Sustainable Fashion 101
Sustainable fashion is on the rise and here to stay! Currently, individuals and companies around the world are beginning to realise that change needs to happen to reverse the impact of consumerism.
So far the fashion industry has been accountable for many global challenges. Did you know that nearly 20% of global waste water is produced by the fashion industry and at least 8 million tons of plastic end up in our oceans every year? This is the result of the amount of packaging and clothing in our world.
So How Did We Get to Sustainable Fashion?
In a nutshell, before the fast fashion boom in the early 2000s, brands spent time producing clothes in small quantities and using sustainable methods and processes. Clothing was produced four times a year, in line with our seasons and consumers expected fashion at a much slower rate.
Today, trends move much faster due to social media, influencers, celebrities and consumer power. However, the problem is companies feel the pressure to keep up with demand so this results in using cheap materials and conducting unethical practices for a quick turnaround. There are many companies using the same model which will only lead to more global challenges.
Currently, the fashion industry is going through a transformation. Fashion leaders and academics who have realised the impact of fast fashion are now introducing methods in the industry that champion slow fashion, eco-fashion and sustainable fashion.
How can Sustainable Fashion Help the Planet?
By applying the Triple Bottom Theory founded by John Elkington. We can understand how Fast Fashion is effecting People, Planet and Profit but also how sustainability can improve it!
Fast Fashion includes mass sourcing, manufacturing and production which increases waste, impacts water systems and pollution. For instance, when clothes are produced they may need to be dyed, however, synthetic dyes may include harmful chemicals that enter waterways and air affecting ecosystems and people. Implementing sustainable fashion practices such as using non-synthetic solutions or producing garments that are hand-made reduces the amount of production.
Currently, you may have seen reports focusing on companies that are ignoring work conditions and putting their staff at risk. One of the most horrific reports in the last decade is when over 1,129 people died in Rana Plaza due to terrible working conditions.
If companies are truly sustainable they will support human and animal welfare. This may include fair wages, prohibits child labour and no harmful production lines.
Boohoo plc group made over £800 million in 2019 and although many fast fashion companies have created many jobs, we still have to review whether the profits are fairly distributed with all stakeholders. Sustainably lead companies will ensure all stakeholders are paid fairly which ultimately helps support local communities.
It’s evident more needs to done within the fashion industry. Although, at times it can feel almost overwhelming to tackle prominent challenges there are small steps that you can implement to become more sustainable and save you a few dollars!
5 Simple Ways to Become More Sustainable
- Rethink and Research– Start rethinking the types of brands you purchase clothing from, find out about the company, do they support slow fashion practices or use sustainable materials? Don’t be hesitate to research more about the company to make a better decision on the type of clothing your buy.
- Quality over quantity – Next time you go out shopping or browse online ensure to look at the quality. Find out the materials, how it was created and whether it’s durable. By purchasing good quality items, this guarantees the clothes will have a long life-span, saving you money in the long-run.
- Purchase Second-hand – Purchasing second-hand clothing is on trend! With the rise of apps like Poshmark and Depop, it’s definitely here to stay. There are so many clothes already on earth, therefore recycling and reusing can slow down sourcing materials, manufacturing, production and excessive waste.
- Look after your clothes – By taking special care of all your clothes prolongs the lifespan of the garment which saves you a shopping trip and money in the long-run. Ways to look after your clothes include hand-washing, using gentle/ethical washing products and hanging up your clothes correctly.
- Resell your clothing – So, if you’re really fed-up with the items in your wardrobe, the next step is to work out what you’re going to do with them…. Nowadays there are plenty of options, you can donate them, swap it with your bestie or make a few extra coins reselling it!
So now you know some small steps to make a difference, there are a few ethical brands to look out for who put sustainability at the heart of their business.
Ethical Brands to Look Out for!
Check out three brands who are making waves in the fashion industry!
Patagonia – Famous for embodying sustainability throughout their products and overall brand ethos. Their main aim is to tackle environment challenges by providing durable clothes that have been created from recycled materials or sourced with Fair Trade certified processes. The clothes are mainly suited for out-door-lovers but recently the brand has gained popularity due to the rise of conscious consumers.
Lucky and Yak – is an ethical, sustainable, indie company focused on ensuring all staff members are paid approximately and working conditions are good. Most of these products are made from woven 100% organic cotton so light and breathable for all types of activities. The brand continuously fights for ethical standards and ensure sustainability is the heart of their business. Dungarees is one of their most successful product however they also sell other garments too.
People Tree – A certified vegan, Fair Trade brand who are leaders in the sustainable fashion industry, their main aim is to support producer partners’ towards economic independence, protect the environment and use natural resources suitably throughout our trading and to promote environmentally responsible initiatives to create new models. The clothes can range from underwear to active wear!
Overall more companies and individuals are making changes to help the planet and change the narrative for our future. Join the fight for change by continuously sharing, creating awareness and making small changes that will make a difference!