For a very long time, fashion has had negative effects on the social and environmental spheres. During the Industrial Revolution, the first industries that later became known as sweatshops emerged in England, and they were primarily reliant on coal.
Many of us wonder about a lot of things, even though we know deep down that we'll never fully understand the answers. What exactly are hot dogs made of? What purpose does life serve? The chicken indeed crossed the road, but why? Unfortunately, we are not any closer to learning the answers to these questions than you are.
We can certainly be of assistance, though, when it comes to slow fashion, sustainable fashion, and ethical fashion, as well as which brands support these ideas.
The overproduction and overconsumption cycle serves as the foundation for the fast-fashion business model.
Fast fashion retailers can only provide low pricing because they create in such large volumes.
Therefore, despite the fact that the corporations don't make much money off of each garment, they are nevertheless able to generate hundreds of millions or even billions thanks to their massive production.
About 840 million clothing are produced annually by Inditex, the parent company of Zara, and 3 billion by H&M.
Even while some fast fashion companies are beginning to use a (modest) amount of recycled and organic materials in their designs, this level of production is inherently unsustainable.
And, because fast fashion brands produce in such large quantities, they can negotiate prices down with factories.
But, unfortunately, these negotiations suppress wages and keep safety standards low.
The rise of fast fashion has also sparked a "race to the bottom" for the industry as a whole, as brands try to produce garments as cheaply and quickly as possible to offer trendy pieces at low prices.
But it's simple to understand why understanding the fashion industry and the need to support ethical and sustainable fashion is difficult for regular consumers.
Simply said, what you wear matters. Despite the fact that all clothing is handcrafted, the majority of people don't give any thought to who or what material their favourite sweater is made of.
These are significant inquiries that actually matter.
Unfortunately, the fashion industry has a poor track record of protecting the workers in the supply chain and has historically had and continues to have a significant detrimental influence on the environment.
The fashion sector emits more CO2 annually than all foreign travel by air and all ocean transportation combined, demonstrating its detrimental effects.
With this, we have created the ultimate resource for ethical fashion, eliminating the need for further research.
Consider it your cheat sheet or ethical fashion guidebook. When you have a query regarding the frequently murky waters of ethical fashion, this is the only reference you'll ever require.
Make a note of this page's URL on your sticky notes, print it off and post it on your wall, or bookmark it for later use.
Whatever you do, make sure to keep a copy so you can refer to it whenever an ethical fashion dilemma arises.
What exactly is sustainable fashion?
In conclusion, the sustainable fashion movement seeks to provide apparel that is created ethically and sustainably.
Sounds easy, doesn't it?
Being "ethical" often results in a loss of revenue, which is why businesses and brands are hesitant to practise it.
Professional women nowadays are more astute than ever and are concerned about the quality of their clothing as well as the complete supply chain, manufacturing procedures, and product afterlife.
They are more conscious that just because a hangtag says "sustainable," it doesn't necessarily mean that the merchant used eco-friendly manufacturing techniques to create that item.
Fashion that is manufactured responsibly is simply called ethical fashion.
This might include a wide range of business and manufacturing techniques to treat your employees fairly and lessen your environmental effect.
Simply said, ethical fashion refers to apparel that is both environmentally and socially responsible.
With its promise of never-ending trends, outrageously low pricing, and the convenience and accessibility that have resulted, the fast fashion business has captured the attention of the entire world.
With the press of a mouse, we are now accustomed to receiving incredibly inexpensive apparel that is produced in fresh styles every single week.
We're constructing homes with closets the size of bedrooms and use "disposable" apparel at a never-before-seen pace.
Ethical fashion is a remedy for the negative environmental and social effects of fast fashion.
The idea of ethical fashion is becoming more popular, yet it is still unclear why we should care and what it actually entails.
In the end, various people have varied definitions of ethical fashion. We all emphasise distinct morals and values that, as people, we identify with, and we all have different ethics.
The only way companies will change is if customers start solely making ethical purchases, compelling them to alter their methods or risk going out of business.
Why is sustainable fashion so important?
