Sustainable Fashion—Why You Should Care!

It’s a term that’s been thrown around a lot, perhaps because its no longer possible to deny the realities of dreadful working conditions and the ever increasing effects our shopping habits are having on climate change.

What does sustainable fashion really mean?

To be truly sustainable in fashion, you need to design it, source it, create it and distribute it in a way that lessens the impact on the environment. Sustainability is beyond the type of materials used. It’s more than biodegradable dyes and organic materials. To be truly sustainable, one must consider the production and the consumption, right down to the end of that clothing’s life.

Let’s be honest. We are living at the height of fast fashion with notorious overnight sweatshops fulfilling our cheap and impulsive online purchases. It’s easy to look away from the awful working conditions that are used to indulge our middle of the night smartphone purchases. Cheap and cheerful, they are not.

Why should we care?

  • Nearly 70 million barrels of oil are used each year to make polyester fiber, now the most
    commonly used fiber in our clothing. BUT, it takes more than 200 years to decompose.
  • For just 1 cotton t-shirt, nearly 3000 liters of water is used to produce enough cotton to make it.
  • Move over straws—fashion accounts for 20-30% of micro plastic flows into the ocean.
  • Fashion industry is responsible for about 10% of carbon emissions.
  • In the U.S. alone, over 25 million pounds of clothing end up in landfills or incinerators.
  • Every year, an average of 300 million pairs of shoes are thrown out.

Is there hope?

Damn right.

While the pandemic allowed for an unprecedented growth in online shopping and fast fashion and perhaps in response to our shopping gluttony and insatiable desire to keep up with ridiculous trends, we are ALSO seeing an unprecedented push by some companies to become increasingly environmentally friendly and self-aware.

It’s not an easy or inexpensive venture when taking the high road on the runway, but perhaps making the fashion world and the process a better place—that becomes the latest trend to witness from the front row.

WF is excited to continue this series with an upcoming look at retailers and designers that are becoming
fashionably eco friendly. Stay tuned for more!

Want to dig deeper? Here are WF’s reading recommendations: