It has been reported that the fashion industry is the second largest polluter after the oil industry – pretty shocking right! This is because fast fashion has made clothes almost disposable and it takes a huge amount of materials, water and chemicals to meet the ever-growing demand for these garments. Not to mention that a huge volume of unsold or discarded clothing is being burnt or chucked in land fills every day.
But as more people are becoming aware of what is happening, many are trying to change their shopping habits for the better. Sadly a number of retailers are taking advantage of this by using what’s known as ‘greenwashing’. This is the practise of making misleading or incorrect claims about how eco-friendly a product really is, in order to capitalise on those who try to be more eco-friendly.
Because of this, the best way to combat the damaging effect that the fashion industry is having on the planet is to become fully educated about what sustainable fashion really is, and how you can make more eco-friendly choices in the future. Check out tour comprehensive guide below for more information.
What is sustainable fashion?
Sustainable fashion is an umbrella term for producing clothing whilst taking into consideration both its environmental and the socio-economic impact, and trying to reduce its harmful effect on the planet. So for something to be sustainable it needs to be manufactured, sold and used in a way that is going to be most sustainable and beneficial to the environment, and the working conditions of those producing the garments must be fair.
There are so many things that need to be taken into consideration in order to promote and encourage sustainable fashion. For example, this is not just as simple as trying to use more natural resources and ensuring fair pay to workers. There are a whole host of areas that need to be improved including manufacturing, storage, transport, packaging, marketing, repairing and reusing. In order to create more sustainable fashion we need to be more careful with our resources such as energy, animals, plants and water. It also means choosing renewal energy sources, improving working conditions and finding less damaging ways to package and transport garments.
So as you can see there is a whole lot that goes into improving the sustainability of the fashion industry, yet this is something we really need to encourage and take responsibility for as humans. While we don’t expect you to rise up in some sort of heroic Martin Luther King type speech, there are some small changes you can make to your own shopping habits to be more eco-friendly; because the more people that do this, the more we can look after our precious planet.
How can I be more sustainable?
If you're looking to make a change and help save the planet, there are several ways you can be more sustainable with your fashion choices – check these out below:
1. Buy less stuff
OK, it’s not always fun to hear, but the best way to reduce your footprint is to simply buy less! We love retail therapy as much as the next person, but over time you might find that you’ve needlessly accumulated a huge wardrobe and you only wear 25% of it.
2. Buy responsibly
Before you buy anything, stop to consider whether you really need it and whether it actually reflects your style. Buying a top you vaguely like just because it costs £5 is not very responsible, especially if you end up throwing it out next time you de-clutter your wardrobe. By shopping more responsibly you can help to reduce waste.
3. Buy used
In recent years thrift shopping has become increasingly popular. So whether it’s eBay, Facebook, charity shops, vintage stores or apps like Schpock – buying second hand is a great way to reduce your footprint and decrease the need for fast fashion.
4. Fix things
We’ve become too used to our things being disposable. Just because something has lost a button or has a tricky stain on it, that doesn't mean it needs to go straight in the bin. Take the time to mend any broken garments and make sure you care for your clothes in the first instance. Again, this reduces waste and the damaging effects of fast fashion.
For one off occasions, don't splash out on buying a new outfit. There are plenty of shops out there where you can rent beautiful clothes for the special occasion. And you don't even have to go and rent from companies, why not speak to your friends or family and see if one of them has a great outfit you can borrow.
6. Choose sustainable brands
One of the biggest steps you can take to being more eco-friendly is choosing sustainable brands. It might feel time consuming, but before buying from a brand do some research into how and where their clothes are made. After all, you’d never just walk out the door and buy a house or car without doing proper research first. So apply those skills to finding the right sustainable brands for you.
Which are the top sustainable brands?
There are a number of brands that are gaining traction right now, some you may have heard of, some you may not. There are also a number of highstreet brands that are trying to do more to offer sustainable fashion choices. Some of the growing names and best sustainable brands include:
• Thought Clothing
• Alternative Apparel
• All Birds
• Madia & Matilda
• People Tree
When it comes to shopping on the highstreet retailers such as Weekday, H&M Conscious and Mango are all putting steps in place to be more eco-friendly, though these are still a far stretch from being a completely sustainable brand. What’s more, buying from slightly more expensive, but high quality highstreet brands means you can buy garments that will stand the test of time. For example, Levis or Birkenstocks.