The origins of the sustainable fashion movement are intertwined with those of the fashionable environmental movement. In literal terms, it refers to any movement or process that fosters change to fashion products and the fashion system and makes it more viable towards ecological integrity and social justice. In simple terms, sustainable fashion means garments that are made to last long, keeping in mind the environmental concerns.
It all started with the publication in 1963 of the book Silent Spring by American biologist Rachel Louise Carson. Carson's book exposed the intense and widespread pollution related to the employment of agricultural chemicals. She discovered this because of the death of birds around her property resulting from the aerial spraying of DDT to kill mosquitoes.
Ethical fashion goes hand in hand with sustainable fashion as both deal with the idea of manufacturing, designing, and distributing clothes that benefit the society and environment at large while earning profits for the industry. Unfortunately, it is quite contrary to what is prevalent in society right now. Most of us follow the trends of fast fashion, which mainly propagates the system of manufacturing clothes that are trendy, come cheap and go out of fashion in a short time, thus getting discarded. This is against the principles of sustainable fashion as it clearly means wastage of valuable natural resources. Not only that, but it also means the exploitation of workers all around the world and depletion of resources at alarming rates.
Ethical fashion implies to clothing that is made right and is acceptable, which means it is not limited to just manufacturing clothes but sourcing the right materials, that have been grown organically and in a pesticide-free environment and distributed through proper channels.
Issues to consider for sustainability in fashion:
- Water usage – Water consumption is high when it comes to the production of clothing materials. Not only that, large amounts of water are used for washing clothes. Water contamination caused by harmful chemicals used cannot be neglected too.
- Chemical usage – The usage of chemicals like fertilizers and pesticides cause harmful effects on the environment.
- Energy usage – Production of synthetic fibers involves high usage of energy. Besides that, washing, drying, and ironing clothes too use up a lot of energy.
- Waste creation – We use high levels of water, chemicals, and energy to create clothing that people use and then throw away after some time. These are then incinerated and go into landfills!
Sadly, today, only 20% of all clothing is recycled. Sustainability in fashion would mean making significant impacts in all stages – right from raw materials creation and procurement, processing, manufacturing and would also go into wearing, caring, and disposal of the clothes when people are done with them.
Consumers have to be made more aware of brands as to how and where do they procure their materials from, what processes they use to manufacture their clothing etc. In short, transparency and knowledge sharing would make brands more desirable to consumers. This desirability is the key to acceptance, as it is rare that a person thinks about all this when it comes to purchasing clothes, right now.
Well, to achieve sustainability in fashion is a long process, and there is still a long way to go. But with every realization comes the desire to make things better.
Check out the brand, Mata Traders. We are proud to carry brands just like this that are devoted to making the world a better place by producing slow fashion, organic clothing made to last while helping families in need.