What is Sustainable Fashion?
Updated: Apr 25
Written by Amber Fleming
Sustainable fashion refers to a way of producing and consuming clothing in a way that prioritizes environmental impact and successful production practices. As consumers are more aware of what they are wearing and the impact it has, they are looking for more sustainable options in purchasing clothing. Because of this, clothing companies have released statements and plans for making their business and production practices more sustainable. Practices such as renting, recycling, and reusing items are becoming more prevalent in the fashion industry.
Are Our Spending Habits Unsustainable?
The fashion industry contributes 4-10% of global greenhouse gas emissions and has a poor history with sustainable practices. For example, the production of shirts and shoes has doubled in the past twenty-five years, and 75% of these items are eventually tossed in landfills. The word “sustainable” has become a buzzword to attract customers, but is often not backed by sustainable business policies and practices. The fashion industry has not made any significant strides in reducing their environmental impact. It is very common for us as consumers to purchase an article of clothing that we will only use once. As consumer demand increases, production of the item increases while the quality of the product decreases. When consumers want items quick and cheap, fast fashion and unsustainable practices are encouraged.
How Can We Support Sustainable Fashion?
Consumers have a lot of power in controlling the demand of fashion items. Consumerism is still rampant in the fashion industry. If we as consumers simply buy less, we would be practicing more sustainable buying habits. Simple practices such as buying second-hand items, renting items, and wearing items for several years increases its product life and results in less waste. We can also control which brands we are supporting. Many brands will release their environmental and social goals, but often will not provide any evidence that they are actually trying to follow through on these goals. Many factors play into a sustainable business model, including fair wages, safe working conditions, cutting emissions, and reducing pollution. By educating ourselves on companies that practice sustainable standards, we can encourage other brands to set similar standards.