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What to Know about Sustainable Fashion

There’s much to criticise about the world today, whether it’s the eerie rise of fascism,
the growing class divide, or the lack of women’s safety. One of the other most widely
discussed subjects of the past decade has been climate change and the dearth of
environmental care and preservation. While a lot can be said about how humanity
has contributed to the poor state of the Earth today; people, governments, and
societies have all begun their own initiatives to reverse the harm that has been done
and fight the seemingly impending collapse of the planet. From reducing one’s
carbon footprint to reforestation projects, the world is growing more eco-conscious
and moving towards environment-friendly practices. One of the movements that
have come up has been that of sustainable fashion, which aims to use ethical
and ecological means to create, market, and consume clothing.

There’s a significant amount of confusion that arises when fashion sustainability is
discussed. Its many aspects make it appear heavier to understand than it actually is.
It can be divided into two parts- corporate responsibility and consumer responsibility-
and mainly entails greener, cleaner and more ethical means of creation, and the
recycling as well as upcycling of clothes.

According to BBC, fashion accounts for about 10 % of global carbon emissions. Most
of these emissions come from factories and mills where fabric and clothes are made.
The main step that a company or brand should take towards sustainability is
reducing the amount of energy being consumed at their factories. Popular clothing
brands like Levi’s and American Eagle have successfully managed to lower their
carbon footprints, with several others following suit and pledging to work towards
more eco-friendly means of production. Another problem lies in the sourcing of raw
materials and methods by which certain fabrics are created, such as the growth of
cotton, which involves the usage of pesticides and consumes an immense amount of
water.

Apart from pushing for a greener clothing industry, the eco-fashion movement also
tries to combat the substandard and exploitative conditions of the production workers
of fast fashion brands. Most brands, regardless of industry, are on the lookout for
cheap labour and the unfortunate truth is that cheap labour usually equals workers
being paid below their minimum wage requirements or being from places where
labour laws are close to non-existent. Companies will outsource their products from
factories in third world countries in order to minimise their own costs, in turn leading
to abysmal payment, endless working hours, and toxic health and safety conditions
for the workers. Furthermore, it leads to the practice of child labour and the
implementation of prohibiting workers’ unions.

Sustainable fashion involves ethical means of production and, consumer
responsibility plays a huge role here because it’s the consumer who chooses to turn
a blind eye to the process of creation behind the clothes they buy. As a consumer,
one shouldn’t underestimate their power. If a brand’s target audience asks for
change, they will be pushed into change sooner or later. This is one of the many
ways by which an individual can contribute to sustainable fashion.

If you find yourself wondering how you can shop more sustainably, then there are a
few options. Popular Indian labels like Fabindia and Anokhi are not only
sustainable but will offer you a great range of artisanal prints and textiles to choose
from. Other good options are Nicobar, Upasana, and No Nasties. As much as eco-
fashion strives to do well, it is not devoid of its flaws. Due to the fact that mass
production isn’t currently practiced, sustainable fashion brands are expensive and
hence inaccessible to most people. That’s why online thrift stores are slowly gaining
popularity in India, especially via Instagram. Buying and selling second-hand or
vintage clothing is a great and simple method of doing your bit to help the
environment. A few good Instagram thrift pages to follow are dodos_finds, pandapickedstore, and thesalvagestory.

In summary, companies that use sustainable energy resources, natural dyes, and
eco-friendly fabrics, while providing humane working conditions to their labourers
and not engaging in any form of animal cruelty, are eco-friendly brands and
practitioners of the sustainable fashion philosophy. To be an eco-friendly consumer,
try shopping from brands that support sustainability or buy, sell, or swap used
clothes. There’s nothing wrong with criticising the world, but it’s equally important to
push for the change we want to see.

 

 

 

Ahalya Bahuguna

Delhi South '20

Ahalya's hobbies include napping, eating pasta and looking for puppies to play with. She hopes to travel the world someday and do her bit in changing it. She also hopes to come up with a less clichéd bio sometime soon.
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