Sustainable wardrobes are going to save the planet… literally. What we wear and how we handle textiles have a huge impact on the planet. Her Modern Life has a quick guide to curating a sustainable wardrobe for Summer and beyond.
- UPCYCLING – think about recycling, but for clothes and material. For instance, if you have old t-shirts you don’t wear anymore, find another way to use them (make another shirt or use them for cleaning). Donating old clothes is useful but donation centers don’t always use the clothes we drop off – so what happens to them? They go into landfills. A shame.
- SAY NO TO TRENDS – it’s easy to get caught up in fast fashion and trendy pieces… but are you going to wear those pieces in two years… will the material even last that long? Think about that the next time you go shopping. It’s cute now but would you pass this down to your kids? If not, maybe think twice. Also- the “trendy” fast fashion sites are just terrible in general so, save your coins up and buy quality.
- VERSATILITY – once you spot pieces that you love, make sure they’re appropriate for more than one occasion. Can you dress it up and dress it down? Can you wear it for different seasons?
What is ethical or sustainable fashion?
While “fast fashion” describes clothing that is cheaply made and intended for short-term use, “sustainable” (or “ethical”) fashion is the opposite and is sometimes even referred to as “slow fashion.” It takes into account the full lifecycle of the product — from the design, sourcing, and production processes — and looks at everyone and everything being affected by it, from the environment, to the workers and communities where it’s produced, to the consumers who purchase it. It’s a complex issue and there isn’t one brand that’s currently capable of tackling everything, but right now there are five main issues being addressed in the fashion industry:
1. Water usage: The demands for fresh water for drinking and agriculture is far surpassing what’s available. Yes, the Earth is covered in water, but most of it is unusable salt water or has been polluted. As a result, some brands are now looking at the supply chains to see how they can cut back on how much water they’re using.
2. Hazardous chemicals: Dyes and finishes from the production processes are dangerous for the workers, plus they get into the community water sources. These chemicals may not affect the consumers, but they’re a problem for the people who make clothing and those who live in areas where it’s produced. Fashion and outdoor brands are now tasked with coming up with new ways to address dyes and finishes for features like wrinkle-resistance and water-repellency.
3. Short lifecycle: Stores are constantly launching new designs and consumers are regularly updating their wardrobes. The biggest goal in sustainable fashion is to buy less and use things longer. To make clothes last, there are platforms for closet-sharing, brands that promote buying used clothing, and simple yet durable styles that you can wear over and over again.
4. Waste: On top of having a short lifecycle, there needs to be a way to create less trash by making products useful again once they’ve run their course. One way is to repair garments (i.e. mending holes in jeans and replacing worn soles of shoes) while another opportunity comes from using recycled materials in apparel.
5. Agriculture: Natural fibers like cotton are often grown using pesticides and treatments that are harmful to the farmers, workers, and wildlife in the area. There are now more options for organic cotton, linen, and other fibers available, which also use less water than the conventional growing methods. Plus, brands are looking at being organic throughout the production process – not just the growing of the crop, which is only the first step.