By Melisa Gooding
Clothes are essential to our everyday living and are a symbol of self-expression yet the way they are produced, consumed and discarded is highly polluting and unethical. With one garbage truck of textiles being wasted every second (Ellen Mcarthy foundation, 2019) it shouldn’t come at a shock that the apparel industry is the 2ndmost polluting in the world. Production boomed after the 1950’s when production was relocated out of sight and out of mind, to places with lower regulations and ultimately cheaper labour. As they keep producing, we keep consuming, or the other way around, resulting in the UK consuming more items of clothing than the rest of Europe (Environmental Audit Committee, 2018).
With this in mind I bring you the ‘Better Guide to Sustainable Fashion’.
Love what you have
The most sustainable thing to do is wear the clothes you have. The ones that are gathering dust in your bursting wardrobes. Learn to love the clothes you have, this could mean upcycling them or wearing them differently and if you cannot love them any longer donate them to your local charity shop or give them to a friend.
Buy second hand or rent
The second best thing is to buy second hand at your local charity shops, buy on Depop or from the vintage store or partake in a clothes swap with friends. If you are looking for a one off occasion ware you can also rent an outfit from companies such as HURR.
Make sure it lasts
When buying new make sure you love the item you are going to purchase with the recommended wears being at least 30, partake in the 30x30 challenge that has gone viral on social media.
Some materials are more sustainable than others. Avoid synthetics, these materials are made from crude oil, they won’t decompose and release thousands of micro-fibres throughout their life cycle infecting eco-systems. Recycled cotton is a more sustainable alternative to cotton which although is a natural fibre, it is very water intensive. Organic hemp is a very low water intensive crop that requires no pesticides and can be grown all around the world. Organic linen is also a winner it requires a minimal amount of water and pesticides. See more about fabrics here: What Are the More Sustainable Fabrics on the Market Right Now? - Good On You . Thought is a lovely sustainable source that uses organic linen and cotton.
When buying new have a look at the company’s ethos and make sure it is inline with what you want to support, ensuring you are avoiding green washing. H&M’s conscious collecting has recently been in the spotlight for green washing and falsely advertising to its consumers.
Finisterre Econyl+ swimsuit
The Circular Economy
Supporting the circular economy with companies using Econyl+ and other technologies to remake materials rather than creating new is a great way to not put new materials into the system therefore reducing their footprint. Brands such as Finisterre and Stay Wild Swim use Econyl+.
Avoid Fast Fashion
Fast fashion embodies unsustainability the very model of new lines added every week, cheap prices and fabrics that aren’t built to last means constant production and consumption. There have also been a lot of evidence of fast fashion companies using unethical supply chains for example the Rana Plaza disaster in 2013. The workers were forced to go to work, even after telling their bosses about the perturbing cracks growing in the infrastructure. The building collapsed killing 1,138 innocent people, mainly young women. This crisis became a physical symbol of the many issues and tragedies that are connected with the clothing industry. The public outcry was responded to with the birth of the Fashion Revolution. This global movement encourages people to ask the hard questions like ‘Who made my clothes?’, demand for better – for more transparency and better working conditions for people working in the supply chain.
These have been some of my sustainable fashion choices:
Linen and well worn:Oysho and are certified linen, my top is a top I have had for three years and worn too many times to keep count of
Please post your own thoughts on how we can make choosing more sustainable fashion, including:
- Recommendations of products and brands
- Labels we should look out for when choosing clothes
- Some cool clothes you’ve bought which are sustainable