Clothing is a necessity. But does it have to come at the cost of the planet? We can look good without damaging our environment, and that’s what sustainable fashion is all about. It’s when clothing, shoes or bags are manufactured using sustainable methods and materials, and when sustainability is at the heart of all the decisions a business makes. Sustainable fashion examines how resources are extracted from our natural world, how we use and transform them, and where it all finally ends up at the end of its life cycle.
“There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come” - Victor Hugo
The time has indeed arrived for us to make sustainability a priority by consciously choosing ethical and sustainable brands and materials.
Let’s take a look at the top three reasons to make sustainable fashion a priority!
#1: BECAUSE WE NEED TO STOP CLIMATE CHANGE!
The fashion industry is a major contributor to climate change. In fact, it’s second only to the oil and gas industry! Part of the problem is production and its carbon footprint. Another part of the problem is transportation of materials and products. And another part of the problem is the impact of vast quantities of discarded clothing and scrap material. The disposed fabrics end up in a landfill and take years to decompose while producing toxic greenhouse gases like methane that ultimately lead to climate change. Fabrics like polyester and lycra can take hundreds of years to decompose! Large amounts of carbon dioxide, another greenhouse gas, is also produced when waste fabrics are incinerated due to lack of space in the landfills.
#2:BECAUSE WE NEED CLEAN WATER, AIR AND SOIL!
Fast fashion has a major impact on the climate, but what is its impact on the quality of our natural resources like air, water and land? Surely we all care about the air we breathe, the water we drink and the quality of the food we eat. But there is a definite disconnect between how our fashion choices affect the quality of our natural world. There are a couple of raw materials in the fashion industry that have been identified as major contributors to environmental pollution. Let’s take a look at what they are.
Cotton: Almost half of all clothing manufactured around the world contains cotton. And 90% of all cotton that is cultivated around the world is GMO (or a genetically modified organism), modified for higher yields and to be pest resistant (or so they claim). The fact is GMO cotton still requires the use of additional pesticides, herbicides and insecticides to eradicate all pests and weeds. The use of all these chemicals has put cotton farming communities around the world at great health risk. GMO crops have also been linked to the breakdown of biodiversity and the depletion of nutrients in the soil. GMO cotton also uses large amounts of water and therefore has a significant impact on availability of finite natural resources.
Leather: Leather is a by-product of the animal husbandry industry and has been identified as a major environmental polluter. Not only do the livestock consume large amounts of natural resources like food, water, land and fossil fuels, but they also release harmful greenhouse gases like methane and contribute to global warming and climate change. The toxic slurry of chemicals, namely chromium, that are used and discarded in the leather tanning process pollute our groundwater as well as the surrounding land. The people that work in tanneries find themselves in extremely poor working conditions and suffer a myriad of serious health conditions including cancers from inhaling the chromium laced air.
#3: BECAUSE TRUE HAPPINESS CAN’T BE BOUGHT!
Ever wonder why we shop and shop and buy more clothes even though we don’t really need them? Psychologists believe this has something to do with our generations’ need for instant gratification. We’re all too familiar with ‘retail therapy’ and how that can bring satisfaction on a superficial level. Yes, it makes us feel good for a short while, but then it wears off and we need to go back to satisfy that void by buying more stuff.
We have been brainwashed to believe that owning more ‘stuff’ will make us feel happy. But it’s just not true! Not only does materialism not make us feel happy, it increases feelings of anxiety and depression.
It’s time to stop and reflect on our shopping habits. Why are we buying? Do we really need it? Can we live without it? This will help us focus on things that make us all truly happy, like our relationships, our mental and physical health and wellbeing, as well as the health of our planet.
Our advice? Support sustainable fashion brands and get outside to enjoy the benefits of better buying!
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