The Twilight star's collaboration with UpWest is available now on upwest.com

By Hanna Flanagan
April 08, 2020 10:39 AM
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Nikki Reed is one of Hollywood’s leading environmentalist, so it’s no surprise that her latest collaboration is raising the bar for sustainable fashion.

On Wednesday, the 31-year-old actress and activist launched a capsule collection with UpWest, featuring two limited-edition T-shirts using a blend created from recycled bottles in celebration of Earth Month.

Through June, UpWest will donate all net proceeds from the partnership to the Ian Somerhalder Foundation, the namesake organization of Reed’s The Vampire Diaries star husband that provides public outreach, education and grants in support of all things environmental.

When designing the casual pieces, which are embossed with small Mother Earth images on the front and clever catchphrases on the back — the $32 black women’s tee says “Your Mama Is a Badass” while the $34 army green men’s version reads “Don’t Trash My Mother” — Reed tells PEOPLE she stayed true to what she believes when it comes to fashion: “quality over quantity.”

The Twilight actress says she not only partnered with UpWest for its “chic, comfy and outdoorsy” aesthetic, she also loves what the brand stands for: “UpWest was immediately able to kind of step up to the plate and say, ‘We love that you are focused on using recycled materials. We want to do that too.’ That was really exciting for me.”

Courtesy of UpWest
Courtesy of UpWest

“Our team thoroughly enjoyed collaborating with Nikki. Her personal commitment and passion for sustainability align with the UpWest mission of positively impacting people and planet,” UpWest senior vice president Jamie Schisler tells PEOPLE. “We are proud and excited to introduce this collaboration to our customers.”

Although Reed and her partners at UpWest were able to keep the cost of their T-shirt collaboration low, the star admits that supporting sustainable fashion usually comes with a few hurdles, including price and accessibility.

“Any time that you’re searching for anything that’s organic, recycled, upcycled or produced locally, there’s a premium to be paid for that,” the actress (who founded her sustainability-driven lifestyle brand, Bayou with Love, in 2017) tells PEOPLE. “It’s the job of the consumer and businesses to sort of prioritize that. I think as that becomes the norm, that premium will change.”

Nikki Reed
Jesse Grant/Getty

Reed says she’s seen a “huge shift” over the years in what buyers are craving and, in turn, what brands are willing to provide.

“We’re so concerned with what we put in our bodies now, which is great. You know, now people really prioritize farmer’s markets and buying organic local food, which is awesome,” she shares. “Now, we’re getting to this place in the world of fashion where we’re asking the same questions and putting the connections together that what we put on our bodies is also a big thing.”

But shopping ethical brands is just one way Reed and her family (she and Somerhalder share 2-year-old daughter Bodhi Soleil) are reducing their carbon footprint — they also practice sustainability around the house. And while it may be intimidating, the actress says there are actually plenty of easy ways to become more eco-friendly right now, even while cooped up inside amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Her suggestions? Watch environmental documentaries to learn more about pressing issues, get creative by repurposing basic pantry items, collect rain water in a bucket then use that to water your plants instead of picking up a garden hose and safely enjoy some fresh air if you are able.

Nikki Reed and Ian Somerhalder
Amy Sussman/Getty

“I think it’s an interesting time if you have a moment to start experimenting with things that you’ve always wanted to get around to,” she explains, adding, “I am uber sensitive to the fact that there’s a lot of loss happening right now. I can’t even begin to imagine people who have lost loved ones and jobs and homes.”

Reed concludes: “The one thing about tragedy is that, when experienced together, it has the ability to create a level of compassion that the world really needs right now. What we’re experiencing has crossed all lines. There’s no political alignment here. There is no country that defines this. There is no religion or race or age. We’re all human and we’re all experiencing the same thing.”