With more awareness about humanity’s impact on our global environment and less inertia—at least for younger generations—on simply doing nothing and pretending nothing is happening, lifestyles are changing. There’s more of an emphasis on reducing waste and trying to find ways to live that don’t sacrifice respect for our world for the sake of convenience.
One of the ways that things are changing is a growing commitment to sustainable fashion. But can fashion really be sustainable? And to what degree?
The definition of sustainable fashion is clothing that is produced with more ecological integrity. That is, making clothes without harming the environment in a permanent, unrecoverable way. However, sustainable fashion is also about creating clothes that do not exploit people. In some instances, for example, the lower prices that people may pay for an item of clothing are not just a result of cheaper materials used but paying people far less than is fair to live even modestly. In some cases, the clothing may even be cheap because laborers are not paid at all, and trapped in indentured servitude or slavery.
Sustainable fashion is about exercising more care and responsibility not just in the production of clothing, but in the treatment of the people that are behind that production. It is about taking the notion of “fair” and applying it to manufacturing and labor practices.
Of course, one aspect of this what the clothes are made of. Synthetic materials, such as nylon and polyester, are not biodegradable. This means that not only is the manufacturing process demanding, since these are artificially produced, but once they are no longer required, they remain in the world as inert materials.
Other materials, such as bamboo, for example, provide strength, durability, and flexibility that make them suitable materials for clothing. However, they also “return to the earth,” in a natural, environmentally harmonious fashion once no longer required.
The Working Practices
The other aspect of sustainable fashion that can sometimes be more important is the working practice behind taking raw materials and turning them into clothing. Cotton, for example, can be an excellent material for sustainable fashion. However, if numerous pesticides were used during the growth of that cotton, that practice has a massive negative impact on the environment over the years. If the cotton was not raised with extensive chemical pesticide use, that’s far less harmful.
In the same way, the people who work hard to create this clothing must still have their considerable efforts recognized. “Fair trade” in sustainable fashion is about making sure that people are properly compensated for their labor, and not exploited for the sake of lower pricing. This can have an impact on the final price of a clothing item when it goes on sale, but it also has a lasting positive impact both on the environment, and worker’s life, while at the same time not compromising on quality.
If you’re interested in fashions that look good on you but are sustainable, come to us. Contact The Etho and choose quality products that make your life better without hurting our world.