Read about Jackie Rodriguez’s sustainable fashion journey and why she embraces all things sustainability in the District.
Growing up in LA to working class, immigrant parents, Jackie Rodriguez rarely had the privilege of indulging in retail therapy. While many of her peers were perusing the mall for the latest fashion trends, she and her close friends were frequenting thrift stores or swapping closets.
“My relationship to fashion growing up was always an unfulfilled desire in a way, which taught me to be thrifty and creative,” Rodriguez says. “It pushed me to be more sustainable without even realizing it.”
Rodriguez started viewing sustainability through an economic lens after working full time on workforce and labor policy for a D.C. law firm, which piqued her interest in the environmental impact of the fashion industry. Creating environmentally minded content from her @jacquitabanana Instagram account became an exciting hobby where she could share business-casual outfit inspiration and resources to live more sustainably.
Her standards for secondhand shopping have changed a lot since browsing Goodwill as a teenager. She now prefers consignment stores like Secondi in Dupont Circle and Threadz in Georgetown because of their curated collections of high-quality, timeless pieces.
“Working in D.C. and having to wear professional attire, [I’m] thinking about how I can be fashionable in a way that’s sustainable not only in terms of the climate but also on my personal finances,” she says.
Now that consumers are aware of the millions of tons of landfill waste fast fashion accumulates every year, companies are starting to advertise their eco-friendly initiatives to appear responsible and progressive. Rodriguez explains many of these superficial programs are greenwashing strategies to distract buyers from the harm being done to the planet, such as a company offering a recycling system for their products but not addressing the emissions of their production chain.
“A lot of these things are baby steps, but I think companies try to market them as a much larger effort and brand themselves as sustainable,” she says. “Reduced production of clothing is where I think real environmental impact is.”
Instead of relying on compostable packaging or deceptive language, Rodriguez hopes that companies will take greater care providing their workers living wages and rights, in addition to prioritizing nature-based materials like organic cotton, hemp or linen over those that are fossil-fuel-based such as polyester, nylon and spandex.
She believes her Salvadorian heritage intersects with sustainability in its consideration for both people and the planet, especially when the majority of garment workers in LA are undocumented immigrant women.
“Labor has always been something I’ve been cognizant of,” Rodriguez says. “Within Latino culture, there is a huge value set around taking care of the one Earth we have.”
Voting with your dollar is sometimes the most effective way to advocate for corporate change, and now that many companies are marketing towards the Latino community, Rodriguez hopes consumers will make more decisions that benefit their financial health.
“I hope and wish for the Latino demographic to be more mindful and protective of our purchasing power,” she says.
Outside her wardrobe, Rodriguez supports sustainability by choosing non-plastic items at the grocery store whenever possible, taking compost to her local farmers market, utilizing public transportation and participating in neighborhood events like yard sales and clothing swaps.
“Despite D.C. being a very transient city, the people who stay here are community-focused,” she says. “We think about our environment and climate impact, which is translated to how the city operates. There are so many aspects of your regular life that you can take a more environmental route.”
Learn more about Jackie Rodriguez and follow her fashion trends on Instagram @jacquitabanana.
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