What is sustainable fashion and why does it matter?

By Christiana's Conscience X Uhuru

When we think of climate change and what causes it, we may tend to envisage large coal power plants pumping grey smoke into the atmosphere or rainforests being frivolously hacked down. We imagine ice caps melting, sea levels rising, oil spills in our oceans. Would you ever stop and think of these things when browsing the racks in Zara or H&M? To be brutally honest, we should. The runner up to the largest pollutant on this planet is the fast fashion industry, only second to the top daddy, oil mining. The fashion industry is a multi-faceted business with varying environmental impacts ranging from the 2,700 litres of water taken to make one t-shirt or the toxic nitrous oxide emissions released from producing synthetic materials such as nylon and polyester. This is just skimming the surface, I haven’t even touched on the exploitation of people’s labour to produce the clothes. With every purchase of one t-shirt bought from a high street store for an unfathomably cheap price, we are contributing to this corrupt system. As individual consumers, we have the power to not support this industry, something must change in the way we consume. This is where sustainable/ethical fashion is introduced.

To truly understand the sustainability movement that so many of us are now embracing, let’s break it down to the core, what exactly is ethical fashion? Google defines is as “an umbrella term to describe ethical fashion, design production, retail, and purchasing.” It is therefore encompassing all stages of the design and manufacture process of a garment, covering also the environmental and animal welfare as well as human. With documentaries such as ‘The True Cost’ and ‘The Machinists’ being created and released into mainstream media we are exposed to an abundance more information about the unethical fashion industry than ever before. As consumers, we are now able to understand the nepotism within this system that we are feeding with every purchase we make. We now have the choice to be implicit in how we are contributing to the fast fashion industry or stay ignorant, and if you are reading this, you’re more likely to agree with the former.

So what is being done about it? Well we all have a part to play if we want to tackle this dominant issue. Reduce, recycle, reuse. We must change our attitudes in regards to shopping and make better attempts at limiting our comparably indulgent lifestyles. Designers and manufactures are working hard to create new sustainable materials such as Pinatex (Pineapple leather) as well as other eco-friendly fibers derived from coconuts and bananas. The future involves garments that are durable and with added value for the consumer, manufacturer and producer. This means we will have to be more conscious when picking out new clothes and ask ourselves if they would withstand the 30 wear test. Uhuru supports and sells a collection of unique pieces from independent ethical boutiques each picked for their originality and conscious ethos. We believe that helping to support these upcoming businesses through Uhuru will shed more light on sustainable fashion, enriching our minds as well as our wardrobes. Good quality, well designed, sustainable garments that are flexible to our needs are the future for fashion as we can wave goodbye to our £5 t-shirts!

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