Before understanding sustainable fashion, we must grasp the concept of eco-friendly clothing and sustainability itself. Sustainability is all about long term maintenance and the ability to reach an equilibrium. Sustainable practices are actions that can continue to future generations, not actions that are only sustained over a short period. Therefore, sustainable fashion refers to the practices of the fashion industry and its ability for its operation to achieve longevity in an ethical way which causes the least harm. When discussing sustainable clothing, social and environmental sustainability are essential branches of sustainable fashion.
Socially sustainable clothing
Social sustainability in fashion focuses on the rights of the workers producing the clothing. Social sustainability includes working conditions, wages, regulations put in place, and the overall rights as an employee. Animal welfare also falls under this category.
Environmental Eco-Friendly Clothing
When connecting environmental sustainability to the fashion industry, we must consider how our clothing impacts the environment around us. The environmental impact of clothing can be connected to things such as the fabric choice, dyes, transportation of clothing and the longevity/quality of the clothing item.
Why is sustainable fashion important?
Sustainable fashion is important as it allows us to consume more consciously. It promotes fair treatment to the workers who produce the clothing and will enable us to cause the least amount of harm to the environment. Many fast fashion brands have a goal of mass production and following trends, which, when faded, force the brands to produce more clothing that will most likely end up in landfill in a short period. This fast-paced strategy too often involves shortcomings in worker conditions, pay and efforts to protect the environment and its resources. Participating in more eco-friendly clothing choices can be achieved by supporting small businesses, upcycling your preexisting clothes or purchasing second-hand clothing items. This way, you will produce less waste and environmental pollution, as well as ensuring you aren’t supporting businesses that provide unethical work practices.
Sustainable Fashion Facts and statistics
On average, Australians buy 27kg of new textiles. If we all bought second-hand items, we could save 27kgs of waste!
The carbon emissions of the fashion industry are estimated to increase to approximately 8 billion tons per year by 2030- which is equivalent to the emissions of 230 million vehicles driven for a year. As we can see by this statistic and the lack of sustainable fashion, there is no better time to act than right now!
More than 50% of workers in countries such as India and the Philippines are not paid the minimum wage. Some of your favourite clothing brands may likely employ people from these areas or others that severely underpay their workers. Check out Shop Ethical to see whether they meet adequate ethical and sustainable practices.
It takes approximately 10,000 litres of water to produce the cotton needed for only one pair of jeans- this is not sustainable fashion. Even though cotton is a renewable material, unfortunately, it takes a lot of water to produce; therefore, another point goes to buying second hand!