What is eco and sustainable fashion?

We as consumers have the power to demand from brands and industry, that still haven’t done so, to change their ways and become more sustainable and socially responsible.

Wherever we look there is this prevailing pressure put on people towards more and more consumption. To satisfy that need and demand fashion production on industrial scale in today’s world has become a source of hiperproduction, lessened quality, eco hazardous processes,
pollution, social and financial inequality, and exploitation.

This kind of economy is linear and careless. We are all more and more aware of the negative repercussions of those phenomenons, but fortunately, things are changing. Thanks to efforts from both producers and consumers fashion is becoming more sustainable.

Expressions like eco-friendly, environmentally friendly, ethical clothing, fair, sustainable and slow fashion have entered everyone’s vocabulary, but what do they mean exactly? All those terms encompass a philosophy of design and production (from sourcing to disposal, i.e. return of material into production) that shape circular processes, and is environmentally and socially responsible.

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Thinking and acting in a sustainable way doesn’t necessairily signify the same to all. For consumers it means paying attention to clothes they already own, to the process of caring for them, perhaps even questioning their own personal values and relation to their belongings. It also means putting more care into the process of buying new clothes – buying less, well made and of higher quality.

Buying second-hand has increased in popularity and estimates show that it will soon surpass retail shopping.  For producers, those terms involve new business concepts, greater transparency, innovative ideas, slower processes, actions to be taken that are more considerate towards the environment as a whole, as well as taking great care of working conditions, everyday lives, education and wellbeing of all the workers in the fashion chain, who should also be fairily compensated for their efforts.

Fashion sustainability goals can be achieved in many different ways. Thoughtful production of recyclable or bio-degradable raw materials is only the beginning. Producers need to think and design from recycling and for recycling. Ideally, the new circular economy should have a minimal carbon footprint an no waste. The collection and selection of discarded materials to be recycled is already in place, but only a small percentage is actually being recycled because there are not nearly enough functioning processing facilities to do so, making it, thus, an important fact to be acted upon.  

On the other hand efforts are being put into the development of new materials from textile waste (pre and post consumer) and unused renewable natural resources, as well as the development of non dangerous production processes. 

In spite of all that, though, and on a smaller scale, we can all give our contribution and take part in reusing, repairing, swapping, upcycling. We can take good care of our clothing and accessories, we can adopt zero-waste thinking and designing methods, yet we can also consume conciously. In the end, in addition to that, we should never forget that we as consumers have the power to demand from brands and industry, that still haven’t done so,  to change their ways and become more sustainable and socially responsible. 

On a broader scale, the UN have developed 17 Sustainable Development Goals as guidelines for peace and prosperity for all people and planet Earth. 

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