Today’s post is all about fashion vs. sustainability. The cold hard truth is that the earth needs help environmentally, and the fashion industry is a massive contributor to the issue. Growing raw textile materials takes a lot of water and pesticides, fabric making involves harsh chemical processes, and synthetic fabrics are not biodegradable, so they leave a long-lasting mark. Fashion has become so fast, there are currently so many seasons; it’s hard to keep up with all of the new collections and releases, resulting in a massive amount of extras. Is it possible that the textile industry could ever be sustainable?
Quality is Sustainable
It’s important to know what sustainability is and what it isn’t. Sustainability is about balancing needs against the awareness of the environmental and social issues of society (Source: Future Learn).
How can consumers help? A good start is to buy products that are going to last for a long time. I have a post about creating a minimalist wardrobe full of good, quality staple pieces. If you purchase mindfully, then you will start to value the quality of your wardrobe over the number of pieces you have. One single t-shirt in a flattering fit for your body will be much more valuable than 20 graphic tees that rip, shrink, and don’t go with anything. Sewists, you can help by making informed decisions when choosing fabrics for projects. Fabrics that are made entirely (or mostly) of natural fibers will be more resilient, better for the environment, and certainly worth the extra money paid when sewing and wearing.
Maybe you realize you’re contributing to the problem as your closet is overflowing with things you don’t wear. Don’t worry, it isn’t too late. You can start by repurposing clothing that isn’t working for you, isn’t flattering, or was just too difficult to style. I’ve purchased things in the wrong size because I loved it that much or purchased an on-sale item just because it was a good deal. With our newfound time, consider dipping into your sewing supplies and start thinking of ways to give your wardrobe a makeover. Most crafters have a stockpile full of supplies, so pull out the bins and start adding trims to that boring top, or read articles on how to alter it, and get to work. And if you make your clothes, think about the garments you don’t reach for and pinpoint why. Try to make adjustments or mix and match pieces to make something fresh and fun. What about that fabric stash or those extra scraps from making projects? You can use those, too!
Be the Change
We can help the planet by doing our research. Take the time to understand why sustainability is important and how you can help. Consider thrifting or repurposing items, sewing with eco friendly fabrics, and shopping with sustainable brands. Sewing and buying things seemed fun at the moment, but when I realized the negative impact it was causing it didn’t seem as fun anymore. A quick internet search told me how many tons of clearance items are burned every season to make room for new items (and that’s just the beginning). Trying to live a more sustainable lifestyle doesn’t have to be an extreme lifestyle shift. Even one footstep in the right direction equates to progress, so think about what you can do to make fashion more sustainable for the future.
It’s okay to admit that as it stands right now, fashion and sewing is not as sustainable as it could be. I think this could be due to lack of awareness until the past few years, but as more brands and people become aware, efforts and conscious behaviors are increasing. It‘s not impossible to change the world in a day, but it’s pretty close to it. Get informed, find ways to be more fashionably sustainable, and take action. Progress will follow, even if it seems to happen slowly.
How do/could you make more sustainable fashion/sewing choices? Leave your comments below.