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A Sustainable Future for Ithaca, NY

Elizabeth Holloway in Serendipity | Source: Kathryn Ksiazek for Ithaca Week
Mural on Wall in Serendipity | Source: Kathryn Ksiazek for Ithaca Week

Ithaca attracts hundreds of tourists each year to see beautiful natural attractions as well as many small businesses on the Commons, but how do Ithaca residents keep their consumption sustainable?

How Can We Recognize Sustainability

With more and more fast fashion companies on the rise, sustainability within fashion is being brought to light now more than ever. One way to shop more consciously is by avoiding these mass-produced clothing pieces in the fast fashion industry. Buying used clothes is a great alternative. 

One local scholar focuses on fashion and sustainability. 

Denise Nicole Green, associate professor at Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology, uses fashion to shed light on challenges involving sustainability and other social issues.

She believes in “sustaining the health and well-being of all things, both animate and inanimate,” Green said. 

“To be sustainable means rejecting the idea that our existence in the world is a zero-sum game, but instead, is a place of possibility where we can empower, elevate, and build a compassionate community where all flourish through design,” added Green. 

Green shows her passion for sustainable fashion in her newest exhibit, “Articles of Displacement”, on display in the Martha Van Rensselaer Hall on the Cornell Campus until Oct.21. 

“If we can divert waste and create something new and beautiful with it, why wouldn’t we explore that as an alternative to the harmful approaches that already exist?” said Green.

“In my current exhibit, ‘Articles of Displacement’, I am using fabrics that are incredibly durable and refashioning already existing clothing into something new as a way to increase the garment or textile’s lifespan,” Green said. 

“Through co-design, we can make fashion in conversation with the people who will actually wear it so that we can be confident it will last longer than a traditional fast fashion garment would,” Green added.

Sustainable Serendipity

Elizabeth Holloway in Serendipity | Source: Kathryn Ksiazek for Ithaca Week

Serendipity Boutique, on N Aurora St, is one of Ithaca’s newest thrift shops. Elizabeth Holloway, the owner of Serendipity, rented out a space to start the shop soon after the first lockdown brought on by COVID-19 in 2020. While the shop is fairly new to Ithaca, the name “Serendipity” inspired Holloway long before she even had a space rented out.

“You don’t know what you’ll find and neither do I,” said Holloway. “It’s all kind of an adventure.”

Serendipity is a treasure chest of eclectic finds. Unlike most thrift shops, Holloway does not simply take donations. Instead, she searches estate sales and “cherry picks” from a group of franchise retailers. By doing so Holloway is able to find second-hand clothes in great condition, she said. This way, the clothes she brings to Serendipity are unique and at a quality that will last years.

Not only does Serendipity source clothing sustainably, the hangers and racks are also sourced second-hand. According to Holloway, she gets all of these items from stores such as Macy’s or Kohl’s after they go out of business.

With high-quality clothing and stunning jewelry, Serendipity is a great place to look if you want to give your wardrobe some charm in a sustainable fashion. 

As for what the best part of running Serendipity is, Holloway believes it is “meeting people and having them find the thing that’s just right…maybe even just by accident they see it and it’s meant for them.”

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