In a world where fashion is an ancient enigma that keeps evolving, it's increasingly hard to confront fashion without considering its social and environmental impact. Inside the ethical beauty boom, remarkable artists are sidestepping synthetics ramp and addressing animal cruelty while providing high-quality natural resource alternatives. But how can you, as a fashion lover, be sustainable in the 21st century?
The fashion industry trading globally has a significant social damage footprint that totals global greenhouse gas emissions depending on intricate supply chains. Breathtaking facts show that more than 100 billion pieces of clothing are produced each year, leading to waste levels that pollute our environment. Fashion-consuming capitals like New York and Paris have taken initiatives to increase energy efficiency and reduce negative environmental impacts by supplying chains switch to renewables invest in material innovation.
The pandemic delivered a wake-up call for global fashion sales in 2020, which dropped by almost 15%, compared to 2019 levels. The McKinsey Fashion Scenarios reported that this was the largest market contraction since World War II, with consumers today favoring wear-and-break models over long-lasting clothes like their grandparents lived lives with. In this article, we'll explore intricately researched roadmaps on how to be a sustainable fashion lover - and why it matters.
Where once our grandparents lived lives of thrift and repair, most consumers today have become acclimatised to a wear, break and chuck model
Where once our grandparents lived lives of thrift and repair, most consumers today have become acclimatised to a wear, break and chuck model. Shoppers pumped with the adrenaline of instant gratification want new clothes to satisfy their constructed desires, often ignoring the environmental impact of their choices. However, increasingly campaigners are pushing for change in the fashion industry, showing through irrefutable research that the stakes feel frighteningly high when it comes to the destruction of ancient forests or garment workers being paid unfairly.
One of the easiest ways to contribute towards sustainable fashion is to buy good quality clothing that lasts longer. It may sound easy, but dodging fast fashion brands with glossy celebrity-laden advertising campaigns can be a lot harder than you think. Instead, head straight for ethical labels that have a long track record in forming relationships with garment factories and suppliers. Victoria Jenkins, garment technologist at adaptive clothing label Unhidden Pull, suggests doing a lot of testing before buying; pull loose threads, check tension points and hanger loops as well as looking out for details such as a sturdy hem or t-shirt shoulder that can easily be unpicked.
Another revolutionary act towards sustainable fashion is clothing maintenance - what was once considered fine art by our grandparents is no longer basically common knowledge. Orsola de Castro, founder of Fashion Revolution which campaigns for greater transparency in supply chains across the globe after 1,134 were killed when Rana Plaza collapsed in Bangladesh in 2013 - says we have become disconnected from our clothes: "We’ve lost touch with how they are made and who made them." A documentary called 'The True Cost' directed by Andrew Morgan explores this concept further stating that "It’s impossible to imagine someone making your pom-pom shorts if you’re not prepared to pay $10 for them." Mikha Mekler lecturer in production management at London College of Fashion adds "If you want your clothes to last longer start by buying quality, and then learn how to care for them properly."
Most sustainable clothing experts agree: wash clothes less – and wash them cooler
Sustainable clothing experts agree: wash clothes less – and wash them cooler. This idea persists because of the positive environmental benefits it brings. In fact, washing clothes less frequently can save an average washing machine from flushing 6,500 gallons of water and chemicals down the drain each year.
To properly sort your laundry, be sure to separate colours and prints to prevent fading. It's also important to use gentle natural laundry detergents that will not damage your clothes' molecular order. 2019 designer Stella McCartney put it best when she said "the dirtier the better," as this life rule can help you avoid overburdened waterways and emissions produced during the in-use stage of synthetic garments.
Clothing care top tips include keeping cleaned clothes in cool dry spaces for optimal storage, hanging lightly soiled pieces to air out, and avoiding tumble drying by shaking out items before they go on the line. For periodic assessments, visible mending is becoming an increasingly popular way to repair much-loved garments. Online resources like Fixing Fashion Academy offer unintimidating video tutorials with entry-level skills taught by The Clothes Doctor herself, Tessa Solomons. Don't chuck stuff - repairing a button or sewing up a small hole can give you a great sense of accomplishment and joyfully extend the life of your wardrobe staples!
Why Transparency Is Crucial: Understanding Its Importance
In order to ensure fashion's sustainability, it is important for the industry to embrace transparency. The circular fashion industry is growing, and consumers increasingly demand more information about the clothes they buy. By being transparent about the production practices used and the environmental conditions under which garments are made, companies can help reduce waste and pollution.
Blockchain technology can play a key role in promoting transparency in the fashion industry. Designer Martine Jarlgaard partnered with blockchain tech company Provenance to create QR codes that can be scanned to show a garment's life cycle. This software platform called EON creates a digital fingerprint called Circular ID, a digital identifier embedded in each garment that enables consumers to identify greenwashing - when companies intentionally deceive consumers about their products' sustainability.
Ultimately, transparency is crucial for creating a more sustainable fashion industry. By being open and honest about their practices and products, companies can help build trust with consumers and promote sustainable values. With blockchain technology making it easier than ever before to track every step of a garment's life cycle, there is no excuse for companies not to embrace transparency as part of their commitment to sustainability.
How can fashion be more sustainable?
One way to make fashion more sustainable is by shifting away from the current linear model of fashion production, where clothes are consumed and then discarded. Sustainable fashion minimizes the environmental impacts of clothing by using recycled materials or natural fibers that can be grown without harming the environment. The circular fashion industry aims to create a closed-loop system where clothing is made from recycled materials and then can be recycled again, reducing the need to exploit virgin resources. By embracing sustainable practices, we can reduce the environmental impact of fashion while still enjoying beautiful and stylish clothes.
