Nature doesn’t hurry, yet everything is accomplished
– Lao Tzu
Nature is getting the much-needed break right now and we need to spend this time appreciating all that she does for us. The current situation has been alarming enough to reflect on our actions and hence in the post-COVID-19 world, we must try to become more mindful of what we choose. So, before this lockdown gets over and we flock to malls and markets, I want you to go through this article and think about your impact on the world as a consumer.
Sustainable Fashion is the new catchphrase for the current generation. Over the course of years, awareness about the environmental impact of fashion has hit the roof. In its 2019 Fashion report, the global fashion platform Lyst shared that the searches including sustainability-related keywords have increased by 75 percent.
The fashion industry produces 10% of all humanity’s carbon emissions and is the second-largest consumer of the world’s water supply. In addition, up to 85% of textiles go into landfills each year. It is also responsible for modern-day slavery, child labor, and garment worker deaths from unsafe conditions. High time we realize what a dark future we are heading towards and our contribution in the same. Hence, it becomes pertinent that we educate ourselves & become more responsible for our consumerism. Trust me, we don’t need to move mountains to ensure sustainability, the secret lies in small behavioral tweaks that have the power to bring about massive impacts.
“Once we realize that the current system is always going to be self-limiting as there are finite resources, putting Earth first is going to be the only option,” says Fletcher, of the London College of Fashion’s Centre for Sustainable Fashion.
So with that in hand, let’s have a look at these extremely simple ways you and I can switch to sustainable fashion.
1. TIMELESS CLASSICS
Did you ever wear that sequined dress you bought for your office afterparty? Or the Diwali lehenga which you consider “oh so last season”? Or perhaps the sneakers you sold your kidney for? We don’t realize but we contribute to a lot of waste by buying unnecessary or one-time clothing. The culprit? Fast Fashion. Companies have 18-24 collections per year, thus manipulating the buyers to catch up with the latest trend. However, in the midst of our subconscious purchasing habits, we often forget that these trends leave faster than they come. And once the fashion is gone, the clothes produced at such enormous bulks end up in landfills. Hence we must invest in pieces that are classic, chic and timeless, ones you can wear and feel proud about for years to come. Yes, we are talking about the old platitude of “Quality over Quantity”.
A few of such classic options would be:
- A White Button-Down Shirt
- A statement Blue or Black Blazer
- A Pair of Oxfords
- A comfy-chic White T-Shirt
- Sleek jewelry
- That perfect pair of blue denim
More than anyone else, I feel this is a note to myself, but so be it!
Limit your outfits per day. Commit to buying less, redesign and upcycle an existing piece. Upgrade your style game by mismatching and creatively engaging with different looks. Be an outfit repeater! It’s also kinder to your pocket & is every lazy dresser’s dream come true.
Once considered the culprit of fast fashion, more and more bloggers these days are giving out tips on recycling the wardrobe, thereby making it cooler and viable to do so. Check out the following videos to get your share of wardrobe revamping lessons-
3. THRIFT STORES/ VINTAGE CLOTHING
Did you know that it takes two thousand gallons of water to make a single pair of jeans? That is just one very small aspect of producing jeans, then they need to be packaged and shipped to the store. This all goes into the footprint that a single pair of jeans leaves behind.
The solution? Thrift stores or second-hand clothing. The trend of second-hand clothing isn’t new to India: saris have been passed on from one generation to the next in most families. It is basically saving a new garment from production, thereby reducing waste. And ladies, we know how those ethnic clothes can burn holes in our pockets!
Thrift stores are famous for providing vintage and rare pieces. An item may no longer be available for sale, but it can still be found second hand. Just remember that the key factor to successful vintage shopping is patience.
And if you are wondering where to find these stores, then have a look at the list below:
- BODEMENTS By Martin and Divya Saini, Mumbai
- FOLK PANTS Lumri Jajo, Ukhrul
- Disco.Very.Culture, Online
- Carol’s Shop and Tea Room, Nagaland
4. RENT/ SWAP/ GIVEWAY
Organize trunk sales for things you would never use, give away those that are unnecessary but useful for someone in need. I am sure at some point in time you must have given away your clothes to your maids and people around, but do it even more actively and if possible more frequently. Under one such sustainability initiative, clothing brand H&M has started encouraging its customers to bring a bag of their old clothes, any brand any condition, to the store and get a discount voucher in return. Read more about the program.
