Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Why Sustainable Fashion Needn't Be Exclusive

Recently I have been thinking about how sustainability can sometimes appear to be something which is only accessible to a small number of people, and in some ways, many beautiful sustainable brands are out of reach to many of us.  Nevertheless,  I don't see sustainability as something which is exclusive.  In 2019, it is possible to list an increasing number of sustainable brands which are affordable, although perhaps not appealing to everyone's taste just yet.  So can we consider sustainable fashion accessible to everyone?

I originally came up with a list of the options I believe would result in our wardrobes having the lowest environmental impact:

1. wearing what you already own;
2. borrowing/swapping clothes;
3. buying second hand;
4. buying from brands which create their clothes sustainably.

However, I started to reconsider this list when I took into consideration the meaning of 'Sustainability'. Sustainability is about ensuring we don't use up resources. It's about consuming less and making things last so that they can be reused and not thrown away in the future.  Therefore, I would say that buying things which are quality, you actually love and you know you will continue to wear for a long time, should be on that list too.

Having a sustainable wardrobe isn’t just about where we shop, but how we consume and care for our clothes. On the whole, high street clothes are cheaper to make, cheaper to buy and don't last as long. But I can think of quite a few people who have bought something - jeans from Topshop for example - and they wear them all the time. Some people re-dye their clothes when they become faded and mend them when they tear to avoid them being thrown out.

A huge percentage of the environmental impact of our clothing actually comes from how we care for our clothes. The average household uses 9,100 litres of water per year to wash clothing. This is the equivalent to the recommended daily water intake for more than 4,500 people! There is also energy consumption in caring for our clothes, not to mention micro-plastic pollution. Imagine how much water could be saved if we wore something twice, or more, if it doesn't actually need a wash. 
These is definitely a sustainability issue that can be tackled by everyone.

Someone was telling me the other day about some clothes they where really excited to have bought. They told me where the clothes were from and instantly felt guilty. They said that they were sorry it wasn't an ethical brand. 
What I should have said is that, as much as it really does make a difference what brands you support, (and without using this as a reason to justify consumerism) it's about mindset and how you approach buying things that counts. It's also about buying things intending to make them last for a long time instead of knowing we will only wear it a few times and then abandon it. 

We need to know that we really love what we buy, enough to care about making it last.

Beccy x

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