What Is Sustainable Fashion?

Pretty blonde sitting on a porch dressed in jeans and long sleaved shirt

By: DAISY HEMMEN

 

When shopping for wardrobe essentials, you probably consider a range of factors, from affordability to ease of wear. You may ask yourself things like, “Can I wear this to the office and into the weekend?” or “Are these timeless staples that I can hold onto for years?”

You may also consider how and why your clothes are made—are you buying from companies that implement sustainable, ethical practices? 

And what does sustainable clothing mean, really? One type of textile that we love is bamboo viscose. If you’ve ever wondered what bamboo viscose is, it’s an eco-friendly material that you can feel good about because it benefits the environment.

In this brief guide, we’ll explore what sustainable fashion is, why this practice came to be, and how you can implement more sustainable practices into your everyday life to improve your environmental impact.  

womens bamboo clothing

Sustainable fashion 101: Understanding the fast fashion industry

Did you know that the fashion industry produces 10 percent of all carbon emissions?1 

Before we dive into what is sustainable clothing, we have to understand what it’s not: the fast fashion industry. Cheaply, hastily made garments that fall apart after several years are probably not what you want to stock your closet with. Here’s why.

According to Business Insider, these are but a smattering of ways the fast fashion industry negatively impacts the environment:

  • Big, international clothing brands are introducing more collections per year, which means people are buying more clothes and keeping them for shorter periods of time. This clothing production has nearly doubled since 2000.
  • Clothes that are discarded often end up in the dump. In fact, up to 85% of textiles go into landfills each year. 
  • Washing clothes releases microfibers into the ocean which harms natural ecosystems. 
  • Polyester production releases 2-3 more carbon emissions into the air than cotton—and the production of polyester-based clothing increases year over year. 

In order to combat these high levels of air and water pollution—and excessive waste—many clothing brands are stepping up to the plate and making it their mission to produce clothes that tread lightly on the environment. 

Pretty young woman in black neglige sitting on on a terrace

The solution? Sustainable fashion

Sustainable fashion is more than just a buzzword. Brands that qualify as sustainable respect the planet as much as they respect the bodies they dress. They typically:2

  • Consider sustainability at every level of production. Just because cotton and bamboo produce fewer carbon emissions than polyester doesn’t mean that using these materials alone makes a business sustainable. If the bamboo and cotton are not sustainably harvested, then the ‘sustainable’ label is moot. Understanding where and how garments are made is essential when striving to become a sustainable company. This includes storing and transporting garments responsibility and making sure every item in a collection is recyclable. Want to learn more about cotton vs bamboo? We have you covered!

  • Think about both environmental and human impacts of fashion. Sustainable fashion companies consider both the effects their brand has on the earth and on the people who dedicate countless hours to making these clothes. Are working conditions fair and ethical in the factory or field? Are employees able to enjoy a high quality of living because of the benefits of the business?

  • Encourage sustainable practices in all aspects of life. While the fashion industry is often maligned for contributing to pollution, it is certainly not the only culprit. Sustainable clothing is a lifestyle, which means companies who champion the merits of sustainability should also encourage their customers to implement eco-friendly practices every day. This could include cross-posting other environmentally friendly brands to their social media accounts, or offering discounts to shoppers who share a photo of their compost bin, for example. 

Individuals who choose to only (or mostly) wear sustainably made garments and the ethically responsible companies who produce these clothes have the same goal in mind. They want to be considerate in their choices, dressing in comfortable, high-quality clothing that is made without harming the planet or wasting natural resources. 

Sporting young woman in short black tights and top tank, resting on a porch after workout

How to easily incorporate sustainable fashion into your life 

Now that you have a better grasp on what sustainable and conscious fashion is, you may be wondering how you can incorporate sustainable practices into your life. 

Here are three easy ways to dip your toes into the world of sustainable fashion, no heavy lifting or big spending required:

  • Embrace vintage styles.4 What’s old is new again, and cool again. There is no new energy being used or fashion waste when you shop at vintage markets and thrift stores. By purchasing garments that have withstood the test of time, you can incorporate one-of-a-kind pieces into your wardrobe while feeling good about indulging your insatiable shopping habit and participating in the sustainable fashion movement. 

  • Stay informed. Doing a bit of research before buying can save you money (as higher quality clothes last longer) and can help the planet, too. Learn which materials are more sustainable2, and familiarize yourself with brands that utilize sustainable materials and sustainable fabrics like reclaimed rubber, recycled bottles, or organic cotton to make their goods. Educate yourself on the different types of natural fibers and natural fabrics. Here at Boody Eco Wear, we love to utilize bamboo viscose as the foundation for our timeless undies, activewear, and loungewear.5 Bamboo is the fastest growing woody plant in the world and is able to thrive in diverse climates, making it an ideal resource for sustainable fashion. 
  • Shop local. One of the easiest (and most fun) ways to support the sustainable fashion industry is to shop locally and put your dollars back into the community. For instance, if you purchase a dress from the boutique down the street, you can return the item without participating in the global supply chain, thereby reducing your carbon footprint. 

  • Recycle old clothes. We all go through phases of fashion and might do a closet purge every once in a while. Instead of throwing away your old clothes, recycle by taking them to a consignment store or a local shelter. Not sure what to do with old bras? Transform your old garments into a DIY project! 

Keep in mind that embracing a sustainable lifestyle starts with a few small steps. 

Boody Eco Wear: Soft, simple, and sustainable

By understanding how and where clothes are made and the mission behind each fashion company that makes them, you’ll be better equipped to stock your wardrobe with beautifully made, environmentally conscious garments.

That’s an ethos we stand behind. At Boody Eco Wear, we offer organically grown, bamboo-based viscose fabric that’s luxuriously soft to the touch. All elements of our fashion brand are ethically and sustainably sourced. From sustainable bras to socks and athleisure, you are sure to love all of our women's bamboo clothing!

In essence, at Boody Eco Wear, we practice what we preach.

About the Author:

Daisy Hemmen is a San Diego State University Fowler College of Business alumni. Based in Encinitas, California, Daisy is a part of the marketing team at Boody North America. She is passionate about learning the ins and outs of living a happy and healthy lifestyle that benefits both people and the planet, and enjoys sharing her bountiful findings with the community.

 

Sources:

  1. Business Insider. How Fast Fashion Hurts the Planet Through Pollution and Waste. https://www.businessinsider.com/fast-fashion-environmental-impact-pollution-emissions-waste-water-2019-10 
  2. Live Kindly. What Is Sustainable Fashion? A User’s Guide. https://www.livekindly.co/sustainable-fashion/ 
  3. Forbes. Why Sustainable Fashion Matters. https://www.forbes.com/sites/ellevate/2019/10/07/why-sustainable-fashion-matters/?sh=7196fe9a71b8 
  4. Harper's Bazaar. 10 Simple Steps to Being More Sustainable. https://www.harpersbazaar.com/uk/fashion/what-to-wear/a41158/how-to-be-sustainable-fashion/ 
  5. Boody Eco Wear. Benefits of Bamboo.https://boodywear.com/pages/benefits-of-bamboo

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