You might be surprised to find that one of the greatest pollutants in the world is the fashion sector.
In actuality, the sector contributes 20% of the world's industrial water pollution, second only to the oil industry in terms of pollution.
In addition, 20,000 chemicals, many of which are carcinogenic, are used in textile mills to create clothing.
The majority of those garments are made of plastic, which is causing microfibres in our oceans to become a potential catastrophe.
Sustainable fashion also implies improved working conditions, more equitable pay, and fewer unlicensed sweatshops for the individuals who manufacture these clothes.
Aiming for sustainability is the only way to end this cycle of extinction, devastation, and pollution.
Because the purchasing pattern we have grown accustomed to is wholly unsustainable, ethical fashion is crucial.
The long-term consequences can be extremely harmful to the wellbeing of the earth and its inhabitants, as we have already seen.
Many of the Earth's inhabitants are suffering, as well. Both wealth and health disparities are widespread, both in the United States and around the world.
For instance, according to the World Health Organization, the average life expectancy is only 62 years in low-income nations, compared to 81 years in high-income nations.
While this is going on, 45% of the world's wealth is owned by the richest 1% of people. Many others, on the other hand, continue to live in poverty and work hard to make things better for themselves, their families, or their communities.
No matter what you consider to be the world's most pressing problems, you probably won't consider fashion to be either a problem or a solution.
However, you might not realise it, but wearing sustainable, ethical apparel can actually help with a lot of these problems.
Even better, since everyone wears and needs clothing, it offers a very accessible platform for the average individual to influence change.
According to The True Cost, the global population now consumes 400% more clothing than it did at the turn of the millennium, cotton production uses 25% of the world's insecticides and 18% of its pesticides, and the resources needed to raise cattle for leather production have a significant negative impact on the health of our planet.
Additionally, the manufacturing of fast fashion pollutes all types of water bodies and "is responsible for producing 20% of global effluent." Additionally, 97% of fast fashion apparel is produced abroad, with a focus on poor nations (thank you for this info, 7Billion for 7Seas). These are only a handful of the factors that make ethical fashion crucial.
Bangladesh experienced the Rana Plaza catastrophe, or the collapse of the Dhaka garment factory, on April 24, 2013.
1,134 people were killed when the building, which housed garment factories and other businesses, fell.
These individuals, including the kids who were being looked after while their moms worked in the plant, totalled more than half women.
The day before the collapse, cracks in the structure were found. However, the building's owner disregarded requests to stop utilising it, forcing the industry to resume as usual for the garment workers.
This unfortunate incident is a cruel reminder of how crucial ethical production is and something that should never have happened.
Fast fashion is to blame for the mistreatment and exploitation of both the people who manufacture our clothes and the planet's natural resources.
The Rana Plaza catastrophe is only one of many examples of why fashion ethics are important. Garment workers—80% of whom are women—are vulnerable to all types of abuse as well as hazardous and unjust working conditions..
The skin is our largest organ, as we all know.
Something doesn't make sense, despite the fact that we are quite careful and spend thousands of dollars on the skin care products we use.
We don't seem to realise that the garments we buy from our favourite fast-fashion stores are covered in chemicals throughout the entire production process and end up on our bodies.
Just some fuel for thought there.
The only type of fashion that should be practised on our world is ethical fashion, both from a social and environmental perspective:
- We should care about moral clothing because we are only human.
- We should be concerned with ethical fashion if we want to stay alive on this lovely world. Mother Earth cannot support our current rate of resource consumption.
- Because "there is no beauty in the best cloth if it produces hunger and sadness," we should be concerned with ethical fashion.
Ethical Fashion Is Fair Trade
So what does fair trade entail in terms of ethical fashion? A global movement called "fairtrade" advocates fair trade, justice, and women's empowerment.
You may be sure that your clothes were not produced using unethical methods, such as child or sweatshop labour, when you purchase fair trade items.
Fairtrade focuses on providing employees in neglected areas with respectable and empowering jobs.
This usually entails working with individuals in underdeveloped nations, but it may also involve giving underprivileged communities right here in the United States jobs.
