We all make fashion choices every single day. Whether you’re contemplating which sweater to put on before you head to work, browsing fine jewelry options online, or hunting for a show-stopping dress to wear on vacation, you are intrinsically part of the fashion industry.
Recently, in the midst of various climate crises, we’ve also heard a lot about how to do our part to help the earth and everyone living on it. We all know that we can contribute a bit to positive change, even as individuals. This can be through buying reusable bags and straws or using eco-friendly materials in our homes.
While it isn’t mentioned often, the fashion industry is a significant contributor to environmental pollution and climate change. Interested in learning how, and how you can avoid contributing to the problem? Read more to see why you should make the switch to eco-friendly fashion.
It’s Healthier for You
Clothing made through traditional retailers undergoes processes that feature unhealthy chemicals before landing on your doorstep. Many clothing items are dyed, bleached, and treated with thousands of synthetic chemicals before they’re ready to be shipped and sold.
If the skin is the body’s largest organ, why would we want to wear anything that has touched potentially harmful chemicals and dyes? If these chemicals come into contact with our skin, they could absorb them and someday cause lasting harm.
Some textiles made with synthetic materials also shed microplastics – plastics that are smaller than ten micrometers. Microplastics are small enough to be ingested, inhaled, and taken into our organs. While more research needs to be done on microplastics and their effects on the human body, they’re likely not good for our health.
It’s Healthier for the Planet
Not only can fast fashion be bad for human health, but the fashion industry has a history of harming animals in order to make coats, bags, and hats. Fur and leather involve killing animals for their skin and pelts, and experts have been seeking cruelty-free alternatives for years. Some brands even recycle plastics in order to fashion faux leather bags. While recycling plastics is better than allowing them to litter our oceans, it’s still best for the planet to avoid synthetic materials as much as possible.
While it’s difficult to find leather and fur alternatives that don’t use plastics, there has been some exciting progress on this front. For example, scientists have figured out how to make vegan leather from mushrooms and pineapples.
It Promotes Safer Working Conditions
One little-mentioned aspect of the traditional fashion industry is that it relies on paying workers in other countries very low wages in order to make a profit. Some have called this modern-day slavery, and it’s not hard to understand why. It’s estimated that less than 10% of people who make clothes earn a living wage.
Brands that are committed to eco-friendly fashion typically focus on ethical wages and working conditions. It’s important that we ensure the people making our garments are equitably compensated and treated humanely. Their well-being is as important as the well-being of the planet.
The word sustainability gets thrown around a lot these days – essentially, it’s simply a commitment to avoiding the depletion of energy and resources so that the environment remains balanced. This ensures that we’re able to continue making clothes, shoes, jewelry, and accessories.
Purchasing sustainable, eco-friendly jewelry and fashion shows your support for brands that avoid over-mining, conflict stones, sweatshops, animal cruelty, and the depletion of the earth’s natural resources.
In the fashion industry, many companies over-use water when making the finishing touches on our clothes. But eco-friendly brands that use materials like organic cotton significantly reduce the amount of water waste. Organic cotton also avoids the use of pesticides and fertilizers, which leaves the farmland used to produce the materials in better condition.
Sustainability Promotes Better Quality
Not only do sustainable brands leave the earth in a better condition, they often produce clothing and products of a higher quality. Because eco-friendly brands prioritize the health of the workers, land, and materials they use, this results in a focus on quality over quantity.
It’s also no secret that clothing items made from natural fibers like cotton, linen, and hemp last longer than synthetics. Making a commitment to purchasing items made from natural materials might appear expensive in the short term, but your clothing will last much longer and pay for itself in the long run.
Sustainability Promotes a Better Relationship with Our Clothing
Because sustainable fashion emphasizes the quality of items over the quantity, we try to buy less clothing made with good materials and greater care. This challenges us to maintain our items longer and reuse them over and over again. This prompts us to learn how to care for our clothing, rather than running out to the nearest mall and purchasing a new item to replace the old one.
This way of thinking facilitates a better relationship between us and our clothing. We might improve our sewing skills or find a local craftsperson who can repair our shoes and jewelry.
We’ll also appreciate our garments more – understanding the lifecycle of a clothing item and all the work that goes into it is the first step in promoting slow and conscious fashion choices.
Fashion is a huge part of our lives – the question of what to wear prompts us to make fashion decisions every single day. Yet most people don’t know how our clothes are made, who makes them, and the impacts that making garments has on the earth.
If everyone thought more sustainably before purchasing a purse or a piece of fine jewelry, we’d be in a much better position. Educating ourselves and doing research on the brands we support is a small way we can contribute to sustainability and eco-friendly fashion.