Besides giveaways, rent out extravagant pieces that you don’t want to let go of, but still can get an earning from. Indulge in these tiny day-to-day titbits to ensure your personal gain along with mother earth’s. Renting is a trend that’s already picking up a lot across the globe, for people are now realizing how much more worth they can extract out of a garment.
work on these lines to provide you both affordable and luxury fashion with guaranteed fit and free delivery options.
5. PACKAGING MATTERS
Your sustainability endeavors should lead you to demand earth-friendly packaging, that’s not only guilt-free but also looks way appealing than those nasty plastic bags. Materials like cork, shredded papers, discarded coconut shells, etc are now extensively being used by sustainable fashion hubs and enthusiasts. Nevertheless, it is always recommended to carry your own shopping bag and flaunt it in style.
Both plastic and paper bag production involves hazardous chemicals and emissions. Therefore, global brands like Reliance Industries, Aravind Limited are now using Jute and cotton carry bags. In fact, some brands such as Zara, Global desi have gone ahead and started selling these “functionally fancy” shopping bags for consumers to carry and feel good while shopping. With Carbon zero being the economies’ new imperative, it is time we realize how these tiny initiatives can contribute to a sustainable future.
6. LAUNDRY HABITS
For a consumer, buying sustainable clothing is the first step towards sustainability. However, it is not the only step. About 75 – 80 percent of our clothing’s lifecycle impact comes from washing and drying. It is so because this often ignored step takes so much energy as we heat the water and run the dry cycle.
Following are a few such laundry habits that you can change to bring about enormous impact:
- Hang dry pieces that you can avoid washing, thereby saving water and preventing the use of detergent
- Wash clothes in cold water than using hot water to reduce energy consumption
- Hand wash your clothes whenever you can
- Do full loads while using your washing machine, thereby decreasing the number of times you run it
- Don’t iron your clothes if you don’t have to!
- Use biodegradable detergent to prevent environment pollution
- Dry clothes in sunlight rather than using dryers. This might take a little more time but will save you both – some money and resources
7. ETHICAL & CRUELTY-FREE CHOICES
Leather jackets, coats, gloves, boots… More often than not, we don’t realize that we are in fact wearing the skins of animals who have been killed to feed into such inhumane production. Instead of stocking up fur and wool use fabrics made from coconut fiber, seaweed, wood and other less cruel materials. Also, their production requires minimal land, water, and energy use.
Some examples of cruelty free fabrics:
- Organic cotton
One should buy clothes labeled under the Fair-Trade Act making it sustainable on a multi-ground level. But what does the label mean? Simply put this label signifies that the clothing has been produced under proper working conditions and the workers have earned fair wages. Reliance Industries has pushed this initiative and launched an umbrella brand, R|Elan, for eco-friendly clothes made from used plastic. The manufacturing process is aimed at reducing the carbon footprint at every stage by using biofuels and pre-dyed fibers, which eliminate the water and chemical discharge from wet dyeing.
Here is a list of top sustainable brands:
- Ba No Batwo
- Brown Boy
8. REALISE YOUR POWER
Did you know that across globe average lifespan of a clothing item has been reduced to just a little more than two years?
It’s easy to overlook the impact of our choices and the power we have as a consumer. These are small steps we can take each day to pave the path towards a more sustainable fashion future. We can also shift our purchasing decisions to create a cleaner selling-buying equation. And in response to this increased consumer scrutiny and interest, brands are ought to react quickly, turning to return schemes and organic materials to level up their sustainable credentials.
So, before I wrap up this piece, I want to take the opportunity to talk a little bit about the current situation. In the wake of coronavirus pandemic, a lot of workers in the fashion industry along with the farmer cultivating textile crops have been affected. Therefore, now it is even more pressing to realize and get more conscious of our choices. I am sharing one such initiative started by fashion blogger Urmi Dagashe where she is asking people to ponder over “who made my clothes”. Have a look!
Also, check out Anya Gupta‘s journey to a conscious Lifestyle & Wardrobe. Her blog will help you discover conscious Indian brands that serve style while at the same time staying kind to the planet. Kickstart to a zero-waste lifestyle now!
And don’t forget the motto – “Wear the change you want to see”