Ethical Fashion; An over view
What is it?
Why does it matter?
Where can we find it?
…and uh now what?
I’ll do my best to answer these questions, though I am no scientist. I am just a consumer that loves fashion, and is trying to love the earth just as much.
What is it by definition; Ethical fashion, (Eco Fashion) is a part of the trend of sustainability. Sustainability is the idea that we can create a system that can be supported indefinitely, in terms of human impact on the environment. How that relates to clothing, well the same ideal applies, the goal is that we could create a system in which we are not creating new products that continually harm the environment; the system supports itself, it grows from within itself. Thus creating less negative impact on the environment. Ethical Fashion, is a term that relates to many different aspects referring to clothing such as, design, production, retail, and purchasing. Ethical fashion can focus on a number of issues such as working conditions, exploitation, fair trade, sustainable production, the environment, and animal welfare.
If you are hungry for more, check out some of the articles I read (and got a lot of my info from), i’ll link them all below.
They cover a lot of topics and go a bit more indepth.
So why does any of this matter?
There is a lot of aspects we can get into, and if you all like this post I’ll continue, to talk further about, fast fashion, materials, marketing, and other topics because there is so much to unfold here.
Water pollution, in majority of the countries where clothing is produced toxic wastewaters from the textile factories are dumped straight into rivers. Arsenic, lead, mercury and other dangerous, and some unidentified, toxins can easily be found. Fertilizers that are used for cotton production are another pollution to our water sources. This is harming people that live by these rivers, the aquatic life, the oceans and any other animal life depending on that water source.
Water is used a ton in clothing production. Approximately 1,800 gallons of water is needed to grow enough cotton to make one pair of your blue jeans. This is adding to the drought of fresh water in the water. 750 million people do not have access to clean water.
Chemical pollution not only affects our water, but also our air. There has been an increase in premature deaths to cotton farmers, who have to breathe these chemicals in daily. These chemicals also cause soil degradation. This poses a threat to our global food security, as well as adding to global warming.
Other chemicals, are produced from the manufacturing companies. During the processes of production, and transportation these companies are creating an overwhelming amount of greenhouse gasses. Synthetic fibers are made from fossil fuel, so I’m sure you can imagine what that is impacting.
Waste pollution, the most popular fiber used in fast fashion clothing productions is, Polyester, along with Poly, other plastic biased materials do not decomposed for nearly 200 years. Well over half of our clothing is produced with non-biodegradable fibers.
We are affecting our environment, our water, food, soil, air, forests, animals, and people. Now there are lots of other contributors to the environmental issues happening today. However if fashion is something you are passionate about, maybe think about what kind of company your supporting next time you buy that trendy tee at forever 21 that falls apart the first time you wash it.
Exploitation of workers, a huge issue in the manufacturing part of (fast) fashion. Underpaid workers, [mostly woman] and children workers are being paid near 15 cents and hour, working 14-16 hour days. Next time you walk through H&M think about that hands that sewed the garment your looking at. We export our manufacturing to countries outside the US, to get the lowest prices. And avoid US labor laws and safe conditions for workers.
Where can you find Ethical and Sustainable brands?
Well there are a large handful of brands that do a great job of being [ at the very least] Eco conscious. I plan to make a seperate blog post with a good list a overview of brands check out. It’s not too hard to google too.
Resale stores, When you shop resale, or thrift, in a way you are keeping those items out of the landfills.
What do you do now?
If your more than used to shopping at a mall every week, or if you work a retail job, (like myself). This will be a big change, if this change is one you want to make. I myself know that I could be better. I know roughly 80% of my wardrobe is at least resale. But I know I still have a long way to go. But my goal for 2019, is to transform my closet to 99% Ethical brands, and resale items only.
You don’t have to be so drastic about a change, in your own life. But simply being conscious of the issue at hand, is the first step for every consumer.
Shop with thought, and shop with intent.
There is so so much information out there if your interested I strongly encourage you to check out some other articles.
Some other great helpful links;
and the source for the photos, graphs and overall information: