Sustainability is such a hot topic right now and I think it’s gotten even more trendy since quarantine since everyone is mindful of their spending and consumption. I always talk about sustainable fashion but many of you reached out and asked me for a lowdown on what is sustainable fashion.
What is Sustainable Fashion
Sustainable fashion is more than a type of fashion, it’s a movement in and of itself. It represents a change in the way fashion is made, bought, and kept cycling through our eco-system in a way that helps the Earth, ecologically and socially. Brands have to create their clothing and products in a way that is considerate to both the environment and humanity as a whole. By creating, buying, keeping and recycling sustainably, we create a system in which we can leave a negative footprint on the Earth.
Sustainable fashion refers to clothing that is designed, manufactured, distributed, and used in ways that are environmentally friendly. Ethical fashion refers to clothing made in ways that value social welfare and worker rights. Both sustainable and ethical fashion are prevalent in the conscious consumerism world and many brands are committed to both sustainability and transparency.
When I consider sustainability in the fashion industry, these are all of the items I consider to be the main points:
- Ethical & transparent manufacturing: This is fashion made by companies that prioritize good health, safety, and fair compensation of their workforce. They are also transparent about their supply chain (where they source and make products) to employee rights.
- Sustainable manufacturing: This is fashion made from sustainably-grown or eco-conscious materials, following processes that minimize negative environmental impacts. This includes the materials or textiles used in productions as well as the process used to create the clothing. The best is to find organic materials that require little to no chemical processing.
- Quality: Simply put, this is fashion that is made to last. The quality and craftsmanship are of top priority so the end product can last for years.
- Circularity: The goal is to produce fashion that can be reused, recycled, resold, repurposed and stay out of landfill for as long as possible. Circularity also means the end life of a product is considered when it is produced.
How to be a sustainable and mindful consumer
There are certainly times where it’s convenient to buy fast fashion, when you need something specific and fast. There is also the draw of the price tag: fast fashion is made in larger quantities with less sustainable textiles making the price drop significantly from its sustainable counterparts.
An easy way to support sustainable fashion is being cognizant of the fabrics if you’re unable to do additional research on a certain companies practices. The following materials are considered to be most sustainable so you can simply start by focusing on these fabrics when purchasing: organic cotton, linen, hemp, deadstock fabric, tencel and recycled nylon.
When it comes to your buying practices, it’s best to think about it as an exchange. You are part of the process of sustainable fashion, because as soon as you buy something, what you do with it impacts the rest of the world. If you’d like to buy more sustainably, here are a few things to consider before purchasing new products and clothing:
- What morals and beliefs are you supporting?
- How many wears will you get out of each item, and does it balance out with how it was made?
- When you’re done wearing it, can it be recycled into the economy and reused? If it can’t be reused, can it be recycled?
This may seem like overkill, but it’s been super helpful in my journey of being more conscious and sustainable to realize my involvement in the process. It’s why I’m such a huge advocate for vintage and secondhand shopping – you can get quality clothing with history, continue to help the economy and help heal the Earth all at the same time.
Different Types of Sustainable Fashion
The next time you need to go shopping, consider sustainable options. Do a clothing swap with your friends who may have something you need and want something you already have in return. Shop secondhand by going to thrift stores and flea markets. I frequent Etsy simply to search through what is out there and keep an eye on something that I’ve been looking for when I see it. If you need to grab something that’s brand new, find a brand that supports slow fashion. Most brands will outline what they stand for, how their products are made, and you’ll be able to tell if your item is of the quality you’re looking for to have a positive impact on the Earth (and your closet). This is usually in the brand responsibility or transparency section if you want to get the 411. Here’s a list of ethical fashion brands to help you get started.
Buying sustainable fashion may be an inconvenience when compared to fast fashion because of lack of extended sizing, price point or just style availability. However, I promise you if you stick with the practice, you’ll find that you end up saving money, time, and resources in the long run. After all, that’s what we’re all here for – more benefits that last longer.