5 ways you can support Sustainable Fashion
What is Sustainable Fashion?
When you start exploring sustainable fashion, you may not find a definition of ‘Sustainable Fashion’. Sustainable Fashion is a movement and it is constantly changing. One can argue that they are supporting sustainable fashion by purchasing from brands who put emphasizes in their environmental and social impacts or one can argue by shopping second hand/thrift shopping.
Here's what we think best describes ‘Sustainable Fashion’:
It’s a movement aimed at making the fashion industry more environmentally responsible by changing the ways clothes are designed, made, transported, used and discarded. The idea is to move away from so-called fast fashion, the rapid production of clothes -- often inexpensive ones -- in response to constantly changing trends, leading to a disposable attitude toward them on the part of consumers…
When discussing sustainable fashion with friends and family who have never heard of it before, I usually give them a few examples of issues along the supply chain. From fiber to finish there is excessive waste, inhumanity, and shortcuts being taken in the fashion industry. Through this explanation I try to convey that it is a large and incredibly complex issue that touches every area of our lives…
When we learn about “sustainable fashion”, we soon realize that there are many forms of (more) sustainable fashion. Some actors and individuals emphasize the importance of making clothes in a more environmentally friendly manner, while others advocate secondhand/vintage or underline the benefits of swapping, renting or borrowing clothes as opposed to purchasing newly produced clothes. All strategies promoting more environmentally, socially and ethically conscious production and consumption are important steps towards a more sustainable industry…
The problems of Fashion/Textile Industry
Many brands, like Green Strategy described, have their own strategies to tackle the negative impacts we are facing in the textile industry. Let’s first look at the problems of the fashion/textile industry. According to the Ellen Macarthur Foundation, “… the total greenhouse gas emissions from textiles production, at 1.2 billion tonnes annually, are more than those of all international flights and maritime shipping combined”. Moreover, Forbes stated that “It takes a garment worker 18 months to earn what a fashion brand CEO makes on their lunch break. A majority of them earn less than $3 per day.” The environmental and social harms we are facing today in the textile industry is massive. Plastic microfibres are being released every time we wash our clothes and moreover, the fashion industry produces 4% (92 million tons) of the world’s waste every year. Many brands have been criticized for their efforts to keep their product/brand scarcity.
Burberry, a British luxury fashion house, literally burned $40 million worth of perfect goods back in 2018. Guardian also reported that £90 million worth of Burberry products have been destroyed in five years. Burberry is not the only company who has been criticized for not being conscious of the resources they waste while discarding its own products. H&M, Nike, and Stefano Ricci have also been scrutinized.
Brands and Sustainable/ Responsible Fashion
Due to the rise in the demand by consumers, brands have put efforts to expand or take part in sustainable practices. Many brands are focusing on using eco-friendly or recycled materials in their products, while some are making sure their workers make a living wage. thredUP is a resale marketplace where you can buy (and sell) second-hand women and kid’s clothes and accessories, lowering your carbon footprint on the planet. Reformation, whose clothes have been worn by Meghan Markle (the Duchess of Sussex), Kendall Jenner and more, puts sustainability at the core of everything they do from manufacturing to their store to their office. Rothy’s makes washable flats and shoes made of recycled plastic bottles. Well-known brands like Adidas have partnered with Stella McCartney to make shoes partly made with recycled waste. Outdoor brands like Patagonia, prAna, Terra Thread, Soul Space USA, and REI offer Fair Trade certified products.
Consumers and their fashion impact
An average American throws away over 68 pounds of textiles per year directly into landfills. According to Ellen Macarthur Foundation, in the last 15 years, clothing production has doubled, “… driven by a growing middle-class population across the globe and increased per capita sales in mature economies. The latter rise is mainly due to the ‘fast fashion’ phenomenon, with quicker turnaround of new styles, increased number of collections offered per year, and – often – lower prices.” (You can read our blog on the social impact of Fast Fashion here). In the same report, the foundation also reported that clothes are being underutilized, “…the average number of times a garment is worn before it ceases to be used – has decreased by 36% compared to 15 years ago.” Though consumers might throw away their clothing thinking that they will be recycled but that is not the case. Every second a garbage truck of textiles is “… dumped into landfill or burned and only less than 1% of materials produced for clothing is recycled into new apparel.”
What can do to support Sustainable Fashion?
1. Do not buy clothes just because they are trendy and cheap. Avoid retailers who are known for their fast fashion and do not fall victim to greenwashing as portrayed by these retailers.
2. Look for certification labels like GOTS and Fair Trade before buying clothes to verify that the workers and environment are treated well.
3. Ask brands to make their supply chain transparent. Sometimes the brand’s main supplier may outsource their work without the brand’s knowledge so brands need to make sure their supply chain is held to a high standard.
4. Donate, repurpose, or sell your used but wearable clothes. Purchase secondhand if purchasing ethically made clothing is outside of your budget.
5. Choose brands who practice sustainable business. Before buying anything make sure you use every piece of clothing in your closet.
Here at Gallant, we take sustainability at heart. Our production starts with GOTS certified organic cotton. Organic cotton uses almost 88% less water and 62% less energy compared to conventional cotton. Our products are also Fairtrade certified, meaning that everyone involved in the supply chain including farmers and workers are paid a living wage. Additionally, we also offset all the carbon emissions created during our shipments. We pledged to donate 100,000 meals to Feeding America in 2019 and aim to give more in the upcoming years.