time we go out. Thanks to a local mushroom farmer, we can switch up our meals and cut down our meat consumption. 

What we don’t purchase at the farmer’s market, we supplement with our own garden. We have a 900 square feet plot we fill with a variety of heirloom vegetables that we can save seeds from for next year’s planting. We always plant sunflowers to support the local ecosystem as well, providing pollen for the bees and seeds for the birds at the end of the growing season. 

Gardening has led me to learn more about preservation. When we have a fruitful harvest, you’ll likely catch me canning most of the weekend. Not only does this prevent waste of what we aren’t able to eat when fresh, but it also provides us with a hearty source of nutrients and variety throughout the winter months when local produce is sparse. 


Deep Fried Mushrooms
I’ve realized that my sustainability journey is, at its core, a journey toward low-impact, self-reliant living.

When the pandemic hit, we didn’t see nearly the level of shortages that our friends in the city did. The whole experience taught me how important it is to regularly practice these skills so we can be prepared for whatever the world throws at us.

For example, we converted an old garden shed on our property to a chicken coop where we house 15 hens and a rooster. This simple endeavor has more than paid for itself, especially as we see chicken and egg prices skyrocket in grocery stores nationwide. We further benefit from free-range eggs filled with Omega-3s (something not guaranteed from store-bought eggs). Watching our chickens running around our yard, scavenging for worms, and basking in the sunlight, really makes it worth the time and effort.

(Read the article “Raising Chickens in Your Backyard Can Be Fun and Helpful to the Environment” to learn more.

With a garden and chickens, we’ve implemented several compost bins in our yard. Composting our kitchen scraps and chicken waste, in addition to recycling, has cut down the amount of trash we accumulate each week. It also enables us to generate fresh, rich soil to add to our garden each year.

Making Changes that Benefit the Planet

Since joining One Planet Life, I’ve learned of many eco-friendly alternatives to implement in my daily routine. What is even better is that I can track my changes daily and feel encouraged about the emissions I’m reducing. 

A major change for our family has been the switch to reusable paper towels. We have five pets at home, so messes are frequent. I would often find myself grabbing a bunch of paper towels unnecessarily. This way, I can still keep up with the habit and convenience of pulling off a roll, but now I just toss them into a laundry basket instead of the trash can. Saving trees – and money – has been a wonderful motivator. 

I’ve also switched my cleaning products and detergents to concentrated versions to save on unnecessary plastic packaging. Brands like Seventh Generation, Mrs. Meyers, and Grove Collaborative offer so many options. Supporting these brands, that strive to use less harmful toxins and do their part to deliver their products in a planet-friendly way, is worth the investment. 

Joining the team and using the One Planet Life app has been a true motivator to not only keep up with what I’ve already been balancing but to strive toward future goals to Reduce Waste. This journey is leading me to learn more about the businesses I buy from, cutting back on unnecessary plastic, and doing my part to share these tips with others so they too can find success when embarking on their own sustainability journeys.

The staff at One Planet Life are serious about sustainable living. That’s why we decided to share the struggles and successes of our individual sustainability journeys. We will share tips directly from our team members, curated through authentic personal experience. We hope that by sharing our stories, we can help foster a community committed to helping each other – and the planet!

Read about One Planet Life Founder Lorie Buckingham’s sustainability Journey.

Read about One Planet Life Master Naturalist Yvonne Dwyer’s sustainability Journey.

Read about Kristina Shane’s eco-journey and how she manages to bring the family along.

Read about Lesley Dennison’s sustainability journey and learn her tips for success.

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