We live in a world where the idea of ‘fast fashion’ is unfortunately the norm. We are bombarded with cheap clothing options that instantly provide us with the latest fads. But have we stopped to consider the ethical implications of this cycle? Sustainable fashion is challenging us to rethink how we approach the fashion industry; from how we source materials, to the lives of garment workers, and how we can reduce our carbon footprint. In this article we’ll discuss why sustainable fashion matters and what you can do to make your style more ethical.
1. What is Sustainable Fashion?
Fashion is big business, but the costs to the environment and people involved in the supply chain, from cotton picking to manufacturing, are all too often overlooked and unseen. Sustainable fashion is all about reducing the environmental and social footprint of the fashion industry. Whether it’s by investing in or creating eco-friendly products; working with sustainable materials sourced responsibly; or looking at ways to reduce the industry’s waste, sustainable fashion practices are worth investing in:
- Swap and Share: Choose to re-purpose and re-use clothing. Shop for second-hand and vintage clothes to add an interesting element to one’s wardrobe.
- Choose Natural and Organic Materials: Look for natural fabrics and textiles such as organic cotton, hemp, bamboo and wool, to name a few.
- Mind Your Was Habits: To make clothes last longer and reduce the amount of water consumed, wash on a cold or warm cycle and hang out to dry.
- Purchase Better Quality Items: Select items made with quality fabrics and construction to wear for years.
- Shop with Companies that Follow Ethical Guidelines: Look for brands that practice sustainable, ethical production methods and that minimize their environmental impact.
- Support Local Businesses: Shop locally when possible and get to know the people behind your clothes.
Achieving a truly sustainable wardrobe doesn’t have to be difficult or overwhelming. Start small and focus on making ethical decisions to ensure you’re taking care of the environment – and those who produce our clothes.
2. Benefits of Sustainable Fashion
Sustainable fashion is not just an ethical choice, it also offers positive benefits for those that use it. Here are some of the advantages of choosing green fashion:
- Lower prices: Sustainable fashion offers an affordable alternative to mainstream designs and non-renewable materials. As leather and synthetic fabrics can be expensive, natural fibers such as cotton, linen, and wool are often much more affordable.
- Better quality: Sustainable fashion is often made from higher quality materials which last long and don’t break down easily. As a result, these products are valuable investments that will see you through for many years.
- Environmental benefits: By using sustainable materials, you help protect the environment. You’ll also be supporting the communities who work hard to produce these environmentally-friendly garments.
- Ethical considerations: Sustainable fashion is often produced under a code of conduct that ensures workers are paid a fair wage and safe working conditions. As such, you can shop knowing that your purchase is going towards an ethical cause.
In addition to offering environmental and ethical benefits, sustainable fashion can help people make a statement. Choosing ethically-made clothing is not only a conscious decision, but also a great way to show the world that you care about the environment.
3. How to Choose Sustainable Materials
When it comes to sustainable fashion, materials are key. Making a conscious effort to invest in natural fabrics like organic cotton, linen, hemp, jute, and bamboo, or recycled materials like plastic or glass, can greatly reduce the environmental impact of your wardrobe.
- Organic Cotton – Widely available, organic cotton is grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers or pesticides and is an environmentally-friendly alternative to conventional cotton. Plus, it’s softer and lasts longer due to its lack of toxins!
- Hemp or Linen – Two natural fibers that get stronger when wet, these highly durable fabrics are perfect for everyday wear. Plus, hemp is naturally resistant to UV light and molds, making it a great choice for sun-protection clothing.
- Bamboo – Growing quickly and naturally, this lightweight, breathable fabric quickly biodegrades and is naturally anti-bacterial. Perfect for hot summer days.
- Recycled Materials – Investing in recycled fabrics, such as plastic or glass, greatly reduces the amount of waste produced. These pieces are tough and solid, and they reduce the need for landfill space.
Choosing sustainable materials can be a daunting task, but with a bit of research and effort, you’ll be wearing greener, cleaner styles in no time. Plus, your wallet and the planet will thank you!
4. Supporting Ethical Brands
Fashion is constantly evolving, and with the rise of sustainability being the most critical trend of 2020, it’s time to start exploring how we can make our style a little more ethical. Here are 4 simple and easy ways to start and promoting sustainable fashion without sacrificing your personal style.
Choose used clothing and try thrifting. Thrifting is one of the easiest and most sustainable ways to shop. Not only does it keep local or imported products from going into landfills, but it also supports local thrift stores that otherwise might not be able to operate. When shopping for used clothing, you can find some really unique and vintage pieces that you might not find on the shelves of mainstream fashion stores.
Opt for handmade items. By opting for handmade items, you can better ensure that you’re buying ethically-sourced items that have been created with sustainability in mind. Not to mention, it helps support small businesses, which is vital for the economy right now. There are plenty of independent artisans and small designer brands offering eco-friendly and unique clothing choices.
