Sustainability 101: Sustainable Fashion and the Environment



Unlike in decades past, clothing is now more affordable than ever. But alongside cheaper price tags and our growing closets, the amount of clothing and textile waste that ends up in dumpsites every year has also increased steadily. According to , the average American now throws out 37 kg of clothes per year. And globally, around 97 tonnes of textile waste is produced annually. Aside from just waste, the fashion industry’s carbon emissions, which have already been on a continuous rise, is set to double by 2030 indicating a lack of action towards this issue. 


With such intimidatingly large statistics, it is easy to feel that the problems of the fashion industry have no solution. Enter Sustainable Fashion. 


Sustainable Fashion basically refers to clothing and fashion that are worn and produced sustainably, with special care to not damage the environment. Everything from thrifting your clothes to mending otherwise functional pieces falls under the Sustainable Fashion movement. If you want to learn more about how to keep looking stylish while also preserving the environment, keep on reading!


How to Participate in the Sustainable Fashion Movement


1. Reuse clothes instead of trashing them



This might seem like common sense, but the first step you can take to be more sustainable with your clothes is to simply reuse them. In the same article mentioned above, states that the number of times we wear our clothes has reduced by 36% in the last 15 years. This puts the average times of wear for each garment at around seven to ten times before being thrown away. While some garments might be unsalvageable, such as moldy or incredibly soiled clothes, the majority of our clothing is Probably still perfectly fine to wear. Aside from not trashing old clothes, being more careful to mend slightly damaged clothes and washing garments properly to avoid damaging them are also worthwhile steps to be more sustainable.


2.Avoid Fast Fashion brands



Fast fashion brands are as tempting as they are damaging to the environment. While they offer the lowest prices for the latest trends, they also contribute to 16 million tonnes of CO2 emissions yearly . Although occasional purchases from fast fashion brands are not inherently bad, especially when these are the only brands within our budget, being aware of the large-scale environmental impact of these brands is important in understanding the effect of fast fashion on the environment. Unless it is absolutely unavoidable, avoiding fast fashion brands is a huge step for The Sustainable Fashion Movement.


3. Go second hand shopping and thrift flip



Although second hand shopping once had a reputation for being unglamorous and unfashionable, waves of young people have begun to see the benefits of second hand shopping, also known as thrifting. Aside from having unique pieces that have stood the test of time, netizens have also taken to buying initially unfashionable pieces from the thrift store and altering them to be trendier and more fashionable. This practice of “thrift flipping” has made shopping sustainably all the more attractive to the general public, especially to those who want a more special and individualised style. Not only that, thrifting has also been found to be incredibly good at cutting down your carbon footprint, with a study finding that purchasing a dress second hand saves 9.7 kg or 21.4 lbs of carbon dioxide emissions


4. Use your clothing and textile scraps



It is probably incredibly easy to just toss the extra fabric from unsalvageable clothes and call it a day, however, with the amount of textile waste that we produce yearly, it’s probably better to find a new way to use even the smallest scraps of fabric. Aside from using them as old wash cloths or dish rags, you could also incorporate them into your next thrift flip or DIY project.


5. Know the fabrics you buy



Finally, knowing the materials and fabrics that you purchase is essential in practicing Sustainable Fashion. Fabrics made from plastic such as polyester, nylon, and acrylic are significantly worse for the environment. Not only do these synthetic fabrics feel worse on the skin compared to something like cotton or cashmere, they also stay in the environment for incredibly long periods of time. By the time that you’re done with your polyester sweaters, they would still have anywhere from 20 to 200 years before they decompose. This is something to think about even as you go thrift shopping or when buying from sustainable brands. Our clothes should not stay on the planet for longer than we do. 





The statistics surrounding Fast Fashion are terrifying to say the least. The different forms of coupled pollution associated with the wasteful attitudes associated with the industry makes it seem as if it is impossible to have an interest in fashion whilst also caring for the environment. But hopefully the methods we’ve discussed above can help you to slowly make more mindful and sustainable clothing choices for the future of our planet. If you want to learn more about sustainability and the environment, check out our other articles here. And don’t forget to follow us on all our social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube

This article was written by Yvonne Gonzales