The Future of Fashion is Sustainable

 

Fashion is a trillion-dollar industry, making it among the largest, most profitable industries globally. However, to meet and exceed high profits, this industry has to adapt to mass production of items for selling; ultimately leading to high amounts of waste and pollution.

It’s only natural that an industry that creates and sells so much would also create so much waste — 92 million tons, to be exact, and that’s just textile waste. There’s also plastic waste to consider, as well as the consumption of natural resources like water and fossil fuels.

However, despite the lack of sustainability within the fashion industry, things are starting to change. Fashion brands are increasingly realizing their contribution to waste and climate change and are starting to take responsibility by making more eco-friendly improvements.

Consumers are also becoming more mindful of their buying habits and the brands they support. While there is still a way to go, as sustainability may still be considered controversial to some individuals and companies, every little bit helps. The more people start demanding change, the more large fashion corporations that have the most impact will have to start stepping up and doing their part. 

Let’s take a closer look at how the fashion industry is affecting the planet, what sustainable changes are being made, and how consumers can also do their part to help mitigate the negative environmental impacts of fashion.

Why Eco-Friendly Fashion is Important

Nearly 10% of all carbon emissions around the globe come from the fashion industry. Not only does it take a lot of energy and the burning of fossil fuels to manufacture textiles and other items, but there is also the shipping and overall energy consumption for retail, corporate, and manufacturing operations to consider. 

The fashion industry is also responsible for significant usage of water, particularly in fast fashion. One-tenth of the water used across all industries is consumed specifically by the fashion industry. This is because it can take around 3,000 liters of water just to create one cotton shirt, for example.

Furthermore, fashion doesn’t just consume a lot of water; it also creates large amounts of wastewater leftover after necessary tasks like textile dyeing. Unfortunately, the majority of that wastewater is not properly disposed of, meaning it ends up polluting natural environments, like the ocean.

Synthetic fashion materials are also a major concern as they contribute to plastic waste and pollution. Polyester, for example, has become extremely popular because it is highly durable and long-lasting, but it is also made from microplastics, which can leach into our waterways when washing these items. In addition, when clothing items containing these microplastics are thrown out, they end up in landfills or even dumped in the ocean, where the microplastics leach toxic chemicals for years as they break down.

How the Fashion Industry Is Moving Towards a More Sustainable Future

Though the fashion industry has done significant damage over the years, there are positive changes being made. With newer generations prioritizing sustainability, it has forced fashion brands and manufacturers to take a closer look at their operations. It’s clear that if these companies want to stay in business, they have to start making more eco-friendly updates to their products and their overall business practices and operations.

Sustainable Fashion Image - NKWO - Fashion Police NigeriaPhoto: Instagram.com/nkwo_official

Many brands are doing their part by procuring more sustainable textiles, being more mindful of their water and energy usage, and implementing take-back or recycling programs. Take-back programs can significantly reduce textile waste as it encourages customers to send their clothes back once they are done with them so the company can donate them or find other ways to reuse them.

Some fashion companies are also starting to minimize the use of synthetic blends to ensure the clothes can more easily be recycled, using low-waste cutting methods to reduce leftover textile scraps, and offering rental schemes to reuse the same items over and over rather than constantly producing new items.

What Fashion Lovers Can Do to Help Stop the Environmental Crisis

Excessive consumption of clothing items and accessories by customers is also contributing to significant amounts of fashion waste. Millions of tons of apparel items are purchased globally every year, and a lot of those items end up getting thrown out after their use, which means they end up in landfills and natural environments, or get incinerated and contribute to carbon emissions.

To help reduce fashion waste, consumers can:

  • Go Minimalist

A more minimalist, paired-down wardrobe is a great way to start living a more sustainable life. Despite what you may have heard, minimalism does not mean boring or lacking in style. It’s simply about paying closer attention to the pieces you buy so that each piece can be interchangeable with another.

The idea is to have a smaller wardrobe with items that can easily match anything else in your closet to create an outfit. 

  • Reuse and Repurpose Old Fashion Items

When it’s time for something in your wardrobe to go, try giving it a second thought before simply tossing it out. Just because it’s something you don’t wear anymore doesn’t mean it can’t be put to use in some other way. Old shirts, for example, can be torn apart to use for cleaning rags, and you can reuse old boots for other creative purposes like a planter or even a birdhouse. 

Sustainable Fashion - NKWO - Fashion Police NigeriaPhoto: Instagram.com/nkwo_official
  • Prioritize Slow Fashion

Creating a slow fashion wardrobe is another great way to help the environment. This means shopping primarily at second-hand shops and vintage stores. If you do need a new item, try shopping only with brands that you know are sustainable and doing their part to protect the planet.

  • Donate, Give Away, and Sell Unwanted Items

The annual closet overhaul is something we’ve all done. But to make this yearly ritual more sustainable, opt for donating, selling, or giving them away instead of throwing things away. Responsible decluttering can help reduce waste that ends up in landfills and your old items can find a new home with someone else who needs them or wants them more than you do.

Final Thoughts

Sustainable fashion is no longer a trend; it is necessary. Brands, corporations, manufacturers, and consumers all must do their part to reduce fashion waste and the excessive use of natural resources. While larger companies and organizations might have more of their work cut out for them, there are lots of easy ways consumers can make more sustainable fashion choices to stop the environmental fashion crisis.

 

Indiana Lee
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