However, the clothing industry is dirty and has a significant impact on the environment and human health.
Thankfully, by adopting Sustainable Fashion, many of the problems the fashion industry creates can be turned into a force for climate healing in ways you might not expect.
What Is Sustainable Fashion?
Sustainable Fashion is a movement pushing the fashion industry to become carbon-neutral, and removing the harm it has caused the environment.
Whenever possible, sustainable fashion brands reduce the environmental impact of their products.
How Does Sustainable Fashion Help The Environment?
Sustainable fashion helps the environment in a variety of ways, including:
By Reducing Your Carbon Footprint
The global fashion industry contributes massively to global warming by emitting a large number of greenhouse gases each year.
Many of our clothes are made from petroleum-based materials, including polyester, acrylic & nylon (check your clothing labels, you might be surprised). Compared to natural or recycled fibers, these materials require significantly more energy to produce.
By Saving Animals
The fashion industry loves to kill for fashion, which may not be news to you. Many people believe that leather, for instance, is a byproduct of the meat industry. Over 430 million animals are slaughtered and killed each year by the leather industry alone.
The use of cruelty-free alternatives has become increasingly popular among fashion brands, and there are alternatives for nearly every material—including polyester made from ocean trash, bags made from recycled seatbelts, silk made from yeast, and plant-based compostable sneakers, and vegan wool made from living organisms.
By Emitting Less Toxic Chemicals
Before fast fashion items are put on our hangers, they go through a long and intensive chemical process. To dye, bleach, and wet process garments, approximately 8,000 synthetic chemicals are used. Farmers are often harmed by these chemicals and their children are born with serious birth defects.
Our skin absorbs everything we put on it, including the chemicals in our clothes. Some of these chemicals pose real health risks. Check for chemical content certification labels like GOTS®, BLUESIGN®, and OEKO-TEX® on new clothes before wearing them for the first time.
By Using Less Water
The fashion industry relies heavily on water. Almost all of our clothes are dyed and finished with water-based processes. To produce a single T-shirt, around 2,700 liters of water are required. Cotton in particular requires a lot of water to grow and is usually grown in hot, dry regions where water is scarce.
Compared to conventional cotton, organic cotton consumes 91% less water. To date, organic cotton accounts for only 1% of global production. Non-GMO seeds are much more expensive, requiring additional investment in materials and machinery, which organic farmers only use for their organic crops.
Textiles made from linen, hemp, REFIBRATM, and recycled fibers like cotton are also water-efficient.
Top 4 Sustainable Fashion Brands You Should Be Supporting
Location: California, USA
Ethical & Environmental Practices Supported: Recycled packaging, Deadstock, Ethical production practices, GOTS certified organic, & sustainable materials
With its innovative shopping model, VETTA helps you create a more thoughtful wardrobe by offering five-piece capsule collections that translate into 30+ outfits. You can also shop pieces individually and create a timeless wardrobe that you will be able to wear for a lifetime.
Location: New York, USA
Ethical & Environmental Practices Supported: Responsible production, OEKO-TEX, Elevated workwear, Bluesign approved recycled, Recycling program, Responsibly sourced fabrics.
Whether you need polished workwear or breathable loungewear, ADAY has got you covered. Designed with eco-friendly fabrics like LENZINGTM Modal and regenerated REPREVE® polyester, the brand's pieces are long-lasting.
The company uses solar-powered factories, recycles materials, and recycles the water used during production. The pieces from ADAY are meant to be seasonless and easy to wear.
Location: London, UK
Ethical & Environmental Practices Supported: Ethical supply chain, BCI certified, Fairtrade production, Sustainable cotton.
The Boden brand has been taking over the UK for nearly 30 years, and it's now available worldwide. With factories in 15 countries, the company commits to fair trade, eco-friendly practices, and responsible sourcing across its supply chain.
While the collection includes everything from men's chinos to children's clothing, we're most excited about the women's dresses for work, the beach, and everywhere in between. With these whimsical patterns, and stunning silhouettes you're sure to find the piece of your dreams.
Location: Toronto, Canada
Ethical & Environmental Practices Supported: BCI certified organic cotton, OEKO-TEX certified nontoxic dyes, Safe & fair labor standards, Certified B Corp, donates to Egyptian communities, plastic-free packaging
Should You Be Supporting Sustainable Fashion Brands?
Absolutely! Greenhouse gas emissions can be greatly reduced through sustainable fashion. Material creation, transportation, manufacturing, and even the decomposition of textile waste in landfills contribute to fast fashion's carbon footprint.
As consumers, our role in sustainable fashion is to be aware of the environmental impact of our fashion consumption. So, always ensure that the brands you buy from minimize their negative environmental impact while improving working conditions for their employees as you continue to explore and shop.