Megan McSherry: Conscious Consumerism Enthusiast
Megan McSherry is a Junior at the University of Southern California, studying Business Administration and Global Supply Chain Management. She started a fashion blog in 2012 called Tunes and Tunics which has evolved into a platform to discuss about sustainable fashion, ethical fashion and conscious consumerism. Megan attended a summer camp for girls and an all-girls high school, and has been passionate about women’s empowerment and equal rights ever since. In her free time, she enjoys spending time outdoors, thrift shopping, and drinking iced tea (with a reusable straw, of course).
Make Muse: Tell us a bit about you! How old are you and where are you from?
Megan: My name is Megan, I’m from New York and I’m 20 years old. I go to the University of Southern California and am finishing up my Junior year as a business administration major. I absolutely love Los Angeles and am hoping to move out here after graduation (sorry mom & dad!). I am passionate about sustainable fashion, ethical fashion, and conscious consumerism.
Make Muse: You’ve been blogging on Tunes and Tunics since 2012. What is the backstory to your blog?
Megan: It all started when I attended a business of fashion camp in New York City when I was in high school. We had speakers from all parts of the fashion industry, such as buyers, marketing directors and finance directors, however the speakers that stood out to me most were two bloggers. All I can remember was hearing about how they got free clothes and thinking I wanted to do the same. Tunes and Tunics was a fashion and music blog, showing my everyday outfits and talking about concerts I attended and music I loved. Over the years my blog has become much less about getting free clothes, and more about discussing issues in the fashion industry, such as environmental degradation, unsafe working conditions in factories, and the accumulation of textile waste.
Make Muse: How has your blog, especially your interest in sustainability, evolved since you started your blog 6 years ago?
Megan: For the first four years, Tunes and Tunics was just a typical fashion blog. I blogged about what I wore, which mainly consisted of fast fashion pieces (which was all that I could afford as a high school student). I took two environmentally focused courses in my first semester of college and immediately began to look at the fashion industry differently. In January of 2016, right after my first semester of college ended, I began discussing sustainable fashion and the various environmental and ethical issues caused by the fashion industry. This focus on Tunes and Tunics is still fairly new, and it continues to evolve every day.
Make Muse: Have you noticed trends in sustainability, environmentalism, or overall activism change throughout your time as a blogger? Have there been any movements or inventive ideas that sparked your interest throughout?
Megan: Since I began my blog in 2012, I have noticed a number of brands beginning to focus on more than just selling products. In 2014, Area launched their Aerie Real campaign, and have since served as a source of body positivity. I love the voice that Aerie has adopted since then as warriors of unretouched photos and real women, and I have only seen their messaging become stronger over the years. While this may be because I am passionate about sustainable fashion and ethical fashion, I have also noticed a larger conversation about fashion taking place. There are beginning to be sustainable fashion summits, and sustainable fashion weeks, and brands that are solely dedicated to operating sustainably and ethically. To be quite honest, every piece of this shift has inspired me. To see a large amount of people not only raise these issues, but take actions to create change, has been incredible to witness and take part in.
Make Muse: Do you have any opinions on the future of sustainability? Are there any initiatives you see propelling the future?
Megan: I truly see the future of sustainability working from the ground up. It is becoming increasingly difficult to get sustainability initiatives signed into law, and I really do see most environmental activism creating change from the ground up. Recently, I have seen a number of stores (as well as my University) pledge to stop using non-reusable straws. This was largely led by customers complaining about the ocean pollution they cause, and actions have been taken. I think this is a trend that will continue into the future.
Make Muse: One of our favorite sections on your blog is the Ac(TEE)vism section. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Megan: This is one of my favorite sections, too! Last year Reformation released a line of “action tees”, each of which supported a different cause. With each purchase, $25 was donated to the organization that that shirt supported. I loved this idea of activism through fashion, and I wanted to showcase other brands that do similar things. Since that original post about Reformation, I have featured shirts from Everlane that support organizations like Equality Now and The ACLU, Tees for Bees which donates a percentage of their proceeds towards organizations that save the bees, and a special edition tee by The Style Club LA that supported FCancer. I love the idea of something as simple as a tee shirt creating positive change, and have enjoyed writing about each tee and each cause that I have come across.
Make Muse: A lot of the shirts you highlight have a female-focused print or saying. Do you consider yourself a feminist?
Megan: I absolutely consider myself a feminist. I attended an all-girls summer camp for nine summers and went to an all-girls school for high school, and have grown up around strong, independent women. Something I have been working on recently is making sure that I am inclusive of all women – women of color, women with disabilities, trans women, and women of all socioeconomic, religious and ethnic backgrounds – when I do anything in the name of feminism. Intersectional feminism is incredibly important, and I am learning about to be a better feminist every day.
