Sustainability has become an increasingly important discussion as we push towards breaching the limits of our planet. Some voices claim that fashion is the next most polluting industry in the world after oil and gas. Although it is hard to estimate the impact of the fashion industry, it is clear that the industry must change for the better. Choosing sustainable fashion is an important decision that we can all make to help address a growing and significant issue. What is sustainable fashion? Why does it matter?
Consumer choices drive the fashion industry. Together we can show the fashion industry that we not only need this revolution, but we don’t want to stand by and wait for it. You can be an active part of this sustainability movement by being mindful of what clothes you buy, who you purchase them from, and how frequently you buy new clothes. This approach will signal to the fashion industry that consumers are ready for sustainable options.
Here is how to think more consciously about your clothes, where they come from, and where they go.
Traditional fashion’s environmental footprint
The definition of sustainability is the prevention of the consumption of natural resources to sustain an environmental balance. However, the fashion industry overall is faraway from sustainable production. This sector relies on a number of the other industries from the top 10 most polluting industries, like agriculture and road transportation. So, if this industry could become more sustainable, this could reduce the rate of environmental damage across the supply chain immensely.
The clothing industry employs millions of people worldwide. Any changes to business models will have a significant impact on both large corporations who control production and the low-income workers that produce the garments. The fashion sector is going to be a difficult ship to change the course. As it is also an industry that is characterized by waste and pollution, it will need to change its destructive course.
There are a few clothing companies involved in the fashion business that are taking steps to address this harm, but these efforts are small compared to the scale of this industry. The Pulse of Fashion Report evaluates the development of the fashion industry on sustainability efforts. Although there has been some progress, they emphasize that change is not far or fast enough and that most of the easy gains have already been made. A greater revolution is going to be required.
New models of production for sustainable fashion
This linear straight pattern is unsustainable and notable innovation is needed. The Make Fashion Circular Campaign advocates for creating a circular economy for fashion. There are also clothing companies working on how to recycle common fibers used to create clothes, like cotton and polyester, but they aren’t yet able to do this at scale.
Other innovations that are currently being trialed are like new models of ownership: you don’t own the clothes. How does it work? You can always return the piece of clothing when you no longer want to wear it, either in short or long term renting There are some clothing companies experimenting with new models to become more environmentally friendly.
MUD Jeans encourage you to return your used jeans and will resell them in their vintage division after the jeans have been reconditioned. If the pair the jeans have come to the end of their usability, they can be recycled, because all MUD jeans include at least 20% recycled cotton.
If it is something that you aren’t going to wear more than once or twice then there are some great rental services for one-time events. This can represent an affordable way to access designer clothes. Clothing rental companies are on the rise for the last few years. Their online platforms provide access to designer clothes, designer shoes, and handbags or communities that exchange clothes.
How to choose sustainable fashion for the better?
The system of clothes manufacturing leaves a lot of room for improvement. Yet, it is still possible to make choices to respect the resources that have gone into making your clothes and minimize the environmental impact. Reduce, reuse, recycle is the environmental mantra. Now let’s discuss how it can be applied to the fashion industry as well.
We can reduce the number of clothes we buy – thereby reducing the resources consumed by the industry. Another approach is to decrease the use of new resources by purchasing vintage, or second-hand clothes, all pre-loved.
To diminish the environmental impact, play close attention to what your clothes are made from. Opt for natural fibers over synthetic fibers derived from fossil fuels: for example, wool, cotton, or linen over polyester, nylon, or acrylic. If you want to reduce the effect of water consumption and pesticides, consider organic cotton or cellulose-based textiles.
Buy high-quality clothing items that will last longer. Rent or borrow clothing items, especially if you are only going to wear them at a one-time-only event. If your clothes are still in great condition, think about selling them or donating them to charity.
There is an option to recycle clothes and shoes in textile recycling bins. The items that can be reused will be sorted. Those that have reached the end of their life, will be turned into industrial scraps, so they will have a second life.
We have only addressed what clothes are made from. But you can always take into consideration whether they are ethically manufactured. Although this is no longer open for debate, from our point of view.
Acting to Support Sustainable Fashion
In short, the power is in your hands. If you want to minimize the influence of your fashion choices, show the clothing companies you are concerned about what your clothes are made of. Buy mindfully, choose environmental-consciously, and encourage new models of fashion that decrease the impact. Fashion has always been a way to show who you are to the world. Now is the perfect chance to reconsider what your fashion choices state about the kind of world and future you aim for.
Sustainable fashion brands are on the rise. Sustainable fashion matters since the fashion industry is resource hungry. Every piece of clothing that we use has an environmental footprint. We can all do our part to encourage sustainable fashion by choosing mindfully when we purchase our clothing items. Or even better, reuse what you have or do some DIY recycling project and prolong their life.