Sustainable fashion isn’t new, but over the last few years it has become increasingly popular with consumers looking to invest in more environmentally friendly and ethical products. Whilst most people wouldn’t typically think of fashion as being something that harms the environment, the reality is that many companies in the industry are guilty of costing the earth a fortune.
Here we will explain the importance of sustainable fashion and how it benefits both the earth and the people calling it home.
What do we mean by sustainable fashion?
Sustainable fashion is an approach to designing, sourcing and manufacturing clothing that benefits the community whilst also minimising the impact on the environment. It can relate to both fashion businesses that aim to preserve the earth through environmentally friendly manufacturing and companies that aim to support communities through enforcing ethical working conditions.
- Use of sustainable materials:
One way a fashion company can make their clothing more sustainable is through the sourcing and use of natural fibres e.g. organically grown cotton. Using materials that do not require pesticides prevents them from polluting the earth. Many sustainable fashion companies also up-cycle materials to use in their clothing, preventing landfill waste.
- Local manufacturing:
Sustainable fashion companies manufacture their clothing locally as to avoid the cost of transport on the earth. By limiting the transportation of their clothing they reduce their carbon footprint. Manufacturing locally also supports the local economy by providing jobs.
- Fair wages and working conditions:
Companies with sustainable values promote fair wages and safe working conditions. They do not have men and women working overseas in sweatshops. They have ethical business practices and are all about transparency when it comes to sourcing and manufacturing techniques.
- Supporting local communities:
Many sustainable fashion companies support their local communities by investing in other sustainable projects and start-ups set up by local entrepreneurs. They also send designers and manufacturers out into the community to teach workshops to ensure traditional craftsman skills continue to thrive.
Benefits of sustainable fashion
1. Better for the earth
The fashion industry’s actions have a huge environmental impact in the form of pesticide pollution, landfill use and excess energy use (machinery). However sustainable fashion businesses use natural fibres (eliminating pollution,) dispose of their waste properly and hand make many of their products to reduce energy usage. Sustainable fashion does not cost the earth.
2. Better for the people
Not only is sustainable fashion better for the earth, but also the people living on the planet too! Sustainable fashion companies are sweatshop free, instead focusing on providing safe working conditions for their employees who are also paid a fair wage.
In terms of consumers, there are also benefits of buying sustainable or eco-friendly fashion, as it tends to be of a much higher quality and therefore lasts much longer. Clothing made from natural fibres is also easier to take care of, making it the preferable choice.
Does it cost more?
Whilst the choice between sustainably produced clothing and unethically produced clothing should be simple for consumers; many are often put off by the higher price tag. However as Friederike von Wedel-Parlow (Director of the Esmod Berlin International University of Art for Fashion) so brilliantly puts it:
‘Cheaply produced clothing doesn’t compensate for the resulting environmental damage. If we add these costs into the end price, then ecologically produced clothing would be cheaper, because it doesn’t lead to damage that will later affect the public.’
So really, if you think about it carefully, eco friendly fashion is the more affordable option.
Next time you are out shopping for an outfit, whether it is for everyday wear or a special occasion; consider sustainable labels. Not only will you be doing your bit to support those working in fashion, but you will also be doing your bit to take care of the planet you call home.
Image Credits: charamelody and Jason Hargrove