Sustainable fashion is a trend growing in popularity over recent years. More and more people are making the environmentally conscious choice to buy clothing made from organic cotton, recycled materials, and fair-trade fibers. But what is sustainable fashion, and how can it make a meaningful difference to the planet’s health?
How Do You Define Sustainability?
The word sustainability is vague and difficult to define. You can understand it in many different ways. But generally, you can say that it is the capacity of a system to continue and be productive without external inputs and without depletion or harm to its environment. Sustainability enables a system to maintain its output and effectiveness over time when subjected to periodic changes in conditions. This often requires planning for how changes will be made in the future. When speaking about clothing, food, or energy, it generally refers to a process that doesn’t deplete the natural world but instead works in sync with it to produce the things you need.
What Is Sustainable Fashion?
Sustainable fashion is the practice of designing clothes made using organic materials grown in a manner conducive to the planet’s health. This type of clothing is becoming increasingly popular in recent years because it has multiple benefits for people and the environment. It has helped make people more conscious about how much waste they produce and saved them money, time, and energy. Increasingly, people recognize how humans impact the environment and turn to alternative products and practices that have a lighter impact on the planet. In addition to the apparent benefits, there are also less obvious but equally important benefits, such as worker rights and free trade.
Why Should You Care About Sustainable Fashion?
The importance of sustainable fashion cannot be overstated. In a world where more people are becoming consumers, the planet’s resources are becoming stretched thin. People around the world will eventually feel the effects of this as ecosystems are under pressure. As much as you understand that sustainable development is essential, what are the most compelling reasons for going down that path?
It Is Beneficial To Workers In The Garment Industry
What many people underestimate when considering sustainability is the industry’s impact when growing the materials needed to make the clothing. Due to cotton’s suitability for clothing, most clothing products contain a certain amount of it. Cotton is a fabric made from the fibers of the cotton plant. It is the world’s most valuable commodity and crucial raw material in many manufacturing industries, including textile, apparel, and paper. Cotton is cultivated in over 100 countries in a wide range of climates that range from very hot to cold. While 90% of all world cotton production takes place in only ten countries:
- United States
The United States has the most significant acreage devoted to cotton cultivation, but China and India produce the most by tonnage.
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However, to produce a good quality cotton fiber for fabric manufacturing requires a lot of water and nutrients such as nitrogen fertilizer and pesticide, which can have detrimental effects on the surrounding ecosystem when misused. Therefore, organic cotton is the preferred material for those looking to buy sustainable clothing. The sustainable clothing retailers, blonde gone rogue, state that cotton producers will be able to use less toxic chemicals by going organic, which results in healthier employees. Therefore, by buying only organic cotton products, you will be making a conscious effort to protect the environment from toxic waste and protect garment workers from harmful substances.
It Promotes Sustainable Community Projects
Following the previous point, you will be better positioned to encourage local production by purchasing clothes made using sustainable practices. This is essential for several reasons:
- Local production means less wastage
- More people can benefit from their labor
- Reduces the energy needed to grow and create the clothing
- The money goes back into the country of origin rather than being moved around the globe.
It’s Environmentally Friendly And Ethical
The clothing industry is a significant contributor to the pollution of our planet. It produces a lot of waste, often treated with chemicals meaning you cannot recycle it. The clothing industry is one of the leading industries that contribute heavily to greenhouse gas emissions. This is due to the production of fast fashion. Fast fashion is a term used for a style of clothing that becomes available quickly, with an almost constant turnover in designs, colors, and even materials. In fact, according to some sources, the fashion industry:
- Accounts for 10% of all carbon emissions.
- Depletes water sources for growing the materials needed.
- Pollutes streams and rivers with toxic chemicals.
Additionally, around 85% of all textiles are thrown away each year, which means the destruction was for nothing. Although some clothing companies are taking steps to reduce their impact on the planet by producing more sustainable products that prioritize the health and safety of workers and use more environmentally friendly materials, this is still a fringe business. For sustainable fashion to become mainstream, consumers will need a concerted effort to opt instead for ethically made clothing over fast fashion and more education about reducing the current throwaway culture.
It Is Better For Your Skin
Clothing made organically and using natural dyes will invariably be better for your skin than other options. While those with sensitive skin will feel the effects more acutely, almost everyone will benefit from the use of suitable materials.
For A Sustainable Lifestyle, It Cannot Be Ignored
Many people are focused on living the best life they can and causing the least amount of damage to the world. This is admirable, but many people ignore the elephant in the room, the clothing industry, and focus solely on vehicle emissions and energy usage. By switching to ethically produced clothing, you can make an enormous contribution to keeping the world in a balanced state and a viable habitat for future generations.
Switching to sustainable clothing is a goal that is both challenging and exciting. The shift towards sustainable fashion will require every stakeholder in the apparel industry, from the manufacturers to the customers, and cannot be done overnight. Despite the challenges in the shift to sustainability, the benefits of the switch to sustainable clothing will be tremendous.