Climate change is complicated, overwhelming and terrifying. I get caught up by the enormity of the problem, constantly asking myself: how can any of us actually make an impact? It seems almost impossible. I want nothing more than to shut it all off, to stop hearing about the numbers and dire predictions and live in naivety. But, I – we – cannot do that. It is on us, as active members of society, to do what we can.
No one is perfect, and I don’t think you have to cut out everything you’ve ever loved or enjoyed in order to do good. If you’re looking to make changes around your home, a good place to start is your closet.
The oil industry is the world’s largest polluter. The second? The fashion industry. Like many, I enjoy shopping at Zara and Forever 21 because prices are cheap and trends are always up to date. Now, it seems that everywhere I look, there are articles on fast fashion, and most influencers I follow are hopping on the bandwagon (and if they don’t, I unfollow). Over the past few months, I’ve taken the time to reflect on my purchasing habits and rethink the way I shop and what I wear.
Sustainable fashion has its complexities. Part of this is due to the luxury that comes with it. Embracing sustainable fashion is a privilege. You and I are both privileged in that we have the time to write (me) and read (you) about this topic. I believe that if you have the means to do so, it is your responsibility to shop consciously and purposefully, as much as you are able.
There is so much to learn about sustainable fashion, and if you really want to get into the nitty gritty of it, I suggest you read A Textiles Economy Full Report.
For now, I’ll go over the basics.
The textile industry is linear.
(huge quantities of) Non-renewable resources → Clothing (worn for a short time) → Landfill or Incinerator
With a growing middle class population, clothing production has doubled over the last decade. Of the clothes sold in one year, more than half are disposed of in that same year. This results in a great amount of pressure on resources, the natural environment, as well as communities at the local, regional, and global levels. In order to keep up with the demands of fast fashion, brands are pumping out new seasons worth of clothing every two weeks. Most of the clothes you find at fast fashion stores are not recyclable, and they end up in landfills. Pressure on the linear economy is exacerbated by demand, and the earth cannot keep up.
The goal must be to replace the current linear economy with one that is circular. This type of economy is regenerative and restorative. When input is needed, renewable energy and renewable resources should be employed. After an item is done being worn (which should be after years not weeks), its material needs to be recyclable so it can re-enter the economy. Another necessary component of making the industry sustainable and ethical involves providing workers with a living wage. All workers, at every aspect of a company’s supply chain, must earn enough to afford their basic needs.
A lot of amazing brands and designers are focused on creating sustainable and ethical clothing. Oftentimes, this comes with a price as it costs more to fulfil the above criteria. I urge you to practice impulse control and start saving your money for clothing that has a positive environmental impact. Everyday, sustainability brands are improving their transparency and offering more affordable prices. We must pay attention to them and encourage more brands to make the environment their number one priority.
Welcome to the age of the Conscious Consumer.
Check out sustainable fashion on Choisi: