Being part of the fashion industry means following trends, but Tucson designer Laura Tanzer is breaking some of them with her sustainable business practices. In traditional textile production, large amounts of water are used to grow fibers like cotton, and hazardous dyes and chemicals are used to treat materials. However Laura has become part of the solution by making stylish garments from high-quality sustainable textiles and natural fibers that keep the wearer and the environment in harmony. Based on her strong beliefs and background in sustainability, Laura also incorporates eco-friendly practices into all aspects of her business. Here are some of the highlights:
Laura has high standards for the material that she buys. “As a clothing designer who wants to utilize ‘clean’ textiles that will not negatively affect me or my workers or my customers, I insist on using natural fiber textiles, minimum impact dying and printing technologies, and ethical sources for those textiles,” she says on her blog. Laura buys organic material when possible but more importantly, she focuses on purchasing from family owned and run businesses that care about their workers, environment and customers.
Spreading the Word
Tanzer partners with Local First Arizona, Green Living Magazine and Mrs. Green’s World to host a monthly series of speaking events, where experts in the community share their thoughts and discuss different sustainability topics. These talks aim to empower guests on how to live a more sustainable lifestyle and to learn more about the resources in their communities. These events are often catered by local restaurant Delectables, and in good form, Laura makes sure that any leftover food is donated to reduce food waste.
Recycling & Reducing
Any fabric remnants from making clothing are donated to local groups, teachers and craftspeople to use in arts and craft projects. All paper, plastic, cardboard, metal, and glass is recycled. Additionally, Laura prevents waste from being created by using reusable mugs, reusing paper and digital invoicing. The little paper that she does use is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified which means the trees used to produce it were harvested both legally and sustainably. She does not have plastic bags and encourages her customers to bring in reusable bags for purchases.
Shortly after moving into her current location, Laura updated the lighting in the shop to LED bulbs. She noticed a change for the better in the quality of light and the amount of heat that the lights were giving off. In the store, she uses Energy Star rated appliances.
Using her Voice
An important part of practicing good sustainability is to engage others in good behavior and to recognize improvements in the supply chain. Laura takes this to task, from requesting purveyors to reduce excess packaging to asking for eco-friendly paint during remodel to recognizing that plants outside her building were being overwatered and asking her landlord to reduce the watering schedule. In addition, she keeps the sustainability conversation going by promoting a sustainable lifestyle on her blog and social media accounts.
In recognition of her hard work and talent, Laura was recently recognized as the Emerging Designer of the Year at Phoenix Fashion Week 2016. We are thrilled to see dedicated entrepreneurs like Laura that operate sustainable businesses and add so much to Arizona's unique fabric of locally owned businesses. Find out more by visiting her website or stopping by her shop at 410 N. Toole Avenue in downtown Tucson.
Written by Stephanie Hoyt. If your businesses is interested has sustainable practices in place or if you would like more information on how to go about being more sustainable, email [email protected].