So, a LOT is being spoken about Sustainability and how going forward most brands are making changes to their supply chain and working towards being transparent, sustainable and taking a step forward to a better future.
Suddenly, when fast fashion was all the rage a few years back, slowly, the world steered towards conversations on ethical practises and sustainability. There was a massive change in consumer behaviour, the demand for sustainable products and slowly brands too followed suit.
But what exactly is sustainable fashion?
Sustainable fashion brands create fashion in a way which is most considerate of humanity and the environment, reducing the environmental impact wherever possible. The ultimate goal is to have a system which works without leaving a harmful footprint.
True Cost is a documentary which highlights the gruesome reality of the fashion industry and states that the average American throws away 82 pounds of garments, accessories and shoes on an annual basis.
This is further increased due to fast fashion.
Fast fashion works on high volume collections and speedy production. Because production is so fast and the clothing is right on trend, consumers cannot help but be continuously bombarded with the latest item they must have!
Along with chemicals, the fashion industry also uses an intense amount of water, from the start of the process to even the stages of home washing. This high number of reality can be seen through the fact that; to make one cotton t-shirt today uses up 2,700 gallons of freshwater.
Knowing what we know, the hard question then is to ask ourselves: How do we change as an industry and going forward what do we adapt?
This brings us to our eight reasons as to why we believe going ahead. Sustainability is our future.
1. SAVING OUR NATURAL RESOURCES
A study from 2015 shows that 97% of what goes into making clothes are new resources, with only 3% of it being recycled materials. This adds up to an annual resource input of 98 million tons – including oil to produce synthetic fibres, fertilisers to grow cotton and an endless list of chemicals needed to dye & finish fabric.
2. REDUCING CARBON FOOTPRINT
The global fashion industry emits a large amount of greenhouse gases per year, thus contributing aggressively and actively to global warming. One of the reasons is that the vast majority of our beloved clothes are petroleum-based and made from fossil fuels, including polyester, acrylic & nylon.
Sustainable brands, on the other side, often use materials from natural or recycled fabrics that require significantly less to no chemical treatment, little water, less energy and no fertilisers or pesticides to grow.
Most organic fabrics such as linen, hemp, organic cotton & TENCEL™ (made from sustainable wood pulp) are even biodegradable. These environmentally-sound fabrics go easy on the planet and are excellent sustainable alternatives.
Our 100% sourced Micro-modal fabric for our underwear is also a classic example of attempting to reduce carbon footprint.
3. SAVING ANIMAL LIVES
This may not be news for you, but the fashion industry loves to kill for fashion. It’s estimated that the leather industry alone is slaughtering and killing over 430 million animals per year, including exotic animals for their hides and fur.
Sustainable fashion brands have started to embrace the use of cruelty-free alternatives increasingly, and there’s one for nearly every piece of fashion materials - polyester made with trash from the oceans, bags created from recycled seat belts, plant-based compostable sneakers, silk created from yeast, and bio-fabricated vegan wool. But one of the most demanded leather alternatives these days comes from pineapples.
The fabric is produced using the leaves of pineapples in the harvesting process, giving by-product waste a new purpose.
4. LESS WATER USAGE
Water is a significant resource for the fashion industry. It is used in the dyeing and finishing process for nearly all of our clothes. It takes an incredible amount of 2,700 litres of water to produce a single T-shirt. Cotton, in particular, is highly dependent on water but is usually grown in hot and dry areas where water is a scarce resource already.
By contrast, organic cotton reduces water consumption by 91% as opposed to conventional cotton. However, only 1% of global cotton production to date is organic. This is mainly due to the much higher cost of non-GMO seeds, which often require additional investments into materials & machinery, which farmers only use for their organically grown crop.
5. TO SUPPORT FAIRER & SAFER WORKING CONDITIONS
Believe it or not, but modern-day slavery does exist. Minimum wages, endless working hours, unacceptable health & safety conditions and the prohibition of workers unions is the unfortunate reality for most garment workers in the fast fashion sector.
Eco-ethical brands advocate for providing humane working conditions, health care and fair wages for their workers, which are typically above average. We all want to feel great about our clothes, and that includes feeling great about knowing under what conditions they were made.
6. HEALTHIER FOR PEOPLE & PLANET
Fast fashion items often undergo a long and intense chemical process before ending up on our hangers. Around 8,000, different synthetic chemicals are used to dye, bleach and wet process garments. These chemicals often cause diseases or even deaths among farmers and inflict severe congenital disabilities in their children.
Some of these chemicals pose a real danger to our health as well, as our skin absorbs anything we put on it. Make sure to always wash new clothes before putting them on for the first time.
7. NO TO CHILD LABOUR
Around 170 million children are engaged in some form of garment work according to recent statistics from UNICEF, which is defined as “ “work for which the child is either too young – work is done below the required minimum age – or work which, because of its detrimental nature or conditions, is altogether considered unacceptable for children and is prohibited”. This is a massive red flag, and the thought that children are sent to factories and conduct work that resembles modern-day slavery to meet the fashion demands of the western world is simply unacceptable.
Brands that genuinely follow sustainable & ethical practises are transparent about it and provide details on the factory, working conditions and manufacturing process.
8. LEARNING TO LOVE OUR CLOTHES AGAIN
It is just so easy to look at a gorgeous, finished piece of clothing in a store and forget that there’s a story and lifecycle behind it. The truth is, we are detached because the industry encourages us to be so. But being aware of all the downsides of this industry will hopefully lead to more conscious consumerism.
One that is planet, animal & people friendly.
It’s time to recognise the impact of our buying decisions.
At the end of the day, we can choose if we want to be part of the problem or part of the solution.
Next time you’re shopping, pay more attention, choose wisely. Look out for how the fabric has been sourced etc. Small steps now can go a long way for us.
Don’t you agree?