Each industry has their own areas to improve on but in this article I want to focus on the sustainable fashion industry and how we can reduce our fast fashion impact.
What is sustainable fashion?
What do you think about when you hear sustainable fashion? There are so many sub-topics to think about. If I asked ten people, they would probably each have a different answer.
Sustainable fashion to me involves the choices throughout the whole supply chain of the fashion industry. Everything from original fabric sources to famous fashion houses. Also included is ensuring textiles and fabrics are made in an environmentally-friendly manner. For example, through recycling materials or sustainably grown fibre crops.
Sustainable fashion practices also aim to ensure fair prices throughout the supply chain, especially for workers who make the fabrics. Clothes used to be a luxury item. The reality now is that you can purchase a full outfit for less than €10 through online brands that use dropshipping and larger brands using unethical and environmentally poor practices to achieve such cheap prices.
Question (answer yourself honestly): when you shop for clothes, do you consider the sustainable or environmental impact of your decision? I would genuinely love to hear everyone’s thoughts on this. Share your opinion in the comments if you like or send me a private message.
From the topic of sustainable fashion choices, we have created the term ‘fast fashion’. It becomes more of a trending topic every year. It refers to the practice of producing clothes as cheaply and quickly as possible.
Why is fast fashion so bad?
Fast fashion practices encourage consumers to purchase clothes and shoes in bulk by maintaining a very low price point. It leads to thoughtless purchases and adds to waste. Did you know that the fashion industry as a whole produces 10 per cent of all carbon emissions? It is also the second-largest consumer of the world’s water supply.
Polyester is a widely-used fabric within the fast fashion industry with over 50 per cent of clothes made from this material. However, it takes hundreds of years to degrade and emits up to three times carbon dioxide than other fibres such as cotton.
Another element of fast fashion is the quantity of beautiful and vibrant clothing available. Many of these colourful garments are actually made with cheap and toxic chemicals. This is an often forgotten about area of discussion in the media.
Unfair labour practices is a huge factor of fast fashion and one that needs to change immediately. Clothing retailers and manufacturers choose this as a way to increase the rate of production while keeping costs low.
In an ideal world, we will all move towards slow-fashion practices. This involves, as you may imagine, taking into consideration the process and resources used to make the clothing you purchase or make. We would create a benchmark of sustainability within the fashion industry where higher-quality items are produced with the goal of lasting longer, as well as emphasising the fair treatment of workers and the environment.
How can we reduce our fast fashion impact?
Here are some simple and easy-to-implement tips that I want to share so that we can all become more conscious of the effect our fashion choices can have on the environment and on our fellow people:
- Second-Hand Stores: visiting charity or thrift shops are a fantastic place to reduce our fast fashion impact. They have a low carbon footprint as clothes are often donated by locals. You can very often find lots of gems in here. I sometimes take my personal shopping clients to show them how to find great pieces that suit their shape and style.
- Recycle and Revamp: before taking a bin bag and throwing out your old clothes, have a think about how you could re-use them. You don’t need to be a “creative” to find solutions. There are plenty of YouTube tutorials where you can learn to turn old jeans into new shorts. If you have an old faded white top or bikini, use natural dyes such as fruit and vegetables to add a vibrant colour.
- Buy less: most of the time shopping for clothes is a habit. We are bored in the city centre so we go window shopping which turns into actual shopping. Practice self-awareness by catching yourself buying something you don’t really need. We usually have so many pieces of clothing lost in the back of the wardrobe. My task for you this weekend is to look through your own wardrobe and see what you can find that you might have forgotten about.
- Quality over price: This is a tough one if you have budget constraints. When we buy cheaper clothing, however, we think we are saving more money than we are. Should you spend €9 on a top that will last you three months or €90 on a top that will last ten years. There’s no comparison when you break it down.
- Clothes Swaps: arrange a meetup with your group of friends or people with similar interests and organise a clothes swap at someone’s house. Everyone brings their own clothes that they want to get rid of and swaps them for something someone else brought. This is something the International Women in Business group I am a part of organise a few times a year. It is always a success and lots of fun!
- Rent your clothes: when it comes to finding an outfit for special events or buying clothes for your babies, it would be great if renting became the norm. We could reduce our fashion waste and not impact the environment as heavily. Would you be in favour of renting?
- Buy circular fashion: a circular economy holds many benefits because it reduces the pressure on the environment. It also improves the security of raw materials supply. The goal is to circulate garments with maximum value retained for as long as possible before re-entering the system through reuse or recycling.
In summary, I think the conversation surrounding fast fashion and sustainable practices will eventually lead to the end of poor practices within the industry. However, we still have a long way to go to reach a ‘slow-fashion’ norm.
It would be great to hear from all of you on what you are doing, or would like to do, to combat the negative aspects of fast fashion. At the end of this month, I will be attending a conference on Fashion Sustainability in Paris. This conference will bring together experts from various different fields and facilitate a discussion focusing on fashion, environmental sustainability, business and human rights and a better future. I can’t wait to share more value in this aspect.
If you’d like my support with helping you to shop and organise your wardrobe more sustainably, contact me here or reach me on +34 654 189 358 to schedule a complimentary 20 minutes call.