Earth Day 2016: Activism & Clothing Consciousness

EarthDay2016editedOn Earth Day, April 22nd, we continued to celebrate our ongoing commitment to environmental stewardship. In the months prior, students explored overconsumption, fast fashion, upcycling, the textile industry, sweatshops, and social justice issues related to the manufacturing of our clothing. Many students also participated in a #FebruaryClothingFast as a way to consciously consume less.

Earth Day was kicked off by Assistant Head of School, Marisa Bellingrath, who explained how each item that she was wearing was eco-thoughtful. We were then revisited by Erin Schrode who inspired our students not just through her knowledge of environmental issues, but also by providing insight into her current run for Congress at the age of 25! Schrode’s fervor to empower the voices of young women was profound and deeply engaged the entire school assembly. (To learn more about Erin’s first visit, please go to:

We then broke off into sister families to participate in a letter-writing campaign to various clothing companies to put our words into action. Here is an excerpt from one letter:

“We, the girls from The Hamlin School in San Francisco, California are supporting the Fashion Revolution that is taking place worldwide. We want to thank the people that made our clothes! We learned that The Behind the Barcode report found that out of the 219 biggest fashion brands, only half actually knew what factories their products were made in, and only a quarter of the brands knew where things like zippers, buttons, thread and even the fabric came from. Your company may be doing great work in knowing details about your supply chain, and we’d love to hear back from you about your practices.
We are also asking that you consider doing everything you can for your workers and make smart choices about where you get the materials for the clothing you make.”

The day continued on with upcycling project stations featuring the following areas (among others):

-Hair bands

-Healing garments

-Recycled Denim Papermaking

-Recycled Fabric Wall Installation

-Recycled Pillow Cases


Later in the day students learned about SF Recology’s new pilot program to add tan bins to collect textiles. Students had the opportunity to share their views on whether San Francisco should permanently have these bins join the green, blue, and black bins that are currently used in the city. Students were encouraged to use the tan bins at school in the coming days to keep the spirit of Earth Day alive in May and beyond.

Perhaps the highlight of the day for many students was the clothing swap. In the days leading up to Earth Day, students brought in various gently used clothing items. At the swap, students were able to walk away with new/used clothes, while getting rid of items that no longer fit. The atmosphere was festive and joyful as our girls had the experience of seeing how clothes could be exchanged without being thrown away. The student clothing swap will be followed up by an adult clothing exchange. All of the unclaimed clothes from both swaps will be donated to homeless families at the Hamilton Family Center. Along with the clothing swap, we had two sustainable clothing vendors join us: Hamlin parent, Thayer Sylvester, from Carve Designs and Kyle Retzik from Skunkfunk.

Earth Day was a tremendous success. The work will continue in the days to come as Amy Conger and her “Green Team” continue their environmental leadership throughout the school.

Special thanks to everyone who helped make Earth Day wonderful, especially: Willow Hagge, Amy Conger, Marisa Bellingrath, Wanda Holland Greene, Caitlin Brisson, Gabby Cobar, Maggie Jo Feldman, Cyndera Quackenbush, Jim Lengel, Andy Witrak, Shelby Drabman, and Hamlin parent volunteers, Cornelia Flannery, Missy Evans, and Katherine Rothschild.

For more information about the sustainable vendors who participated, please visit:

To learn more about SF Recology’s tan bin program, please visit:

The following is a video of Hamlin students sharing what they learned from Earth Day: 



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