Explained: Why Is Sustainable Fashion Needed For A Healthy And Inclusive Environment

The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 12 of responsible manufacturing and consumption has become an increasingly significant subject within the ‘slow fashion’ movement.

What is sustainable fashion?

Sustainable fashion is a method of sourcing, producing, and designing clothing that maximizes the benefits to the fashion industry and society as a whole while minimizing the environmental impact.

Sustainable fashion

Textiles and clothing account for USD 2.4 trillion in global factory output. According to reports, it employs 300 million people globally across the value chain.

It uses approximately 215 billion litres of water per year and suffers a material loss of 100 billion dollars per year due to under utilisation. Textiles contribute about 9% of microplastics lost to the ocean.

Sustainable fashion, also known as slow fashion, is a method of producing garments that considers all elements of the supply chain and seeks to respect people, the environment, and animals in the process.

Sustainable Fashion

Fast fashion is the absolute opposite of the sustainable way. This implies that, rather than the wasteful ‘take-make-buy-discard’ loop of in bulk, disposable clothing from brands and retailers that prioritize profit over people and the environment, the sustainable solution aims to reduce the impact on the environment and, in some cases, regenerate it.

With the fashion business accounting for approximately 2-10% of global carbon emissions, integrating sustainability can also mean creating significant progress toward decarbonization and meeting global climate goals.

Sustainable vs Ethical fashion

In ideology, the 2 concepts overlap, yet each of them has slightly distinct concerns, both of which are equally important to the future of fashion. Sustainable fashion refers to designers and brands who create clothing using organic, natural, biodegradable materials, reprocessed clothing or repurposed fabric, non-toxic dyes, and other environmentally friendly materials.

Sustainable Fashion

However, ethical fashion refers to the goods that integrate the aforementioned points as well as the social aspect of fashion. For instance, equal wages and a decent working environment for garment workers are factors that sustainable fashion does not always consider.

Vegan or cruelty-free fashion should not be confused with ‘sustainable’ fashion.

While avoiding leather, fur, cashmere, wool, silk, snakeskin, and feathers is much more ethical, it does not ensure a brand’s environmental authentication – for instance, many vegan alternatives available to leather and wool are made out of plastic.

A brief history of sustainable fashion

The origin story of the sustainable fashion movement occurred concurrently with environmental social movements over the last 30-40 years.

The fast fashion crisis is considered a fairly modern issue – clothing was appreciated in a significantly different manner in the first half of the twentieth century, with relatively increased prices, a make-do-and-mend mentality, a shorter trend cycle, and a mostly local made-to-measure shopping concept.

Sustainable Fashion

With accelerated globalization, technical advances, as well as the explosion of fashion as an entertainment business in the 1960s, demand for mass-produced, cheap, trend-driven clothing skyrocketed, and while clothing companies lined their pockets and consumers indulged in the latest looks, little research was done on the serious consequences for the planet.

Some observers say, despite some small ‘eco-initiatives by a few brands in the 1990s, the clothing industry was already drowning in the sea by the time the UN defined the term ‘sustainability’ in 1987.

Nike’s sweatshop scandal in 1991 and the Rana Plaza disaster in 2013 drew considerable attention to the fashion industry’s concerns. The Rana Plaza building in Dhaka, Bangladesh, which housed five textile mills, collapsed, killing at least 1,132 people and injuring over 2,500 others. It drew international and consumer attention to labor conditions and sustainable fashion.

What is Earth5R’s Home Equals Planet project?

Home Equals Planet is an initiative comprising 15 tangible actions that citizens take on an individual level. These are a step toward a sustainable planet and a healthier lifestyle. The actions promote simple actions like eating home-cooked food, segregating waste, spending time in nature, and so on.

Home Equals Planet: 15 Actions to Change the World

Buy Less and Save Water

Apparel production accounts for 10% of worldwide carbon emissions. 

Manufacturing new products is energy and resource-intensive process. 

The amount of water that is consumed and polluted in the processing stages of a product – called it’s Water Footprint or virtual water – is a looming threat our world can not afford in the face of dire water scarcity experienced by billions around the world every year. 

A single cotton t-shirt requires over 2500 liters of water.

And the carbon emissions during production are 12 times more than the t-shirt’s own weight. 

Add to this the shipping emissions which come from importing or outsourcing items and you have a recipe for environmental destruction. 

1.1 billion people worldwide lack access to water 

In a world with increasing consumerist instinct where the product you desire is a click away, one needs to understand the impact of this single click. 

Be a responsible buyer, 

  • Realize wants are different from needs. 
  • Repair what you have. 
  • Opt for resale, refurbished, or thrift options.

To read more of such articles, please visit https://earth5r.org/

Source: India Times

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