What's the deal with Sustainable Fashion?

Sustainable fashion, slow fashion, fair trade, eco-friendly, there's a lot of terms out there swirling around sustainable fashion, and it can get confusing! I’m a new kid on the block in the world of sustainable fashion and since I’ve started learning about it I have to say “I like it, I love it, I want some more of it” (90s country music reference anyone? #cheeseballthatsme) My point is I am enjoying learning about it and I’m finding that the more I learn about it the less confusing it actually is, and just how easy it is to bring into my everyday life. It’s impossible to have a completely sustainable wardrobe overnight, but by making small changes, we (that’s me and you together) can little by little cultivate a sustainable (and seriously stylish) wardrobe. I’m going to show you how!

So, what does sustainable fashion mean? The word sustainable as defined by Webster’s dictionary is: of or relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged. Living a sustainable lifestyle means that you make an effort in your daily life to only consume resources that are sustainable. Sustainable fashion as according to the website Undress Runways is "being kind to our environment, responsible with our resources and treating our fellow garment workers like human beings. This means looking at the tag, using what you have and being creative in our wardrobe choices." They have a cool garment life cycle graphic that explains different aspects of sustainable fashion really well. Click here to check it out.

Buying clothes that are made out of polyester and throwing them away after one or two wears because the rip or aren’t in style anymore is an example of non-sustainability. The opposite would be investing in a piece that’s made from a natural fiber like silk, is well made, and has a classic cut that allows you to wear it for years. You can change up the accessories to give it distinct or trendy look, but the piece itself will stay in closet for years. Even you do get rid of it because it’s natural fiber it will biodegrade. Or, you could consign it, because classic, well made pieces are what consignors look for. Now, that’s sustainability!

These two are great examples of sustainability. C is wearing an organic cotton t-shirt and consignment store shorts. T is wearing a short-all from a consignment store.

Here are 5 ideas to help you start your path to a sustainable wardrobe.

  1. Buy American: buying American means that you are supporting American jobs and the local economy. You are also reducing your carbon footprint, because the garment didn’t have travel across the world to your door. Finally, you are supporting ethical labor laws. If you live in France then you should buy clothes made in France, if you live in Australia buy Australian, and so on, the point is to reduce carbon footprints and support local economies. It's not about who's the "best".

  2. Shop at consignment stores: This one is awesome especially if you have kids! Buying your children clothes from a consignment is easy on the budget and the planet. Give those clothes some life!

  3. Buy organic cotton: Non-organic cotton while biodegradable is most often produced from GMO seed. It's also heavily treated with lots of chemical pesticides and needs more water than organic seed. Organic cotton is way more environmentally friendly and better for farmers.

  4. Find a seamstress: Design and make your own clothes. Using a semstress gives you control over your fabric, design, and finishes. You can ensure a proper fit, and a design that you love. When you love your clothes and they fit properly you are more likely to wear them! Plus, you are supporting a local business.

  5. Don’t buy anything polyester: According to Webster's Dictionary polyester is "any of a group of polymers that consist basically of repeated units of an ester and are used especially in making fibers or plastics; also : a product (such as a fiber or fabric) composed of polyester". Basically it's plastic. Once I actually knew this, I was pretty turned off on polyester. Now I know why I'm always so hot when I wear polyester in the summer, it's because I'm wearing plastic! Natural fibers like cotton and wool breathe and will keep you cooler in the hot months!

Let me know if you try any of the ideas. What works for you and what doesn't? What other ideas do you have, or you are currenlty doing to be more sustainable?