Just a few of the qualities of occupations that the Fair Trade Movement supports are as follows:
- Long-term employment options are provided to workers.
- Transparency, trust, and respect are the foundations of successful working partnerships.
- Men and women are paid equally, and workers earn fair wages.
- Workplaces are made secure and healthful for employees.
- Employees are free to express themselves and their thoughts.
- Workers are safeguarded from sexism, racism, sexual harassment, and other forms of prejudice, discrimination, and abuse.
- Healthcare and vacation time are available to employees.
- Through higher education, on-the-job training, and other possibilities, workers can develop their abilities.
- Access to financial aid enables workers to become independent and overcome poverty.
- Employee input is respected, and they have a voice in workplace choices.
- Employees are really content and at ease at work.
You can promote ethical, upbeat working conditions all over the world by purchasing fair trade apparel from retailers or online.
For even more wonderful advantages, see our list of the top 7 reasons why you should purchase fair trade clothing.
Important Reasons To Care About Sustainable Fashion
That's environmentally friendly clothing, but why should you care?
You may get brand-new clothing every six months for a fraction of the price thanks to the fast-fashion fad!
Yes, that is correct; yet, it is the issue.
Better for workers
How much of a $100 dress do you believe will actually reach the Bangladeshi woman who laboured so hard to make it?
Less than you may anticipate.
Despite the fact that the fashion business generates billions of dollars in profits annually, 60 million of its workers—more than 90% of them are women—live in poverty.
These employees have rights thanks to sustainable fashion, such as a good living wage, safer working conditions, and a lower chance of sexual assault.
Better for people
Fast fashion has kept garment prices cheap at the expense of poor working and living conditions in emerging nations.
However, by switching to ethically produced goods, you can be sure that the clothing you buy didn't employ child labour or exploit employees.
Better for the environment
The environmental harm caused by the textile sector, which accounts for about 10% of the world's carbon emissions, has already been mentioned.
To put that 10% into perspective, consider that it exceeds the total of all foreign flights and maritime shipping.
Since the middle class has expanded significantly worldwide over the past 20 years, the amount of clothing produced each year has more than doubled to over 100 billion items.
A significant environmental impact is left behind by the fast fashion sector. It is safe to say that fast fashion is a serious environmental issue, from the effect it has on landfills and the amount of energy and water it uses to the pesticides and insecticides used in cotton farming and the chemicals that are contaminating the water supply and harming the health of those involved in the supply chain.
But by selecting environmentally friendly clothing, you may refuse to contribute to the harm that the fashion industry is doing to the earth and lessen your personal environmental effect.
Due to their low cost of production and ease of disposal, an astounding 85% of these end up in landfills.
Sustainable fashion produces higher-quality, longer-lasting clothing that is initially more expensive but will last for several seasons.
Because they are made of recyclable materials, even when they reach the end of their useful lives, they can still be used to make new products for future generations.
Better for the future
Everyone needs to get on board since just one or two investors making sustainable investments won't make a difference in the world.
We need a shift in the zeitgeist, which right now seems to be occuring as the younger generation becomes a more active customer base.
But we can't wait that long; people need to start making ethical purchases right away.
Many well-known companies are setting the standard for sustainability. However, unless the majority of customers start acting on their beliefs, profits will always be the deciding factor.
Individuals must make the decision to wear sustainable clothing, not businesses.
Small Steps Make A Big Difference
We need to accept responsibility for the decisions we make on a daily basis as working women. Limit how many outfits you buy each day, make a commitment to spending less, and make long-lasting purchases.
Sportswear that you can wear to barre class and the boardroom on your busiest days. People who work on projects are aware of how long the days may be, therefore purchasing basic workwear is turning into a treasured asset.
Make sure to shop smart the next time. Keep an eye out for how companies utilise the word "transparency."
Are they sincere and able to back it up? Does the brand take the lead when it comes to the fabrics? Do they support moral or sustainable behaviour?
It's simple to lose sight of the significance of your purchases or your purchasing power.
We may, however, make daily tiny progress in the direction of a more sustainable fashion future.