How Can Fashion Be Sustainable?
First things first, let’s understand what sustainable fashion is. Sustainability means ‘meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs‘ (definition given in 1987 by the United Nations’ Brundtland Commission.)
Ok, so now you may be wondering how does fashion have any impact on sustainability? Fashion has a huge impact on sustainability in SO many ways! Did you know that the global clothing and footwear industry accounts for 8% of the World’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions? Sustainable fashion has a number of areas:
- How garments are designed
- Which materials are used and how they are sourced,
- How efficiently energy and water are used in factories
- Worker’s conditions
Sustainable fashion is the umbrella term and has 3 main pillars: Eco-fashion, Ethical Fashion & Slow Fashion.
Eco-fashion prioritises the planet! It refers to the garments impact on the environment, and the carbon footprint associated with that item. Eco-fashion is when you start taking a look into the materials used as well as any other water and resources. This even continues to the making, packaging and transportation the item has on the planet, There are a number of eco-friendly fabrics which include linen, hemp, organic wool, organic cotton and bamboo.
‘Ethical Fashion is an umbrella term to describe ethical fashion design, production, retail, and purchasing. It covers a range of issues such as working conditions, exploitation, fair trade, sustainable production, the environment, and animal welfare. ‘- V&A Museum
In short, ethical fashion is the recognition that there are human beings behind the clothes that we wear. Brands who fall under the ethical fashion umbrella, recognise and respect every single person involved in turning raw materials, into wearable clothes hanging in your wardrobe. These brands ensure individuals are paid fairly for their skills. Not only that they are paid fairly, also that they work in safe environments, and are appreciated for their talents as human beings, rather than just a part in the supply chain.
Large brands, have been exposed countless times for underpaying and overworking their employees in factory settings. Do you really think that £3 vest top you purchased, was made in an ethical way and shipped cross country whilst making a profit? Nor do I. Something has to give and a lot of the time it is the working conditions and pay for those making the products in poorer countries.
Slow fashion is a reaction again fast fashion. Fast fashion is the cheap, clothing that is mass produced without concern for the environment as well as the impact on human welfare. Examples of companies that practice fast fashion include Pretty Little Thing, Asos and Missguided. I’m guilty with every single one of them. There’s always a new style, which goes out of fashion a couple of months later but at the time you looked great. What happens to that item afterwards? Mine just end up sitting in my wardrobe ,until it one day may come back into fashion.
Slow fashion is amazing for many reasons – one of them being that it can motivate you to live more intentionally. Slow Fashion also focuses on timeless pieces that you can use today and in 10 years. Their are some basics in my own wardrobe, which I’ve had for years on end as they’re timeless pieces. You just need to focus on quality over quantity, as the best quality items will last a lot longer than that £5 dress you got from Fashion Nova in a sale.
You Decide How You Want To Live
You can argue that every item you buy will have an impact on the environment, but the only way to combat that would be to go naked! Which I really don’t recommend.. There has to be somewhere where you draw the line and I think that would be taking it too far.
Rather than not buying clothes, I do recommend only buying items from sustainable brands when needed, also buying timeless pieces as well as popping into second hand shops.. You never know what you could find!
When I turned vegan, I never imagined I would change the way I shopped in terms of buying only cruelty free beauty products and sustainable fashion. The more I learn, the more I’m driven to make a change. I’m currently in a transition phase where this is my next step, now that I’ve mastered the food phase!
Let me know if you shop from sustainable brands in the comments below..