I’m sure sustainable fashion is a term we’ve all heard by now. Before I really understood what it meant, I thought it was just for super rich people who bought extremely expensive clothes made from obscure fabrics. Now I know better. So what is sustainable fashion?
Some facts from Ecouterre – an online fashion magazine:
- Clothing uses more water than any other industry other than agriculture.
- Conventional cotton is the most toxic crop in the world.
- About $2 Billion of toxic chemical pesticides are used every year to grow cotton.
- At least 3 Million people are poisoned by pesticides every year, according to the World Health Organization.
So THAT is why organic cotton is such a big deal. The production of a piece of clothing from conventional cotton is toxic from beginning to end. Then when we buy the piece and wear it, the toxins have their chance to affect us as well. Then when it is thrown away – those toxins continue to leach into the environment in the landfill. Then there are the issues around horrifying working conditions and child labour in factories manufacturing the clothes in far-away countries like China and Bangladesh.
And THEN there are the issues around greenhouse gas emissions resulting from manufacturing and discarding the heaps of cheap clothing we have.
I think John Oliver really sums it up well.
Sustainable Fashion really IS a big deal. So what can we do?
WEAR WHAT YOU HAVE.
Continuing to wear what you already have are really the best things you can do to stop the fast fashion cycle. Rather than succumbing to the temptation of getting the latest trend, wearing what you have to prolong the life of those clothes and keeping them out of a landfill for as long as possible is an important action to take. Consider repairing or restyling items you already have to use them for even longer.
If you do need to get “new” clothes, buy clothes that aren’t brand new. Again, prolonging the life of garments that are new to you is not only better for the environment, it’s easier on your wallet! Thrift shops, consignment shops, and clothing swaps are all great ways to find clothing that’s new to you. If you live in Edmonton, check out my guide to shopping secondhand like a boss. Consider joining community swap groups to find local deals. You could even host your own clothing swap with your friends or at your workplace.
Fashion Revolution is an incredible activism movement shedding light on all aspects of the fashion industry, and what needs to change. You can find out details about different brands and retailers and their manufacturing processes.
Fashion Takes Action is a Canadian non-profit organization that focuses on sustainability in the fashion industry. They provide resources to the industry and the general public.
For a more in-depth look at the different aspects of sustainable fashion, check out the Centre for Sustainable Fashion at London College of Fashion.
What are some ways you can contribute to the sustainable fashion movement?
- Sustainable Fashion: The Industry’s Tort Reform (huffingtonpost)