^ special thanks to writer Eve for her take on how to be ‘fashainable’ in this guest post:
Anyone with an ear to the fashion grapevine will know that sustainability is totally on-trend right now. Medical advancements mean that infant mortality rates have dropped hugely and we are now living longer than ever before – with the result that our clothing consumption has hit an all-time high. This means higher production rates, an increase in the number of designers wanting to break into this tough industry and, above all, a need for more and more materials.
Sustainable fashion, also known as eco fashion, has begun to infiltrate local chain stores as well as the catwalks, with designers from the top down using fair trade workers and non-toxic dyes in order to make a sustainable statement.
Understanding Eco Fashion
Many people assume that eco fashion is all about recycled fabrics and clothes made from leaves, but this is not true at all. There are a number of different ways you can make a difference to the way you shop without changing your style at all – in fact, you could already be eco-shopping without knowing it!
For example, if you choose faux fur over the genuine article or avoid leather like the plague, you are already following a vegan fashion pattern. Vegans will not wear (or eat) any animal by-product, therefore keeping fur and leather well away from their wardrobes. Or maybe you prefer your fashion one of a kind and therefore buy handmade items? In doing this, you are helping to cut down on waste which is created by mass manufacturing, whilst also ensuring you are buying a quality product which is created to last for years. This cuts down the need to constantly replace worn or damaged clothing, and thus saves the planet. Easy, huh?
There are plenty of resources out there which provide information on sustainable fashion, and once you understand how many ways there are to adopt a sustainable wardrobe, making the switch is a piece of cake.
How You Can Help
So you’ve already decided to cross-check every label for toxic dyes and sworn off anything which isn’t made from organic materials – excellent! You’ve taken a huge step forward and are definitely doing your bit for sustainable shopping. Yet the part many people forget is what to do with the clothes once you’ve finished with them. Shockingly many people forget that clothing and textiles are just as recyclable as plastics, cardboard and glass, and as a result tons of unwanted clothes end up on landfill sites every year. However, it is estimated that up to 95 per cent of these items could be re-worn, re-used or recycled. In that case – why not get creative?
Donating an unwanted sweater to charity or shredding up and old shirt to use as a cleaning cloth is a good place to start, but hardly the most inventive use of the materials at hand. An old pair of jeans with a hole in the knee could be turned into a cute pair of Daisy Dukes or a new purse, while the unused bottom half could be cut up, dyed or redesigned and turned into patches to customise other items. Sometimes, of course, things are too damaged to be saved or re-used, but this is where the true meaning of recycling comes in. Textile fibres or insulating materials can be created from these garments in an ideal example of preventing waste.
Fortunately, fashion chain stores are now beginning to realise the impact our massive demand for new clothes is having on our planet. Last year, Zara announced its commitment to going toxic-free by reducing the number of hazardous chemicals used in its garment production, while H&M has recently launched an ethical fashion range called Conscious. As well as cutting down on the amount of water used in denim production and committing to using only organic cotton, the retailer is also rewarding customers for dropping off bags of recyclable clothing by giving them money off vouchers for each bag donated. It is very clear that the fashion world is embracing sustainability in a way few other industries are – while clothing manufacturers are making an attempt to use non-toxic dyes in clearing our waterways, the pharmaceutical industry continues to dump harmful materials in the system, for example.
As consumers, we dictate the trends, the styles and the way things are produced; or to put it more simply, if we don’t buy it they won’t make it. By raising awareness of the need for sustainability in all industries, we truly can change the world.