With fast fashion producing almost 1 billion CO2 emissions worldwide each year and the fashion industry all in all contributing to 20% of toxic wastewater pollution, the future of one of the most financially profitable and environmentally polluting industries globally needs to ‘look on the green side’.
What does being sustainable mean?
In 1987, the United Nations defined sustainability as: “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.
In short, being sustainable means remaining longer in the present to preserve the future. And what does that mean for the environment? Simply not exhausting the natural sources and seeking renewable ways to consume economically, societally and of course ecologically.
Sustainability in fashion
One would argue that being sustainable in fashion means buying less, thus producing less. This does not seem to be the case in our era of consumerism and rapacious need of having ever more clothing to please our –ever changing- fashion ego. Instead, sustainability in fashion moves towards producing garments in a way that takes into account the product’s life cycle: from cautiously using natural resources (water supply, ecosystems etc.) and exploiting renewable energy sources (solar, wind etc. ) to making the most out of recycling and reusing materials and fabrics.
Sustainable fashion as a movement and upcoming term first appeared after the massive baby boomers’ consumerist era of the 50’s where production and consumption rates skyrocketed. Specifically, from the late 60s with the hippie movement and until the late 80s with the punk and goth movements, fashion took a more sustainable turn rebelling against the mass consumption. Old clothing, second hand, vintage garments and mixing styles almost looking like a raggedy became the first attempt towards a more sustainable future in fashion. However more radical changes came after the 90s where the phenomenon of fast fashion hit not only the wallet of the everyday consumer but also the environment at its core.
Nowadays, Sustainable fashion requires ’thinking more (ethically)- producing less (harmfully)’ and from a socio-economic perspective this requires stakeholders from different sectors (from manufacturing all the way to marketing) to cooperate, improve working conditions, monitor supply chains and comply with global environmental codes of conduct. All in all, one should keep in mind the balance of the 3Ps while talking about sustainable fashion: People, Planet and Profit. Fair trade, ethical working conditions in labour, organic and recyclable fabrics, more sustainable operational costs and brand transparency can have an impressive impact.
The good news is that more and more consumers are sensitized towards a ‘greener’ fashion and choose sustainable and ethical brands, especially with the current affairs of COVID-19 and the increased environmental awareness that followed towards the way and pace we consume.
The ‘Yes’ materials
It is hard to define a material as merely sustainable since various factors play a role in its cycle and production, so depending on the process, the most - let’s say - ‘eco-friendly’ fabrics used currently in sustainable fashion are:
The ‘No-no’ materials
Some fibers being produced from fossil fuels in countries with coal as the main energy source are a big ‘No’ towards sustainable attempts. These are the so-called synthetic fabrics:
How does Kleiderly contribute?
Recycling, upcycling and circular economy thinking will be the solution for the industry and our planet, and this is simply what Kleiderly does. At Kleiderly, we fight the environmental impact of fast fashion by converting the fashion and textile waste into very sustainable material.
To know more about Kleiderly, check our website out