Make Muse: Do you see a place or opportunity to merge promoting conscious consumerism and women’s rights?
Megan: I absolutely do see an opportunity to merge promoting conscious consumerism and women’s rights. Over 80% of garment workers around the world are women. As became frighteningly clear after the Rana Plaza Factory collapse in 2013, garment workers are constantly subjected to unsafe working conditions and are not paid fair or living wages. Conscious consumerism requires thinking about all aspects of your purchase decisions, including who makes the products you buy. Hopefully, as more people begin to consume consciously and pay more attention to how garment workers are treated, change will come about for the millions of women working in factories around the world.
Make Muse: What are some future goals you have? Do you see yourself entering a career focused on activism?
Megan: I hope to change the fashion industry. I know that’s a lofty goal, but it truly is my hope that over my lifetime I will see a major shift occur in the fashion industry and among consumers. I see myself entering a career that is either in supply chain management, where I can directly manage factories and lessen the environmental and ethical impacts on the environment, or working in marketing for a sustainable and ethical company. Activism has become an important part of my life and I definitely see it continuing to play a role in my future careers.
Make Muse: Are there any empowering females you look up to? (Who are sustainability focused or not!)
Megan: I absolutely love Elaine Weltheroth. She was Editor in Chief of Teen Vogue (and the youngest EIC in Condé Nast history) and helped bring activism to the heart of the magazine. I had the chance to speak briefly with her at a promotional event for the Teen Vogue Summit, and she believes that the fashion industry will inevitably shift toward having higher standards in terms of sustainability and ethics. Though she recently left her position as EIC, Welteroth continues to be an inspiring voice for women, and specifically women of color, everywhere.
I also look up to Emma Watson, not only as an empowering and inspiring woman, but also as someone who cares deeply about the environment. She has worn a number of eco-friendly gowns to red carpet events in partnership with Red Carpet, Green Dress.
Make Muse: What are some of your favorite brands or media sites that advocate for causes such as women’s equality, sustainability, and fair trade?
Megan: I absolutely love Reformation. They release quarterly sustainability reports, outlining their lofty environmental goals, and have their very own factory in Los Angeles that they can directly oversee. Some of their 2018 goals include ensuring that 75% of their factory team members earn Los Angeles’ living wage, have 100% supply chain traceability, and have 65% of Reformation products manufactured with direct renewable energy.
I also love Everlane. Everlane is known for being “radically transparent” – meaning they share extensive information about every one of their products, including what factories they are produced in, how much each part of the product costed, and even how much of a markup Everlane gets. Everlane’s 100% Human campaign, which launched in January 2017, features three lines of tees, totes and sweatshirts featuring the words “100% Human”. Each line supports a different cause – the ACLU, Equality Now, and the Human Rights Campaign.
One of my favorite media sites is The Good Trade, which promotes conscious consumerism through conscious lifestyle, food, travel, clothing, beauty and wellness avenues. They consistently share inspiring brands, easy lifestyle changes, and stories of people living consciously.
Make Muse: What are your tips for living a life as a conscious consumer? How do you go about doing so in your everyday life?
Megan: The entire premise of being a conscious consumer is thinking through every purchase decision you make. There are simple conscious decisions that you can make every day, like using reusable bags when you go grocery shopping, and not taking a plastic bag if you only have two things to carry home from the store. Or using a reusable straw, and asking for no straw when you go out to eat. Or even simply recycling things that can be recycled. All of these things have become second nature to me, yet are still making a positive impact on the environment. My biggest tip is to remain conscious. It can be hard thinking through the impacts of all of our purchases – whether it be buying organic produce instead of cheaper, GMO produce, or deciding where to buy your next article of clothing – but the process of thinking through those decisions is incredibly important. Nothing will change if you overlook the conditions fast fashion factory workers experience and buy the $5 dress, it is remaining conscious and thinking about your purchasing power that will bring about change.
My only other tip is to not be hard on yourself. I have had fast fashion relapses and have used a good number of plastic bags when they weren’t necessary, but changes don’t happen overnight. Becoming a conscious consumer can completely change the way you look at things, and that requires an adjustment period.
Make Muse: If you could tell one thing to all of the women (as females typically are workers in fast fashion factories) whose lives you’re helping be better by shopping smart, sustainability, and ethically, what would it be?
Megan: I think I would tell those women that people do care, that there are people out there around the world advocating for their safety, their wellbeing, and their rights in the workplace.