The Benefits of Sustainable Fashion: Ethics and Environment

How The Fashion Industry Is Becoming Eco-Friendly, and a Exploration of The Benefits of Sustainable Fashion

By Harry Turner

The fashion industry has made it quite clear in recent years that they are making changes to become more sustainable. Many other industries are making changes and are doing it much quicker than fashion brands.

There are many reasons why the fashion industry is struggling with this change. One of the main reasons is down to the fact that they got into the habit of using cheap products and mass-producing items to maximise their profits. Due to this, they have wasted millions of materials which have polluted the planet.

It isn’t just the fashion brands that are to blame for the damage that they have caused. It is also down to those who buy the products, also known as the consumers. Due to the digital age, we have fallen into the habit of shopping online. That includes food and clothes shopping.

With the increase in online shopping, consumers purchase clothes an extra 60% compared to 10-15 years ago. The ease of shopping makes us want to buy more, which is why fashion brands keep up with the demand by mass-producing clothing.

Some fashion brands are adapting to the changes and are trying to become 100% sustainable. However, many brands claim to be more sustainable. In this article, we will discuss those fashion brands that are trying to become eco-friendly and discuss how brands are becoming more sustainable.

Sustainable Materials

A brand wants to keep up with the times and become more sustainable. One of them is using recyclable materials. Due to the demands of consumers, fast-fashion brands are using materials that are nowhere near as durable as more expensive brands, leading to clothes wearing away quicker. These types of materials can damage the environment.

The question is, what materials can fashion brands use? We are not saying that a brand needs to use materials that are different to current materials. An example of this would be cotton. The Better Cotton Initiative aims to provide a better standard of cotton that would destroy harmful pesticides. Furthermore, they can also reduce the water they use to produce clothes.

Recycling Materials

Many fashion brands use materials which can’t be recycled. It is one of the main issues in the fashion industry. That is why they are so far behind other industries. Recycling has been a thing for over 20 years. That is why it is so hard to understand why fashion brands haven’t made the change. Everybody wants to maximise their profits however, fashion needs to be wiser if they wish to do so.

Some major fashion brands have made changes. But one brand that stands out is Adidas. They have partnered with a recycling group called Parley. They work with one another to prevent plastic from entering the ocean. With that plastic, Adidas uses it to produce some of the high-quality sportswear we wear today. A fashion brand isn’t sure how to be sustainable. It should contact recycling groups like Parley to point them in the right direction.

High-Quality and Durable Materials

It is common knowledge that if you wear high-quality materials, they will last longer compared to cheaper clothes. If you want to support the sustainable movement, you have to change your lifestyle. One way to do this is to buy clothes more expensive and support being eco-friendly.

One brand that uses high-quality materials and proves its durability is Levi Jeans. They are arguably some of the best jeans you can buy in terms of value for money and how long they last. Many fast-fashion brands will design cheap and affordable jeans, meaning they damage easily. If you want jeans to last a long time, Levi jeans should be the brand you wear.

The fashion industry is slowly changing which is a good thing however some of the major retailers like ASOS are still supporting fashion brands that are not sustainable. If we wish to see changes made, we need those online stores to stop promoting and selling those fast-fashion brands that damage the environment.

The Benefits of Sustainable Fashion: woman using spinning wheel with colorful thread
Photo by Bundo Kim on Unsplash

An Ethical Supply Chain

For a fast fashion brand to become more sustainable, it isn’t all about using recyclable fabrics. Sometimes it is how the materials are farmed and the living standards of those that farm the materials used for clothes today. Many fashion brands will obtain materials from unethical farms. For example, many workers could be working 12-hour days, working on the minimum wage, if not less. Due to wages being low, they can charge lower prices for their clothes.

Many initiatives are fighting against this however, a lot more needs to be done. As mentioned earlier, the only way to combat this is for those online retailers to stop supporting fast fashion brands that are supporting these unethical farms. Furthermore, fashion brands need to ensure that they know where the source is for the materials, and avoid those factories and farms that are unethical.

Sustainable Fashion Brands

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As mentioned earlier, many fashion brands are pushing for sustainability. Some of those include; Pangaia, Levi Jeans, Adidas, Patagonia, Toms and many more who design some of the finest full tracksuits, dresses, t-shirts and many more. Additionally, there are a lot of fashion brands that have been accused of greenwashing.

Some of those brands include H&M, ASOS, BooHoo and Zara. Greenwashing is a term where fashion brands will do a PR stunt to promote their products and claim they are sustainable without actually using sustainable fabrics. Something that many brands are being exposed to in recent years.

What About The Consumers?

When it comes to consumers, their opinions vary. For example, people will happily take longer to find and buy sustainable clothing. Additionally, finding organic clothing in high-street fashion stores is difficult although it is much easier online. All you need to search for is “organic hoodies for men” or “organic hoodies for women”. There are hundreds of brands out there that make it evident that they are a sustainable and organic brand. Nonetheless, there are still many brands that greenwash so ensure that you read a bit about the brand to find whether or not they are sustainable.

The Concerns of Sustainability For The Consumer

The younger generation is much more aware of sustainability compared to their elders. A study found people under the age of 40 would consider human rights as their top priority and, prioritising more than double those older than them. Not only do they prioritise human rights more but they also consider plastic waste a priority along with climate change.

The younger generation is more aware of the changes that the world is facing, a lot more than the older consumers. Furthermore, the younger generation is more likely to research a brand before they buy a product, ensuring that they are a sustainable and ethical brand. They will also check the products to ensure they use sustainable materials.

However, despite the younger generation looking to buy from sustainable brands, they don’t recycle as much as their elder peers. Additionally, the younger generation would more than likely buy a new bag instead of reusing bags that they have previously bought.

There is a lot more to sustainability than just shopping. For example, the foods that you consume can also affect the planet in some way. That is why 16% of 18-25-year-olds will consume a plant-based diet. At least 15% of 25-35 year-olds will consume a plant-based diet and, only 12 of 55+ consume a plant-based diet. Nevertheless, some young people are trying a plant-based diet to be healthy.

It also comes down to cost and how they could affect a consumer’s mindset. Many young people would happily pay the extra money they need to spend for something that is sustainable/organic. A younger person will happily pay the extra money for organic clothing compared to an elderly person who wouldn’t actively look for this.

It is positive to see that now more than ever, consumers are searching for sustainable brands selling organic clothes. Even for beauty products, 64% of consumers will look for beauty brands that don’t test on animals however there are not that many to choose from.

It is good to see that there are people out there that are more considerate with their purchases. Considering the brand’s sustainability and how organic materials are. As mentioned earlier in the article, consumers needed to make these changes. Furthermore, brands also need to do the same and be more considerate of this market.

Summary: The Benefits of Sustainable Fashion

Although the fashion industry is slowly adapting, it is still not good enough. Thousands of materials are wasted throughout the year. As soon as brands start using sustainable and recyclable materials, the industry will be a much better place. Furthermore, the consumer needs to know how to recycle old clothes and stop supporting brands that do not believe in sustainability.

Sustainability is becoming a big thing in the world because of global warming. Celebrities are promoting it a lot more than they once were. There are many ways to live a sustainable lifestyle such as recycling your plastic, buying second-hand clothes and eating organic foods. Remember, every little bit counts.