What is sustainable fashion and why does it matter?

Sustainable – a term that appears to be popping up left, right and centre at the minute. But how many of us actually know what it truly means, and the importance of it? Sustainable fashion is no exception from this notion– and this article will help to break down that confusion, so you can make better-informed purchasing decisions.

What is sustainable fashion?

Sustainable fashion refers to the way in which items are produced or accessed, in a way that is socially and environmentally responsible. Sustainable fashion doesn’t just mean not purchasing from fast fashion brands, it also includes those who opt to purchase second hand clothing or swapping with friends. We can all make more sustainable fashion choices, and this doesn’t necessarily have to be in the way of purchasing habits, although this change comes from awareness of the issues at hand.

Key issues within sustainable fashion

There are four key issues that are often referred to when speaking about sustainable fashion. These are water consumption and contamination, energy emissions, chemical usage and waste creation, however sustainability is not limited to these four factors. Not only do these issues effect everyone across the globe, they have a greater impact on those in developing countries, and many of these workers are overworked, underpaid and taken advantage of.

Why does it matter?

Shopping sustainably matters as it can help reduce global warming, improve working conditions for those in sweatshops, and because it is the right thing to do. Many of the brands that we know and love such as The Inditex Group (they own Zara, Mango etc) are responsible for producing 508,012 metric tons of C02 per year, with the fashion industry totalling 20% of global water waste. Women´s shorts retailer Damart surveyed 2,000 UK adults to found out what the public thinks of sustainability. They discovered that when it comes to buying new items of clothing, more than half of British consumers (55%) admit they never take sustainability into consideration when clothes shopping. One in five (20%) stated that when shopping, they try to think a little bit about sustainability but do not do this all the time.

What can I do to support sustainable fashion?

There are many ways in which you can support the sustainable fashion movement. This includes, shopping for sustainable materials such as silk, wool and leather as these materials are biodegradable and do not leak toxic chemicals. Try to shop items that are made from recycled materials, this doesn’t mean you can’t still shop at your favourite brands – many fast fashion brands are beginning to implement recycled clothing lines. Try to purchase second hand clothing where possible or borrow and swap with friends.