Eco- friendly and sustainable fashion and lifestyles are buzzwords that need our attention in the modern world. Mass production of fashion items with questionable quality and origins, flood the consumer world, creating an environmental disaster. The fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world; a sobering thought! Cheap clothes and shoes create more waste than ever before with 85% of textiles thrown out each year cluttering landfills. Despite efforts to increase global awareness, the industry keeps growing. Supply and demand drives production, intensifying the environmental impact with each passing year.
Another factor to consider is the moral issue of the treatment of animals. Millions of innocent animals die each year for the clothing industry. Fur farms are notorious for keeping animals in abhorrent conditions, causing suffering a misery. Most leather comes from countries such as India and China, where animals are killed in terrible ways. Sadly, animal welfare laws are non-existent or unenforced in these countries, causing misery to the animals of our planet. We can mitigate suffering by supporting those dedicated to helping innocent animals and our dying planet. But how can we make a difference and contribute to creating a positive change back to ‘slow fashion’? It’s true, we can’t change the world individually, but there are ways to ensure we support efforts to create a more sustainable planet.
Buy better quality
When considering your clothing you should use a ‘less is more ‘approach. Buying fewer clothes and shoes that are better quality means that you can keep them longer, avoiding the need to throw away badly made, cheap items; this will make a tremendous difference to how much you contribute to landfill. Buying cheap clothing is a false economy, rarely do you get years of life out of your items, making you spend money more frequently.
Whilst leather has long been known to be durable, it’s unethical and supports cruelty to animals. Thankfully, there are many alternatives out there due to the increasing popularity of vegan leather and eco-friendly materials. Vegan leather is derived from the natural world and is not only sustainable but is also stylish. More and more designers are adding vegan leather to their collections, adding to the surge in popularity. The shift in the ‘hippy’ narrative previously associated with vegan products means that more people are choosing this ‘cruelty free’, sustainable option. So what products would be a great addition to your wardrobe?
Reuse and recycle
Choosing fashion items that are recyclable will automatically have a positive impact on the environment. Most textiles can be reused, but perhaps the best way to recycle is to sell or give away unwanted clothes and shoes. If everyone did this, landfills would recover and sustainability achieved.
Faux leather jackets are a great addition to your wardrobe and these days they don’t carry the stigma of being ‘fake’ or cheap. With faux leather being an ethical choice, it’s climbed up the rankings according to gq magazine, with various choices of texture and style.
The fashion brand Broden offer some wonderful options for women’s dresses and tops. They have embraced sustainability by using reusable fabrics, packaging and ethical trading.
Using sustainable fabrics to house our ‘unmentionables’ is a treat for the body. Underwear is important for daily comfort and natural fibres are ideal to use on our sensitive areas. Hemp, cotton and bamboo are breathable and especially good for ladies prone to yeast infections as they help circulate fresh air around the area. Good quality vegan underwear will last for years, saving you money in the long run.
Perhaps one of the biggest factors making sustainability difficult is the packaging crisis. Eco warriors all over the world have tried to raise awareness of the dangers of packaging on our landfills and oceans.
Many companies have traded plastics for renewable materials such as paper and cardboard or invested in bio-plastics. Thankfully, we can also support this transition by ditching plastics or reusing it. Reusing plastic bags for shopping trips or using bags made from paper is a wise first step to address the crisis. You can take reusable cups to your favourite coffee shop and use plastic free containers for carrying things. We use a trillion plastic bags each year, so we must all take personal responsibility and reuse as much as possible.
There are several natural alternatives to plastic such as mushroom, banana leaf and hay, that some countries use in supermarkets. They are compostable and cost effective as they utilize existing materials in nature. Search for online retailers for ideas on how to use plastic alternatives.
Incorporating ethical choices makes us become more mindful about what we buy. Awareness of production techniques and knowledge of where products come from will inform our daily choices. When shopping ask yourself questions such as; Who made it? What’s it made from? Where has it come from? What animals suffered so I could have this product? Do I really need it? Shopping with these things in mind will not only help the ‘greater good’ but also be more cost effective. You will enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that your choices have not contributed to the environmental disaster that currently threatens the world.
Take an active role
There are ways to take a more active role in protecting our planet from harm. The guys over at Friends Of The Earth explain various ways you can get involved and actively promote the benefits of a greener world such as fundraising, donations or buying a bee saver kit. The most active way is to fundraise locally to help fund larger efforts in the community. You can combine it with your business or even do a sponsored challenge such as running or cycling. By contributing actively, you are directly helping the climate emergency.
It’s tempting when faced with a global crisis to bury your head in the sand like the proverbial ostrich. But there are ways to change things, even in small ways. We all share the planet and should do what we can to mitigate negative effects.