By now, most of us are pretty familiar with the growing threats of climate change and pollution. You’ve probably even begun implementing environmentally conscious habits in your everyday life - whether it’s switching to reusable straws, driving your car on “eco” mode, or opting for recycled printer paper. However, when it comes to fashion, we’re often still lost about what it means to be “sustainable,” and why it’s even important.
So what’s the problem with the fashion industry anyways? Well, many clothing brands have been practicing fast fashion since the early 1990s. “Fast fashion” refers to cheap, low-quality, and trendy clothing that’s been produced in a way that is harmful to both workers and the environment. These fast fashion companies are more focused on profit and sales than the effect their production has on the earth. The practices that enable these companies include:
1. Taking Advantage of Workers
Many developing countries, like Cambodia or Bangledesh, do not have the same child labor laws, minimum wages, and work condition laws that have been implemented in the United States. In order to increase profits, many US companies will produce clothing overseas, where workers are paid unlivable wages and work in hazardous conditions.
Image via www.greenamerica.org, courtesy of the Clean Clothes Campaign
2. Toxic Chemical Use
According to WWF, the toxic chemical use in the production of textiles at fast fashion companies like H&M and Forever 21 is dangerous not only to the workers in the factory, but also to the environment. The chemicals used in the processing of fabric have been proven to have a direct effect on water basins, soil, and the overall biodiversity of the environment.
According to WWF, the fashion industry is directly responsible for 2.1 billion tons of waste each year. According to the UNEP and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the fashion industry alone is responsible for 10% of the world’s carbon footprint. We can’t continue to ignore the role fashion plays in global pollution and climate change.
Image via www.ecowatch.com, courtesy of RiverWatch
So, how do we combat fast fashion with sustainability? Sustainable fashion aims to manufacture quality clothing that has minimal impact on the environment. Many brands are beginning to implement ethical practices:
1. Fair Trade Practices
In order to combat the poor working conditions and wages facing workers in fast fashion factories, some brands have begun practicing fair trade policies by holding a higher standard for working conditions and paying employees fair wages.
The Paisley Silk Kaftan by Dolma, which practices fair trade, is a soft and supple maxi dress that will leave you feeling like an earthy goddess.
2. “Made In the USA”
Another way brands are fighting against the poor treatment of workers is by basing their production in the United States, which has laws requiring a minimum wage and good working conditions.
The High Rise Slit Flare Jean by Just Black Denim, based in Los Angeles, CA, gives retro vibes with a decidedly modern twist!
3. Organic Materials
To combat toxic chemical use, companies turn to new textiles and materials such as organic cotton, which can be spun without the use of toxic pesticides found in most cotton fabrics.
The Roses Acacia Top, made of organic cotton, by Synergy Organic features a faux wrap top with a tie and elastic band sleeves, giving the look a soft bohemian vibe.
4. Recycled Materials
In order to minimize water waste, some companies implement zero waste policies by using recycled materials previously cast aside by larger manufacturers.
The lovely Sofia Dress by Tonlé, which has a zero waste policy, has a tie belt to cinch you in the waist and an elegant boat neckline.
Fast fashion has been around for awhile, and it won’t magically go away overnight. However, if more companies slowly start to implement ethical practices into their business, we’ll be on a path to a more sustainable and eco-friendly fashion industry, and that is what our mission is here at Ash & Rose.