The earth is the only place we have to live. It’s up to us to take care of it by the choices we make, including fashion. The fashion industry is notoriously wasteful. Garment production roughly doubled over the past twenty years, but people wear their clothes only half as long, creating an enormous amount of pollution. With a truckload of clothes being burned or tossed into landfill every second, there’s no time like the present to choose ethical slow fashion.
1. Cutting Carbon Emissions
Every piece of clothing you buy, from everyday jeans to the wedding dress you’ll wear when tying the knot, has an impact on the environment. The apparel sector emits more greenhouse gases than all airplanes and ships combined. Sustainable fashion means buying less and .
2. Wasting Less Water
Creating a pair of jeans and a t-shirt can consume some 5,000 gallons of water, . But organic cotton uses 90% less water than standard cotton. Other sustainable fibers that use less water during production include organic linen, hemp, and recycled fibers.
3. Lessening Landfill
More than 15 million tons of textile waste is produced each year in the US, double the amount of 20 years ago. The vast majority winds up in landfills. Many clothes are worn once, if at all. Sustainable fashion means wearing clothes for longer and recycling, both of which reduce strain on landfills.
4. Clearing the Ocean
Microplastic pollution is a huge concern. The vast majority of clothing produced today is non-biodegradable synthetic and the fibers are ending up in our oceans, about a half a million tons annually. Even washing your clothes causes synthetics to shed microfibers. For sustainable clothes, go natural: choose organics like hemp, linen, and cotton that don’t clog up our waters the way synthetics do.
5. Conserving Oil
Petroleum is used to make polyester and of course it is also used to transport clothing. Buying natural fibers, wearing your clothes longer, and recycling are all ways to reduce oil consumption and waste.
6. Furthering Fair Wages
Sustainable fashion is ethical. Slavery still exists, and the fashion industry is one of the biggest culprits. When you buy from brands that promote fair wages, the earth and its inhabitants win.
7. Improving Welfare
Low wages, long hours, and dangerous working conditions abound in the garment industry. Sustainable fashion includes fair treatment of artisans and tradespeople. Look for ethical brands and certifications like Bluesign and Better Cotton.
8. Caring for Children
According to UNICEF, an estimated 170 million children worldwide are employed in the apparel industry. Brands that endorse sustainability do not use child labor. Check out your favorite brands through organizations such as the Fair Wear Foundation and Fair Trade Certified.
9. Defending Animal Rights
Although many people believe cows killed for meat often are used for leather, this is often not the case. Cruelty-free alternatives include recycled, compostable sneakers and imitation leather made from mushrooms and pineapple leaves.
10. Improving Health
From pesticides to dyes, some 8,000 chemicals are used to process clothes. They can cause birth defects, disease, and even death to the farmers who handle them. These chemicals also threaten our own health. Wash new clothes before wearing, and look for certifications like GOTS or Oeko-Tex.
11. Developing Originality
Fast fashion is about following trends. When you slow down and really look at what you need — and what you don’t — your unique personality shows through. As Ralph Lauren says, ‘Fashion is over quickly. Style is forever.’
12. Reminding Us to Appreciate
It’s easy to just toss on your favorite jeans and go about your busy day. The sustainable fashion movement reminds us to be grateful for all that we have.