Seek out certified sustainable labels. When shopping for fashion or accessories, look for labels that are certified sustainable and ethically sourced. This means that the product is crafted in a safe and humane environment that puts sustainability as a top priority. If you’re looking to shop for ethically made items, there are a variety of websites dedicated to helping you find certified sustainable labels.
Look for eco-friendly fabrics. Fabrics used in modern fashion are often synthetic or from conventional, non-renewable resources. When shopping for clothing, seek out natural fabrics such as organic cotton, hemp, linen, and bamboo. These materials are more sustainable and biodegradable than synthetic fibers, and also require significantly less water and energy to produce. Plus, they’re a lot softer and more comfortable to wear!
By following these steps, you can start to practice sustainable fashion without compromising your personal style. and choosing sustainable materials will help create a more sustainable fashion industry that is good for the environment as well as the people involved in the production process.
5. Making Sustainable Fashion Affordable
Sustainability is increasingly becoming an important consideration when buying clothes. But it can be difficult to find affordable sustainable fashion as quality, ethical pieces tend to come with a hefty price tag. Here are some tips to help you make sustainable fashion work for your budget:
- Research thrifted and recycled clothing – You can often find great deals on second-hand and vintage clothing, and when you purchase used clothing you’re reducing your environmental impact by choosing a piece that already exists.
- Prioritize ethical companies – We can’t always control where and how our clothes are made. But, when possible, prioritize companies that are transparent about their manufacturing processes and focus on ethical labor practices.
- Shop during sales – It’s easy to get excited about beautiful new pieces, but we recommend waiting until there’s a sale for big-ticket items like jeans and jackets. That way, you can invest in quality pieces without breaking the bank.
- Invest in fewer, better-made items – Better-made clothes tend to last longer, so investing in them pays off in the long run. Also, try to buy pieces that can be used for different occasions, so you can stretch your budget further.
- Choose sustainable fabrics – Sustainable fabrics are not always the cheapest, but they tend to be longer lasting and biodegradable. Look for vegan leather or eco-friendly fabrics like organic cotton, which is a great option for summer clothes.
is achievable when you prioritize quality over quantity, research thrift stores, and shop from ethical brands. Not only will this save you money in the long run, but it will also help protect the environment.
6. Tips for Reducing Clothes Waste
1. Buy Second Hand Clothes
As pre-owned clothes are already available in the market, consider opting for it first. There are tons of quality thrift, vintage, and consignment stores that stock reliable clothing materials at a fraction of the retail cost. Additionally, it’s important to properly assess the quality of pre-worn items and identify pieces that have a longer life-span and value.
2. Read Fabric Content
Make sure that you go through the fabric tags beforehand to ensure the items are made from organic or recycled materials. Picking sustainable materials also helps in reducing waste as they’re likely to last way beyond their normal life.
3. Choose Quality Over Quantity
Seek out well-made garments with quality construction and fabrications as opposed to trendy, fast fashion that’s made quickly to keep up with the latest trends but isn’t likely to last. Consider an item from a high-quality brand or look for timeless silhouettes with natural fabrics that never go out of fashion and provide better comfort.
4. Mend and Refurbish Old Items
If an item has small holes, or a broken zipper, bringing it to a local tailor or seamstress is the ideal approach to breathe life he in your garment again. Pick pieces that only need a little bit of mending as it’s easy to give them a new life. Additionally, items can be remade with decorative embellishments like beads, or ties, to create a new style.
5. Lounge in Your Favourite Apparel
Freshen up your favourite pieces and make them your go-to items in your wardrobe. Whether it’s an over-sized T-shirt or an old pair of jeans, donning them for your day-to-day activities is an incredible way to save time and energy in the long-run.
6. Donate Your Unwanted Clothing
It’s advisable to drop off your unwanted clothing at a local donation station. The donations collected are often used to clothe those in need in your community. Not to mention, by donating your items to local shelters you’re doing your bit to reduce the carbon footprint and keep unwanted clothing from ending up in the landfill.
Sustainable fashion has grown from an ‘extra-curricular’ activity to become a vital part of how we view and value clothing. Taking part in the movement towards ethical production and consumption shouldn’t feel like a chore; it should be fun and inspiring. Here are some key actions you should take to make sure that your style is ethical:
- Check the label: Make sure you’re buying from brands that are making a conscious effort to be transparent in their production methods.
- Consider the quality of the product: Investing in better quality items will continue to pay off, not just in terms of price, but in the longevity of the product you’re buying.
- Shop sustainably: Look up places that source their items from sustainable and independent retailers to feel good about what you’re buying.
- Stay in the know: Follow sustainable fashion news and keep up with the latest movements in ethical production to stay ahead of the curve.
Remember: fashion choices have an impact. Taking the time to be intentional with your purchases will help to ensure that your wardrobe is making a positive impact and is helping to build a more ethical and sustainable future for the fashion industry.
Sustainable fashion is an incredibly exciting branch of the fashion industry, one with the potential to create lasting, positive impacts. By taking the time to learn more about sustainable fashion, you can make an impact of your own with your wardrobe. And, you can look amazing doing it!