With fast fashion seemingly taking over the world, quality in all things taking a back seat and pollution destroying our planet it’s time for each of us to seriously consider what we can each do to stop the decay.
From the melting ice caps, receding glaciers, horrific Asian pollution and the destruction of The Great Barrier Reef to name a few, it’s easy to see the impact of global warming and to blame many industries such as oil and coal but few realize that the clothing industry that is the second biggest polluter.
We may not think of the environmental impact of fashion, but it can and does have a significant effect on the environment especially given the amount of water needed to manufacture garments. It’s the time that we, as consumers, become more conscious of how our personal fashion decisions can affect the environment and fashion industry.
Sustainable fashion is a design movement that is quickly gaining ground, its goal is to create a self-supporting system within which the manufacturing of clothing has less impact on the environment and is socially responsible. Starting in the 90′s, pioneered by brands like Patagonia and Esprit, sustainable fashion has become a permanent part of the fashion industry and today many other brands such as H&M are starting to emulate them.
A great deal of creativity and resourcefulness is being put in to create clothing and fashion that are equally trendy and sustainable. Gone are the days when eco-fashion gets a bad rap for looking bland and boring, brands like Amour Vert (a Gwyneth Paltrow), Svilu (an award-winning industry insider favourite), Freedom From Animals (chic vegan leather accessories), and even celebrity designers like Stella McCartney.
“I design clothes that are meant to last. I believe in creating pieces that are not going to get burnt, that is not going to landfills and that is not going to damage the environment. For every piece in every collection, I am always asking what have we done to make this garment more sustainable and what else can we do. It is a constant effort to improve…”
So how can you do your part?
It’s easy and all you need to do is remember 4 R’s.
Reducing your ecological fashion footprint is less about not buying and more about thoughtful consumption. It’s a matter of being more conscious of your purchases. Even when you’re not buying from a sustainable brand, thinking about your purchase will avoid creating more waste. Impulse buys create more waste since it is something that you don’t use again and end up throwing.
Shopping at thrift/vintage stores and consignment shops are also great ways to reduce your negative environmental impact and support eco fashion. You’ll be amazed at the finds you’ll discover at these places. Consignment stores are especially great for finding great brands and trendy pieces at a fraction of the cost. Meanwhile, thrift stores and vintage shops are treasure troves of unique pieces that are sure to give your ensembles more character.
I’m sure when you clean out your closet, you’ll find quite many items you haven’t worn recently or your style has outgrown. Instead of tossing them, think of ways to give them a new life. Repurposing clothes and accessories are a great way to minimize your environmental impact. Instead of throwing out an old tee why not make it into a produce carry bag? All you need is creativity and Pinterest is chock-full of ideas on how to repurpose clothes and accessories. Another noteworthy site to take inspiration from is P.S. I Made This. Erica Domesek, the brainchild and creative behind the site takes everyday items and fashion items and marries them with current trends.
Editing your closet, creating capsules and really knowing what works with your style are all effective ways to reduce and even avoid needless consumption. Few women take the time to explore all the outfit possibilities waiting to be discovered within their wardrobe while complaining of nothing to wear.
Making the time to organize everything you own and uncover all the hidden outfits is a worthwhile way to spend a Sunday afternoon and you’ll reap the benefits for months to come.
Recycling clothing is one of the best ways to support eco-fashion. H&M is a pioneer in this regard with its effort to recycle unwanted textiles. You can drop off any of your unwanted items into any store, and you receive a discount coupon.
You can also organize a fashion swap party with your friends. You know what they say, one woman’s trash is another one’s treasure. Swapping gently or never used items with your friends and family is a great way to spread the word about conscious consumption.
These may seem like small ways to help support our planet and eco-fashion. However, every small step will add up and eventually make a real difference.
Every single choice you make about fashion reverberates through the industry. Making simple and thoughtful choices about how you consume fashion has more impact than you think.
To paraphrase Stacy Flynn of EVRNU who I recently had the pleasure of meeting, if one person can do so much damage with buying one t-shirt that the same person can also make a positive difference toward strengthening the sustainable fashion movement. 700 gallons of water is wasted to make one T-shirt. This statistic seems exaggerated but it is 100% factual, and that is a sad fact of fashion consumption.
We are what we wear.
It’s a sobering fact that fashion is intricately intertwined with our personality and everyday life. Perhaps armed with knowledge about sustainability, we can all move forward and make more responsible decisions that will honour both our love of fashion and our planet.