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Is Sustainable Fashion Completely Pointless?
Fashion may be considered a high-end market, but you might be surprised by just how harmful the industry is to our environment. From toxic wastewater byproducts created by garment production lines to the astounding amount of water that it takes to create a mere kilogram of cotton (around 20,000 liters), there is no doubt that fashion has a highly detrimental effect on our planet. The fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world, with a huge 4 to 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions being caused by the fashion industry. It is topped only by the oil industry.
Sustainable fashion has the opportunity to make a really big difference here, but it just isn’t being prioritized in the way that it needs to be to have a significant effect. Does that make it pointless? You could argue in favor of both sides, but before we go any further into whether the idea of sustainable fashion is merely an idealistic dream, let’s take a look at what it is exactly.
What is Sustainable Fashion?
Often used as a buzz word in the world of fashion - an attempt to make companies seem open-minded, modern and environmentally efficient - sustainable fashion is far more than a word to be tossed around at will. Sustainable fashion relates to the process of building fashion products that are ecologically friendly and, as the name gives away, are sustainable. This ideal considers the process of a major change in all aspects of the fashion industry. This includes issues such as the conditions of workers, the ethics of production, the need to cut back on overproduction, ensuring that the materials with which the clothing is made are eco-friendly, and more. The term encompasses the consumption and creation of sustainable clothing. It sounds like the perfect way to save the planet, but the situation is far more complex than it may seem, which is what makes the topic of sustainable fashion seem like a far-off dream at times.
Is There a Point?
This seems like a ridiculous question, doesn’t it? There is certainly a point if it means that we are protecting our planet and changing the lives of workers. That may indeed be the case, but the issue that comes with sustainable fashion is pure and simple: not enough is being done on a large enough scale for us to see a significant impact. While this is no one way means that sustainability is pointless, it can feel fruitless when only certain companies are making the effort.
Brands That Are Making A Difference
There are companies out there that are truly trying to make a difference in the fashion industry. One good example of this is Patagonia, a company that uses recycled fabrics such as wool, polyester and nylon. Patagonia also outwardly supports the sustainable fashion industry by opposing “fast fashion” - the quick and easy method of clothing production that is incredibly harmful to the environment and uses ethically questionable conditions for its workers. Patagonia is a member of sustainable-fashion-focused businesses such as 1% For The Planet and the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, groups that are making it their mission to introduce sustainable brands and weave these ideals into established brands and businesses. They aren’t alone in their mission, with plenty of other brands out there boasting sustainable fashion goals such as Ren London, Sheep Inc. and Hue Division, who sell various sustainable clothing items, such as this Heather Grey Men's Organic Cotton Reversed Hoodie.
This may make it seem like a lot of people are willing to try their best to bring about change, but in the bigger picture, it still is not enough. Every fashion label in the world is sure to have boasted of its ethical production means and sustainable methods, but if each and every one of them were willing to truly invest every bit of their time and effort into sustainability, the situation may be different. Sadly, that is not the case. The fashion world needs drastic change for the environment - and the various other issues that fast fashion causes (such as socio-political and economic concerns) - to start reaping the benefits.
Pulling Our Weight
There is no doubt that we all can do our part to endorse sustainability in fashion, but there need to be enough of us championing this cause to make a significant difference. It is up to all of us - from the biggest designer brands to the everyday buyers - to do what we can to make sustainable fashion feel closer to reality.