To keep it simple, let’s start with What It’s Not…
- It’s Not Fast Fashion
- It’s Not Disposable Fashion
- It’s Not Fashion That Destroys Our Resources
So Then, What Is It?...
When fashion is classed as Sustainable it means that the clothing production is done in a way that maintains the use of resources at a Balanced rate or level so that no part is depleted or permanently damaged.
Let’s take a Journey of our clothing From Crop to Shop Floor as it has many processes and involves many people and methods at each stage.
Within the Fashion Industry the Resources start with the Seeds to grow the crops and the Farmers who work the land, there are also many other resources involved at the beginning such as the amount of Water it takes to grow the crops and, if they are used, fertilisers and pesticides too.
Then, the crops need to be harvested and the plant fibres spun into yarns. Depending on where the crops are grown usually determines the method for harvesting and spinning; by hand or by machinery. For less developed countries this can involve lots of manual labour and so, to be a fully sustainable resource, the farmers and workers should not be “used” and instead be paid a living wage. Unfortunately, within the Fast Fashion Industry these “resources” (people, plants, water, etc.) are usually not considered important and thus are ignored or deemed irrelevant.
Of course, there are also the Man-Made Fabrics produced in labs and factories around the world. Most of these involve the use of petroleum (oil) to make the synthetic fabrics we know as polyester, acrylic, viscose, etc. Using this fossil fuel is not a sustainable practice and as a global population we have completely depleted this natural resource to the benefit of mass corporations.
Going back to the Natural Fabric journey, the yarns need to be cleaned and spun onto reels to be ready for weaving. At this stage, coloured dyes are also added to the yarns. Often, different yarns are combined to produce blended fabrics, such as mixing elastane with cotton yarns to make a stretch jersey fabric. So, the type of fabric being produced is decided upon; plain or patterned weave, lightweight, heavy, stretchy, natural or coloured fabric etc. Depending on the type of facility that is dyeing the fabrics this process may or may not be sustainable. Currently, there is a huge problem in China and India with unscrupulous factories that pipe the waste water dye directly into the local rivers which has a massive impact and effect on the wildlife, environment and local communities. Many High Street Brands employ these factories with no care what takes places within or around them.
There are lots of workers and local residents that suffer from detrimental health conditions and aquatic life that dies as a result of the poisonous dyes being released into the waterways, without any filtration taking place. The Poor Standards of these factories are definitely depleting and permanently damaging the life around them.
Unfortunately, it is Consumerism that fuels these bad practices as the Fast Fashion Industry demands every garment to be made as quickly as possible and usually in large volumes, so that each brand can out-compete their rival in the Price of a garment. This Cut-Throat Competition to have the latest Trend in fashion is a billion dollar business.
Fashion used to revolve at a much slower rate, 4 seasons per year, so the turnover was only 4 times each year. Now it’s every week! Producing so much so quickly not only depletes our resources it also creates too much clothing leading to the issue of how brands dispose of their dead stock. Think about the recent event of Burberry, the brand burned millions of £’s worth of their dead stock in order to get rid of it, such a waste and an environmental disaster!
The demand to have something New to buy each week creates the notion that it’s ok to get rid of it after one or 2 wears! Also, the Fast production usually means the clothing is not well made, everything has to be done in a rush and at the cheapest cost which results in cheap synthetic garments that are of no benefit to the consumer or the environment. How can any of that be Sustainable??? Well, it’s not.
The good news is that it can change.
Your Spending Habits Have The Power To Change The Fashion Industry For The Better!
Retailers will not continue to stock an item that does not sell! They will remove it from the shelves.
The choice is in your hands!
How, Where & What Will You Spend Your Money On?
© Shelly Cole
VIVID Love For Life