What Is The Deal With Sustainable Clothing?

The multi billion dollar fashion industry has a lot to answer for.

Every 10 minutes Australians ditch about 6 tonnes of poorly made, mostly plastic, barely worn clothes into landfill, to swap out for new trends. Clothing with an expiry date, that can’t break down. 

Workers (mostly women, as well as children) are being pushed to inhumane limits in poor conditions as they try to make a living for their families and themselves.

1.2 billion tonnes of carbon is being sent into our atmosphere annually as a result of clothes manufacturing. It is a huge contribution to rising seas, warming oceans and loss of life across our planet. More than 

Water consumption is rife. One kilogram of cotton fibre takes 10,000 litres of water to produce. The fashion industry uses enough water annually to supply the equivalent of 110 million people. 

We are in a time of crisis. It is time to act and be a part of change for a positive future. It can start by choosing our clothes more carefully.

So what is sustainable clothing? 

Sustainable clothing is made with environmentally friendly materials, under fair working conditions.

It takes a lot of natural resources to make clothes. Making a cotton garment requires seeds, land, water and labour just to get raw fibre. Spinning of the thread and weaving of the fabric requires energy. If we wanted a dyed fabric, we need more water, more energy and more raw materials just for the dye itself. 

These processes contribute to mismanagement of water supplies and excessive carbon emissions. The shipping involved in getting fibers and fabrics across the globe is costly, and emits a lot of carbon. 

Another core element of sustainable fashion is the ethical production in each step of the supply chain. Ethical production means that workers are being paid a fair wage, in fair conditions, and treated with respect and dignity. 

There is no way to achieve an environmentally aware and conscious global clothing community if we ignore the people who make our clothes. The fashion industry has a shady history with garment worker rights, especially  in developing countries. To be considered sustainable clothing each piece of the supply chain has to operate ethically. Certifications like Fairtrade and Ethical Clothing Australia ensure the workers making our clothes are paid fair, living wages and are treated well. 

What can we do about it?

Everyday most of us get up and put on clothes. We put on clothes to impress, to feel good, or to inspire. We put on clothes because, well, it’s illegal not to.

What we don’t see everyday is all those processes and people that go into making our clothes. We see an end product, marked with a price that is deemed affordable. It’s kind of crazy to think that we haven’t been asking where our garments came from, what they’re made of, and who made them?

Most of what we can do now is to ask questions. It is so important to know what it takes for clothes to be sustainable before buying them, and invest in brands making a positive impact. Building sustainable shopping habits has the power to make a very positive impact on our environment and the people who make our clothes.

Written by Emily Hodge

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