Why is Sustainable Fashion Demanded in Today’s World
Sustainability means meeting our own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. In addition to natural resources, we also need social and economic resources.
Sustainable fashion refers to clothing designed, manufactured, distributed, and used in environmentally friendly ways. The word sustainable is defined as “capable of being sustained.” Therefore, the sustainable fashion industry must operate in ways that can continue working for years and decades to come.
Unfortunately, this is not true of today’s dominant ‘fast fashion,’ which refers to clothing that’s intentionally designed to be consumed quickly at cheap prices, leading shoppers to view clothes as being disposable—wearing them just a few times before throwing them out or moving on to newer and trendier cheap clothes.
The fast fashion cycle is far from sustainable because it depletes the Earth’s natural resources at exponential rates, exploits workers worldwide, and results in overwhelming waste. In contrast to traditional fashion houses that only have a few seasonal collections per year, fast fashion brands may churn out as many as one new collections per week (or more) in efforts to drive continuous, mindless consumption.
What is fashion key to the discussion around sustainability?
- Design & Development
- Raw Material
- End of Use
The word ‘Sustainability’ in the context of fashion most prominently refers to the environmental impacts of making (raw material creation, processing and manufacture), wearing and caring for (use) and the disposal of clothing (end of use). We take resources and use water and chemicals along the way, to create a garment. You buy and wear the garment and then throw it away (or donate it) when you’re done…. But then what happens? Generally it goes to landfill or is incinerated.
Today, only 20% of all clothing is recycled. In order for the fashion industry to really become more sustainable, brands need to work towards developing circular systems whereby garments become fully recyclable after use, reducing the need to create virgin fibres.
The Rana Plaza tragedy sparking global awareness: Today, the slow and sustainable fashion movement is on the rise in large spurred by the biggest garment industry disaster the world has ever seen—the collapse of Rana plaza factory in Bangladesh
This globally known tragedy resulted in over 1,100 deaths, showing many in the western world just how costly their cheap clothing really is. As it turns out—there are just many social and environmental costs from fast fashion that are hidden behind the glossy facades of clean and pristine fashion stores.
Shedding light on “The True Cost” of fashion:
Shortly after the factory collapse, a documentary film called “The True Cost” was released, bringing to light even more information about the devastation caused by the fashion industry.
Following these tragic events and a deeper understanding of the industry’s true costs, many activists and organizations began tirelessly bringing attention to the problems caused by fast fashion, encouraging both consumers and brands to change their ways and be accountable to the social and environmental impacts of their choices.
Hope for a more sustainable future in fashion
With all of the above said, fashion can be made more sustainable in numerous ways—from using organic materials, using biodegradable dyes, to engineering patterns that create zero waste. The sheer number of different ways to improve the industry, though, means that shopping “more sustainably” can be overwhelming at first, with many factors to consider.
My recommendation for you is to think about which social or environmental concerns you feel most passionate about and then to first prioritize those focuses as your entry point into sustainable fashion. The industry is still learning how to best elevate its social and environmental standards. Because the movement is still evolving, it definitely helps us to focus on continuously doing better, rather than striving for and expecting perfection right now.
In light of this, below are some simple things you can look for too slowly green your wardrobe.
- Buy Less and buy better : Before making a purchase ask three questions from yourself “What are you buying and why? What do you really need ?”
- Invest in sustainable fashion brands
- Shop second hand and vintage
- Try renting: Instead of buying wedding garment which are worn only once, one can any time rent something to wear instead.
- Be conscious about Vegan fashion
- Take care of your clothes
- Upcycle your wardrobe