Fashion is one of the most polluting industries in the world. It takes 2700 liters of water to make a single cotton shirt and uses harmful chemicals that pollute the surrounding environment. Shop sustainable brands prioritizing organic materials, renewable resources, and eco-friendly production processes. Also, consider purchasing a minimal wardrobe to avoid excess waste and opt for natural fabrics like linen and wool instead of synthetic polyester.

Eco-Friendly Fabrics

The fabrics used in clothing have a huge impact on the environment. For example, non-organic cotton guzzles water and requires many pesticides to grow. The toxic farm runoff contaminates clean water streams, rivers, and aquifers and can harm local communities. Natural fibers like bamboo grow with minimal energy and need no pesticides, so they’re a better option for sustainability. However, it’s important to note that most bamboo fabrics come from China, where factories often employ poor labor practices, including exploitation and child labor.

Another problem with bamboo is that it’s sometimes mixed with synthetic fabrics to add softness, durability, and flexibility. Since polyester is produced using fossil fuels, it has a grave adverse effect on the environment. In addition, washing polyester garments sheds microplastics which can poison marine life. Sustainable clothing brands choose a sustainable fabric that causes less environmental damage during their design, manufacturing, and use. They also encourage a zero-waste circular economy by offering options for clothing resale and recycling. They also avoid fabrics that require harmful chemical treatments like formaldehyde, phosphates, and phthalates, all contributing to environmental degradation.

Biodegradable Materials

Making sustainable decisions is crucial, given the exponential growth of the fashion business. It means avoiding clothing and textiles made with unsustainable synthetic materials. These petrochemical-based materials take decades to biodegrade and release microplastics into the water and soil. Thankfully, new and improved materials are making it possible to go greener. Other sustainable fibers include bamboo, which grows quickly and requires few chemicals, and regenerative hemp, which improves soil health, sequesters carbon, and absorbs floodwaters.

Using a closed-loop process, companies are also producing fabrics from a more environmentally friendly source—eucalyptus wood. These semi-synthetic fabrics help reduce waste by reusing the chemicals from viscose production. Another great option is to shop second-hand, which reduces the need for additional fast fashion purchases and helps reduce landfill waste. You can also host a clothing swap, use apps that simplify the process, or donate your old clothes to charities that support sustainable fashion.

Pre-Owned Clothing

When we shop second-hand, we save money and reduce the environmental impact of buying new clothing. The fashion industry generates millions of dollars worth of plastic waste packaging annually, which is detrimental to the oceans, crops, and wildlife – a major cause for concern as we consume an ever-increasing amount of clothes yearly. Even when brands strive to make their clothing sustainable, they have a significant environmental footprint when manufacturing, shipping, and sourcing fabrics. Many of these brands produce their garments closer to where they’ll ultimately be sold to minimize water and energy use and ship less – cutting down on carbon emissions. While there are plenty of initiatives to promote sustainability, real change in the industry has yet to materialize. In the meantime, consumers can do their part by choosing ethical and sustainable fashion labels that abide by environmental guidelines. It may include looking for sustainable clothing backed by a lifetime warranty or shopping for pre-owned clothing at resale marketplaces.

Recycled Materials

In contrast to the current linear model of production where raw materials are consumed, turned into clothing, and then discarded, sustainable fashion minimizes its impact by recycling garments and using recycled fabrics. Textiles are also being made with agricultural waste, for example, orange fiber and kapok fibers (extracted from the pods of tropical trees), while many brands and designers are embracing zero waste or circular fashion by building responsible end-of-life into their production processes. 3D printing is a sustainable technique that allows designers to work out details digitally before production, minimizing trial and error and reducing waste. One of the most innovative brands utilizing this technology is Iris Van Herpen, who makes ethereal gowns with upcycled marine plastic debris and has even created a dress from discarded nylon stockings.

Although the fashion industry is highly unregulated, we must vote with our dollars by choosing brands that prioritize sustainability. Whether that’s purchasing second-hand, hosting a clothes swap, or supporting brands and fashion influencers who are transparent about their sustainability practices. This way, we can pressure companies to change their ways and call out greenwashing when it happens.

3D printing

The fashion business consumes a staggering quantity of freshwater during production and generates a lot of garbage. It is only surpassed by the oil sector in terms of dangerous pollutants. Sustainable brands try to reduce their impact by using long-lasting fabrics and producing locally. It helps to reduce the environmental cost of transportation and supports local economies. Some brands even use blockchain technology to record each garment’s lifecycle in a decentralized, tamper-proof common ledger. They also use natural or recycled fabrics that require less water for production, don’t rely on synthetic fibers made with fossil fuels, and reduce the number of chemicals used in the dyeing and finishing processes. Some of them even operate with a water budget to limit their consumption.

Gen Z is the driving factor behind this movement, the generation most likely to pay more for sustainable clothing. In addition, many people are starting to buy less clothing and are choosing experiences over possessions, which can lead to a more decluttered space and happiness. The COVID-19 pandemic has also contributed to the slow rise of sustainable fashion, with consumers now more aware that a hang tag with “sustainable” doesn’t necessarily mean environmentally friendly processes.

By Alin

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