Is Your Wardrobe Sustainable?
“Buy less. Choose Well. Make it Last.” – Vivienne Westwood
For many, sustainable fashion is a relatively new concept. Over the last few years, the environmental movement swept over the globe, and every aspect of our cultural habits has been up for dissection. From eliminating single-use plastics to adopting better "reduce, reuse, and recycle" practices, there has been a call to action in almost every part of our lives to comply with living more sustainably. Interestingly enough, one of the last industries to join this movement was the fashion industry.
Responsible for over 10 million tons of textile waste a year, the fashion industry is one of the top three polluting industries. It’s important to note that the majority of clothes are made up of thermoplastics, which degrade at a painfully slow rate. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 84 percent of discarded clothes winds up in an incinerator or landfill. This means that these particles will survive in the environment for decades to centuries, stockpiling our landfills and even making their way into our water and food supply.
Shocked to learn about this, I immediately dove into my closet for inspection and was disgusted to learn that it was almost entirely made up of synthetic fabrics, aka dreaded thermoplastics.
And the fabric is really only one piece of the sustainable fashion puzzle. One needs to consider any given company's production techniques, ethics, factory conditions, and packaging methods, all in addition to demanding the fabrics be biodegradable. It's a whole lot to consider, and it takes time and research to get it right. What's significant, though, is that at this point, almost every major company is taking steps toward becoming more environmentally friendly.
Try to be aware of companies that are using greenwashing tactics as marketing ploys. While this can definitely be a challenge, the key to solving the issue is to simply go through the companies website and check for certifications. Those that are environmentally conscious will have the information plastered everywhere. And as a general rule of thumb, always check the fabric information.
“As consumers, we have so much power to change the world by just being careful in what we buy.”
– Emma Watson
Below is a list of Sustainable Fabrics:
Cashmere (when ethically produced)
Alpaca/Responsibly Farmed Wool
100% Hemp (true hemp is organic)
Semi-Synthetic Fabrics: Innovative and Sustainable Fibers (made from plant-based materials that are chemically processed)
LENZING Produced Fabrics including…
TENCEL™ Lyocell, Modal, Lyocell Filament
LENZING™ ECOVERO™ (eco-responsible viscose)
LENZING™ Lyocell, Modal, Viscose
OEKO-TEX® certified fabrics
ECONYL® regenerated nylon
Cupro (likened to vegan silk)
rPET (made from recycled plastic, so it must be washed in a washing bag or filter to catch micro-plastics)
Deadstock fabrics (excess or leftover fabric from other brands so that they won’t end up in landfills)
100% Certified Organic Cotton/LEED-certified factory denim
**Keep an eye out for the bluesign® product label. It ensures the company has used the best technologies available, used resources responsibly and taken care to minimize the impacts on people and the environment.**
This list is only really important to focus on when buying new clothing or if you’ve decided your ethics dictate you only own items that are fully biodegradable.
“The most sustainable garment is the one already in your wardrobe.” – Orsola de Castro
Please don’t feel like you have to get rid of all of your clothes, though. If you are sick of certain items, that’s understandable and totally natural; just try not to simply throw the items out. Instead, donate or sell the pieces that are still in good condition. You could even organize a clothing swap with your friends.
Having a sustainable wardrobe is one of the most important and unfortunately overlooked aspects of living a sustainable life. We can all be more conscious of our clothing choices, and thankfully we are in a great position because so many brands are now catering to environmentalist demands. Look to RITUAL OASIS in the coming weeks for additional resources pertaining to the Sustainable Fashion Movement.
“The revolution will look fabulous.” – Lucy Shea