The world of fashion revolves around new trends and must-have items that come out every season, which leads to people needing a new wardrobe every few months.
The temptation to buy new items to keep your wardrobe relevant has led to a lot of debate about the impact our shopping habits have on our planet and what we as consumers can do to help diminish the fashion industry’s carbon footprint.
Before we talk about solutions to this dilemma, we have to talk about fast fashion, the biggest culprit of the fashion industry’s carbon footprint.
Fast fashion refers to clothing that is cheap, stylish, poorly made, and mass-produced. As it stands right now, the fashion industry is one of the highest sources of pollution because of its extreme use of water, dyes, and fabric which end up polluting oceans, rivers and filling up landfills.
According to a study conducted by GreenPeace, “The number of garments produced exceeded 100 billion by 2014”. The same study also found that “the vast majority of old clothes are thrown out with our household waste and end up in landfills or incinerators, amounting to millions of tonnes of textiles waste worldwide.”
Knowing that it’s no wonder why fast fashion has been a big point of discussion and upset has caused many people to look for alternatives that are both sustainable and stylish.
3 Ways To Counter Anti-Sustainable Fashion Faux Pas:
1. Timeless Items
One of the best things you can do when shopping is to buy timeless pieces that you can reuse and re-style. Items like a little black dress, a denim jacket, or even a pair of black slacks will never go out of style.
These items can all be mixed and matched with different accessories that you already own to create new and fun looks. They are also great staple pieces that can shine on their own and no one will ever question.
2. Reuse Clothing
If you do have a need to buy new items, why not consider thrifting instead? Thrifting is an excellent way to find great items that, although not necessarily new, are new to you. Places like Goodwill, The Salvation Army, and American Cancer Society Discovery Shop are all great places to go thrifting since they offer a wide range of options from clothing and accessories to even furniture, all while giving back to great causes.
If thrifting isn’t really for you, then you can always consider getting crafty. Fashion is all about creativity, so why not put yours to the test with some scissors and possibly a little bit of sewing. Anyone can easily turn their old pair of jeans into some cute shorts or turn any tee-shirt into a crop top.
You can also easily add some flair to a backpack by sewing on some patches to it give it new life. Similarly, for a purse, just add a cute scarf to it to add a pop of color.
3. Shop the Sustainable Way
Shopping has become a way of life for millions of people, and asking them to stop is just not logical, so instead, try learning how to refine your shopping habits. You can start off by simply staying away from synthetic fabrics like polyester. Instead, try choosing items made of natural fabrics like organic cotton, wool, and silk which are all renewable, biodegradable, and carbon neutral.
Another tip for shopping sustainably, either online or in-person, is to be aware of where your item is coming from and if the cost reflects that price. Ideally, the item you are buying should not be mass-produced in a warehouse somewhere overseas and cost $5.99 at checkout.
Most sustainably made items are hand-made in small batches and have a price that reflects that craftsmanship. To make sustainable shopping easier, you could also just consider buying from eco-friendly brands that track their garment or accessory-making process.
Transparency is a big part of the sustainable fashion movement, so it will become apparent right away when a brand is meeting those standards through wording on their website and proof to back it up.
Brands with a cause:
Thanks to the rise in demand for sustainable fashion, many new emerging brands have strived to create eco-friendly products and align themselves with worthy causes in an effort to offset their carbon footprint. Here are five brands that have managed to make sustainability fashionable:
1. Original Grain
Original Grain was created in 2013 by Ryan and Andrew Beltran, a brother duo who aimed to bring to life their vision of sustainable timepieces inspired by the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. They specialize in creating handcrafted sustainable timepieces that tell a story.
Their watches are made from items like reclaimed wood from unexpected places ranging from Kentucky Whiskey Bourbon barrels to Yankee Stadium seats. As their name states, they do not let a single woodgrain go to waste by strictly adhering to age-old woodworking techniques.
Original Grain does its best to reduce its carbon footprint by using reclaimed and sustainably sourced materials, creating reusable packaging, and contributing to deforestation causes.
Thanks to their active partnership with One Tree Planted and previous involvement with Trees for the Future, Original Grain has been able to plant over 500,000 trees and will continue to plant a tree for each watch that they sell.
Patagonia is an American clothing company that markets and sells outdoor clothing.
It was founded by environmentalist and rock climber Yvon Chouinard in the early ’70s, and the brand is best known as a pioneer in fashion for their use and implementation of sustainable materials that range from organic cotton, recycled synthetics, and non-toxic dyes to yulex, recycled fishing nets, recycled wool, a fabric made from wood pulp and cotton scraps.
The fashion brand actively advocates about the climate crisis as well and has even self-imposed what they call earth tax on themselves that allows them to donate 1% of each of their sales to go towards environmental nonprofits that partner with them.
One of their most popular ongoing campaigns to help reduce fashion waste is their worn wear system that allows their customers to trade in old Patagonia items for credit.
3. Ace and Jig
Ace and Jig is a women-owned fashion brand that shows special interest in textiles. The brand works with artisans in India to create textiles from the ground up. Literally, their process starts by using raw cotton that’s subsequently dyed and warped.
Ace and Jig is dedicated to ensuring the safety, equitable treatment, and empowerment of those contributing to the creation of their textiles & products while limiting their environmental footprint wherever possible. Besides encouraging their customers to swap or resell styles they no longer wear, Ace & Jig makes it a point to repurpose all their leftover fabric scraps.
Some of their best solutions have been to turn their extra fabrics into hairbands, specialty patch garments, or bringing the extra fabric to their community events for others to repurpose in new ways.
Rewilder is a maker of unisex bags with modern and classic silhouettes that are all made of 100% recycled materials. They proudly make it known that they are a zero-waste brand that makes completely handmade products from Los Angeles.
They are on a mission to make upcycling scalable by partnering with industrial giants to identify, divert, and upcycle waste materials in their supply chain; apart from their bags made from salvaged materials, they also offer a line of outdoor furniture that follow all their same principles as well as a uni-sex zero waste rain jacket.
Pact is a clothing and home goods company that specializes in using organic cotton to create their products inside of their fair trade certified factories. They are committed to making sustainable and ethically made products through the implementation of a transparent supply chain that improves the lives of farmers and workers.
They offer carbon offset shipping, specialized recycled shipping products, biodegradable plastic, and promote clothing recycling through their give back box initiative.
The two goals behind their clothing donation program are to deliver gently used clothing to inspiring nonprofits and reduce their packaging footprint by making it easy to reuse boxes for a worthy cause.
Now that you have a better understanding of sustainability’s role in the fashion industry, we hope you take these tips to heart and make a change of your own.