In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “There is no beauty in the finest cloth if it makes hunger and unhappiness”. Every garment we purchase has had a life before and will have a life after we are finished with it, which is why it is vital that we consider the ethicality of its source as well as its future after we no longer have a need for it.
Each stage of the production process and life of a single item of clothing has left a mark, a mark on businesses’, employees, and our environment. On average we now own 5 times more clothes than our grandparents had… just let that sink in.
Fast fashion is partly to blame, however as consumers we have the penultimate choice to purchase or to not, of course price has a part to play in this, cheaper items are more commercially viable due to the constant reduction of production costs.
By engaging in this article, I can only assume that you want to participate in altering your fashion choices, not only can we strengthen our planet’s longevity from choosing sustainability, but we can create communities of like-minded individuals by encouraging our peers to think twice!
The fashion industry’s mark
It is well known that the fashion industry accounts for 10% of greenhouse gas emissions. Although this figure has the potential to grow, each of us have the power to shrink it through choosing ethically sourced clothing, reducing our expenditure, and buying for the long term and not the short term.
When purchasing new garments, we often overlook resource wastage, a constant looming problem rooted within this industry.
Cotton is an in-demand material which fabricates a large percentage of items found in our wardrobes. The crop requires substantial quantities of water and needs a staggering 7,000 – 29,000 litres of water to produce just one kilogram of raw cotton.
Water is just one of ingredients that doesn’t appear on your clothes labels, the t shirt you’re wearing right now requires 2,700 litres of water, this horrifying statistic becomes ever more alarming when we compare this to the 2.7 billion people currently experiencing water insufficiency.
So, what can you do?
Shop sustainably, now this can mean many things and can be done on a budget if you are in a tight situation. Don’t look for statement pieces, look for items which you can wear with multiple fits in any given situation and season, a great example of this would be well made monochrome pieces which can be paired with almost anything especially in these colder months when our colour choices tend to be darker.
Boycott fast fashion, do your homework before you purchase an item. Similarly, in my last article where I talked about thinking at least 3 times before purchasing new pieces, fast fashion brands are aware that most of their products are not made to last as their production costs and product quality remain significantly low. Being consumed by fast fashion may seem convenient at the time but remember, it will make you a pawn in the linear approach to fashion production.
Wash less, on the premiss that one load of washing uses 40 gallons of water, as a society we need to become more attentive to just how much water wastage we carry out. According to WWF just “One load of drying uses 5 times more energy than washing”. In this instance old fashioned is best, there is no harm in static drying your clothes indoors or outside on a sunny day
Think circular, in the manufacturing stage companies will source materials from the earth, an effortless linear approach would be to simply disregard said product when its duty is fulfilled. A circular approach, however, eradicates the notion of creating waste even at the first stage of the production process, it is regarded as a much more sustainable and eco friendly pathway. Thinking circular is a great way to assign a life to your clothes, by this I don’t mean that you should anthropomorphize your entire wardrobe (Feel free to, I won’t judge) but instead plan out the item’s longevity, will you be bored of it in 5 years’ time? Perhaps lend it to a relative or better yet, donate it to charity.
I hope that my words have empowered you to think differently about your current wish list, and I hope that these important facts and figures have not discouraged your efforts. There really is no time like the present when it comes to being climate conscious, and with any luck this article has influenced you to change your mindset on dressing for the planet.