Updated: Apr 29
When thinking of ways to help keep the environment safe, what comes to mind? Most people would think of picking up trash, recycling, etc., but how many people think of the clothes they wear? Many people view their apparel as a reflection of their identity because their style is a way to express themselves. What people don’t know is the clothes on their body can be damaging to the environment. So, what are we to do? Buy fewer clothes? Well, no. The solution is sustainable fashion.
What Is Sustainable Fashion
Sustainable fashion is less harmful to the environment. Sustainable fashion is any piece of clothing, shoes, and accessories that are manufactured, marketed, and used in the most sustainable way possible, taking into consideration both environmental and socio-economic aspects.
For a brand to be considered sustainable, it must try to enhance every single part of the products life cycle. This means they must use sustainable raw materials to make the product, keep and transport clothing responsibly and do their part to make sure their products can be repaired and recycled.
The goal for sustainable fashion is to minimize any undesirable environmental effect of the products life cycle. Brands should consider using natural resources such as water, land, and soil, and make use of renewable energy sources.
Additionally, brands who strive to keep the environment safe should think about the working conditions of its employees. For example, working conditions in fields, factories, during transportation and in stores.
Why Does Sustainable Fashion Matter?
So, why don’t we think about fashion when we are talking about ways to protect the environment? Well, most people don’t think about the big picture. They understand the clothing and accessories they use to be just a products in our closets. But what people fail to consider, are how those products are made. Very few people know that clothing and footwear production take up a mass amount of land and are accountable for nearly 10 percent of global greenhouse emissions.
Think about the materials used to create your clothing. Cotton for example, requires 20 thousand liters of water for production of only one kilogram of cotton. You might know that the rainforests are set on fire for beef production but did you know that leather is produced the same way?
Other common fabrics such as polyester, nylon, and acrylic all rely on petrochemical industries for their raw materials. Petrochemicals are a set of chemical compounds that support products all across the world. As you can imagine, animal-derived materials have a big impact on the environment, too.
Those who don’t think the environment is being harmed also fail to consider how farmers graze any farm animal. As you can imagine, farmers need a ton of land for the animals, contributing to soil erosion. Cows and sheep that are most commonly used for wool, emit methane gases into the atmosphere.
What about the workers that create our clothing and accessories? 85 percent of the world’s leather is tanned with chromium that is terribly toxic. As workers continue to work surrounded by these harmful toxins, they increase their risk of cancer and harmful skin conditions.
The United Nations has already declared that if we want to save the environment, the fashion industry must change.
Really, every industry must change for the environment to be saved. The fashion industry, however, happens to be the one industry that people tend to forget about when it comes to the environment.
How to Identify Sustainable Fashion
After learning more about how fashion has an impact on the environment, maybe you want to consider sustainable fashion but don’t know where to start. Here are three elements to look for in a brand when considering sustainable fashion:
Clothes that are made locally
Think about what it takes to ship products across the globe- especially if these shipments are frequent By buying into large global supply chains, you are contributing to the environmental impact. Instead, consider supporting smaller, local brands. By doing so, you will minimize your carbon footprint. It might seem silly at first to step away from the large supply chains, but we’ve got to start somewhere, right? Do your part and others might follow in your footsteps!
Brands that are transparent
Don’t be afraid to ask a brand about their environmental policy. Cheap products are most likely going to be harmful to the environment. If you see cheap products out there, before buying, talk to the brand about sustainability. Most of the time, this research can be done on your own. If you don’t see any mention of sustainability, consider this a red flag. Brands who produce sustainable products will say so and be clear about it.
When was the last time you really paid attention to how your products were made? Maybe you saw that it was cotton but was it made with harmful artificial fabrics or natural fibers? Do they use leather and wool? If so, consider searching for other products.
There is such a thing as vegan leather! In fact, it’s called Pinatex, which is made from pineapples. Clothing that is created with recycled materials are great for sustainability. There are quite a few brands out there who use plastic bottles and old fishing nets to make clothing. Will it take a bit more work to find these quality brands? Probably. But by taking the time, you can rest assured knowing you’re doing your part as a retailer towards achieving sustainable fashion.
Jordan Alliance Group: Helping Retailers Achieve Sustainability
As professionals of the fashion industry ourselves, we understand the amount of work retailers already put in to run their business successfully. Many times, it is overwhelming. But, in the near future, we can expect sustainable fashion to take over the industry. Wouldn’t you like to be on board with the trend before it’s too late?
If you want to do your part as a retailer to achieve sustainability, reach out to our team at the Jordan Alliance Group for more information.