Before joining the sustainable fashion movement, you may be wondering what sustainable fashion really entails. Fashion is one of the most polluting industries in the world. As mentioned by onegreenplanet.org, the fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world, just behind petroleum. From the extreme water usage, dyes, fabrics, factories and waste, fashion heavily contributes to environmental damage. The term “sustainable fashion” means helping to protect the earth by being more thoughtful in clothing production and consumption.
Practicing sustainable purchasing habits is a small step to help the environment in a big way. The average consumer purchases 60% more items of clothing compared to the year 2000, and each garment is kept half as long. You can make a positive impact just by wearing your clothes an extra nine months, reducing your carbon, waste and energy footprint by 20-30%.
Dressing sustainably doesn’t need to be a change in style, only a change in purchasing decisions. Now that you have an idea of what sustainable fashion means, here are 9 easy ways to join the sustainable fashion movement. By the way, small changes make a big difference.
9 Easy Ways to Join the Sustainable Fashion Movement:
1. Wear Eco-Friendly Clothing Brands
The reduction in water and material consumption, and use of alternative earth-friendly textiles are all factors that make a clothing brand eco friendly. Eco friendly clothing brands all have their own unique way of helping the planet. For example, the brand Stella McCartney is committed to making clothes that are both good for you and the earth by using only cruelty-free products. Amour Vert plants a tree every time a customer buys one of their tee shirts. Zuri is working to create a sustainable economy in Kenya by paying fair wages and sourcing locally. You can access all of these eco friendly clothing brands plus some through Armoire, a clothing rental service. By renting eco-friendly clothes, you’re reducing your fashion footprint twofold!
2. Reduce Your Clothing Waste
Consumer’s extreme buying habits are leading to 3.6 billion clothes left unworn annually (for more shocking fashion statistics click here). Clothing waste is a real problem today and has an immense impact on the environment. Not only is the production of clothes harmful to the environment, but because fabrics have been dyed, bleached, and chemically altered, the afterlife of clothes is equally as detrimental. Buying smarter and less is the key to reducing clothing waste. But, dressing smarter and reducing clothing waste doesn’t mean you can’t stay up with the latest trends. A great way to always look good and feel good about your closet is through clothing rental. Renting clothes is an easy way to access an unlimited wardrobe and reduce your clothing waste.
3. Support Green Fashion
We all know the 3 R’s; reduce, reuse and recycle. The green fashion movement lives by DRU; donate, rent, and upcycle. Donating, renting and upcycling clothing are all small decisions that bring big change to being more green. Green fashion is the expression to make style and sustainability interconnected. Vintage is always on trend, so donate and buy from a local thrift store. Or, get creative and upcycle old clothing to give them a longer life span. Even Vogue’s Editor in Chief’s daughter enjoys upcycling her clothes, recently seen restyling a bridesmaid dress. Green fashion is about being creative, savvy, stylish and kind to the environment all at the same time. Supporting the green fashion movement could be as easy as reducing consumption, rewearing clothes for longer and recycling your clothes at the end of their life. For more ways to support green fashion click here.
4. Shop Brands Reducing Their Fashion Footprint
Fashion footprint is the term coined for the impact the fashion industry has on the earth. Needless to say, the fashion footprint must be reduced. Companies like Cuyana, Allbirds and Everlane are working hard to reduce their fashion footprint by using thoughtfully sourced materials and ethical production techniques. Cuyana’s homepage reads “welcome to fewer, better things” with the idea of creating timeless pieces through carefully chosen materials. Allbirds is a shoe company that only uses recycled materials and mother nature’s materials, resulting in “the world’s most comfortable shoe” made only of wool, sugarcane, tree fiber, castor oil, recycled bottles and recycled cardboard. Everlane takes advantage of the anti-trend, creating pieces that will last decades due to extraordinary quality. Thoughtful companies are the first step in reducing the fashion footprint, but the customers have the power too. Support the sustainable fashion movement by buying from brands who care about the future of our planet.
5. Educate Yourself on Fair Trade Clothing Companies
The most important action to take in making a difference in anything is learning about how to help. An easy and fast way to learn about supporting fair trade clothing companies is through blogs and social media. Fair trade clothing companies are constantly trying to spread awareness about their mission to create transparency in their clothing production. Some of our favorite blogs to learn more about fair trade are, The Curated Column from Armoire, The Good Trade, and Eco Warrior Princess. Fair trade clothing companies are on the path towards a sustainable fashion industry by demonstrating ethical practices that support their employees and the planet.
6. Avoid Fast Fashion
You may be asking what fast fashion is, and even if you don’t realize it, you know fast fashion all too well. That $34.99 sequin top in the back of your closet is trendy, you wore it once, and it was inexpensive but, you probably won’t get more than 3 uses out of it. Fast fashion is the inexpensive, on trend clothes taking over wardrobes. Although a couple of cheap shirts may seem harmless, fast fashion is damaging the earth in extreme ways. Fast fashion companies are churning out millions of products daily. To put fast fashion water usage in perspective, as mentioned by, the World Resource Institute, “The world uses 5 trillion liters (1.3 trillion gallons) of water each year for fabric dyeing alone, enough to fill 2 million Olympic-sized swimming pools.” 2 million olympic-sized swimming pools could be filled annually and that is just from the fabric dying part of the process. These fast fashion factories are operating at an aggressive rate requiring copious amounts of resources. The fast fashion industry is not expected to slow down anytime soon, with the water usage only increasing. As consumers of the fashion industry, we have the power to make purchasing decisions to support sustainable fashion companies and slow down fast fashion.
7. Look for Sustainable Fashion Brands
Now that you know what it takes to be a sustainable fashion brand (limiting clothing waste, using thoughtfully sourced materials and implementing ethical production techniques), you will not be surprised to find out that clothing rental services are the easiest option to join the sustainable fashion movement. Armoire is a clothing rental service that allows you to access an unlimited closet, dress sustainably and save money. Armoire is exactly what your wardrobe needs. With a monthly membership, where swapping clothing as often as you please is encouraged, you will wear the current styles you desire, but responsibility. Renting clothes is a sustainable practice so feel good and look good with your Armoire membership.
8. Understand the Effects of Ethical Fashion
The World Resource Center states the water you drink for the duration of two and a half years of your life is equivalent to the amount of water it takes to create one t-shirt. Cotton’s nickname, a thirsty crop, is fitting considering it is the culprit for the considerable amount of water consumption in the fashion industry. Cotton happens to be the most common fiber in clothing. Cotton makes up 33% of all fibers found in clothing. Ethical fashion is helping the environment by reducing water consumption through careful production of clothes and a swap in materials used. Instead of using cotton, ethical fashion brands are using materials like wool and recycled textiles.
9. Have a Slow Fashion Mindset
Slow fashion is exactly what it sounds like, the opposite of fast fashion. Recently, the powerful truth of fast fashion has caught the attention of people around the world (check this out for more hidden truths about the fashion industry). Consumers are paying attention to the harm fast fashion has on the planet. Slow fashion focuses on companies caring for the world and creating clothes with a future healthy earth in mind. Slow fashion is the opposite of fast fashion emphasizing the slow and more sustainable route of fashion. With less trend changes and more thoughtful production techniques companies are able to create timeless, durable and stylish clothing.