Sustainable Fashion, also known as eco fashion, is about producing clothes, shoes and accessories in environmentally and socio-economically sustainable manners and also about more sustainable patterns of consumption and use, which necessitate shifts in individual attitudes and behaviour.
It is also known as Slow Fashion which can be seen as an alternative trend against fast fashion. According to Wikipedia “Fast fashion is a contemporary term used by fashion retailers to express that designs move from catwalk quickly in order to capture current fashion trends.”
In an era of fashion bloggers and getting Insta-famous, fast fashion consumption has been increasing tremendously. For instance, let’s see the impact of our daily use of fast fashion in the environment:
We all are very fond of Jeans, right? We won’t mind having even 20 pairs of jeans with us. FYI, over 2 billion pairs of jeans are produced every year, and a typical pair takes 7,000 litres of water to produce!
Let’s take the example of T-shirt. It takes around 2,700 litres of water to make just one – that’s the amount of water an average person drinks over the course of 900 days!
That’s not all. There’s the dyeing process, in which 1.7 million tonnes of various chemicals are used and not to mention the hazardous chemicals like PFC’s that leave a permanent impact on our environment.
And what about the clothing that doesn’t make it to market? An estimated 400 billion square meters of textiles are produced annually, of which 60 billion square meters are left on the cutting room floor. Each year over 80 billion pieces of clothing are produced worldwide, and after its short lifespan, three out of four garments will end up in landfills or be incinerated. Only a quarter will be recycled!
According to Earth Pledge, a non-profit organization committed to promoting and supporting sustainable development, “At least 8,000 chemicals are used to turn raw materials into textiles and 25% of the world’s pesticides are used to grow non-organic cotton. This causes irreversible damage to people and the environment, and still two thirds of a garment’s carbon footprint will occur after it is purchased. With the average American throwing away nearly 70 pounds of clothing per year, the fashion industry is the second largest cause of pollution worldwide.”
So, as we can see, it is VERY important for us to switch to Sustainable Fashion. The goal of sustainable fashion is to bring environmentalism and social responsibility into the clothing manufacturing process.
Firstly, it starts with you, the consumer and staying away from impulse purchases from fast fashion retailers. If you’re more adventurous, check out a thrift store. If you want quality designer items that are vetted for authenticity, check out a reputable consignment store. You can use fair trade items that are usually people-friendly. They’re usually made by skilled artisans in developing countries who are fairly compensated for their work. Companies that use fair trade practices usually have some commitment to social good, and will also work on helping those local communities in other ways.
You can customise as per your own choice. This involves buying items made-to-order, rather than something that’s been mass-produced. Some brands have found this to be a more sustainable business model anyways, and will advertise items on their websites (vice in a physical storefront), and will make only what’s ordered by their customers. Another positive aspect of this is that shoppers can usually customize size, style, and fabric.
And it’s probably best to avoid toxic chemicals in your clothes! Some people have chemical sensitivities that make them really susceptible to irritation from toxic dyes and other fabric enhancers like wrinkle-free, stain-resistance, or flame-retardant properties. So switch to organic fashion in order to avoid such irritations.
Whether one prefers to renew the wardrobe often or occasionally, Green, Fair & Ethical Fashion are important choices when purchasing new clothing. Buying new clothes that are manufactured in an environmentally and socially/ethically conscious manner is something we all should aspire as much as possible, although it may entail a somewhat higher price tag.