Did you know that the fashion industry is the third most polluting industry globally with oil being the leading polluter whereas transportation is the 5th polluting industry?
This means that your car emissions and when you go on holiday by plane is a lot less (although still bad) impactful on our environment than the fashion industry. So why is the fashion industry such a mass polluter may you ask? Well, when you combine the fashion industry’s CO2 emissions, natural resource’s wastage, as well as the mass of clothes waste that is dumped around the world, specifically the 350,000 tonnes that ends up in our landfills annually, it’s a no-brainer. However we cannot blame ALL fashion as it isn’t.
It is the fashion that is fast fashion, fashion made from cheap microplastics and un-sustainable materials, un-sustainable factories that run on gas and coal, and of course the consumers who over consume and throw out their clothes with their general waste.
So what is classed as sustainable fashion?
Sustainable fashion refers to all stages of the product’s life cycle, from design, raw material production, manufacturing, transport, storage, marketing and final sale, to use, reuse, repair, remake and recycling of the product and its components.
However, from a more environmental approach natural resources need to be carefully used and looked after such as our water, energy, plants and biodiversity and selecting renewable energy such as wind and solar. To put this into a fashion perspective 1,900 of individual fibers that are rinsed off a single synthetic garment (namely, one made from polyester) ends up in our oceans, affecting and killing our oceans wildlife. As well as this, 1,800 gallons of water is needed to grow enough cotton to just make ONE pair of jeans. Unfortunately a lot of people associate cotton as a sustainable material as it is a natural fibre and not synthetic but it is majorly overlooked how unsustainable cotton can be due to the mass amount of water needed to grow cotton which in turn has caused our planet, people and animals to suffer. For example the Aral sea which was once a land-locked lake spanning more than 68,000 square kilometers, a size just a little smaller than the Republic of Ireland is now covered with saline mineral precipitate and dust, meaning it may as well be renamed the Aral Desert. Luckly, fashion brands like Levi’s who are renowned for their denim have taken action and have made their denim a lot more sustainable by using 100% recycled water to create cotton, however clearly not enough is being done.
So how can I help?
Follow the sustainable sevens:
- Shop LESS fast fashion.
- Shop conscious – Check the care labels of clothing before you evaluate your purchase decision. Is that dress you will wear once made from 100% polyester? Remind yourself how much water was used to make that denim jacket you saw the other day that was for sale for £25 – It clearly hasn’t been sustainably made with recycled water at that price.
- Shop pre-loved. Although a top or a dress you’ve seen second hand may use unsustainable materials and may be from an unsustainable sourced company, MAKE IT SUSTAINABLE. Instead of letting that garment go in the bin, reuse and recycle it.
- Clothes rent services. So many highstreet retailers have upped their game to stop overconsumption and have introduced rental services. This is a great idea if you KNOW you will only wear that piece of clothing once.
- Do a swap with your friends- I’m sure your bestie has had her eye on one or two of your outfits you haven’t worn in a while.
- Look after your clothes. The more you care and look after your clothes the longer you will want to wear them. Nevertheless, always repair your clothing where you can.
- Maybe the obvious but shop with sustainable brands. However you may have to dive a little deeper into your pocket so if you can’t afford it just yet try a lot of the above methods.
Join our “Buy Nothing New for 12 Months challenge”, if you want to create a more sustainable wardrobe. Find out more about it here: www.BuyNothingNewChallenge.com