What is Sustainable fashion?

Hi, I’m Justyna,
an independent designer who loves nature…

If you are a fashion geek, you must have known about a buzzword in the fashion industry – Sustainable fashion!

We all love fashion in one sense or another. Its glamour, thrill, and feel-good vibe incite us to feel confident and happier. Isn’t it? But there is a dark side to the glamorous fashion industry. It’s one of the dirtiest industries emitting CO2 and wasting our precious water.

To spread the goodness of sustainable fashion and tell you why it’s so important, I have compiled everything you might like to know about the environment-saving lifestyle here.

Scroll below, read more and take leave to make a difference.

Get set, and go!

All You Need to Know About the Environment-Saving Sustainable Fashion

Aesthetics and Ethics, when combined, make a perfect blend called sustainable fashion.

Sustainable fashion is an approach where we prepare clothing that is designed, manufactured, and delivered to its customers in an eco-friendly way. And, a little to no harm is done to the planet.

However, sustainable fashion itself is an umbrella term covering many eco-friendly aspects in its canopy. The focus is to benefit everything and everybody involved in the process. From farmers to consumers. Every single person!

All in all, Sustainable Fashion is a holistic term that contains ethics and fashion that doesn’t hurt the environment.

Why is Sustainable Fashion important?

Did you know how many clothes the world manufactures every year? It’s 80 BILLION. Shocking right?

Now, imagine a planet filled with monstrous piles of garments, smokey air to breathe, and oceans of toxic water to drink. Does that seem like an ideal place to live in? If not, then we as consumers need to open our eyes and watch our actions.

Are we contributing to leaving a healthy living environment for our future selves?

The answer is a big NO!!

This is where sustainability comes into play. It’s a lifestyle to pursue and a culture to promote. It’s us who are responsible for preserving our environment. Guys…we have a BIG responsibility on our shoulders. So, roll your sleeves and get committed to preserving our planet from withering out.

To convince you more, let me tell you some problems caused by fast fashion.

Problems with Fast Fashion

Fashion is not just a dope word. Instead, it’s a complex mechanism.

Today, we can buy anything right from the comfort of our homes. You just get online, scroll some images, decide one, and click on a button, and that’s all! How fast! But, little do we know how much the product we just bought has harmed our environment.

Still, that doesn’t end with just shopping.

We buy things. Wear it twice or thrice (maybe one more time). Then, stuff it in our wardrobe, and never look at it back. Why? Because it becomes outdated in a shorter time.

The major problem with fast fashion is its shorter lifespan. It trends, spreads quickly, and within no time, it’s forgotten. Forever! Such short-lived trends create a sensation, no doubt. But, we are paying a huge price for it.

Unfortunately, the resources we are currently relying upon won’t last if we keep using them extravagantly. Furthermore, the fashion industry is also notorious for some other evils.

Want to know more? Here’s a low down:

  1. Human Violation:

“Fast fashion isn’t free.  Someone, somewhere, is paying”

said Lucy Siegal.

And, believe me, it’s 100% true.

First off, the never-ending problems of fast fashion affect the humans working in the fashion industry. They work for endless hours and face violations. Such as terrible work conditions, unfair labour practices, low wages, verbal, sexual, and physical abuse, to name a few.

2. Complex  Manufacturing Process:

From seeding the cotton to bringing it out like a garment for the customers – there’s always an arduous procedure to manufacture clothing. The wheel starts from churning out the raw material and ends with the supply of the product to the sellers and buyers.

Hence, keeping the track of every process involved is almost next to impossible.

3. Massive Money Consumption:

The fashion industry is bursting with raging demand and money consumption.

Do you know who is moving their engines? It’s us – the consumers! When we buy something and pay for it, we encourage that business. And, to your surprise, we are buying 400% more these days, which is double than we would buy just two decades before.

4. Chemical Usage:

According to WWF, half of all textiles are made from cotton.

Cotton requires a hefty amount of chemicals to grow. Besides insecticides and pesticides, the textiles are dyed using poisonous chemicals.

5. Water Pollution and Wastage:

How would you feel if I tell you the T-shirt you are wearing right now is manufactured after taking 27,000-liter water? It’s unbelievable. Now think about the 80 Billion clothing pieces the world is producing every year.

Your mind will tell you in a jiffy that A LOT of water is being wasted.

Water wastage is just one side of the coin. On the flip side, there’s another issue present – water pollution.

The chemical fertilizers and dyes used in harvesting and designing further make their way to rivers and other water bodies where the toxic water is released.

6. Textile Waste

Today, fast fashion is so cheap to make. The low cost doesn’t put a hole in the pocket of buyers. Hence, the production brands manufacture cheaply made stuff in bulk and end up with a mountain of stock that never gets sales.

Even worse, fashion companies burn this extra stock rather than recycling it or donating it to charities. Resultantly, a heap of textile waste pollutes our environment like hell.

