What is Sustainable Fashion? How You Can Change the World

What is Sustainable Fashion? How YOU can Change the World.

As I sit at my desk, on a sleepy Sunday, I reflect with a cup of tea, what it means to be ‘sustainable’. How do you even begin to break down the absolutely massive topic without feeling completely overwhelmed? Once you learn the detrimental impacts of the fashion industry, it’s hard to look away. As a consumer, the power is in your hands. Changing your habits not only makes you feel more connected to the planet and its people, but it also influences others to do so too. So what is sustainable fashion? And how can we contribute to a healthier planet?

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Why is the Power in my Hands? Aren’t the Brands to Blame?

The brands are undeniably accountable for ‘fast-fashion’. But are they the only ones to blame? We’ve all heard the term fast-fashion, but do most of us really understand the connotations?

Once upon a time, there were 2 seasons, Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter. Since globalisation, this 2 season a year approach has changed to a 52 week. High street stores are adding new stock to their shops every week. In a time where everything is so fast-paced, we are consuming so much content, we are now programmed to consume information quickly and our appetite is ever-growing for this constant theme of wanting new things consistently. 

There are many impacts that this has created, from synthetic fibres created from petroleum to dye effluents being poured into rivers to the unethical treatment of workers. 

We’ve seen a recent influx of high street stores paying attention to consumers and creating sustainable collections. The consumer always drives demand. That's me. And that’s you. By not paying small prices for throwaway fashion, you can help change the trajectory of this fast-fashion crisis. 


Garment life cycle


The Life Cycle of a Garment 

The lifecycle cycle of a garment starts with the fabric. Fabrics can be extremely difficult to determine whether they are truly sustainable or not. Even some fabrics that seem sustainable such as cotton, can use extremely large amounts of water, which is unsustainable. When considering fabrics it's not just the processing and manufacturing to consider but it's also the afterlife of those fabrics.

Then you have production which uses a lot of electricity and the workers that create our garments are typically those that live in poverty. They work for pennies, working longer hours than you could imagine for 6-7 days a week. Imagine you buy a t-shirt for £3.00, how much do you think the worker is being paid?

Once the garment is manufactured it then gets shipped around the world to the country in which it will be sold. The afterlife of the garment is actually the most detrimental to the planet. Washing the garments uses a surmountable amount of water, that is unnecessarily heated at high temperatures, and then we add harmful detergents to wash the clothes. 

Once these garments are used they are often thrown into landfill. If the fabrics are synthetic, they will release harmful chemicals into the atmosphere. 


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The Topic is Overwhelming, Where can I Begin?

Starting the journey to a sustainable wardrobe, begins exactly there, in your wardrobe. Take a look and see what you love, and what you’ve fallen out of love with. The clothes that you don’t love, what can you do with them? Have you got any friends that would swap with you? Could you add something to it to revive it? Or maybe you could sell it through a secondhand site?
When determining what you should buy, think about where you really need that item of clothing. Make purchases that reflect your own personal style, rather than trends that will make you fall out of love quickly. Also, think about what that garment might go with in comparison to your whole wardrobe. Having a capsule wardrobe where everything can match is key to creating a sustainable wardrobe. 
Understanding where your clothes come from please is a really important part and how you decide to buy. You have to ask yourself, why am I buying this garment? What purpose does it serve? Will I really get aware of it for the worse that it is?




What Can I do to be More Sustainable in my Wardrobe?

There are four main categories in how we can be more sustainable in our wardrobes. 

Clothes Swapping

This is really great way to not only revamp your current wardrobe but it also stops your garments going from landfill. You feel like you're getting brand-new clothing when in fact its already been used and the other person also gets the same in return. There are some really good initiatives at the moment where there are parties that you can swap your clothes. 
Reasons to love this idea: 
  • You get to nab the clothing from your friends you’ve always wanted
  • You get to see your friends, and with an added incentive
  • You can make this into a party. What’s not to love?
  • The ultimate win, it stops garments going into landfill!

Second-hand Shopping 

Buying secondhand is a very good way to be sustainable. You can get some really great clothing from a variety of places from the Internet you have things like eBay and Depop which are a really good way of making money and making sure that your garments are getting some new love. Vintage is also really good as a means we're getting more use out of garments. 
Reasons to love this idea: 
  • You can get some really expensive pieces cheap such as vintage designer pieces
  • You can find timeless gems that you will never tire of
  • You get unique pieces, feeling one of a kind
  • You get to go shopping and find things that you would never imagine finding. It's like a treasure hunt! 

Mending your clothes 

The whole reason most of us love fashion is that it is a creative outlet we use to express ourselves. So why not take some of that creativity and revamp your old clothes. You can cut a dress in half and make a co-ord, change a normal tee into a crop top or take some of the fabric from an item and make a patch on a jacket.
Reasons to love this idea: 
  • You get to be creative
  • You can reinvent the pieces you once loved

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