The Biggest Problem With Sustainability In Fashion, And How You Can Fix It
Sustainability is a topic that's been gaining more attention over the past decades. It's about making sure what we buy, wear and use is made in an environmentally friendly way that doesn't harm the ecosystem. But at the same time, we can't ignore the fact that many brands are leading with the message of sustainability, but failing to deliver on those promises; most of them do not even address many of the issues linked to it.
How can we improve? What’s the solution to build a more sustainable world? I believe that adaptability is the biggest issue. Not every person gets the chance to learn about sustainability or has the means to buy sustainable products. That’s why we have to make sustainability easier for everyone.
There's a huge difference between sustainable fabrics and sustainable practices.
The biggest problem when it comes to sustainability in the fashion industry is consumers. That's right, they are the problem. Some of you might be thinking, how could they be the problem? Isn't it up to the clothing companies to make their garments more sustainable? The answer is yes and no. Yes in the sense that every company out there should be trying as hard as they can to change and improve the sustainability of their garments. No in the sense that companies won't do this unless consumers demand it. The real question is, what would happen if we all stopped buying goods made from unsustainable practices?
This conversation has to change. Most people think that if they buy sustainable fabrics, they're doing their part to help the planet. But the concept is actually not as simple as that, owing to the way fashion is produced. The question that most people ask is: which fabrics are sustainable? That's a good place to start, but it's not nearly enough. The answer is everywhere — in your closet and in your wallet (some of your money goes toward sustainability).
Some of the most eco-friendly materials are those you've never heard of.
Some of the most eco-friendly materials are those you've never heard of. For example, wool is biodegradable and recyclable, which makes it a great alternative to those non-renewable fibres such as nylon, polyester and acrylic. However, despite the obvious environmental benefits of wool, the industry is facing various challenges which threaten its very existence.
It has been twenty years since the first eco-friendly designer collection debuted. Though it was a step forward for sustainability in the fashion industry, it didn't mean every company stopped using toxic materials in the manufacturing of their clothing. But I can understand why. It's difficult to see how ugly fabrics with unappealing colors and textures could ever be something anyone would want to wear.
The traditional textiles that we use in apparel are fast wearing out. The prices on them keep rising, and people like you and me want to ditch them. So how do we do it? Well, the solution lies in finding the eco-friendly fabrics that you didn't know existed!
If your favorite brand isn't sustainable, create a demand for it.
If your favorite brand isn't talking about sustainable fashion, you need to create a demand for it. We are in the age of information, and if you don't know which brands are making an effort towards creating a more sustainable industry, then you can easily take your money elsewhere and vote with your wallet. We will not let our favorite brands continue with the status quo of fast fashion -- we want change , and we have the power to make that change happen.
Pay attention to where brands are getting their materials from.
One of the biggest issues with the fashion industry isn't leather or fur — it's sustainability. While we have reduced our overall energy consumption, many of the products in the fashion industry are made from non-renewable resources, from cotton to silk and nylon. And even when textiles come from renewable resources, it can be hard to tell what kind and where these materials are being sourced.
Forget the buzzwords. Forget B Corporations, Fair Trade certification and all that non-sense. The fashion industry is responsible for 8% of greenhouse gas emissions. That figure is gigantic, but what's even more staggering is the source of these emissions — clothes.
The fashion industry has been under scrutiny over the last few years for the sustainability of its materials. A lot of designers pride themselves on using sustainable fabrics and dyes, while big brands have been accused of using slave labor to produce their clothing.
Fast-fashion has led to an increase in our waste-stream, an increase in the number of sweatshops around the world, and increased pollution from countries known for manufacturing clothing. The sad part about all this is that we can fix it...we just need to be responsible consumers.
Takeaway: Sustainability in fashion is complicated, but there are ways to help improve it
It's near impossible to track a garment's entire life cycle, and it would be both too expensive and far too difficult for companies to try. But like many potential fixes in the world of sustainability, this is one that cannot get done overnight. Companies big and small are beginning to show their commitment to creating a more sustainable fashion industry. You can do your part by supporting these companies when you shop and by spreading awareness with your friends, family, and others. Things are improving in the sustainable fashion industry, but there's still a long way to go.
Madsbay is here to raise awareness of environmental responsibility in fashion, and encourage people to choose sustainable clothing. It may be a difficult mission, but it's essential for the creation of lasting clothing. By joining with Madsbay and shopping ethically you can feel confident that your clothing is good for the planet. We want our clothing to be worn for longer and made more sustainably.
When consumers are able to make ethical choices in their clothing purchases, it's a win for everyone.