These days there’s an abundance of brands that label themselves as sustainable fashion brands. Products ranging from undergarments to wedding dresses are marketed as eco-friendly and sustainable. The sustainable fashion business model includes recycling. Reusing, repairing, and much more. Although these sustainable fashion innovations have been in trend for the last few years, they are not helping the planet. The reason behind this is people do not have proper knowledge of these products and are often misguided.
It is impossible to achieve things perfectly in a sustainable fashion as this field is very vast and complicated. There are various misconceptions people have about sustainable fashion and therefore, we’ve compiled a list of those misconceptions to clear things up and help the public out.
What is Sustainable Fashion?
In general, sustainable fashion refers to products that do not deplete natural resources in the process. It refers to the process of creating, manufacturing, and distributing items in an environmentally conscious manner. It also goes hand in hand with social welfare and labor rights. The key aspects of sustainable fashion include, where is the product bought from, the reason for buying, the lifespan of clothes, what steps are involved in the production, and is the final product eco-friendly or disposable.
Top 10 things people get wrong about Sustainable Fashion
1. You need to throw out fast fashion when adapting sustainable fashion
The most prevalent myth when adapting to sustainable fashion is that you need to get rid of your fashion clothes. But this is a mere misconception, and if you’re a regular fast fashion user you can keep them and from the next instance, you purchase sustainable clothes. Fast fashion is more about your thinking and practices. Keeping your old fast fashion and wearing it is more sustainable than getting rid of it and buying new garments from sustainable manufacturers. However, if you’ve already shifted to sustainable fashion and don’t use your fast fashion, you can get rid of them by charity.
2. Getting rid of fast fashion will result in job losses in developing nations
Fast fashion is frequently defended on the grounds that it provides jobs. This is also a prevalent argument when it comes to veganism. However, it would be an economic disaster if everyone stopped wearing fast fashion at the very same instant. But it is an implausible scenario as the change in the industry and people’s hearts and minds take time. Furthermore, major fashion brands do not employ garment workers directly. Garment workers are employed by the factories that provide these brands. If we look at the research findings of Fashion Revolution, Remake, and FashionChecker.org, garment workers in Bangladesh earn only about $3 per day and 93-98% of major fast fashion brands cannot claim that they pay their workers a living wage. The places where these workers work are hazardous. They face abuse and harassment, and no regard is paid to these workers. Whereas, if we could replace sustainable fashion with fast fashion, garment workers would be able to enjoy humane working conditions and at least earn a living wage.
3. Sustainable Fashion is Costlier than Fast fashion
Yes, it is true that sustainable fashion is a little more expensive than fast fashion, but it doesn’t imply that you always have to buy new clothes. There are ways to adapt sustainable fashion without buying anything. Consider purchasing what you require secondhand. Visit Thrift Stores, and apps such as Poshmark make it quite easy to get secondhand clothing at a lower rate. Purchasing fewer items is a more sustainable approach to fashion. For example, if you buy from an eco-friendly brand and a piece is more costly than what you usually buy, you may still spend less on fashion overall.
4. Fast Fashion is not sustainable
As mentioned above, the key aspects of sustainable fashion include a reason for the purchase or lifespan of clothes. While fast fashion manufacturing is not sustainable, you can try to make your fast-fashion items last a long time by purchasing only what you’ll wear regularly. Consider repairing your clothes or using them for cleaning purposes. If fast fashion is your only option because you can’t afford it or don’t have significant exposure to secondhand stores, investing in pieces you’ll wear and keep for a longer period is a way to live more sustainably.
5. You need to purchase from sustainable brands to adapt to sustainable fashion
Sustainable fashion is not limited to this ridiculous myth. You can also live sustainably by purchasing fewer items, caring for your clothes properly, fixing things and repairing them, and switching clothes. When you need something new, you can go to a secondhand store. When shopping secondhand, you can often find higher-quality clothing for less money. You could also contact brands to inquire about their products, and sustainability labels and check regulations about sustainable fashion brands.
6. All brands that claim to be sustainable, actually are
Sustainable brands that say they are sustainable, doesn’t mean they necessarily are. There are no rules governing the use of terms such as sustainable, ethical, and environmentally friendly. Sustainability is now a trend and some businesses take advantage of well-intentioned customers. It is very important to examine the certain practices that a brand does. What kinds of materials do they employ? What kind of supply chain traceability do they have? Are they paying their employees well and providing safe working conditions? Are they using natural resources to power their operations, or are they relying on wind and solar energy? Do they accept accountability for their waste? Are they mass-producing?
7. Expensive clothing means sustainable clothing
Paying more for clothing does not imply that it is sustainable or made from natural, eco-friendly materials. There are garments from various fashion brands made from synthetic fabrics and other questionable materials that are hazardous to factory workers and endanger the environment. Be responsible when buying sustainably and make sure to check tags and labels that brands use to claim to be sustainable.
8. Second Hand/ Thrift stores are sustainable and ethical
It’s a common misconception, and to clear it up, thrift stores aren’t completely sustainable. There is no doubt that second-hand benefits are abundant, however many of these stores pay their employees less than a dollar for a day’s work, while the executives live lavishly.
However, when you see this from an environmental point of view, thrifting is still better than buying new clothing, even from a sustainable brand. Since you’re simply buying what is already available and there is no need for any extra labor and resources to be used in order to make the clothing. As a result, if you’re trying to be ethical, avoid corporate thrift stores in favor of local ones. You can also look into thrift stores that are affiliated with charities to ensure that their profits are going to good causes.
9. If you donate to charity shops, you’re doing your part about sustainable fashion
People believe that when they donate or send their clothes to a charity shop, those clothes will be sold. However, supply outnumbers demand, and only about 10 to 20% of donated items are sold in these shops, with the remainder thrown away or sold to developing nations, displacing local textile workers.
Since there is little disclosure in the apparel supply chain, it is difficult to know where your donated clothes will end up. As a result, it’s critical to consider your purchases and whether you’ll use them for a long time or not. When it comes time to get rid of your old clothes, you can sell them online, upcycle or downcycle them, or bring them to a consignment shop.
10. Made in the US, UK means sustainably made
Even though countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States have stronger labor laws, sweatshop conditions still exist in these countries. The problem is that big fashion brands compete for profits and are in a race for bottom prices with factories. As a result, factories pay their employees very little and make no investments in worker safety. And, regardless of where a factory is located, there is always a vulnerable population to exploit. It should come as no surprise that the fashion industry is profitable today because it thrives on exploitation, racism, and sexism.
Sustainability and sustainable fashion for that matter is a deep topic and it’s often people who are misguided, but with this post, we hope that you have more knowledge about being a conscious consumer and living sustainably. It is impossible to go one hundred percent sustainable but it is important to strive to improve and do everything in your power to help the environment and human life.