Hey everyone! I hope you have all had a good past week and are looking forward to the start of March! This week I will be talking about sustainable and ethical fashion and why it is good for the environment and what we can do to support it and end fast fashion.
Clothes are something we wear every day, they’re just something we need in everyday life. So we don’t actually think a lot about where it has come from. Fast fashion is increasing and this isn’t good for the many people and the environment that are badly affected. Just taking a moment to consider where our clothes come from and to change our ways to make them more environmentally friendly, is such a quick and easy way to help the environment and something everyone can have a go at!
But first….What exactly is sustainable and ethical fashion???
Well...in a nutshell: it’s an approach towards sourcing, manufacturing and designing clothes which maximizes the benefits to the fashion industry and society at large, while at the same time minimizing its impact on the environment. The two overlap, but they each have slightly different concerns, they are both equally very critical to the future of fashion.
The Problem With Fast Fashion
We live in a world where artisan coffee costs more than a T-shirt. This is the world of Fast Fashion and it’s a major problem.
Human Rights Violations
There are many violations that a lot of us our mostly aware of already, here are just a few of them:
• unlivable wages
• child labor
• modern slaverymigrant exploitation
• gender discrimination (the majority of these workers are young females)
• verbal, sexual, and physical abuse
• forced overtime (on average, workers in Bangladesh work 60 hours per week while earning ⅓ as many wages as other Asian garment factories… and they often work over the legal limit of 60 hours a week)
• hazardous work conditions
The Rate of Fashion Consumption
You might not know but, globally, we consume 80 billion pieces of clothing each year (up 400% from two decades ago!) North America is the largest textile consumer in the world, with each person buying 80 pounds per year. They’re followed closely by Australia’s annual clothes consumption rate of 60 pounds per person.
Chemical Use in Fashion Production
According to the WWF, approximately half of all textiles are made from cotton. When conventionally grown, cotton happens to be the dirtiest crop requiring the largest percentage of chemicals: 25% of the world’s insecticides and 10% of the world’s pesticides. In fact, the cotton required to make an average t-shirt (about 9 ounces) is grown with an average of 17 teaspoons of chemical pesticides and fertilizers.
Water Waste and Water Pollution
All those chemicals don’t just disappear after dying and production. They spell an enormous amount of run-off and pollution for rivers and oceans. In Dhaka, Bangladesh’s leather tanneries, dump 22,000 cubic litres of toxic waste into Buriganga, which is the city’s main river and water supply.
We consumers are equally irresponsible about disposing of our unwanted clothes. Americans only recycle or donate 15% of their unwanted clothingand the Fair Fashion Center estimates that 21 Billion tons of textile waste is sent to landfills annually. Since 64% of modern fabrics contain plastic in some form, these will never biodegrade.
All this leads to climate change. The fashion industry accounts for 10% of the world’s total carbon footprint! Tons of fossil fuels get used in production (petroleum-based fabrics), manufacturing (coal-powered processing), and distribution (gasoline which transports the majority of clothes halfway around the world).
What we can do to help:
You might have been surprised by how dangerous and harmful fast fashion actually is, but don’t worry! Here are a few simple ways you can help make a difference:
• Wash your clothes less often: Did you know, one wear doesn’t necessarily mean something is dirty?! Shocking! Treat every item of clothes (except maybe your ethical undies) like your favourite pair of sustainable jeans… they just don’t feel the same after a wash.
• Wash on cold: Saves energy and preserves the coloration of your clothing for much longer.
• Hand Wash rather than machine wash: Again, saves energy and won’t shred and stretch your clothes like washing machine agitators.
• Line dry instead of machine dry: Probably the single biggest source of fabric wear-and-tear (far more than actual wear
• .Borrow, swap and rent clothes: You can borrow, swap and rent clothes with just anyone. It hardly costs anything or even nothing at all, this is such a simple and easy way to help.
• Buy used clothes: There are so many charity shops that you can go into and buy clothes from. They are very reasonably priced and there’s a whole variety of clothes to choose from.
• Support ethical brands: By supporting ethical brands that produce sustainable products, we are essentially saying we want more of those products. Fast fashion thrives only because we keep supporting it.
• Don’t buy any clothes at all: The most sustainable fashion buying decision you can make is to make do with what you already have, through proper care and simple repair techniques.
• Learn how to fix clothes yourself: If something gets stained or damaged, don’t just throw it away, learn how to fix it yourself. All it takes is a bit of needle and thread work and to learn some stain removal techniques. You can even get creative with upcycling and repurposing. You can become your own DIY fashion designer!
• Use Sustainable Fabrics :Organic Cotton, recycled cotton, organic hemp, organic linen ,bamboo, vegan semi synthetic fabrics like Econyl, organically and ethically sourced wool, silk and down.
Thank you all for reading this week’s blog! I hope this brings some inspiration and you will try some of these ways to help stop fast fashion and help ethical brands. Have a good week everyone! Best wishes, Chiara xx