Throughout each decade there are always buzz words and phrases that have their moment in the media and slowly fade away only to be replaced by something else. Is sustainable fashion another one of those buzz words or could we all be doing something more to make sustainable fashion more sustainable?
You would be forgiven for not even knowing what the phrase sustainable fashion means. We live in a world where as consumers we want everything now, quickly and as cheaply as possible. At the click of a button we can have a delivery the same day and fast fashion gives us just that. We can purchase a t-shirt that costs less than a drink in our local pub. We have become people that thrive on speed and efficiency but should we slow down and start making more conscious consumer decisions?
Ethical fashion and sustainable fashion are intertwined and relate to how a fashion item is designed, manufactured, distributed and used. The end goal is that the benefits are maximised for the fashion industry but the environmental impact on the world is minimised. Even though we can get that cheap t-shirt, maybe we should ourselves if we really should? There are many angles in the argument of sustainable fashion. For some people they believe the most important aspect is ensuring that the item is made in an environmentally friendly way whereas others believe that as consumers we should be reusing and recycling more rather than buying the next new item that catches our eye.
In an ideal world sustainable fashion would start at the beginning with timeless pieces being ethically produced and go all the way through to individuals swapping clothes and buying vintage rather than new. When an item has completely worn out it should then be recycled for its textile material. We live in a world where this isn’t reality yet though so instead, we should ask ourselves what we can individually do to ensure that we are sustainably consuming fashion.
This doesn’t mean we should never go shopping again. Fashion is fun and should continue to be. Maybe being more ethically conscious for you looks like not purchasing a statement piece that you will wear once and instead choosing something that has longevity and you will enjoy wearing time and time again. It could be that you start looking at where you are purchasing your clothes from and choosing brands whose values align with your own. Social media has given us the tools to quickly and easily be able to connect with brands and with that we can ask questions. You might choose to ask them where they source their materials from or how sustainable their manufacturing process is. It could just be as simple as donating your unwanted clothes. Over 300,000 tonnes of unwanted clothes are thrown away each year. By donating or even upcycling them, that is one small step that can make a massive difference.
Words such as sustainable, organic and eco friendly often get a bad reputation that most of the time isn’t justified but more often than not puts people off getting behind the cause. You may think that as one person your choices whether ethical or not are not making a big difference but just imagine what would happen if everyone changed just one consumer habit; with over 7 billion people in the world that wouldn’t be just a small change. That would be the start of the road to sustainable fashion.