Bella Finds,  Featured

Become a Conscious Consumer

Line + Tow empowers customers to think critically about their purchases

Written by Hayleigh Worgan

For at least the last twenty years, people have searched for the best bargains to add to their closet every season. Clothes are discarded in giant trash bags from closets every few months in the pursuit of something new. At some point, many consumers stopped paying critical attention to the items with frayed threads that hit clearance racks after a few hundred people tried them on in the dressing room. Their price point alone was enough to add one, in every color, to their already overflowing dresser drawers. 

Fast fashion has become a huge problem in our modern world. According to a recent article in National Geographic, microplastics, from a variety of sources including fibers, are turning up in the fish we eat, the water we drink, and even the air we breathe. 

We sat down with Grace Brian, founder of a sustainable clothing company, Line + Tow, to discuss small and large changes individuals can make to their habits to have a lasting impact on the world around us. 

According to Grace, lasting change begins in the hazy moments before consumers open their wallets. 

“The best thing people can do is think critically about advertising,” Grace explains. “It is important to keep in mind that we need a lot less than we think we do. Every time you see an advertisement—or something that you want to buy—think about the fact that if you buy that thing someone makes money. They don’t really care about you, they just want to make something look good enough for you to spend money on it. They do not care what happens to it after you spend your money. A great example of this is how we have been led to believe that we need individual cleaning solutions for all different things—tile floor, wood floor, counter-tops, marble counter-tops, glass, the sink, the tub, the shower, tile, carpet, exterior surfaces, shampoo for men that’s different for than shampoo for women, shampoo for babies, soap for the face, the hands, the body, soap for shaving, soap for clothes, soap for dishes—the list goes on and on. These variations exist because they are another way to make money. Once we decide what we actually want and need, and we don’t pay attention to advertising, we will all own a lot less.”  

Grace also encourages consumers to consider the entire life cycle of an object they are buying. It might be natural to strictly consider the impact an item will have in the world from the time it is purchased until the time you are done using it, but the truth is that there were environmental impacts of that item’s creation, and it will continue to have effects long after it has left your possession. 

“A good example of this is paper coffee cups vs. reusable travel mugs. The process of making a paper mug uses a lot less energy and resources than making a metal and plastic mug. You would need to use your reusable cup about 200 times to break even,” she estimates.

Therein lies the truth behind what is marketed to those who are learning what it means to be concerned about the environment and combat climate change. If consumers don’t do their homework, they can still be tricked into buying things that have a larger affect on the environment by allowing those items to sit unused in their homes or taking them to the donation bin before their lifespan is complete in favor of the next new gadget.

Companies and industries all around the world are trying to sell everything from t-shirts proclaiming, “Save the bees!” to giant, plastic reusable water bottles with pictures of dolphins and turtles. Climate change is important to address, but the attention it is receiving also makes it a target for capitalization. Grace reminds us that, despite what all of those ads on social media are saying, we don’t need to purchase the printed t-shirt to practice sustainability. As the owner of a business that sells sustainable clothing, she wants people to understand that they do not need to purchase anything marketed as “sustainable” for the simple act of owning something that is sustainable. 

“You don’t need money to be sustainable because the most sustainable thing is to not buy stuff you don’t need,” she says.

Changes happen when we slow down and consider how each decision will ripple from our small communities to widespread consequences around the world.

Of course, eventually, you will need something specific for your wardrobe that you don’t have or will need to replace. Career changes, a move to an area with a different climate, and new hobbies sometimes require new gear. When that time comes for you, do your homework before you run to the mall. Research how different brands make their clothes. Know what goes into the process and how their employees are treated. Value is more than what you see on a price tag. Plus, if you can afford it, long lasting pieces that require a small investment seem a lot more realistic when you haven’t purchased a new outfit in a year. Small changes, especially in your identity as a consumer, produce big results. 

Grace encourages businesses to consider joining this movement as well. Uniforms are an excellent opportunity to practice sustainability in the professional world. For example, Bloom, a new restaurant in Wasena, ordered their aprons from Line + Tow at the beginning of the summer. When you have to buy something new, spend like every dollar that passes through your hands will somehow influence the rest of your life. Because whether we keep what we buy for years to come or discard it within minutes, the echoes of our choices as consumers will change the world as we know it.

Visit www.lineandtow.com for more information on location, hours, and available products. In addition to clothing items, they also sell clothing repair tools. In the future, they plan to offer classes. Stay tuned to their Facebook page, www.facebook.com/lineandtow, for more information on upcoming events!


Hayleigh is a freelance writer, independent author, and writing consultant. In 2017, she published her first novel. She spends a lot of time traveling and exploring new regions for inspiration, but Roanoke will always be her home. www.hayleighworgan.com