As a normal person who has just started a journey to be more mindful and sustainable in fashion, you might get confused by those terms: sustainable fashion, ethical fashion, slow fashion, green fashion, and eco-friendly fashion. These terms are used a lot in the fashion industry lately when sustainability has become a mega-trend around the globe. In fact, they are quite complicated to define in one-line general definitions. However, we will walk you through all these concepts with the simplest, most beginner-friendly language, as well as provide you a concrete guide to start to be more sustainable with your own closet.
Ethical fashion: is fashion that focuses on reducing negative impact on people, animals, and the planet. The garment workers are paid fairly, cruelty-free to animals, etc. are the examples of ethical fashion practices.
Slow fashion: is both a mindset and a mode of production; it is essentially a movement intended to slow down the process from the consumer’s need for new clothes to the end of a garment’s life.
Green/Eco-friendly fashion: is a fashion that attempts to minimise the negative impact on the environment, also, the health of the consumers and the people who are making clothes. Using organic cotton, recycled fabrics, natural dyes, avoid using toxic chemicals in production, etc. are the examples of eco-friendly fashion.
What, actually, is “sustainable fashion”?
Sustainable fashion is the umbrella of all ethical fashion, slow fashion, eco-friendly fashion practices. Sustainable fashion, ultimately, seeks to create an industry that is completely devoted to sharping fashion towards a more environmentally and socially conscious future.
Overconsumption - The root cause
“Overconsumption is the mother of all environmental problems” - Kalle Lasn
- because it is the situation where the use of natural resources has outpaced the sustainable capacity of the ecosystem.
It’s all about our consumption behavior. It’s not sustainable when we keep buying what we don’t need or throwing away perfectly wearable items after one or two worn only, even we buy them second-hand or from sustainable brands. “A landfill full of organic cotton T-shirts is still an overflowing landfill” – Marc Bain.
So, there is no point buying new thing, unless you seriously plan to keep and wear it until it’s torn apart.
Where and how can a normal person start to get involved with sustainable fashion?
Start with your own closet! Here are some simple steps that you can apply to make your wardrobe more sustainable:
- Define your (life)style: I bet every one of us has been, at least once, facing a “I have nothing to wear” crisis, while our hangers are full. To be more correct, it is that we have nothing aligned with our style/lifestyle to wear. Now, it’s time to sit down and picture your style and lifestyle. Start with this simple question: What would I wear in a daily basic as a [your job/title]?
Another option is, think about a lifestyle you want to live in, a person you want to become and picture how that person would dress.
- Go through all the clothes you have and decide what to keep based on your current (life)style (I avoid the word “declutter” here due to the misconception that it might cause): The aim of this step is to create a more practical wardrobe in which you will make use of every item. Of course, your style will change over time, along with your lifestyle, thus you can do the “wardrobe auditing” once in 6 – 12 months to keep it up-to-date.
- Give away/sell, upcycle, recycle not-in-use clothes properly: After the wardrobe cleaning, there will be an amount of clothes that you decide not to keep anymore. Please don’t just throw it into the trash bin. Instead, first, give away to people that you know for sure are looking for new clothes. Second, think about upcycling the clothes that cannot be worn anymore. There are many great ideas that you can find on the net. Lastly, if you really cannot find a new home for your old clothes or there is no way you can upcycle them, then, take them to the recycle center in your municipality. Quickly google “recycle center in [the city you live]” and you will find the place.
Donating is also one of the options, but in the last case only. Thrift stores and the Red Cross centers are excessively piled up with unwanted clothes already. A massive amount of those textile is ended up in landfill. In this case, your generosity does more harm than good.
- Take good care of your clothes: Read the care label and follow that instruction when doing your laundry. Give every single piece in your closet a bit more love and care, in return, they will last you a lifetime.
- Mending, mending, and mending: Do you have a too big or too small pair of trousers? Or a knit that has a small hole on it? Or a shirt that is missing one button? Don’t throw them away just yet. These little defects can be fixed easily without requiring any professional mending skills. Or else, find yourself a good tailor that can magically make your old pair of trousers fit perfectly. Trust me, you will love going there than any of the clothing stores.
You see? We can certainly be more sustainable in our ways to shop; however, getting involved with sustainable fashion does not require purchasing anything new. Sustainability is not just a concept or a practice, it’s a lifestyle babe.