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There's a lot of chatter about what sustainable and ethical fashion is, and some of it is confusing. But it doesn't have to be. In fact, we put together a 15 page guide to help make sense of it all. Because at the end of the day, sustainable and ethical fashion has to fit into your lifestyle and belief system. That starts with knowing what the materials are that you're wearing and their impact on the environment. 


Fashion and Sustainability

Fashion and sustainability is at the center of heated climate change debates and ethical concerns. By now, most of us know there are hidden costs to fast fashion...the always-new, on-trend bargain buys that come at a super low cost. But the clothes (i.e. materials used) may not be the only thing that lacks integrity. And by integrity I mean everything from the environmental waste to low wages paid to factory workers. Some consumers have complained that fast fashion--from companies like Shein, H&M and others--may only last up to 10 wears. This contributes negatively to landfills and the astronomical 11 million tons of garments that end up in them each year. Of course, this doesn't take into account the water waste, toxicity, greenhouse gas emissions, or animal harm that goes into making fashion.  

And yes, a lot of this boils down to buzzwords that have lost any significant meaning to you and me. Clothing manufacturers have blamed consumers for driving demand (although that still does not explain why companies like Fashion Nova and Zara find it necessary to produce over 600 weekly items or more than 20 collections per year, respectively). And environmentalists and analysts have cast doubt over 'sustainability' pledges by companies who vow to do better. They raise eyebrows over whether there is a clear path in the fashion industry to make that happen, or if there is just a bunch of "greenwashing" taking place.

So there's a lot of finger pointing. Accountability? Not so much. However, there is more we can do as consumers. 

Why Is Sustainable Fashion Important?

Sustainable fashion is important for all of us to understand and it's important because it will help us to (one day) reduce waste, decrease carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions, help improve the health of communities, and combat unfair wages (only 2% of garment factory workers earn a living wage globally). 

As consumers, we can stop to ask some hard questions. "What is this item made of," and "where did it come from?" Google and reading the fine print on websites can be a great start. Oh, and a really big, super important question to ask yourself is this: "Will this align with my values and help me do my part for the planet and the world?"   

There is no easy answer that will serve as a universal mandate. After all, our tastes are different. Our beliefs are different. Some people are vegan and others eat meat and wear animal byproducts. Look, I'm not here to judge.

Let's just consider this. If there is a giant storm brewing in your area and the utility company asks every household to conserve energy during peak hours to help prevent a loss of power across the region, you'd do what it takes to get through the storm. Right?