How Your Closet Impacts the World
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As I go through my journey to a more sustainable lifestyle, one of the biggest areas I have been learning about is the devastating effects of the fast fashion industry on the environment – not just in ecosystem in the making of the product (do you know what some factories DO with the liquid dye for clothing?), but also because of the excess of “last season’s” clothing continuing to pile up in landfills.
It’s taken me down a path of intentional purchasing, which means purchasing most of my clothes second hand, either from local thrift stores or ThredUp online, and adding in a few quality pieces from fair trade and sustainable brands (like Pact Organic and Wholesome Culture).
So when Lavera offered to guest post for me about sustainable fashion, I was really excited to share this post with you! Living by the questions will more than likely change the way you shop. It might completely radicalize your lifestyle, as you see how the choices you make in an impulse purchase have effects around the world for other humans.
You might even realize you don’t need all the clothes that you have, and pare down to a more “capsule” style wardrobe (forever my goal!).
A few fast facts about the fast fashion industry (let’s be cute and call it FFI) to see why sustainability is necessary:
- The FFI is the second largest industrial polluter – just behind oil. Gross!
- Polyester takes over 200 years to break down in landfills.
- Non-organic cotton is the single biggest user of pesticides.
- Consumers are sending 26 BILLION pounds of clothes to the landfills PER YEAR
- 26 billion pounds per year x 200 years minimum to decompose most of it….well, you do the math.
So now that we recognize why purchasing sustainably is so important to our environment, I’ll turn it over to Lavera and she will share how to make more sustainable choices.
How to Make More Sustainable Fashion Choices
Guest post by Lavera Stewart
What is Sustainable Fashion?
All over the world, individual designers and entire fashion corporations strive for cooperation and new ideas on how to make fashion ethical as our fashion environmental impact is really huge. As a result, a set of rules has been developed in business, fashion and everyday life. A concept that combines these rules and becomes the main trend in the development of the fashion industry is called “sustainable fashion”.
How Does Sustainable Fashion Help the Environment?
The term sustainability itself can be translated as environmental stability, sustainability. This implies the responsible use of natural resources in the long term and the respect for nature and people. Sustainable fashion is a phenomenon that changes the way manufacturers and consumers think about ways to process raw materials and waste, about lifestyle and habits.
Sustainable fashion is, first of all, awareness and care for oneself, other people and the environment.
There are three directions for the development of the idea of eco-friendly fashion.
Responsible Use of Human and Natural Resources
Brands that adhere to sustainable fashion, use safe materials, disclose information on the manufacturing conditions of items sold, ensure safe work organization (sweat shops still exist!) and honest pay. This also includes minimizing waste, including a waste-free cut.
This is basically the acquisition of things at garage sales, second-hand consignment shops, and flea markets. For these purposes, there are also specialized sites (like ThredUp – read my review of ThredUp here), groups in social networks (like Facebook Marketplace or the Mercari app, which is like Poshmark but cheaper). This is a conscious consumption, when some people get the opportunity to get rid of things littering the closet, while others get the opportunity to purchase branded items at a significant discount.
Recycling of Waste to Create New Products
Manufacturers seek to reduce the amount of textile waste, using recyclable and renewable resources and materials. There are even entire collections of clothes created using new technologies from recycled materials.
Repairing broken/damaged items instead of buying new ones is also a good idea. Sustainable fashion means that you can get the most out of one thing before sending it for recycling. Most things can be successfully repaired, instead of buying new ones.
How Do You Know if a Brand is Sustainable?
Sustainable brands practice not only a responsible approach to work, but also environmentally friendly materials. This can be recycled PET bottles for sneakers, recycled packaging paper, buttons from metal cans, leather trimmings, beech fiber underwear, clothes from recycled fishing nets and even dresses made from ocean debris.
Sustainable brands also strive to preserve natural resources, minimize negative environmental impact, reduce their carbon footprint, provide decent working conditions for workers, and care for their consumers.
If the information about the sustainable shopping you are interested in is not obvious, you can conduct your own little investigation and ask the following questions:
- Where are these clothes made?
- How and in what conditions is it done?
- Who produced it?
This information can be found on the brand website. If it is not, most likely, this brand does not pay attention to the sustainability and ethics of its production. If you are wondering about your favorite brand, you can always write to the manufacturer and ask all your questions.
Carefully study the brands whose clothes you are going to purchase. There are several sustainable brands that fit a range of budgets.
Disadvantages Of Sustainable Fashion:
- Difficulty with scaling. For example, upsizing requires used materials. They are difficult to find in large quantities and in good condition, even in developed countries where waste sorting is well established.
- A non-waste cut is hard to put into practice. It is extremely difficult to sew unusual patterns of clothing without leaving scraps of fabric.
- The choice of fabrics. For example, cotton and linen need to be grown, harvested, and processed, which all take time. This makes them more expensive (especially organic).
- The cost of clothing from sustainable brands is higher not only because of the more natural fibers needing to be grown, but also to provide adequate working conditions and a fair wage to the employees.
- Small variety — small brands often cannot offer such a choice of collections as large manufacturers.
Benefits of Building A Sustainable Wardrobe
Sustainable fashion makes it possible to make a thoughtful basic wardrobe from a small number of items that will suit you for all occasions and will really work. There are some other advantages:
Many sustainably produced items are considered “classic” pieces. Such clothes are simple basics that can be worn year after year, and they are high quality items. This means you don’t have to buy clothes every year!
If you are a supporter of sustainable fashion and prefer small local brands, second-hand and vintage, the probability of meeting a person dressed like you on the street tends to be zero.
Always a nice bonus, because choosing a sustainable fashion, you will get rid of the impulse buys due to “discounts” and the constant pursuit of fast trends. Or you can just shop less, which will also help our environment.
The market is oversaturated with goods that we really do not need. However, their production causes significant environmental damage. By choosing sustainable fashion, we can vote with our money for eco-protection, and free ourselves from unnecessary things which can clutter our lives.
Lavera Stewart is a yoga teacher and author, sharing her experience and research with others to assist their growth as they seek to live intentionally and from the heart.
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