To Be or Not to Be Sustainable on FashionBy Be Quality | Comments: 0 | June 29, 2021
To Be or Not to Be Sustainable on Fashion, by Pilar Morales
Nowadays there are so many fashion brands which somehow are transitioning to a more sustainable fashion. As you know, Sustainability is sometimes being used as a ‘green washing’ to cover all the pollution some brands create. On the contrary, there are some traditional brands that are making an effort to be more sustainable. Clearly, this is due to the fact that the market is asking for it.
Above all, I want to highlight that there are many ‘new’ brands unknown for the majority. These brands are founded under a Sustainable philosophy, as it is the reason why these brands were created. Many of their founders, like me, come from the traditional fashion system and decide to not be part of it. The purpose for all of us is to create a more fair and clean fashion industry. Especially one that brings good to all the people involved. Many of us have decided to work and live under our own values. This you can see it on the brand itself. Each at their own way, with their own style, all with one thing in common. Above all, Respect for the people and for the planet.
What is Sustainability?
The first thing to understand is the meaning of Sustainability. According to the Cambridge dictionary:
Sustainability is the idea that goods and services should be produced in ways that do not use resources that cannot be replaced and that do not damage the environment.
How this applies to Sustainable Fashion?
How to apply this is the key to understand what is sustainable fashion. For sure this involves many aspects, as the production of the fibres, the production & dyeing of the fabrics, the manufacturing process, etc. Indeed, it comes from the industrial part, and also by the use made by each single person. How the garments are washed, how long does this garment lasts? Is the garment being used or is it new in the wardrobe? As you can see, the sustainability is a wide concept. Clearly, we are all having a participation and a choice on it.
One of the first and easy ways to choose a more sustainable garment is to prefer a product with a high Quality that lasts. In addition, better if that style outstands fashion trends, as you will be able to use it for many years. Indeed, for every additional season you use a garment, its carbon and water footprint diminishes of about 20% -25%.
Subsequently, another important element is the composition of the garment. Natural Fibers in general create less pollution and are biodegradable. Unlikely, all synthetic fibres release microplastics in the washing cycle that go sooner or later to the ocean. Moreover, it takes decades for them to decompose. You can verify this aspect very easily from the composition label in the garment. The most commonly used Natural fibres are: Cotton, Linen, Hemp, Wool, Silk, Cashmere, Angora, Alpaca.
Definitely, it is much better if they are organic. In few words it means that on the cultivation of the fibres there is no pollution creation. Specially, you will not have any toxic chemicals in contact with your skin. The Organic Textiles Certifications you can find for natural fibers from organic farming are the Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS), Organic Content Standard (OCS), USDA Organic, among others.
On my personal opinion these three above elements are the most important sustainable keys on what concerns the raw materials used on fashion.
Moreover, for products that are not organic but are still free of toxic substances you may consider the following standards. First, the REACh is a mandatory legislation in Europe that regulates the toxicity of chemicals, which includes the fashion industry. Other certifications you can find that are voluntary, the Oeko Tex (worldwide) and the EcoLabel (in Europe).
Other interesting option that reduce the pollution can be the Recycled Textile Certification of products made from recycled material. There are the Global Recycle Standard (GRS) and the Recycled Claim Standard (RCS). This is a good choice to reduce the extraction of natural resources, as even synthetic fibres come from natural sources. The quality of the recycled products might be lower.
Is it Only About Raw Materials?
In my opinion, under the sustainability on fashion, the good and safe working conditions for all people involved on the manufacturing of fashion, at all levels has an important role, that sometimes is undervalued. In fact, there are different associations that have created standards. These are applicable in all the world, they also issue a certificate after an audit,at least once a year. Following, I list some of the most used on the fashion industry Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP), The Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI), Social Accountability International (SA8000)
Fairtrade is an interesting system. It guarantees better prices and gives more advantages to the producers. In particular, decent working conditions and a fairer deal for farmers and workers in developing countries. In this way, it is fair both for producers and for consumers. Undoubtedly, this is a good way to stop exploitation of developing countries. Definitely, it reduces the trend in which traders make the maximum profit, instead of farmers and/or producers.
Other Things to Consider
It is also important to note that any of these certifications have a yearly cost. As a result many small companies cannot afford it. Due to this, we do not own any kind of certificates. Absolutely, all our suppliers are certified as Organic and Social Responsibility. And this is the same thing that happens to many other small brands.
I also want to point your attention to the fact that having an ‘organic cotton’ label doesn’t mean the workers are payed fairly or work in safe structures.
Nevertheless, on the recycled or organic certificates, it’s important to notice if 100% of the product is certified or only a percentage. This misleads the customers very easily, as some companies to reduce the costs mix recycled fibres with non recycled. The same for organic fibres.
I know this is a lot of information to assimilate. Indeed just understanding there are many ways to be sustainable, allows you to choose what are the most important elements to watch according to your values. And then, on time you will learn and become an expert.