Sustainable Fashion: What You Need To Know

By: Jenne Slaw

You’ve probably seen the word “sustainable” all in the news while scrolling through Twitter or even in advertisements for your favorite retail brands and products. Creating sustainable goods is currently a major goal and selling-point for retailers across the world, especially clothing companies. Many want to do their part to help the environment, (or stop hurting it as much) while also keep up with the trends their competitors are following.

But with everyone hopping on the bandwagon and claiming to use sustainable sources or create sustainable products, the significance, and meaning of what sustainability tends to get lost. Everyone’s doing it, but not everyone is taking the time to break down what sustainability really is. Practicing sustainability is not as hard as it sounds, and the entire concept is quite easy to understand. This is your guide to sustainable fashion- including what sustainability means within the fashion industry, how to find brands that practice sustainability and how you can join the movement yourself.

Sustainable fashion means…

Within the fashion industry, the idea of fast fashion, cheap and trendy clothing items, has become so popular. The issue with fast fashion is that the clothing items produced may be nice-looking but are not environmentally friendly since not much goes into creating a conservative production process or long-lasting item. As a society, we are used to buying something because it’s affordable, throwing it out once it’s worn out and buying a new one. The goal of sustainability is to help combat the lifestyle of overconsumption we are used to. The primary focus is the production process. By selecting fibers and textiles with lower environmental impacts throughout the production process, companies can decrease their negative impact on the environment. This is done by sourcing recycled fibers and fabrics or selecting fibers with longer lifespans. Though the product produced may be more expensive to purchase, it saves money and energy in the long run.

Brands for Sustainability...

As I mentioned earlier, there are companies all over the world doing their best to join the sustainable fashion movement, and the list isn’t limited to clothing brands. Companies like Kroger have pledged to use 100% recycled shopping bags by 2020. Many companies have launched sustainable or eco-friendly clothing lines within their overarching brands, such as H&M’s Conscious clothing line and Urban Outfitter’s Urban Renewal line. While not all the product offerings from these retailers are marketed as sustainable or environmentally friendly, offering a line of items that fall into the category is a step in the right direction. Most retailers with sustainable products feature them on their website. The easiest way to find out if a brand is eco-friendly? Simply search the brand’s name and “eco-friendly products” or “sustainable products”. There are more out there than you think. This list features some amazing eco-friendly brands.

How You Can Practice Sustainability...

There are two main ways you can practice sustainability when it comes to fashion, either buying sustainable items or recycling your old clothing instead of trashing it. Recycling can mean donating your used items to a consignment store, donation centers or re-selling your items. Apps like Depop and Poshmark make it easy to sell your items! Retailers like H&M and Madewell often offer discounts in exchange for donated items. Even reusing old shopping bags or buying reusable ones helps! There are so many ways to practice sustainability. Overall, you must do your own research to determine the best way to fit sustainable practices into your lifestyle.