Your sustainable lifestyle does not stop with your cupboards. Your clothing must be sustainable too.
In just a few years’ time, our fashion habits have shifted. Our society, especially millennials, has assigned greater importance to green living and the sustainability movement. It is now commonplace to see consignment stores and sustainable brands reusing fabrics and items. But what is “sustainability”? It means sustaining the environment and recycling resources to maintain an ecological balance.
Consumers understand that healthy eating alone does not equal living a sustainable life—the clothes they wear are part of the lifestyle. Increasingly, consumers are seeking out pure materials in the clothing they buy. One of the main reasons buyers adopt an organic approach is to protect natural resources. Sustainable buyers want to know they are paying for good materials that will not harm the environment. The purchase of sustainable clothing also helps agriculture workers by reusing water and other resources.
Take a close look at fast fashion: The desire to pay less money for more clothing has had a detrimental effect on the fashion industry. Shoppers should educate themselves on the effects of buying clothing that is produced unethically. The majority of clothing sold by faceless, behemoth fast fashion corporations is produced using unethical practices. Monsanto, the world leader in cottonseed sales, is an example of a company that produces synthetic bed sheets and cotton shirts originate. Pimacott, on the other hand, is a farm cotton company that produces organic cotton and pima, a variety of cotton. Pimacott has been working closely with researchers at Applied DNA to integrate DNA into its cotton, thereby identifying a clothing product as organic.
As a consumer, I want to know what I am buying and whether my clothing comes from companies that use ethical practices. Another company that follows ethical practices is Everlane. Their corporate mantra is “transparency, know your factories, know your costs, and always ask why”. Companies understand the need of the customer and the importance of selling products that are not made in a sweatshop.
Responsible manufacturers understand the need to produce sustainable merchandise. A company such as Reformation believes in zero waste and recycles 85% of its materials. In elementary school we learned about recycling and the effects of global warming. Analyzing your closet and items is a good way to start your sustainable lifestyle.
Have you ever opened your closet and thought, “I have too many clothes”? Only people who have a clear understanding of what’s happening in fashion can separate what is worth taking home from what should stay on the rack. In recent years, major companies like Target, Forever 21, Top Shop, and Zara have made a lasting impact on how you shop with what’s called “fast fashion”.
We all want more for less, but sometimes more is just more: A $15 shirt can end up in our Dumpster in just three weeks. Why? Because fast fashion industry ads consistently communicate that you should feel guilty about the clothes you currently own.
Every week, fast fashion retailers release new outfits with the intention of convincing you that your current wardrobe is “garbage”. Who wants to wear garbage anyway? The fast fashion industry says to you, “You don’t need to wear used clothes, because new will be here tomorrow! Just go on a quick shopping spree during your lunch break and snag that ‘buy-one-get-one-half-price’ (BOGO) deal!” Sounds good to me!
Long gone are the days of wearing mom’s hand-me-downs. In a society where style is changeable and easily swapped, we throw away clothes as if they have an expiration date. These shopping habits are killing the environment. The clothes we dispose of each month are killing our trees, poisoning our water, and suffocating our vegetation. Is it not OK to own the same pair of jeans for three years?
We consume fashion at such a fast pace that we forget that all of it is going down the drain. Perhaps one day soon our clothing tags will no longer read “Made in China” but instead “Best Used by Summer 2017”.