Sustainable fashion is a buzzword thrown around a lot these days, but what is it and what’s the big deal about it? More people are now becoming more aware of the negative impact of the fashion industry on the environment. The apparel world contributes to devastating damage globally, with the sector responsible for 10% of the yearly global carbon emissions, even more than maritime shipping and international flights combined.
We love fashion for all the goodness it entails. The cool outfits, luxury bags, and glamorous accessories allow us to express ourselves. Sustainable fashion is a balance between fun self-expression and caring for the environment.
What is sustainable fashion?
Sustainable fashion is one of those ubiquitous phrases in social media and marketing labels, so casually applied to any brand that uses organic cotton and hemp that its real essence has become uncertain, or people have become blase about it.
Sustainable fashion, however, is an important issue and now more relevant than ever. Also called slow fashion, sustainable fashion considers the entire life cycle of a product—from design to sourcing and production stage—while protecting everyone and everything involved in all the processes, including the environment, workers, and the communities where it's produced.
It's the opposite of fast fashion, an approach that rapidly develops trends and designs and is made so cheaply available to consumers (a.k.a. use-and-throw clothes). In fast fashion, trends go out of style as quickly as they appear.
Why join the sustainable fashion movement?
There are significant global problems that sustainable fashion seeks to address. Here are the main reasons why we need to act on the sustainable fashion movement collectively:
To limit textile waste:
Did you know that one garbage truck filled with textile waste is dumped at a landfill and burnt every second? That's millions of tons of textile waste left and burnt annually globally! Fast fashion is one of the greatest contributors to these massive amounts of trash, including waste scraps and trimmings from production, excess stocks, and unwanted clothes.
Brands that focus on using quality, eco-friendly, and long-lasting materials want to encourage waste reduction. Sustainable clothing also means you'll buy fewer clothes, thus saving you more money in the long run. Invest in sustainable staples like a versatile collar shirt to take you from AM to PM.
To save animals:
Bags, coats, and other items produced from fur, feathers, leather, and wool negatively affect animal populations. Billions of animals are killed every year for fashion. In 2018, 2.29 billion animals, including cows, goats, buffalos, pigs, and calves, were slaughtered for leather production alone. That's too much brutal killing for one type of animal-sourced clothing material.
To save animals, choose sustainable, cruelty-free clothing garments, particularly those made from recycled materials and bamboo. It serves as a small yet impactful way to spare animals from harm, abuse, and death.
Shy away from animal-sourced clothing and opt for those made from sustainably-sourced fabrics (like rayon and linen) and other premium quality materials.
To promote better working conditions:
Fast-fashion clothes thrive on trendy styles and low prices, making them sought-after pieces. However, what most people don't know is that fast-fashion workers labor in countries where their rights are limited or nonexistent.
The collapse of the Rana Plaza in Dhaka, Bangladesh, killed 1,134 garment workers in 2013. The tragedy was a global wake-up call for the cruel working conditions of the fast-fashion industry. On top of that, many garment workers receive unlivable wages and suffer sadistic working hours to meet deadlines. In most factories, workers are prohibited from forming unions to collectively fight for their rights.
By joining the sustainable fashion movement, you are fighting for the rights of garment workers. You can also be confident that your fashion items are created under fair working conditions, like in Khush. It has always been our top priority to provide safety, respect, fair wages, and good working conditions in Bali, Indonesia, to our talented Balinese artisans and batik artists.
To find your unique style:
Fast fashion is all about what's in and hot, and we've been told to wear what's trending that many of us have started to look like everyone else! Ralph Lauren said, "Style is very personal. It has nothing to do with fashion. Fashion is over quickly. Style is forever."
Sustainable fashion items have earned their reputation as classic, timeless, and high-quality apparel. And today, consumers are lucky to have a wide range of choices that gives people more creativity to express themselves and freedom to curate their distinct personal style. Fit and flare, midi, and slip dresses are both timeless and modern. Just make these classic pieces your own with unique accessories.
To reduce your carbon footprint:
The fast-fashion industry leaves a massive carbon footprint. Part of its processes results in tons of textile waste and polluted water pollution. Since fast-fashion clothing is developed using petroleum-based materials (acrylic, polyester, nylon, etc.), they also demand more energy for production.
By curating a conscious closet, your clothes are made from recycled and natural materials that require little to no chemical treatment, less water, and minimal energy to produce. Wearing tops, bottoms, and dresses made from linen (textile made out of fibers of the flax plant) are biodegradable, resulting in minimal to no environmental pollution.
To save water:
Clothing production greatly contributes to water pollution, as toxic chemicals make their way into waterways. Leather tanneries in Dhaka, Bangladesh, dump 22,000 cubic liters of toxic waste into Buriganga daily, an alarming fact because the river is the city's primary water supply.
Furthermore, a key ingredient in clothing production is water. Did you know that it can take 2,700 liters to produce the cotton needed to create a single shirt and 10,000 liters to make a single pair of jeans?
Even we who wear these clothes contribute to the pollution, too. Every time we wash our clothes made of synthetic fibers, bits of microplastics are sent over to the pipes, waterways, and eventually, the ocean, where they get eaten by fish and other marine organisms.
To help conserve water and keep our water clean, support sustainable fashion brands that use fabrics such as organic cotton, hemp, linen, and other natural, recycled, or renewable materials requiring little to no water during the production stage.
As eco-friendly fashionistas, we have the power to protect our planet by being conscious of our purchases. So, together, let's stop chasing fleeting fast-fashion trends and start mindfully revamping our wardrobe with sustainable fashion pieces that reflect our unique styles.