7. Climate Change

Though the fashion industry is not the lone sinner in the speedy climate change, it truly has its fair share in taking a toll on the environment.

Most garment production companies rely on fossil fuels to handle their manufacturing, distribution, and production needs. The fast fashion industry accounts for almost 10% of the world’s carbon footprint and 220 tons of CO2 per year.

Solutions: How to deal with these issues?

Are you up for going green? Great!

There are numerous ways and approaches that you can adapt to slowly go green. Learn about them and determine where you as a consumer stand.

Below are a few factors you must look at in a brand before you make a switch to sustainable fashion.

  1. Prefer Organic or Low impact Natural Material

Natural materials tend to be more sustainable. Take, for example, hemp, linen, and organic cotton. They are the most eco-friendly materials. Therefore, prefer natural material over virgin, petroleum synthetic fibres.

2. Choose clothes with Eco-friendly Dyes

Fast fashion clothes are normally dyed. The dyeing process involves a copious amount of water and chemical toxins. Eco-friendly dyes, however, don’t require so much water and are non-toxic.

3. Recycle / Repurpose your clothes 

Recycling is the best ever habit you can adopt. It invokes your creativity. Plus, it doesn’t require the life-long process of crafting garments from scratch. Instead, you only need to repurpose your stuff.

Support the brands that sell apparel made of recycled, up-cycled, or deadstock fibre.

4. Appreciate Zero Waste Production

Zero waste production means a manufacturing process where almost nothing is wasted. They minimize the usage of water and energy in the production procedure. Plus, when it comes to packaging, they go plastic-free and transport their stuff in biodegradable materials.

5. Support Local Makers

Overseas shipments consume a hefty amount of carbon. Most of the brands control this consumption by producing their clothing line close to the place where they are meant to be sold. You can help such local brands around you and do your part in preserving the environment.

What to look for while looking for a Sustainable Fashion brand?

I feel sad for the blue planet while disclosing that the term sustainable fashion is more hype than reality. No offence to the brands promoting fashion sustainability, but the term is so OVERUSED…

The brands claiming to save the environment and inhibiting sustainability to their products aren’t sadly living by their claim.

Now when you are aware of the steps you can take to make the difference. Your next move has to be choosing yourself a brand that practices Sustainable fashion in the true sense.

The more we are becoming aware of the havoc fast fashion is wreaking, the more we require a sustainable fashion lifestyle!

But, sadly, it’s only limited to be a term in most cases, and the brands who claim to be promoting sustainable fashion have little to back it up.

Normally, the term Sustainable Fashion is often misunderstood by the garment manufacturing industries.

And, due to the false misinterpretation, there’s an ongoing debate that brands are free to define their standards with regards to ‘sustainable’ and ‘ethical’ fashion.

So, now things turn their face to you. You as a consumer can define your values, and as per your eco-friendly priorities, you can set your shopping standards.

For instance:

  • You can ask some related questions while purchasing the stuff,
  • You can do your research about the brand,
  • You can visit their website and go through their “About us” page to know about their code of conduct
  • You can write them an Email
  • You can observe the tags or certificates attached with clothing items and observe their packaging practices
Some of the Most Sustainable Fashion Fabrics

When you aim to abide by sustainable fashion, the major criteria of this practice is the garment of your apparel. But, recognizing and choosing the garments that are made of sustainable fabric is a daunting task.

To help, I have gathered a list of attributes that you must find in materials that are often used sustainably.

  • Natural / Cellulosic Fiber
  • Organically farmed Fiber
  • Fiber that is harvested through the fairest ways
  • Nice to wear
  • 100% compostable
Why don’t people actively support sustainability?

Sustainable fashion is the need of the time, and there’s a real hype about it all over the industry. Still, people are not very vocal about fashion sustainability.  The reason can be a lack of awareness and the right mindset.

After all, fashion sustainability is not a destination that you can achieve.

In fact, it’s a journey that is getting longer and longer with the evolution of the fashion industry. Plus, whoever once opts for this lifestyle there must be NO going back.

Conclusion:

Fashion has its own distinct meaning for everyone. It may mean merely a trend for someone. But for others, it may be more than simply wearing clothes. Our choices differ from our personal values.

On the flip side, when attaching the word sustainability with fashion, it becomes an enormous term. Where no manipulation is accepted, be it human or animal. And, this mindset is critical for the future – of the planet and fashion. You don’t have to become a sustainability perfectionist overnight.

The mindset build-up takes time and patience. So, do yourself and your planet a favour, start your journey with small steps. If you need the direction, simply look for environment safety areas you are passionate about. That’s the starting point of your sustainability journey.

 Set yourself some goals and stick to them.

Remember, there’s nothing bad in staying fashionable, but we all have to leave a happy Earth behind – for our future selves, for our generations to come!

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