Fashion has always been a powerful force in our society, constantly evolving and reflecting our changing tastes and values. However, in recent years, a new trend has emerged in the fashion industry – also known as fast fashion.
The rise of fast fashion has transformed the industry into a race to the bottom, with clothing becoming a disposable commodity instead of being a cherished possession. This phenomenon has changed the way we consume clothing, with retailers offering trendy, low-cost items at a cheaper price.
Fast fashion retailers pump out new designs at a very fast alarming pace, hence the name fast fashion, offering customers clothes at a very cheap price. While fast fashion has revolutionized the accessibility of clothes, this convenience comes at a high price, as the negative impact of fast fashion on the environment and human rights has become impossible to ignore.
From the exploitation of garment workers to the pollution of waterways with toxic chemicals, the cost of our obsession with cheap, trendy clothing has never been higher. And this all raises a question is our pursuit of affordable clothing worth the cost?
Thankfully, a new movement has emerged that aims to transform the industry into a more sustainable and responsible one – known as sustainable fashion.
Sustainable fashion encompasses a range of practices that prioritize environmental and social responsibility throughout the entire supply chain, from sourcing materials to manufacturing, distribution, and consumption.
There are numerous benefits of sustainable fashion, including reduced environmental impact, fair labor practices, and improved animal welfare. As consumers have started becoming more aware of the impact of their purchases, sustainable fashion is skyrocketing to fame and is becoming a solution to the industry’s social and environmental challenges.
What Is Sustainable Clothing?
Sustainable clothing are garments produced in a socially responsible and eco-friendly way, where every phase from material procurement to final packaging is aimed at ethical practices and minimal environmental impact.
What Are Sustainable Clothes Made From?
STRAIGHT ANSWER: Sustainable clothes are made from renewable, biodegradable, organic, natural, or recyclable materials, such as organic cotton, hemp, bamboo, linen, Tencel, etc. These materials are grown or produced using environmentally friendly methods that avoid the use of harmful chemicals or excessive water consumption. And they’re sourced ethically to prevent a disbalance in the ecosystem.
The sustainability of clothing depends on the materials and fabrics used in the production process. We’re starting off with plant-based fabrics:
There are multiple plant-based fabrics, but we will discuss about a few today.
The fashion industry often uses cotton for most of its clothes, and it’s an industry and customer favorite. Organic cotton is often grown without the presence of toxic chemicals, pesticides, and synthetic fertilizers. It’s a great alternative to regular cotton, as it reduces the number of chemicals that are released into the environment.
Hemp is one of the most environmentally friendly fabrics out there, along with organic cotton and linen. It’s derived from the same named plant hemp, and it’s one of the most durable natural fabrics in the world. This fabric is considered eco-friendly because it requires less water to grow and no pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. It’s biodegradable and has a unique ability to absorb carbon dioxide or CO₂ from the atmosphere.
Tencel is a semi-synthetic material made from the wood pulp of eucalyptus trees with a closed-loop process. This means that the chemicals used in the process are recycled and reused, making it a more sustainable option. It’s a very light, breathable, absorbent, and soft fabric which makes it a perfect option for those who have sensitive skin. Tencel fabrics are sourced from sustainably managed forests to minimize the environmental impact, and it requires minimal water usage during production.
Linen is derived from the flax plant, which can grow in places where most plants fail to grow. Compared to cotton, it requires a lot less water and pesticides to grow. Linen is biodegradable, and the entire flax plant can be used for its seeds, oil, and crops, which means nothing will be thrown away and there won’t be any waste left behind.
The most famous natural fiber is bamboo.
Organic bamboo has quickly become a favorite in the sustainable fashion industry due to its softness, lightness, and antibacterial properties, making it ideal for lingerie and clothes. The bamboo plant has a very quick growth and it doesn’t need pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. Some fashion brands grow their own bamboo in eco-friendly controlled conditions and the brand Boody reuses rainwater to help grow their bamboo.
A lot of sustainable fashion brands use recyclable materials such as recycled polyester.
Recycled polyester is a much superior alternative to virgin polyester. It’s made from post-consumer waste, such as recycled plastic bottles. It has significantly less processing time, compared to virgin polyester. Lots of companies use it to make yoga mats, leggings, t-shirts, and more.
Materials Of Animal Origin
The most famous materials are recycled silk and recycled wool.
Silk is a widely used material both in high fashion and the fashion industry at large. Recycled silk is becoming one of the most demanded materials by consumers as they look for more sustainable alternatives. A lot of sustainable fashion brands are reusing discarded silk clothing to make new clothing items, thus giving these clothes a new chance at life and they’re reducing textile waste, their environmental impact, and their carbon footprint.
For centuries this animal-based material – wool, has been used in clothing production for its durability, warmth, and comfort. Recycled wool can be sourced from ethical and responsible farms that prioritize the health and safety of animals. Sadly, a large amount of unused wool ends up in landfills. To combat this, many sustainable and high-end fashion brands have begun recycling wool, and repurposing it for new clothing or accessories. This innovative approach to extending the lifespan of existing materials helps to decrease waste.
How Can I Make My Clothes Sustainable?
There are many ways to make your clothes sustainable, such as:
Support Ethical And Sustainable Brands And Designers
Instead of funding the big fast fashion corporations, consider purchasing from brands that are genuinely committed to sustainability, ensuring ethical labor practices, using eco-friendly materials, producing locally (most of the time in small batches), etc.
Another way of being sustainable is buying clothes from second-hand shops, such as thrift stores, and vintage shops, online on social media platforms and websites. This is helpful because we’re reducing textile waste.
Start A Capsule Wardrobe
You can start by decluttering your wardrobe and organizing your clothes. You can pick what clothes you want to keep and you can create a variety of outfit combinations with them. You can donate the rest to charities or resell and recycle them.
Repair And Alter Them
Before throwing away your clothes, see if you can repair and alter them, or you can reuse them for something else. You can make tote bags, pillowcases, patchwork quilts, and more. If your clothes have small tears or if a button has fallen off you can resew them and you can add a fun patch to make them more unique.
Donate Or Recycle
If you have older clothes that you don’t wear anymore or they don’t fit you and they’re in great shape, consider donating them to charity organizations. And if they’re in bad shape you can recycle them or reuse them at home for something else.
In conclusion, sustainable fashion and sustainable clothing are becoming very important as we face the challenges of climate change and environmental erosion.
Sustainable clothing is made from materials and manufacturing processes that prioritize reducing the negative impacts on the environment and society. Sustainable clothing is made from eco-friendly and sustainable materials, such as organic cotton, recycled polyester, bamboo, hemp, Tencel, and other innovative plant-based alternatives.
Choosing sustainable fashion and sustainable clothing can help reduce waste, water usage, and carbon emissions associated with traditional fashion production processes. We will also be supporting sustainable brands that support fair labor practices and reduce the use of harmful chemicals in clothing production.
In addition to the environmental and social benefits, sustainable fashion can offer unique and stylish options for those who want sustainable and ethical garments in their closet but they also want to look fashionable. By choosing sustainable fashion, we can take small but very important steps toward a more sustainable future for ourselves and the planet.
This concludes today’s article! We hope you enjoyed reading it! Let us know if we missed anything!