By Lula Zeid ’21
The relationship between environmental degradation and issues such as poverty, health, and sanitation are almost as alarming as they are well known. But for New York City, many of these issues are not yet felt in force. Instead, the city in particular is faced with a growing waste problem.
The average New Yorker throws away 25 pounds of trash a week. Each year, 200 million pounds of clothing end up in New York City’s landfills. An enormous part of the waste comes from the popularity of fast fashion, affordable clothing that is trendy and moves quickly from the catwalk to stores.
But there are businesses rising to meet the challenges that fast fashion poses. In February 2020, Leonie Wisowaty, a senior from the Nightingale-Bamford School, founded Planet Leo. Planet Leo is a sustainable business dedicated to upcycling and modifying clothing to discourage single use clothing and easy waste.
Growing up as the youngest of three children, hand-me-downs have always had a place in Wisowaty’s closet. Once she learned to sew and paint, Wisowaty said she created her own clothing “out of the t-shirts and jeans [she] got from [her] older siblings.” When a friend asked Wisowaty to customize a pair of her jeans for a price, Planet Leo was born.
Always a passionate proponent of climate justice, Wisowaty is conscious of the environmental effects her business might have. Before she started Planet Leo, Wisowaty calculated the average amount of water and CO2 that a sustainable business might save. With those numbers in mind and a supply of thrifted clothing and pieces directly from her customers, her business soon launched an official website and an Instagram account (both linked below).
To order from Plant Leo, all a customer has to do is contact Wisowaty either through the Planet Leo Instagram or website. Customers can either provide denim pieces of their own to be customized and upcycled or ask for a thrifted piece. Everything down to the shipping of the customized piece has been tailored to be as environmentally friendly as possible, following the Planet Leo mantra: reduce, reuse, and recycle.
After operating briefly in Vienna over the summer, Planet Leo is back in New York and conducting popular business. Despite the challenges of COVID-19, Wisowaty is still committed to ensuring that her business does as little damage to the environment as possible. To order from Planet Leo, direct message the business through its Instagram @planetleodenim. To read more about Planet Leo’s upcycling initiative, commitment to sustainability, or see its collections, head over to www.planetleodenim.com.