Sustainability in Fashion in 2020

biodegradable child labor cruelty free eco friendly ethical business ethical fashion ethical working conditions fair wage fashion revolution green fashion green washing leather organic recycled fabrics responsible silk social responsibility sustainability sustainable sustainable fashion vegan wool

Sustainable Fashion

Sustainability has been a buzz word for a few years now and to many its means something very different as it pertains to our daily lives. We believe a few factors are essential when claiming a garment or brand is sustainable.

While the clothing industry all over the world is trying to make a difference, fashion still ranks as the second major contributor to the earth’s pollution. In recent reports, the apparel and footwear industries have eight percent more impact on global climate than airline flights and maritime shipping trips combined. With that being said, what is sustainability when it comes to fashion currently? As a consumer, I’m sure you are feeling you are getting mixed signals as to what that entails. We will clarify the true meaning of ‘sustainable’ if you are making a conscious effort to make a change.

Sustainable: being able to be maintained at a certain rate or level; conserving an ecological balance by avoiding depletion of natural resources. There are plenty of big brands claiming to be sustainable, i.e. H&M, but can you truly conserve economic balance by mass production of anything? That remains to be said. One thing is for sure that the current state of the world has given the fashion world a much needed wake up call. So lets get to it...

Here are the major factors we believe truly makes a garment/brand sustainable.

Eco friendly or recycled fabrics: The company uses organic fibers, plant fibers or recycled fibers. Eco-friendly fabrics are made from fibers that do not require the use of any pesticides or chemicals to grow. They are naturally resistant to mold and mildew and are disease free.

Why is this important?

  • Social responsibility: Chemicals and pesticides invade drinking water and groundwater, polluting its fish and even reaching human consumption. Organic and eco fibers grow without any pesticides or chemical fertilizers.
  • Biodegradable: Eco and organic fabric biodegrade naturally over time. Synthetic fibers eventually become waste and let off harmful toxins when they degrade.
  • Absorption: Not only do its chemicals reach into our groundwater, conventional clothing is worn next to our most porous organ- our skin. Organic and eco-fibers are natural and do not contain irritating chemicals. Many of them are also considered hypoallergenic and naturally anti-bacterial.
          wastewaters  water pollution  toxic dyes

(image credit from: Sustainable Your Style)

Environmental impact of company: The company takes measures to reduce their water usage, chemical usage, waste by products and the kind of fibers they use.

Why is this important?

  • 20% of industrial water pollutions comes from treating and dying textiles
  • Production of fiber is responsible for 18% of pesticide use worldwide and 25% of insecticide worldwide
  • It takes 700 gallons of water to produce one cotton tshirt and more than 90% of cotton is genetically modified

Fashion Revolution Who Made My Clothes Campagin

(image from: Fashion Revolution)

Ethical treatment and pay for workers: The company enforces zero child labor, fair wages, healthy work environment.

Why is this important?

  • Over 80% of garment workers are women and predominantly the sole income for the family
  • The legal minimum wage in most garment producing countries is barely enough to live on which leads to forced over time and prolonged exposure to unhealthy conditions
  • Physical and mental abuse is prevalent towards these workers
  • Employees usually work with no ventilation, breathing in toxic substances, inhaling fiber dust or blasted sand in unsafe buildings. Accidents, fires, injuries, and disease are very frequent occurrences on textile production sites.

Cruelty Free

Cruelty Free: The company does not use any by product from the death of an animal and uses ethical treatment of animals where silk and wool are concerned.

Why is this important?

  • There is no reason to kill an animal for fabrics/fur
  • Leather is a by product of agriculture farming which is responsible for 30% of greenhouse gas emissions, 70% of world water used, 91% of rainforest destruction. Young animals are used to produce premium leather, and while some are killed for lamb or veal, in many cases they are killed solely for their hides. The production of leather is also a process which is full of dangerous dyes and chemicals, so is damaging to the environment as well.
  • Silk worms do not need to be killed for their silk production: Peace Silk or Ahimsa Silk and Spider Silk do not harm the animals. Also non animal silk options: Lotus Silk, Art Silk and Ramie (see for an in depth look at these options)
  • Not all wool is created equal so these certifications are a must: Responsible Wool Standard, ZQ Merino Standard and the Soil Association Organic Standards.

Terrible Leather Pants

Not Trendy: Brands do not follow current trends and choose a timeless design, with a minimal production cycle.

Why this is important?

  • Trends produce a quick turnover in your closet which leads to more waste in landfill. 
  • Producing for every season which currently aims at 4, creates an endless stream of waste and production side effects.


If you want to find out more about the impacts of fashion please see Eco Warrior Princess List of Documentaries plus Machines 

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