The Sustainability Club

What is Sustainable Fashion?

The fashion industry sucks. It’s not only fuelling climate change with a lot of CO2 (10% of annual global carbon emissions!), but it’s a major cause of water and air pollution, along with humans and other animals right abuses. While we all need something to wear, the way this industry is set up is just not sustainable. That’s why in recent years, the idea of sustainable fashion is flourishing. But what exactly is sustainable fashion?

Sustainability of any process means, that it can maintain or improve the current state, fulfilling all the current needs, while keeping a balance when it comes to using the available resources. This balance is crucial, because a sustainable process can’t compromise the needs or safety of the future generations. Having that definition in place, you can see the “sustainable fashion” as a garments manufacturing process, that focuses on a mindful use of planet resources, while also caring about human and animal wellbeing. And we require that approach to be more popular quite badly. Why?


Fast fashion

While a timeless design is something any human can appreciate, fashion clothing companies prefer to appreciate money. Creating new trends and marketing them can create a stable stream of new garments hitting the shelves and generating revenue. Fast rotation of the goods is heavily optimizing the supply chain, without any regard to the people or the environment. Here are some horrific points from a report done by Ellen MacArthur Foundation:

  • The fashion industry uses 93 billion cubic meters of water every year (around the consumption needs of 5 million people).
  • ~20% of worldwide wastewater comes from fabric dyeing and other fabric treatment
  • 87% out of all fiber provided for manufacturing purposes is incinerated or disposed of in a landfill

And the supply is sadly there – the average person buys 60% more clothing than 20 years ago. Constant overproduction and overconsumption. If you mix all this up with a lack of recycle and reuse culture (or even possibility), you have a receipt for an ecological and humanitarian disaster. This is why the sustainable fashion is so important.

Rules of sustainable fashion company

sustainable fashion

While sustainable fashion is a holistic approach, you can try to distill some rules the “sustainable” clothing company should obey. Here are some of them:

Ethical labor

A truly sustainable fashion brand must consider the wellbeing of people. To see real sustainability in fashion, we must eradicate poverty wages, exploitive conditions, and discriminatory practices, that are, sadly, very common.

Mindful use of resources

Most fashion is made from fabrics derived from fossil fuels and produced in factories that use fossil fuels for energy. This is a significant environmental impact that is often overlooked in discussions of sustainable fashion. To be truly eco-friendly, garments should ideally be made in facilities powered by renewable energy sources, with water-efficient dyeing practices and no use of toxic chemicals.

Using low-impact dyes

Even if a garment is made of organic fabric, it may still be dyed with a synthetic dye. Synthetic dyes, like synthetic fabrics, are derived from petroleum. They can be extremely toxic, containing heavy metals like chromium, mercury, or lead. To mitigate the exposure and release of those chemicals, a company can decide to use low-impact, natural dyes.

Using ecological fabric

A manufacturer that is trying to go the sustainable way, must focus on upcycled, repurposed or natural but certified materials. For example, you can avoid introducing new synthetic fibers, like nylon, but repurpose recycle plastic bottles in your manufacturing process instead. Still, the preferable way would be to invest in organic cotton, or (even better) in hemp or linen. As a buyer, look for any certificates the company managed to get (like GOTS or ZQ-certified wool).

Rules of sustainable fashion for you

Previous points can be used to double-check a clothing brand if they are really sustainable, or just greenwashing. But there are plenty of things you can do to participate in the sustainable fashion movement!

Swap your cloths

Reuse the stuff that you already have in your wardrobe. If you are bored with your accumulated fashion selection, try to organize a swap party, ask your friends if they want to exchange their cloths.

Secondhand like there is no tomorrow

A perfect example or reusing already manufactured cloths – already pre-selected, washed, and usually way cheaper.

Learn how to fix your clothes

Again – the most sustainable approach to fashion is to reuse the things you already purchased. Learning on how to modify or fix your clothes will greatly prolong their life, mitigating the already present environmental footprint.

If you have any ideas on how to push more sustainability into your wardrobe, shoot them in the comments! Let’s make the fast fashion go out of fashion!

What is Sustainable Fashion?
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