I love to shop and buying new clothes makes me feel good but, for many years, I only thought about the style and the label rather than asking some important questions. Was the garment ethically made? Were harmful dyes used? Did the person who made the garment receive a livable wage?
You may be familiar with the phrases ‘slow fashion’ and ‘fast fashion’. Fast fashion refers to high-volume, low margin, cheap garments. These brands include Forever 21, Shein, Gap, Zara and more.
Slow fashion refers to clothing that is ethically produced using sustainable materials such as bamboo, organic cotton, pre-existing fabrics and more. Slow fashion is made to last and has less of an environmental impact.
So, what is the environmental impact? Let’s look at some statistics:
- Second to oil, the clothing and textile industry is the largest polluter in the world producing nearly 20% of global wastewater.
- Cotton farming is responsible for 24% of insecticides and 11% of pesticides, despite using only 3% of the world’s land.
- On average, each household in Canada throws away 46kg of clothing per year which occupies around 8-12% of municipal landfills. Up to 95% of these textiles could be recycled.
- About 15% of fabric intended for clothing ends up on the cutting room floor.
- It takes more than 5,000 gallons of water to manufacture a T-shirt and a pair of jeans.
So, what can we do?
Join the movement! A lot of companies are making an effort to be more eco-conscious and you can find amazing ethical brands in many of your favourite local boutiques.
Many people believe that sustainable fashion isn’t affordable. It’s true that slow fashion brands can cost more money because they are using better quality materials and paying their workers fair wages. However, material like bamboo lasts for years and looks great after washing. Have you ever had the experience of buying a fast fashion garment only for it to look awful after the first washing? Spending more money upfront will save money in the long run.
Also, think about building your wardrobe around some staples and adding to it gradually. Many brands have basics that you can use as core pieces with different tops and bottoms to create a variety of looks. You can do more with less!
Alternatively, an amazing way to save money and save clothing from the landfill is to thrift! Thrifting is fun and it allows you to find unique pieces at a fraction of the price. If you really like a brand that you would normally find at the mall you can purchase it guilt-free.
If you do have clothing you’re not wearing, you can donate it to a shelter, consignment store, or a local thrift shop to keep it out of the landfill.
(Statistics taken from https://edgexpo.com/)