Fashion and Sustainability

Fashion Model

I’m increasingly worried about where my clothes come from. I read somewhere that fashion is the second or third most polluting industry on Earth. Is that true? I try to shop for good brands — especially ones that treat their workers well — and be conscious about buying only what I need. None of that can change the fact, though, that my clothes are shipped from all over the world, and that an $8 T-shirt is, well, cheap. What should I do? What are some of the ways that I can make my fashion choices more earth-friendly?

Sustainable fashion has become an fashion industry buzzword — with good reason. Consumers have become more aware of the environmental footprint of their clothing than they were even a few years ago. As you mentioned, the industry is incredibly polluting: The fashion industry emits more greenhouse gases than the shipping and aviation industries combined. Here are a few things that you can do to makes sure you look great, while also doing good for the planet.

The most prosaic step is to buy used clothing and keep your used clothing from going into the dumpster. Thrifting is a great way to save money and look fly while you’re doing it, but shopping used also keeps old clothing in circulation. It can involve going to thrift stores or going to websites such as thredUp. It works in the opposite direction as well: If you donate your clothing or give it to a thrift store, rather than throwing it out, it won’t end up in a landfill. Of course, as just one person thrifting on your own won’t make much of a difference. That’s why getting friends together to do a monthly donation run is useful. You save more clothing when you donate it in aggregate, and you will encourage your friends who might not usually donate their clothing to do so.

Another easy way to shop greener is to check the tags for alternative materials. Why switch it up from cotton and polyester? It takes nearly 2,700 liters of water to grow enough cotton to make a single T-shirt. Synthetic fabrics, like polyester, shed thousands of microfibers with each washing, which can find their way into our oceans, fish, and bodies. Companies today are looking to branch out from the resource-heavy materials of yesteryear. The production of some new materials, such as silk produced by yeast, is enabled by high-tech breakthroughs in gene editing and materials science. Clothing made from this sci-fi stuff tends to be expensive, but by shopping for these advanced materials, you are indirectly supporting the kind of research that can help move the fashion industry out of its environmental dead-end. Getting to know who is conducting this type of research by reading articles in Business of Fashion or clothing lines at Reign can help you learn who the innovative players are.

If you don’t want to go high-tech while shopping for clothing, go “natural.” Natural clothing has become its own trend call it the surf Hawaii look familiar to anybody who follows Instagram celebs with suntanned bodies and hemp coats that seem perpetually, perfectly windblown. Many alternative materials are well-known but aren’t as widely grown as cotton. Low-impact textile crops include hemp, legna, and jute. Legna is made of recycled wood pulp, while hemp and jute are both plants that demand significantly less water and pesticides than cotton. In many cases, the dye is just as environmentally important as the material. The dyeing process is a major source of pollution in the fashion industry. Naturally dyed and plant-dyed clothing is less toxic to manufacture and safer for workers. Some clothing-makers have implemented waterless dyeing processes, which doesn’t produce any toxic wastewater.

So you can go thrifty, high-tech, or natural. People who make a conscious choice for better alternatives will help protect our planet for future generations. Can you make a difference? Yes, you can.

Content Provided by Scholarship Media

UTA Radio on Facebook

Twitter Feed

UTA News