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Sustainable Fashion 101


Sustainable Fashion 101

Fashion is one of those industries with the messiest, most complex supply chains, making it difficult to track the footprint of the product you want to purchase. This makes it difficult for a buyer to decide whether the purchase they’re making is truly “right” and sustainable or not. Unlike with eating habits, there is no simple model to follow when it comes to fashion. To identify best practices, let’s evaluate what sustainable fashion is.

What is Sustainable Fashion?

Sustainable fashion is a movement that fosters change in consumption of fashion products, making it as sustainable as possible- taking into account both environmental integrity and social justice. To put it simply; clothes, shoes and other apparel that is manufactured, marketed and sold accounting for sustainability in every stage of the supply chain is referred to as sustainable fashion. 

Ways to shop for clothes sustainably: 

  1. Shop online: Shopping online reduces the carbon footprint of people driving to stores to try on apparel, and back. Using an online courier service is like using public transportation, it reduces individual carbon footprints and is therefore a better option. Moreover, it is easier to research products when you shop online; you can try and figure out exactly how sustainable the product is before buying it- you may not have the time to do this in a shop. 
  2. Avoid certain fabrics: Materials like polyester, synthetic fabrics, rayon etc. have harmful impact on the environment. Try to steer clear of apparel that contains synthetic fabrics, however, if you must, look for fabrics that are made out of recycled materials- like polyester made from recycled water bottles. Other sustainable fabric options include vegetable tanned leather and tencel. 
  3. Research brands: While shopping, ensure that the brands you’re purchasing from compensate their artisans and employees fairly and that the manufacturers are treated well. Most socially conscious brands have easy to access data on the same on their websites, with updated reports on working conditions, pay and benefits etc. If such data is hard to find, chances are that the brand has something to hide and that it’s best you take your business elsewhere. 
  4. Buy second hand products: One of the best ways to ensure that your shopping habits are sustainable is by buying second hand products. Before investing in a brand new outfit, try finding a second hand alternative- these are usually cheaper and are also sustainable. It reduces waste, reduces the carbon footprint of the products, and reduces the production of toxic materials to meet consumer demand.  

There are several different ways to contribute to the establishment of a sustainability conscious community, and these are simply a few suggestions to get you started. You can also show your support to brands that do well on this front and by donating to NGOs and watchdogs dedicated to this cause. 

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