In an age of social and environmental concerns, many consumers are savvier than ever about their clothing choices. This translates to choosing brands that are committed to being sustainable, practicing transparency, and paying living wages to garment workers.
While these choices come at a higher price point, they’re worth it in the long run. Here are five reasons to consider making your next fashion purchase more sustainable.
Reduced Carbon Footprint
Around 10% of global emissions can be attributed to the fashion industry’s significant carbon footprint. This is more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined.
Most of the problem comes from using petroleum-based polyester in most modern fabrics. This material requires a significant amount of water to grow, and the dyeing and manufacturing of the fabric also involve large amounts of energy and pollution.
There are several ways to reduce your clothing’s carbon footprint. For instance, you can buy secondhand, rent your clothes, or invest in durable, high-quality pieces that will last you longer.
Another way to reduce your clothing’s carbon footprint is to invest in the most sustainable fabric that requires less water, like organic cotton, and a low-impact manufacturing process. Various companies are committed to creating sustainable materials, from those made of natural fibers to those made from recycled polyester.
In short, sustainable fashion has a much smaller impact on the environment than fast fashion and throwaway culture. Choosing to buy less, repairing and extending the life of your clothing, and using toxin-free cleaning products can reduce your clothes’ environmental impact.
Reduced Water Use
The fashion industry consumes vast amounts of water, polluting the world’s rivers and oceans with toxic chemicals. It also creates large quantities of waste and produces greenhouse gas emissions.
2,700 liters of water is needed to make one cotton shirt, and a pair of jeans may require over 7,000 liters. This is an enormous amount of water, a problem that’s been around for decades.
Thankfully, there are ways that the fashion industry can reduce its impact on water. In particular, sustainable fashion prioritizes organic textiles made from linen, hemp, and organic cotton, which require little to no water during production.
Another way the fashion industry can reduce its impact on water is by washing clothes less often, which saves water and limits the shedding of microplastics in clothes. Additionally, the clothing industry can reduce its impact on the water by sourcing fabrics that are made from recycled or up-cycled materials.
The fashion industry is a major water consumer, and this needs to change. As more and more consumers start to demand sustainable fashion, brands will have to find ways to limit water consumption across their operations and value chain.
Sustainable fashion brands focus on quality which means they use materials that don’t wear out quickly and are made to last. This reduces waste as well as saves you money!
Most clothing is made from cheap synthetics, which can take decades to break down and release harmful gases into the air. Fortunately, the sustainable movement is starting to tackle this problem by using natural fabrics such as linen and hemp, which require little water, energy and no chemicals to grow.
They also often use recycled materials such as plastic and metal in other industries or made from upcycled marine debris. Thread’s hundreds of Haitian employees collect discarded plastic from their communities and clean it before using it to make jersey, canvas and denim textiles.
This revolutionary practice significantly lowers carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. This is an essential step to reducing global warming as these gases can act as a shield trapping heat and helping to cool the atmosphere. It also helps to limit the number of fossil fuels needed to grow the fabric and transport it from its origin.
Better Working Conditions
Sustainable fashion has many benefits for both the environment and its workers. These include reducing the industry’s water footprint, lessening carbon impact and better health and safety for garment workers.
The best way to achieve these benefits is through the proper management of resources and by creating a fair working environment for its employees. To do this, brands need to be transparent about their factory’s operations and employ fair labor laws in the countries that they source from.
Often, this means partnering with local labor unions to improve working conditions and providing a living wage to workers. Other ways to improve the quality of life for garment workers include using recycled and natural materials such as hemp and organic cotton.
Despite all these advantages, much can be done to advance sustainability in the fashion sector. Luckily, many brands are taking the lead and putting their customers at the heart of their brand strategies. Plenty of ways to get involved, whether introducing new fabrics and textiles that use less energy and water or setting up their own philanthropic foundations to support causes they care about.
One of the most overlooked benefits of sustainable fashion is that it’s better for your health. Unlike synthetic clothing, which has been linked to cancer and other diseases, sustainable fabrics are sourced from natural sources like organic cotton or wool that don’t contain toxic chemicals. This also means they’re less likely to cause allergy rashes or other skin problems.
Another important tip when shopping for sustainable pieces is to look for organic materials and avoid synthetics entirely, as they’re often made from fossil fuels. You can also choose biodegradable fabrics, like hemp or recycled fibers.
Clothes produced from renewable and/or recycled materials require significantly less water and energy than synthetic counterparts and last longer. Buying local, too, helps reduce global gas emissions from shipping.
Suppose you need more time to be ready to buy sustainable fashion. In that case, you can still make a difference by sharing posts about the issues you care about on social media and asking brands about their sustainability efforts. You can also ask them to disclose their production processes and materials or if they’re paying living wages for their employees.