Thinking of the words “sustainable fashion” can cause a lot of different ideas spring to mind. The phrase is synonymous with the efforts to reduce climate change and live a more eco and socially conscious lifestyle. Whilst you might think that sustainable fashion means completely ditching the fast fashion brands for charity shops, it’s not that simple. We at Missy wanted to find out more.
Sustainable fashion is a movement to change and reshape the fashion industry in a more socially conscious and ecological way. This means sustainable fashion has an awareness of the working conditions of those who make the items, the materials used to make the garments, and the life cycle of the item.
Let’s get a little more in depth…
Any item you buy from your favourite high street store for an affordable price has a story behind it. What it’s made out of, who made it, and where it came from all make up its history. These thoughts probably rarely spring to mind when you’ve bagged that #Trending jumpsuit, but that’s what the idea of sustainable fashion hopes to get you to do. Have an awareness that the clothes that hang in your wardrobe have a very real impact on the environment and society.
What sort of impact?
When it comes to clothes on the high street imitating the latest catwalk trends at a much lower cost than the designer price tag, something has got to give in order for these low costs to be achieved. Unfortunately, this means usually it’s the people making the clothes who suffer. In Bangladesh, over 3 million people work in the garment producing industry. 88% of these are women. The average wage for one of these factory workers is £25-32 a month.
Their working conditions are almost never up to standard, with very little attention paid to health and safety. Sustainable fashion not only seeks social justice when it comes to the clothing industry. The environmental impact of clothes production is also a factor of sustainable fashion. According to the the World Resources Institute: making one pair of jeans releases the same amount of green house gases as driving a car 80 miles (128km)+.
Clothing that doesn’t biodegrade due to its fabric composition will sit in landfill for more than 200 years. And finally, it can take up to 2,700 litres of water to make one shirt – that’s enough to supply a person with drinking water for 2.5 years.
What can we do?
Shopping sustainably can often come with a bigger price tag than usual. This can cause problems, especially if you just can’t afford the extra cost to ensure your clothing is sustainable. So, here are some tips on how you can be sustainable in your fashion choices.
Shop Sustainable Conscious High Street Brands
Some high street brands leading the way in sustainability are:
H&M – their conscious collection is just what it says on the lid! About the collection H&M say “Made from sustainably sourced materials and/or using sustainable methods […] worn by inspirational women from around the world who want to make a change.”
ASOS Design – offer a recycled line, in which items such as underwear are made from plastic bottles and reclaimed fishing nets. ASOS have also partnered with REMO to make jeans out of recycled cotton and CmiA. They also offer a section on their site for eco brands. Featuring clothing, beauty brands and accessories.
Adidas – Adidas made 100% recycled trainers out of plastic bottles. Teaming up with Parley, the production of the shoes stopped plastic bottles from entering our oceans. Not only this, but Adidas have also invented a trainer that is 100% recyclable. Made from a glue substance called thermoplastic polyurethane, Adidas can repurpose the worn trainers into new shoes. According to Adidas these are the shoes that are “made to be remade.” Pretty cool, eh?
Know Your Materials
Knowing what material your clothes are made of is another step towards sustainable fashion. By being aware of what your clothes are made of, you can make smart choices and ensure that if your clothes do end up in landfill they will decompose/biodegrade quickly. Some examples are :
Cotton – 100% cotton clothes will break down in a week to 5 months.
Linen – You’ll be seeing a lot of linen on the High Street this SS ’19, the good thing? It breaks down pretty easy. 2 weeks will see linen broken down fairly well, this process is faster if the material is cut up.
Bamboo – There’s also a lot of Bamboo products out there nowadays. It can take between 1 and 5 years to completely biodegrade. Which when compared to the aforementioned 200 years, is pretty good going!
See Close The Loop for more.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Thought I’d bring you back to your primary school days with that phrase. But it really is good to keep in mind if you are embracing sustainable fashion.
Reduce – Instead of hopping on every trend that comes along, perhaps cut down and save your money for something else. A sustainable item perhaps.
Reuse – If you just need Denim bicycle shorts in your wardrobe this season, why not see about repurposing those jeans that you haven’t worn in ages rather than forking out for a new pair? There are plenty of ways to reuse your clothes, all you have to do is Google a “how to” and embrace your inner fashion designer!
Recycle – Whether it’s recycling your old clothes, seeing if a friend or sister might like them, or shopping on sites like ebay or depop for preloved items, it’s all helping to cut down on the amount of clothes going into landfill.