Since its state incorporation in 1928, Flagstaff has gradually become more eco-friendly thanks to the creation of a sustainability program. The program does work in the community and encourages residents to join. The city hosts workshops for home energy efficiency and pushes a zero-waste initiative, among other things. Flagstaff’s 7,000-foot elevation and dark sky city status also makes for some of the cleanest air to breathe in United States, and in turn, a crystal-clear view of the stars and other entities in the night sky.
The shopping districts and stores in the area are no different in their pursuit of sustainability.
Incahoots Vintage Clothing is a vintage costume shop in downtown Flagstaff. They are one of the only costume shops in the area, making for a rush of business in October. Sales associate Sixten Jordan said selling vintage clothing means giving garments a longer life span and appealing to a niche in the fashion world, all while being green in an industry of environmental red flags.
“We are a consignment shop and we also do lots of recycling in the community,” Jordan said. “Any items that don’t sell, have been here too long or are just not of use to us anymore are sent to Goodwill, and the cycle continues.”
Black Hound Gallerie, in Flagstaff’s North End neighborhood, is another eco-friendly shop that sells all kinds of odds and ends like books, clothing, mugs and souvenirs. Team member Samantha Webb said the shop does its part in helping the planet and encourages its customers to do so as well.
“We sell reusable bags that customers can bring back to our store when they shop,” Webb said. “Also, our stickers are made from recycled material and promote a message for saving the planet.”
On top of being environmentally friendly, Webb said the store aims to bring its customers joy.
“We’re about happiness,” Webb said. “We like to say that we host a party. Our customers are joining us here and having fun with us. Black Hound Gallerie is all about making someone’s day and making people smile.”
Mountain Sports Flagstaff is an outdoor sporting apparel retailer. Sales associate Katie Grigsby said the store is deeply committed to planet preservation.
“We’re in business to save our home planet,” Grigsby said. “We are a One Percent for the Planet organization, which means that for every sale, 1% goes to local environmental and conservation organizations.”
In the store, customers are given a choice of organizations they want to donate their 1% to after checking out.
“That’s why we have that little voting station,” Grigsby said. “Any time someone shops with us, we give them a token and they choose where they want their money to go.”
The voting station gives the customer an option to put their 1% toward environmental education, wildlife or land. Under each of these categories the tokens are dropped into a list of local organizations. The store also carries brands that seek to eliminate clothing waste.
“At the very heart of it, [textile waste] all ends up in the same place,” Grisby said. “It doesn’t just go off to some magical trash dump. We’re super stoked that Patagonia is striving to get most of their products to 100% recycled material. Their Black Hole Bags line, for example, is made up of 10 million recycled plastic bottles.”
According to a survey by HuffPost, the average American will throw away 81 pounds of clothing in a year. In addition, 95% of that clothing could have been repurposed.
Flagstaff has taken many steps toward a greener environment. The shops in town are just a small piece of the puzzle, as the rest of the city strives for sustainability as well. All of these attempts help to make Flagstaff a cleaner place in Arizona for years to come. One small city fighting a battle much larger than itself is eventually going to need the help of the rest of the humans on Earth. But until the world follows suit, Flagstaff continues to do its part.