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What is Sustainable Fashion and Why Does it Matter?

Zilingo Editorial Team
The fashion industry is booming with a heavy demand for fast-forward clothing. While the sector continues to have positive growth, it is an enormous contributor to environmental damage. Today, sustainability is a growing concern for apparel businesses. In response, brands are becoming more environmentally conscious, looking for ways to offer stylish clothing without damaging the environment. In this blog, we will explore what is sustainable fashion? We will also look at the top 6 reasons why sustainable fashion is so important.

What is Sustainable Fashion?

Sustainable fashion refers to sourcing, manufacturing, and designing clothes in environmentally friendly ways. Sustainable fashion enables brands to create fashion in a way that is considerate of the environment and minimizes the environmental impact. It helps brands meet today’s fashion needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

Why is Sustainable Fashion so Important?

Global fashion has been causing harmful environmental impacts, such as over-consumption of natural resources, deforestation, and production of chemical waste, for a long time. Sustainable fashion helps in mitigating the negative environmental impact of fashion. Another recent trend – ‘Fast Fashion’ is resulting in toxic pollution, excess carbon emissions, and pressure on workers.

What is Fast Fashion?

Fast fashion refers to stylish and low-priced clothing that moves quickly from design to retail stores to meet trends. It is produced very rapidly in large quantities.

What is the Problem With Fast Fashion?

Fast fashion is a business model that follows the overproduction and overconsumption approach. Fast fashion is ‘fast’ in many ways:
  • Fashion changes fast
  • The production rate is fast
  • Customer’s purchase decision is fast
  • Garments are worn fast
  • Garments are discarded fast
All of this has devastating consequences, such as damage to the planet, exploiting workers’ rights, and harm to animals. Overall, the fashion industry is one of the industries causing the most damaging environmental effects. Below are some statistics supporting the same:

- The fashion sector has seen significant growth over
the past decades, as clothing production almost
doubled since 2000. The annual production exceeded 100 billion garments for the first time in 2014.

- The fashion industry relies on fossil fuels. Nearly 70% of clothing is made from synthetic fabrics
from non-renewable resources like crude oil.

- The apparel industry is likely to account for 30% of the world’s remaining carbon budget by 2050.

Why Does Sustainable Fashion Matter?

Below are the top 6 reasons why sustainable fashion matters:

1. Sustainable Fashion Requires Less Water

The fashion industry consumes a lot of water. The UN estimates that it takes around 10,000 liters of water
to grow the one kilo of cotton needed to make a pair of jeans. It is equivalent to 10 years’ worth of drinking water for one person.

In contrast, sustainable fabrics require little to no water during the production phase. Examples of sustainable fabrics include linen, hemp, and recycled fibers like recycled cotton. Many sustainable fashion brands also have ‘water on budget’ policies that restrict their water usage during the production phase.

2. Sustainable Fashion Results in Less Textile Waste

The equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is landfilled
or burned every single second. Many fast fashion
brands contribute to this huge amount of waste as they forego the durability of clothing for cheap prices and more purchases from customers.

In comparison, sustainable brands emphasize clothing quality. They use long-lasting fabrics in production and rarely follow fast fashion trends. Sustainable brands focus more on providing quality clothing rather than pushing new collections.

3. Sustainable Fashion Reduces Carbon Footprint

Most of the clothes that we wear are made from petroleum-based fabrics, including polyester, acrylic, and nylon. These materials need notably more energy in the production phase compared to natural or recycled fibers.

On the other hand, sustainable brands use natural or recycled fabrics that need very less or no chemical treatment, less energy, and less water. Organic fabrics such as organic cotton, and hemp are biodegradable.

4. Sustainable Fashion Saves Animals

Fashion items produced from leather, fur, feathers, and wool, have harmful effects on animals. While consumers are becoming more conscious of cruelty-free substitutes, many high-end fashion brands are continuing to use animal-based materials in their products.

In comparison, many sustainable brands are now offering cruelty-free clothing. Examples of some alternatives to animal products include human-made fibers and bamboo. Brands are creating cactus silk from a subspecies of succulents, and lotus from the lotus flower. A popular leather alternative these days is derived from pineapples.

5. Sustainable Fashion Provides Fair Wages and Safe Working Conditions

It is a common misconception that if a brand is selling its products at a higher price point, it is maintaining ethical practices throughout the production process. Many workers across the world still face challenges, such as not being paid fair wages, long working hours, poor health and safety condition, etc. All these factors contribute to worker exploitation. Some fashion brands are also facing child labor accusations.

In contrast, sustainable brands provide fair wages, healthcare facilities, and safe working conditions for workers. They focus on supporting and empowering their employees. These brands follow sustainable and ethical practices and do not support modern-day slavery to fulfill fashion demands.

6. Sustainable Fashion Reduces Chemical Use

Before coming to the stores or in the market, clothing products undergo a long chemical process. The synthetic chemicals used to dye and bleach the garments are harmful to the people involved in the production process as well as our ecosystems. These chemicals could harm the health of the people who are exposed to them during the production process. These chemicals may pose danger to the health of consumers as well, as their skin may absorb chemicals in their clothes.

Sustainable apparel and textile companies recognize the health concerns around chemicals in their clothing. Some brands are even taking steps to reduce the use of chemicals. One of such recent initiatives is related to denim production, as denim products often use dyes and other chemical-based finishing processes.

Bottom Line

It is possible to make fashion more sustainable in various ways, such as using organic fabrics, biodegradable dyes, and engineering patterns that create zero waste. Many fashion brands, today, are joining sustainable initiatives to cut back on environmental pollution.

We, at Zilingo, believe that we must work towards a fashion industry that works sustainably. We can help you connect with the top garment, fabric, and textile suppliers and manufacturers who follow sustainable practices. Submit your request for a quote for your sustainable
sourcing needs today and let us get back to you. Let’s together make the apparel industry less harmful and restore the balance between people and the planet!

Zilingo Editorial Team
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