We often hear about sustainable fashion and we’re told that it’s the future of fashion but what exactly does it mean? There are so many terms to describe ethical and eco-friendly fashion but they don’t all share the same meaning or mode of production. So let’s take a look at what it means to live and dress sustainably.
Sustainable fashion is a term used to describe fashion items and their raw materials that have been grown, sought and produced in an environmentally-friendly way. Producing any kind of clothing takes its toll on the earth’s resources, but the sustainable fashion industry tries to find other eco-friendly alternatives where possible.
All of us have to wear clothes. Many of us enjoy the process of shopping, styling and wearing clothes. None of us want their fashion habits to have a negative impact on our planet!
Before we go any further, it is wise to familiarise yourself with the below listed terms, describing different aspects of ethical fashion.
Popular Terms Used to Describe “Friendly-Fashion”
• Slow Fashion
You’ve heard the term “fast fashion”: fast-moving clothing retailers that produce fashion items in the masses, which are often manufactured under poor working conditions in other countries. Slow fashion promotes the belief of “buying less but buying better”. Buy garments that you’re going to wear. Invest in items you love. Wear the items you buy. Don’t waste your money on clothing that may fall apart after a couple of wears.
• Ethical Fashion
Ethical fashion signifies ethical manufacturing, textile sourcing and working conditions. This means that no living beings (human or animal) were harmed or mistreated while obtaining the materials, during production or at any other stage.
• Vegan Fashion
Fashion items made from materials that are not obtained from animals, i.e. no fur, leather, wool, silk, suede, etc. Vegan fashion guarantees that no animals were harmed or killed for the sake of manufacturing fashion products.
• Cruelty-free Fashion
Cruelty-free fashion usually refers to products which do not involve testing products on animals or unethically obtaining skins and other materials from animals. In the world of cosmetics however, cruelty-free can mean that the product and its ingredients haven’t been tested on animals, but it may not necessarily be suitable for vegans – take cruelty-free honey lip balm for example.
• Sustainable Fashion
Sustainable fashion involves using recycled materials or producing new fashion items using dyes and manufacturing processes that cause as little harm as possible to the environment. Other types of sustainable fashion involve swapping clothing, buying pre-owned items, upcycling what you already own, or buying less and wearing it more.
• Eco-friendly Fashion
Fashion products that are manufactured in a way that is most economical for the earth’s resources and the environment. Eco-fashion manufacturing uses special dyes and fabric fibres sourced from natural, recyclable materials.
Would you run your kitchen tap and allow 7000 litres of water to just pour down the drain? It sounds like a huge waste doesn’t it?! It takes 7000 litres of water to make a single pair of jeans. Every time you discard of an unwanted fashion item that you’ve purchased on a whim, you are essentially throwing away thousands of litres of water! This is one of the many reasons why supporting sustainable fashion brands and being more sustainable in your daily life has such a major, positive impact on the planet. Typical clothing production using non-sustainable materials and processes is harmful to the environment for a number of reasons. The heavy use of bleach and harmful dyes (especially when dealing with animal skins) is not only damaging and potentially toxic, but also requires thousands of litres of water in order to carry out the dying stage. With such a huge choice of high quality natural fabrics and vegan leather available on the market, it is easier than ever to dress stylishly and ethically!
Easy Ways to Start Living More Sustainably Today
• Be conscious of what you buy. Buy items that you love, that suit you perfectly, and that you know you will wear over and over.
• The “30 Wears” question: last year I participated in a campaign called “30 Wears” – a challenge that encouraged people to wear each fashion garment that they buy at least 30 times before disposing of it. So, next time you shop ask yourself whether you could imagine yourself wearing the item you’ve just picked up at least 30 times.
• Take a good look at items in your wardrobe and see how you can upcycle them to make them more wearable. Sewing on a couple of sequins or accessorising in another way can instantly transform the overall look of a garment.
• Aim to buy from ethical and sustainable fashion brands. Every item of clothing has a story, so why not make sure its story is a positive and environmentally-friendly journey.
• Set aside 30 minutes per week to plan out your outfits that you plan to wear that week. Not only will this save you heaps of time and stress each morning, it will also allow you to see what exactly you have lying in your wardrobe which will help you to make good use of it by planning a way in which you can wear it.
• Learn what kind of styles, colours and fits suit your personal physical characteristics, enabling you to make more informed decisions when shopping for clothes because you won’t waste time or money on items that you know will not suit you.
• Wear what you buy! Textile waste is a huge issue across the world, so the insignificant act of making good use of the clothing you own and preventing textile waste can improve this problem in an enormous way!
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