Fashion’s environmental impacts
Fashion has a significant impact on the environment, and it's essential to understand the consequences of our choices. The fashion industry is responsible for 10 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, which is more than the aviation and shipping sectors combined. Additionally, it's responsible for 20 percent of global wastewater. It's crucial to make sustainable choices when buying clothes, such as opting for eco-friendly materials or buying second-hand items, to reduce our environmental impact.
1. Impacts on water
The impacts of global fashion on clean water are startling. The industry consumes 93 billion metric tons of water annually, a thirsty crop like cotton requires pesticides and consume 7500-10,000 liters per kilogram. Moreover, the dyeing process involves toxic chemicals that contribute to 20 percent of global industrial water pollution. In Dhaka, the Turag River is severely polluted by dye factories that release seventy-two toxic chemicals into the water bodies causing eutrophication and algal blooms. It's time to educate ourselves about sustainable fashion and make conscious choices for our planet's future.
2. Contributions to climate change
The fashion industry is one of the biggest contributors to climate change, producing 12 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually. The production of fabrics, such as rayon viscose made from wood pulp, contributes to deforestation which threatens the world's endangered forests. The MacArthur Foundation study found that by 2034, fabrics alone will consume 70 million tons of wood pulp each year, further speeding deforestation. Additionally, large amounts of fossil fuel-based plastic are used in the fashion industry with France and Germany alone consuming 65 percent and 35 percent respectively of Europe's total plastic made from fossil fuels.
Waste is a major issue in the fashion industry. Discarded clothing, unsold bags of clothes, and landfill clothes made from synthetic fabrics are all contributing to the 53 million metric tons of waste that result each year. Even natural fabrics can contribute to waste if not properly recycled or reused. Polymers with long chains and chemically linked molecules washing into waterways, along with dyes and contaminants, further compound the problem. However, today's textile-to-textile recycling technologies offer hope for reducing this waste and shortening the lifespan of clothing that would otherwise produce methane, a powerful global warming greenhouse gas, for over 200 years in landfills.
How "Visibly Repairing" Clothing Builds a Strong Connection
In today's world, our society is becoming increasingly aware of the importance of sustainable fashion. One way to achieve this is by embracing visible mending, which involves repairing clothes in creative ways so that the mend becomes an intentional part of the design. Watch videos specifically about visible mending to get inspired and mend like Solomons.
Visible mending can be achieved through contrasting coloured stitches, embroidered motifs or even simple patches. The choice to embrace visible mending allows for sartorial originality and radiates joy just as De Castro put it. By choosing to repair your clothes instead of tossing them aside when they break, you not only extend their lifespan, but you also feel a sense of pride in minimizing waste while creating something unique.
Several ethical high-street labels such as Toast offer a free renewal service online reture bespoke pairs broken pieces while others such as Raeburn have repair specialists who repair denim garments with embroidery filips. Innovative design hosts like White Weft launched sustainable sourcing consultancy that helps clients people find talented young upcyclers like Janelle Hanna Design Consultant who loves mending and can mend profoundly. All these efforts towards visibly repairing clothing builds a connection with the wearer and the garment itself, contributing to a quiet revolution in fashion during this generation's climate breakdown.
Fashion’s social impacts
Fashion’s social impacts are far-reaching, especially for those living in developing countries where the majority of cheap fast fashion clothes are produced. Young garment workers in places like Dhaka photo Gerry Popplestone and report lax workers being underpaid, overworked, and subjected to dangerous conditions that pose health hazards, all while trying to make ends meet. It's estimated that 75 million factory workers worldwide are paid less than a living wage.
Lower costs for factories often mean limiting wages and exploiting the labor force to produce cheaper clothes that encourage consumers to spend money on quantity over quality. But there is hope: as consumers become more aware of these social impacts, they can demand change from fashion brands by supporting ethical and sustainable practices. This will improve working conditions for factory workers and reduce environmental damage caused by textile dyeing and waterways polluted by production waste.
Ultimately, choosing sustainable fashion means investing in clothing that is made ethically with fair wages for workers who have safe working conditions. Every purchase has an impact, so it’s up to us as consumers to make informed choices that support positive change in the industry. By doing our part to demand higher standards from fashion brands, we can create a better world for ourselves and for those who make our clothes all around the globe.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I reduce water consumption to become more sustainable?
You can reduce water consumption by fixing leaks, taking shorter showers, and installing low-flow toilets and faucets.
What are the best ways to reduce my environmental impact?
Reduce your environmental impact by consuming less, reusing items, recycling, conserving water and energy, and choosing eco-friendly products. Making small changes in your daily habits can make a big difference for the planet.
How do I know if my clothing is sustainable?
To know if your clothing is sustainable, look for certifications like GOTS or Fair Trade, check the materials used (preferably organic and recycled), and research the brand's sustainability practices.
How can I make my home more energy efficient?
You can make your home more energy efficient by sealing air leaks, adding insulation, upgrading to energy-efficient appliances and lighting, and using a programmable thermostat.
What other sustainable practices can I incorporate into my lifestyle?
You can incorporate sustainable practices into your lifestyle by reducing water usage, conserving energy, adopting a plant-based diet, supporting local and eco-friendly businesses, using public transportation, and recycling or repurposing items.