Sustainable Fashion – What Are You Wearing?

This green guide to sustainable fashion considers WHY and HOW to include fashion choices in your conscious living mix!

From organic food, plastic free produce, cruelty free products and non-toxic beauty care, it’s clear that a sustainable lifestyle is now much more than just bringing a reusable water bottle or ditching straws.  It’s a way of living that encompasses every aspect of your daily life and it’s popularity has surged in the recent years, with more and more people choosing to live a lifestyle that better supports the planet.

Hundreds of brands are now declaring their “sustainability”, making environmental pacts and working to improve their footprint. This is due to the consumer demand for more ethical products.  Small eco-conscious fashion brands are paving the way for the future of sustainable fashion and thrifting (secondhand shopping) is now the IN thing!

However, in this vast sea of buzzwords, green washing and sneaky brand marketing, it can be hard to know what to trust, who to buy from and essentially what to do in the world of sustainable fashion.

This green guide to sustainable fashion covers everything you need to know to make sure you’re making the best choices when it comes to that shopping spree!

Why Sustainable Fashion?

The majority of the clothes we see in shops are produced in the fast fashion ‘system’.  A method that focuses on quantity over quality and ultimately provides the “big guys” with a very generous paycheck. 

Fast fashion utilizes cheap materials, mostly acrylic and polyester, which come with big environmental impacts, as well as cheap labour in thousands of ‘sweatshops’ around the world.  All in all this produces a very unethical business that uses its trendy garments, bright colours, and affordable prices to gloss over it’s dark and dirty truth: fast fashion harms more people and causes more environmental damage, than it does good.  

Sustainable fashion is the opposite and was born as a means to combat the fast fashion industry and provide people with ethical clothing that they could feel good about wearing.

Principles of the Sustainable Fashion

Fair Labour – No sweatshops filled with poor garment workers earning less than $1 an hour

Water Wise – The production of clothes uses massive amounts of water, sustainable fashion brands practice water saving production methods and water wise principles to produce garments.

Sustainable Fabric The most sustainable fabric is one that already exists” and sustainable fashion focuses recycling and reusing materials, as well as utilising natural and eco-friendly fabrics such as bamboo and hemp. 

Ethical Agriculture – Natural fibres such as cotton and wool can involve the use of pesticides and fertilisers, and in the case of wool, animal cruelty.  Sustainable fashion practices ethical agriculture and sources organic and cruelty free materials.

Waste Free – Sustainable fashion aims to reduce waste during production as well as post-sale by advocating for consumers to give their garments a long and happy life!

Did you know that the average garment is only worn once before being thrown to landfill?

Top Tips for a Sustainable Wardrobe

If you’re not sure where to start on your sustainable fashion journey or are looking for some guidance along the way, these tips will help you make sure that you’re on the right track – or dare I say, in the right shoes!

Only Buy What You Need

For the shopaholics and fashion divas out there this might be a little hard, but not impossible!  We all know how tempting it is to buy all the latest trends, summery dresses, the perfect denim and cute little tops, but how much of this do we actually need?  Start implementing a mindset that only focuses on buying what you need, you don’t need to buy everything that’s on sale!

A Long Happy Life

Firstly, give your clothes a long life.  That means wearing your garments again and again, don’t just get rid of them the moment they go out of fashion or after wearing them a handful of times. 

Secondly, give them a happy life.  This means looking after your clothes properly, this ensures that they stay in good condition and will last you a lot longer.  If you take a look at the labels on your garments you will find the wash and care instructions specific to the care of that garment.

Quality Over Quantity

Let’s be real, good quality clothing can be expensive and especially when buying from small sustainable brands you might find that the price tag is a bit more on the pricey side.  The thing is we’ve become so accustomed to buying cheap clothing that we expect all clothing to be a certain price.

From the fabric to the water, electricity and resources, to the labour, shipping and packaging – it’s actually insane that we can buy t-shirts for R20! 

When making more sustainable fashion choices consider quality over quantity.  Instead of buying five pairs of jeans – which probably have a large percentage of polyester in them – buy one pair that have been made ethically and with sustainable organic fabrics.

Repair & Upcycle

One of the number one reasons people get rid of clothes is because something is wrong with them – most commonly, a broken zipper, missing button, and rip or tear in the garment.  While we once repaired all our clothes and didn’t let garments go to waste, we now live in a society where it’s easier to get rid of a garment and buy a new one, instead of fixing it.  This is crazy!  There are plenty of seamstresses and tailors that can easily fix garments, and if you’re wanting to gain some new skills why not give it a go yourself?  Google and YouTube are your best friends here!

Thrift

If the most sustainable fabric is one that already exists, then the same is true for clothing.  Thrifting and buying clothes second-hand is one of the best ways to create a more sustainable wardrobe.  Buying clothes that already exist and are pre-loved, means that you won’t be putting your money towards garments that need to use more resources, in order to be made.  Second-hand clothes are already in the system, so why not make use of them and give them a longer life?  Plus, thrifting is usually much easier on your bank account – hence the name!

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