A report was issued in early October by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change detailing a prediction that the planet will reach 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels by 2030. This means extreme droughts, floods and wildfires affecting millions of people.
Efforts to protect the environment and climate are not new. This conversation has been around for decades. According to the New York Times, 69 percent of Americans support strict carbon dioxide limits on existing coal-fired power plants to help slow the process of climate change as of 2017.
With this information, the conversation is only being encouraged. Different people have different methods of slowing this process and doing what they can to protect the environment.
In Flagstaff, Bette Ulrich does her part with style. Ulrich is the owner of High Style Flagstaff, a fashion mobile boutique that sells up-cycled and recycled clothing, accessories and decor. Her products range from children’s clothes to jewelry and even bags. Her mobile boutique is set up every Sunday at the farmers market in downtown Flagstaff. She has also recently begun setting up outside the University Union on campus to connect with NAU students and spread her belief of minimizing waste and helping the environment in any way possible.
According to an article in Forbes magazine, the fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world, behind the oil industry. As the industry grows, so does its pollution.
Though clothing is a disposable product, it has the negative effect of creating more and more textile waste. Only a small percentage of clothing is recycled or donated, the rest is left to be buried in a landfill or incinerated. Furthermore, many fabrics commonly found in clothing are nonbiodegradable, which means they can’t be broken down through natural processes over time.
The production side of fashion is often overlooked by members of the general public, however the fashion industry generates a lot of greenhouse gases throughout the manufacturing and transportation of garments.
All of these negative factors contribute to the depletion of the planet and its climate. It is because of these factors that Ulrich has created her business, High Style Flagstaff.
Ulrich started this business in the fall 2017. She gained inspiration to form this business from watching the documentary “The True Cost” on Netflix.
“The True Cost” is a documentary directed by Andrew Morgan about clothing and how as the price of clothing decreases, the environmental cost increases. The film also depicts many of the countries in which clothes are made, as well as the conditions of the people who make the clothes.
Once Ulrich saw this documentary, she became inspired to be more ethical in the way she lived her life, especially when it came to clothing. She began to make clothing for herself and her son. She began to receive constant complements on her clothing, and that’s when she decided to try to sell products she makes. She signed up for the Flagstaff Farmers Market to sell the products she created.
One of her favorite products to make, with the help of her husband, are hand-crafted earrings. She especially loves making children’s clothes because she sees it as being faster and more fun.
When she is making the clothes and accessories for her business, she thinks about where she is getting the materials. She normally gets inspired by different things she sees, such as metal in a scrap yard for earrings or other products she can make. When it comes to clothes, she gets inspired by shopping through local thrift stores and seeing what she can use from the different fabrics she finds.
“It takes around 2,650 gallons of water to produce enough cotton to just make one pair of jeans, and we don’t have enough water,” Ulrich said. “That’s why I’ve gotten big on trying to make an impact on the world. Each year we pretty much use 1.2 trillion gallons of water on making clothing each year.”
Although Ulrich’s business is out of her mobile boutique, she hopes and dreams of expanding it to a larger location. The boutique is just the first step in her big dream of expansion. Though she cannot afford a storefront yet, she is trying to sell at different places and working to get her name out there to spread her message of up-cycling and recycling clothing. She is going to be selling her clothes within the store Snow Mountain River located on Milton, because she believes this is the only store which follows her same beliefs when it comes to being mindful of where clothing comes from and what it takes to make clothing.
The High Style Flagstaff Boutique has had an impact on students who visit the mobile shop on campus.
“It’s not really smart to buy clothes from Forever 21 because it’s very wasteful. I feel like it’s very useful to go thrifting and use clothes that are in good condition. You can get good clothes that are like Forever 21 at thrift stores and it’s less wasteful,” said sophomore Sasha Enriquez.
Junior Haley Custis has also taken notice of the unique boutique.
“I think she is in a good location because NAU is an environmentally-friendly place, so she has the right market. I’ve seen her clothes and they’re really cute, and I’ve also heard they’re fairly priced,” Custsis said.
The issue of climate change and the depleting state of our planet can be seen as a controversial conversation. However, the data and evidence goes to show something has to be done to solve this issue. Ulrich is helping to solve this issue in a creative and stylistic way.