It can be difficult to navigate the world of sustainable and ethical fashion. How do we as consumers identify what’s fast fashion and what’s not, and how do we make ethical choices?
Don’t know where to start? Let’s begin with unpacking the terms “ethical” and “sustainable”.
WHAT IS SUSTAINABLE AND ETHICAL FASHION?
Although the terms “sustainable” and “ethical” are often used interchangeably, they have different meanings.
“Sustainability” applies to the existence of an item, starting with how it’s made, all the way to what happens at the end of its life. “Ethics”, on the other hand, relates to an individual or a brand’s values and choices.
Sustainable clothing is made from textile material that is sourced from either natural elements, such as bamboo, or from recycled materials. The idea behind sustainable fashion is that the manufacturing process, the product’s lifetime and what happens at the end of a product’s life has a minimal impact on the environment.
Companies who create sustainable clothing take steps such as removing harmful chemicals during farming and production, focus on water conservation or make fabrics in a way that reduces waste to ensure they are doing as little harm to the environment as possible.
Sustainable companies often take into account both environmental and socio-economic impacts. In practice, this would imply continuous efforts to improve all stages of a product’s life.
WHAT IS FAST FASHION?
Fast fashion can be defined as low-quality, inexpensive clothing that exemplifies seasonal trends seen in couture or high fashion. Fast fashion typically uses inexpensive, synthetic materials and sweatshop labour to mass-produce new items with very little time between the manufacturing process and when a product is available for purchase.
THE IMPACTS OF FAST FASHION
Data suggests that fast fashion is one of the worst polluting industries in the world. For example, a single pair of jeans takes approximately 20,000 litres of water to produce throughout the creation process, from growing the cotton to dyeing the fabric. To put that into perspective, it would take the average person 13 years to drink the same amount of water.
HOW TO SHOP AND WEAR SUSTAINABLE FASHION
When you as a consumer make the decision to purchase clothing or accessories made from sustainable materials or processes, you are actively reducing your carbon footprint.
Here are a few ways to shop sustainably:
Choose Sustainable Textiles and Materials
Let’s look at clothing materials for a moment. Bamboo, a material of choice for the Pudus Everyday Sock Collection, does not rely on chemicals or fertilizers to grow. It requires very little water to grow and naturally regenerates without planting. Bamboo also produces 30% more oxygen than hardwood forests.
Choosing materials that do not negatively impact the environment is the first step to making a sustainable choice when it comes to clothing. Now, nothing is 100% sustainable because it is necessary to use resources. However, there is a stark contrast between sustainable materials and those used in fast fashion.
Wear Recycled Materials
Many companies are now recycling fibres to create brand new products. It’s likely that you’ve seen t-shirts made out or recycled water bottles, or swimsuits made out of ocean plastics. Finding clothing items that are made out of recycled materials is an excellent way to encourage more sustainability in your wardrobe.
If you’re looking to add some new accessories to your wardrobe made out of recycled materials, look no further! Pudus will be launching hats made from recycled plastic bottle materials this Fall! Keep your eyes peeled on our Instagram @puduslife for more information about this product launch.
Purchase Quality Products
One of the best things you can do to have a more sustainable wardrobe is to wear pieces that will last a lifetime. Fast fashion can often be worn for one season before breaking down and needing to be replaced, which eventually leads to it ending up in the landfill.
Invest in clothing that is high quality so you can wear it for years to come. This may mean spending a little more money up front for a piece, but when you consider the fact that you won’t need to replace that piece time and time again, the investment is worth it.
You know the saying, “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure”? That perfectly describes thrift shopping! Shopping second-hand is an extremely sustainable way of shopping and you’re guaranteed to find unique pieces to express your personal style. Not only does thrift shopping keep clothing out of the landfill, but hunting for that perfect thrifted jacket is a fun way to spend an afternoon!