Fashion goes by just as fast as time. Many of us try to catch the ropes of what’s trendy and hip. With thousands of growing brands, our wardrobe is filled with impulse and discount buys, some of which still have the tags on.
“However, would you feel any different if you knew the impact of a piece of clothing you own had on our environment? If you knew, for example, that 6,800 litres of water is consumed to produce a pair of jeans? According to the report by Ellen McArthur Foundation released in 2018, the global textile industry produces more greenhouse emissions than international aviation and shipping combined. The fashion industry stands second only to petroleum as the biggest polluter of the environment,” said Bharati Ramachandran, Director – Outreach of the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO).
She continued that the report also states that over 150 million tonnes of clothing waste is expected to clog landfills by 2050. Currently there’s no mainstream technology to tackle this fashion-waste issue. “This clearly is a human-made issue. There’s a definite way out from misusing global natural resources and still being able to thrive on fashion trends by simply taking a step forward – towards sustainability,” she told indianexpres.com
Sustainable fashion is a movement fostering eco-friendly textiles and fashion products, also addressing the environment, human and animal welfare exploitation. It has garnered enough attention to be a cool fashion revolution.
Here are a six simple steps to help you explore sustainable fashion:
Laying the foundation to embrace sustainable fashion
Buy what you need is the mantra. Mostly our wardrobes are stacked with clothes from impulse-buying sprees. Now that everything is at the tip of our fingers, filling carts is a convenient way to shop. Production and consumption of sustainable clothing are rooted in being eco-friendly and for long term use. For instance, just by wearing already-purchased clothes for an extra nine months, you will reduce your carbon, energy, and waste footprint by as much as 20-30 per cent.
Paradigm shift in perception about clothes
Fashion is so much more than just apparel. It reflects our personalities, unique taste in colours and textures, culture. It is a mode of self-expression. That is why our perception of fashion matters too. To do this, we need to re-evaluate our relationship with clothes and redefine the bigger picture – what is old, what is waste, and what is of value to us.
Clothes that are used for a while can be easily repurposed or recycled into new garments; we can use them for patchwork or as household items. Sustainable fashion is about understanding the social and environmental costs of fashion and our buying habits. Wouldn’t we feel better if we wore something that does its bit towards saving the planet?
Function or desire? Defining conscious consumption
A positive beginning to implement sustainability in your wardrobe is to take a closer look at it and commit to buying only what is essential, what we are likely to use. In addition, choosing quality over quantity ensures long-term use.
Being local and vocal
Sustainable brands come in many forms – fair pricing, ethical production practices including workers’ rights and safe working conditions, no use of child labour, no use of animals, and others.
Did you know according to The Food and Agriculture Organization, more than 3.8 billion cows and other bovine animals are used in leather production each year – around one animal for every two people on the planet. The animals used for fur, feathers and skin have a disturbingly high demand.
Brands that practice fair wages and equality, that do not exploit animals, and prevent environmental degradation, are rooted in sustainability. Becoming a conscious consumer, supporting local, homegrown brands that curate clothing from natural fibres with zero-waste is a good way to let our clothes speak and buck the trend of fast fashion.
What about fibres and dyes? Recycle and natural!
Chemical dyes conventionally used in the fashion industry are harmful to the environment. What can we do? A good way to go about this is finding materials that are Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified. Many sustainable clothing brands are now recycling fabric waste, using natural dyes and creating handcrafted patchwork pieces and other recycled products.
Educate and empower for sustainable fashion
Conventional fashion companies often outsource the production to more vulnerable and economically underdeveloped countries. They, in turn, are exploited for cheap labour. So while we research the latest trends, fashion tips, what to wear, and what not to wear, let’s do some research on how our clothing can be fashionable, yet sustainable.
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