WHAT IS SUSTAINABLE FASHION?
The fast fashion industry has completely revolutionized fashion, but not for the better. Behind every piece of clothing in the store, there is a destructive industry stripping the Earth of its limited resources and placing a devastating toll on the labor force working in garment factories. Tremendous amounts of waste characterize this industry, as we send approximately 40 million tons of textiles to landfills or to be incinerated every year. In total, the fashion industry is responsible for over 8% of total greenhouse gas emissions.
Sustainable fashion refers to a clothing supply chain that is ecologically and socially responsible. It aims to reorient the industry and consumers away from the fast fashion model and toward sustainable practices in sourcing, production, distribution, marketing, and consumption.
GET THE FACTS
- The fashion industry produces 100 billion garments annually – for 7 billion people on Earth.
- We send approximately 40 million tons of textiles to landfills or to be incinerated every year. Textile waste is exported from the U.S. to other countries where landfills smolder and pollute the air.
- It takes nearly 3,000 liters of water to make one cotton t-shirt and 3,781 liters of water to make a pair of jeans.
- The fashion industry heavily pollutes water and local communities with toxic chemicals and dyes.
- Cotton is called the ‘dirtiest’ crop. Cotton farming consumes more pesticides than any other crop and the heavy irrigation that it requires carries these pesticides into surrounding rivers and groundwater. This contaminates land, air, food, and drinking water.
- 60% of all clothing is made of synthetic fibers such as polyester, which is an oil derivative containing high levels of microplastics. Washing synthetic clothing releases microplastics and contributes to 35% of all ocean microplastic pollution.
- Every year 150 million trees are cut down to make fabrics.
- The apparel industry is a significant contributor to biodiversity loss.
- 40 million people are living in modern slavery today and fashion is the 2nd biggest contributor to this, with child labor common. The cost of fast fashion’s cheap clothing is extracted from the workers.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Consumers have the power to change the trajectory of fast fashion. Here are a few important things you can do:
- Educate yourself about sustainable clothing.
- Buy less and shop for quality over quantity.
- Choose natural materials – organic cotton, linen, or hemp.
- Buy 100% recycled fabrics – 100% recycled polyester, viscose (rayon), etc.
- Research brands to identify those that are ethical and practice transparency and sustainability.
- Post a picture of yourself wearing a sustainable garment, explaining its attributes and why you like it. Tag us on social media!
- Choose brands that are manufactured in their own community and connected to the place, people behind them, local economy, and environment.
- Buy secondhand clothing.
- Swap clothes with a clothes swap group or start a swap yourself.
- Learn how to repair your clothes yourself. The longer clothes are kept, the lower their emissions footprint.