How Can We Reduce The Environmental Impact Of Fashion?
4 simple ways to reduce fashion’s carbon footprint as conscious shoppers
Consider this: according to UNECE (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe), the fashion industry accounts for about 10 percent of global carbon emissions. Fast fashion is also responsible, to a large extent, for polluting water bodies, poor working conditions and the use of toxic substances in the production process. The solution to this is as clear as day: we need to switch to sustainable practices and collectively work towards reducing the environmental impact of fashion. While the industry needs to step up and clamp down on unsafe processes, there’s a lot of simple, practical things that we, as consumers, can do to drive the change. Here are a few suggestions:
This is a no-brainer, but so hard to do in reality, especially during sale season, right? We hit the stores and come back with bags filled to the brim with cheap clothes and trendy ladies’ shoes, courtesy fast fashion brands. And how long do these pieces last? Until the next sale, of course! It’s a vicious cycle, and adds zero value to your wardrobe. Most of these clothes end up in landfills, and honestly, none of us need as many clothes, shoes or bags. We need to make a conscious choice to buy less, assess our wardrobes and ask ourselves if we really need to buy at all and create more waste.
Shop from sustainable brands
Ditch fast fashion and steer your attention to homegrown sustainable brands that use natural fibres and work on handmade products. Swap your leather footwear for a pair of affordable vegan shoes, for instance, to reduce your carbon footprint. Do your research and find out where your shoes come from, who makes them, how they are made, what are the working conditions and if the makers of your product are fairly compensated for their craft and skill.
Sure, the products curated by sustainable brands are priced a bit higher, but consider the ecological impact of your purchase, the superior quality and processes involved, and you’ll realise it’s better to buy one good pair of shoes that last rather than picking up five mediocre ones. When you shop mindfully, you are not only buying yourself a product that’s made with love and care, but you are also more likely to treasure it and save it for longer, thus eliminating the need to buy more often.
Mend, re-use, repeat
We might have scoffed at our grandmothers for repeatedly mending and re-using their clothes and footwear for years instead of simply buying new ones, but they were practicing sustainable fashion long before it became a buzzword. There’s a lot of wisdom in being frugal. Not only does it save you money, but turns out, it’s good for the planet as well. When you repair an item from your wardrobe instead of throwing it in the trash, you are essentially extending its life and preventing it from deteriorating in a landfill.
4. Buy second-hand
There’s a proliferation of second-hand stores in the online space these days, and it’s a good idea to buy from them, instead of choosing a fast fashion brand. You could also consider selling your good quality clothes at these stores or swap them for pre-loved products on these platforms. If you feel like you’ve nothing to wear despite a wardrobe full of clothes and shoes (trust me, we’ve all been there), you could even swap with your friends and family. And don’t forget to donate your good quality clothes to those in need. Declutter frequently and be content with what you already own.