How to be sustainable in fashion?
Like every other girl, I have loved fashion since I was a kid. When it was the transitional season between summer and winter, I always went shopping with my mom and bought many clothes that I would wear for the seasons. It was a lot of fun to see new things being added to my closet. My favourite brands have been always ZARA and H&M; up until I realised that these brands were fast fashion brands.
Today, we are going to cover a bit about fast fashion and sustainable fashion. It’s nothing difficult but I will give simple tips on how you can wear clothes sustainably.
What is fast fashion?
I had no clue what fast fashion was until when I was 16 years old. In high school, my teacher gave me an assessment about fast fashion, and that was when I knew fast fashion is one of the largest issues in the world. I won’t go through about fast fashion deeply today, but more importantly about how sustainable fashion can create so many positive impacts on the environment.
Fast fashion is cheap, stylish, mass-produced clothes that have a huge impact on the environment. Australia is the second-largest consumer of new textiles after the US. Australian people buy around 27 kilos of new clothing every year.
Do you know why is that a problem?
There are three main consequences when you buy fast fashion. Firstly, a huge amount of waste and water pollution is produced that affects our environment, and the last consequence is the harsh reality of poor labour conditions.
These are the main issues of fast fashion, and this is all because:
“We buy five times more clothing now than we did in 1980”
For me, knowing the clothes that I wear every day creates so many negative impacts on the environment and human rights, bringing me to where I am right now.
Making your wardrobe more sustainable
The opposite of fast fashion: “Slow fashion” is an alternative to fast fashion. Slow fashion has been getting quite popular in the past few years. It is an aspect of sustainable fashion and a concept describing the opposite of fast fashion; part of the “slow movement” advocating for clothing and apparel manufacturing with respect to the people and the environment.
“Slow fashion can slow down consumption, make your purchase more mindfully, more consciously, and you can quickly observe that you’re buying”
The positive effect of slow fashion
Slow fashion will bring a positive impact on a range of different areas. All of the impacts are shown in figure 1.
Fast fashion is produced as fast as possible, at a low price, and in low quality. In comparison, slow fashion is made with diligence and high-quality standards to be durable and long-lasting
- Saving water
Slow fashion also spares a ton of freshwater. 2,700 liters of water are required to produce the cotton for one T-shirt. By comparison, organic cotton needs only 243 liters. Slow fashion limits the wastewater going into rivers and reduces the impact of water pollution.
- Respecting human rights
The slow fashion movement promotes fair, transparent, and healthy working conditions. The clothing is made sustainable with fair wages paid to produce it.
My sustainable fashion journeys
Ever since I met a girl from university, I became more conscious about the things I wear. She was the kind of person who always carries her own coffee cup and her own straw everywhere she goes. She loves eco-friendly products and has a wide range of them. Seeing her attitude towards the environment led me to try some sustainable fashion at some points.
I started going to Vinnies to get some second-hand summer dresses, I started shopping at some slow fashion brands and giving my clothes to friends. This might be a small step, but I have started to make my wardrobe a little more sustainable.
Let me tell you about one slow fashion brand that I started purchasing the last year.
CHNGE is one of my favourite sustainable fashion brands that use 100% organic materials. Their organic cotton fit my skin, is high quality and they are really comfortable. They use zero harmful chemicals in all of their clothes which consumes a lot less water and 62% less energy.
The downside of slow fashion
Delving deeper into slow fashion, there are some dark effects of slow fashion. The slow fashion brand has many positive effects and will bring better changes to the fast fashion brands. Although, I realised that slow fashion is not actually, technically, truly sustainable.
When I took a closer look at sustainable fashion, occasionally some questions have raised. My favourite slow fashion CHNGE, I love their organic materials. Although they still create carbon emissions when growing organic cotton. Is that sustainable?
Their clothes are also made in Turkey. Then how would they transport to the US? Transporting fabrics and clothes with airplanes and cars; how do we know if it is truly sustainable for the environment?
What about the packaging? They use plastic packaging when shipping to consumers. Is that really sustainable?
I was completely in shock. Because this means buying more slow fashion will make a more negative impact on the environment. It doesn’t completely solve the issues that face fast fashion.
What can we do!
It’s clear that there will always be concerns and issues regarding the sustainability of the fashion industry.
It is important for you to be aware of the reality of the fast fashion industry, and it is crucial to know that the cheapest and easiest way to shop sustainably is to shop second-hand.
There are other alternative brands you can support in the slow fashion industry that have a greater positive effect in the long run.
I will do what I can do to stop fast fashion. How about you?
Don’t forget to share this blog across your social media platforms to increase awareness about sustainable fashion. And as always, let me know if you have any questions!