What is Sustainable Fashion?
Sustainability is the future of fashion. It may seem like a difficult concept to grasp at times, but in reality, sustainability can be defined quite simply. Taken from the UN World Commission on Environment and Development, sustainability can be defined as; “Development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to be able to reach their own needs.”
With this in mind, how does fashion come into play? Today, the fashion industry is the second dirtiest industry in the world. What many do not realize is that the stylish t-shirts we wear and trendy bags we can not live without are actually causing the environment a heavy amount of destruction. To counter this, the concept of sustainable fashion has been created!
Sustainable fashion is the creation and execution of designs that take into account the environmental impact they leave on the planet. Weather, it is using organic materials or designing for longevity, sustainable fashions main purpose is to design garments and accessories that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to come being on a healthful planet.
Sustainable fashion as well also takes into account the need for sustainable consumption. It is no mystery that today, we love to shop. And, through the creation of the internet, fast fashion has become much easier to acquire as well! Fast fashion is a contemporary term describing companies that recreate the latest trends through high-street looks at a very low price and at a very fast pace. Fast fashion has allowed our closets to grow and our style to always stay on point, but at what cost?
Today mainly, the cost is the environment. In regards to the fashion industry, fast fashion is the leading cause in regards to overconsumption and overproduction. With new collections hitting stores on a weekly basis while prices aimed for the lowest margins, consumers have had the ability to discard, throw away and continued buying an enormous amount of clothing to keep up with the trends.
Taken from the film True Cost, on average today American consumers individually throw away 82 pounds of clothing, which roughly adds to 11 million tons of garments a year alone. Most of the clothing as well is created from synthetic materials such as viscose and polyester making it impossible to biodegrade. As a result, if thrown away and not recycled these garments can stand in a landfill for over 200 hundred years releasing toxins and holding no purpose. However, though, there is always a possibility for a change! Just because the fashion industry has gone down one path, does not mean it needs to continue. There are many ways to a consumer you too can embrace sustainable fashion and still have an incredible style! Here are 5 tips that can guide you towards sustainable change!
1. Smart consumption
To become a smart consumer is not as hard as you think. And, it might even clean up your wardrobe.
According to the true cost, we purchase 400% more clothing today than we did 20 years ago, which has left the planet with an insane amount of leftover textiles. To shift from this pattern, it is important that we start to embody smart consumption practices and consume left clothing.
To start a great pattern is to embody slow fashion. Slow Fashion was created by Kate Fletcher and encourages the pattern of quality over quantity. Slow fashion embraces timeless designs that can last forever and never go out of style. By embracing slow fashion you can create a wardrobe that is long lasting and not built on fast fashion trends harming our planet.
2. Check Materials
Materials are very important when it comes to sustainability. All garments come from textiles which can either be synthetic such as polyester or natural like cotton. With technology on the rise and new materials being invented, a key ingredient when looking towards sustainable materials is water content and biodegradability. For example, polyester may use little water to produce. But, it is created from oil and cannot biodegrade. Where on the other hand, cotton may be natural; and, it takes 2,700 liters or 733 gallons of fresh water to make ONE T-shirt; enough for one person to drink for 900 days!
A great new material to keep an eye on is Tencel! Regenerated from wood cellulose, it is today one of the most sustainable materials on the market and has the power to lead us towards closing the loop!
3. Purchase Second Hand
Buying well preserved second-hand clothes is a great way to keep the circularity of garments going! By purchasing second-hand garments, instead of new designs, you minimize the amount of existing garment waste to the landfill. And, you have the ability to find something incredibly unique. Second-hand shopping is also a great way to give back to the community by purchasing from philanthropies such as Salvation Army and The Red Cross. Vintage style is a trend in itself and always you to create your own style and have designs that no one else has!
Upcycling is the process of recreating damaged or discarded materials into new high-quality designs. Upcycling is a great method that anyone can get involved with if you have a bit of creativity and passion to recycle. The great thing about upcycling is that it values existing materials and minimizes clothing waste. Instead of throwing away your old clothing try turning them into a new one of a kind design that you made yourself.
5. Fair Production
It is important as well to consider who makes our clothing. After the True Cost documentary revealed the secrets behind the production and the hands who sew our clothes, it was no mystery anymore that unfair production still exists. When looking to purchase sustainable keep in mind to check out the brands CSR information and look into where their garment production takes place. Transparency is must for the industry and it is important to constantly keep in mind that the people making are garments are just as important as the material, style and price.
Written by Brittany Malvino