It’s no secret that the fashion industry has a huge sustainability problem. From the declining lifespan of clothes (thanks to the rise of throwaway fashion) and turbocharged trend cycle to the increased reliance on water-thirsty cotton & petroleum-based polyester – the fashion industry is destroying the planet. It needs a big ecological overhaul. And it needs it now! While the millennials and Gen-Z are bringing sustainable fashion to the mainstream and are leading the climate change and social justice movement, the very same generation is propelling the growth of fast fashion behemoths like Shein, Missguided, Boohoo and Zara. Its ironic that the generation that stands up for women’s rights, is the very same generation promoting companies that exploit women living in poverty-stricken countries. Exploitative working conditions, terrible wages, harassment and appalling safety conditions are just a handful of problems the women making our garments endure every day.
Look good, feel good – at what cost?Fashion brands have convinced us somehow that buying new clothes will solve all our life problems. p>Their cool marketing and smart analytics keep us hooked to their websites. ‘Buy now pay later’, doorstep delivery & returns, throwaway prices combined with never-ending discounts, and ‘you can’t miss this offer’ are just a few tactics that are too hard to resist. Even the best of us get lured into buying things we really don’t need. As if things were not bad enough, now fashion brands are greenwashing themselves to win over the hearts of eco-minded consumers. Claims of being “eco-friendly”, “natural” and “sustainable”, without actually being backed by evidence, are ubiquitous and deceptive.
ACE your wardrobe!
The good news is, that you have the power to bring change in the fashion industry.
But before bringing this change, some questions might plague your mind- Where do I start? Do I need to build a new wardrobe and ditch all the fast fashion I already own?
Sustainable fashion is expensive. How do I buy sustainable clothing within my budget?
To give answers to all your questions, I have designed a 3-step ACE system to help you take a more eco-minded approach to consume fashion, without breaking your bank.
ACE is an acronym for “Avoid, Consider and Embrace”. Every time you think about buying something new, this ACE method will help you make more mindful fashion choices.
- AVOID: Avoid fast fashion brands, brands that do not regard the planet, people or animals. More importantly, don’t buy things that you don’t need.
Of course, I am not asking you to throw away items you purchased from fast fashion brands. In fact, that would be the most unsustainable thing to do. Love what you have, take good care of it, and wear it as much as you can. Find a way to upcycle it when it can no longer serve its purpose.
- CONSIDER: When you shop new, choose 100% natural fabrics and support sustainable brands. By choosing natural materials such as recycled or organic cotton, hemp, linen, and bamboo you can rest assured that the material will not create an endless loop of pollution and will break down eventually.
When you buy “new” don’t just look at how the garment looks but also check its quality (is it built to last?), the entire supply chain, production processes, and product afterlife.
Opt for fashion brands that are doing good-paying fair wages, using eco-friendly fabrics, adopting sustainable practices, and giving back. However, this is still not the best option because buying “new” still puts a strain on the planet, even if it is sustainably produced. That’s why I believe in embracing.
- EMBRACE: The most sustainable outfit is the one in your wardrobe. Instead of buying new items, shop from your own closet. You will be surprised by so many treasures you will find inside it. So, embrace what you already have and experiment with it. In case that doesn’t work, borrow, swap or rent.
The fashion industry perpetuates overconsumption. Overconsumption and consumerism are the main drivers of all the environmental destruction that we are now facing. But we can all make better choices.
You don’t have to compromise on your style or ethics to be sustainable. By being aware, asking the right questions and changing your attitudes to shopping you can make a huge impact.
About SHRUTI JAIN
Shruti Jain is an ethical influencer, India’s first vegan and cruelty-free blogger of Style Destino. She started her blog StyleDestino in 2011 in a bid to break the stereotype that vegan fashion is drab and boring. She co-founded an ethical lifestyle eCommerce platform Address Chic and she has been a recipient of several awards, including IPE BFSI Women Leadership Award. She has been featured on an American TV show – Plant-Based by Nafsika. Through her blog and sustainable living platform FAETH – I am the Change, she inspires personal action through meaningful posts, festivals, workshops and talks on conscious living. Shruti studied finance and entrepreneurship, earning her MA in Finance and Investments from the University of Nottingham (UK) and graduated from De Montfort University (UK) with a BA (Hons) in Business Studies. She is an active speaker on sustainable living and has been invited at various forums including Green Festival New York, Ariel Dubai and IIT Bombay.