You’ve probably heard the term ‘sustainable fashion’ a lot in recent years, along with discussions about fast fashion and how it isn’t great for the planet. But what does sustainable fashion actually mean? What Does ‘Sustainable Fashion’ Mean?
Sustainable fashion essentially refers to garments and accessories that are created in an ecologically and socially responsible way. There are different ways that people try to shop more sustainably.
Some people choose to stop buying new clothes, focusing on buying thrifted or pre-loved items. Others look to support independent retailers, avoiding the mass-market fashion industry that pushes fast fashion and low-quality items. There’s also the supply chain, materials and the impact of producing the raw materials to take into account too.
We can certainly choose to shop in a more sustainable way, but getting involved with sustainable fashion does not require buying anything new.
Wearing what you have, shopping second hand, and swapping/borrowing from friends are other ways to engage in the sustainable fashion movement that doesn’t require the production or purchasing of anything new.
Why is Sustainable Fashion Important?
Mass market fashion has been causing harm to the environment and society for a long time. Sweatshops exist around the world and the production of fabric has become industrialized in a way that’s harmful to the environment, pollution and people around the world.
The fast fashion model is built on an endless cycle of overproduction and overconsumption. Cheap prices from fast fashion brands are only made possible because these brands produce in huge quantities. While the companies don’t make much profit from each garment, they are able to profit hundreds of millions or even billions because they produce so much.
And, because fast fashion brands produce in such large quantities, they are able to negotiate prices down with factories. These negotiations suppress wages and keep safety standards low.
The rise of fast fashion has also sparked a “race to the bottom” for the industry as a whole, as brands try to produce garments as cheaply and quickly as possible in order to offer trendy pieces at low prices.
Not all communities and people are affected equally. The pollution, environmental impact and cost to people tends to happen in countries that have a poorer economy.
What Are the Benefits of Sustainable Fashion?
The fashion industry is known as one of the most polluting industries in the world. Making a conscious decision to shop with sustainable and ethical brands will make a difference to the planet and the people within it.
Here are some of the benefits of sustainable fashion:
Quality Reduces Waste
Sustainable brands focus on quality, using materials and finishes that are made to last as well as being kind to the environment. The clothing produced by fast fashion brands isn’t made to last – the aim is to get you to buy more, so why would the focus be on making quality long lasting clothing? In choosing sustainable brands that provide quality, you can reduce your waste as well as the amount of clothing that you buy (also saving you money).
You Should Do You
Fast fashion is all about trends, but we’ve been told what to wear for so long many of us have forgotten what our own unique style looks like. Many sustainable brands focus on creating timeless pieces of high quality. Curate your own personal style, say goodbye to money wasting fashion trends and wear clothes that reflect you.
It's Better for the Planet
The fast fashion industry leaves behind a huge environmental footprint. From the landfill impact, and power and water consumption, to the pesticides and insecticide used in growing cotton and the chemicals that are making their way into the water supply and affecting the health of those in the supply chain, it’s safe to say fast fashion is a real problem for the environment. In choosing sustainable fashion you can say no to supporting the negative environmental impact that the fashion industry is causing, and in-turn reduce your own environmental footprint.
It’s Better for People
Fast fashion has kept the cost of clothing down at the cost of low pay and conditions in developing countries. By switching to ethically made brands you are ensuring that the clothing you choose to spend your money on hasn’t taken advantage of workers or used child labor.
How To Make More Sustainable Fashion Choices?
Choosing to make more sustainable fashion choices doesn’t have to be complicated (or expensive), here are some easy ways to be more sustainable:
- Support independent brands rather than fast fashion brands who cause problems with pollution, waste and living conditions.
- Look to reuse and recycle fashion items.
- Choose organic cotton rather than commercially produced.
- Choose brands that work with suppliers and manufacturers who pay their workers fairly.
- Look for brands who give back and support their community.