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Can the fashion industry truly be sustainable?

Sustainability is the buzz word of the moment. With fashion brands using it as a selling point in a thankfully more environmentally conscious consumer world but what does it really mean?

I’ve struggled with this one for a while. Whilst advocating a ‘sustainable’ fashion brand, what does that truly mean?

Whilst consumers are starting to make eco focused decisions from a desire to make a difference and help the environment there is still huge demand for cheap throw away fashion.

The problem could lie in confusing information - For example we are told – ‘you should be buying organic cotton’ as it is grown without chemical pesticides or harmful fertilizers and uses less water – oh wait no you shouldn’t because your organic t-shirt has used far more resources to make. Conventional cotton varieties have a higher yield, meaning a single plant will produce more fiber than its organic counterpart. That’s because conventional cotton has been genetically engineered for that purpose. Organic cotton, by definition, comes from plants that have not been genetically modified. Because of that difference, to get the same amount of fiber from an organic crop and a conventional crop, you’ll have to plant more organic plants, which means using more land. That land, of course, has to be tended and irrigated.

Whoah.. confused?.. yes me too!

Bamboo is ethical though right?!

Nope.. apparently not. (More info here)

So there is a whole lot of confusing and conflicting information out there which could be holding consumers back from putting their money where their mouth is and supporting eco fashion.

The desire for new clothes is something that may be impossible to change. So whilst appealing to the consumer’s ethical streak, brands should aim to use new technology that has minimal use of virgin materials, water, energy and chemicals.

Recycled polyester reduces our dependence on petroleum as the raw material for our fabric needs. Diverting PET bottles for this process reduces landfill, and reduces soil contamination and air and water pollution and requires less energy than virgin polyester. Using something already in existence, removing it from landfill and the ocean and making it into something new. We’ve picked a winner right?

Well of course it’s not that straightforward. Next problem is mircoplastics being shed into the water system from these clothing products. Our Mangatas just require a quick rinse but if you are going to use a washing machine then the use of a Guppy bag is genius as this traps any mircofibres and stops them going into the water system.

Sustainability in fashion to me takes a holistic approach. It means making sure all angles of your supply chain from the materials used to the social justice of the workers are ethical. Minimising waste to its absolute potential, making small runs and using offcuts. Making clothing that is durable and will last years not months. Giving back as you go by having a social impact and offsetting your carbon print.

A sustainable fashion brand should be one that is doing everything in its power to help the environment and have a positive social impact.

I’m also hopeful that the fashion industry, being one of the worst contributors to pollution, could be just the one to turn the tide. By creating a demand for a huge amount of the waste products polluting our world. By using innovative fabrics that remove it and reuse it the fashion industry could make a big dent in the pollution on our planet. Here’s hoping anyway.

Thanks for listening x

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