Every business strives to turn a profit but doing so at the expense of the environment has become passe. Although introduced in 1990, eco-fashion, the design philosophy that embraces the use of sustainable materials, low impact manufacturing and social responsibility didn’t gain traction until 2007.
But don’t worry, we’re not talking about wearing burlap skirts, macrame bikinis or re-purposing your plastic shopping bags into a wedding dress…at least not exactly.
As much as we love and support re-purposing, choosing eco-fashion is something to consider when you do find yourself in need of new clothing (or even material for making your own).
The eco-fashion industry is making huge strides in reducing the amount of toxic chemicals produced in manufacturing clothing from using natural organic fibers, thus reducing the need for pesticides and fertilizer, to recycling materials that would otherwise end up in landfills.
Here’s a sobering statistic, Living Green Magazine states that:
“The average American throws away 70 lbs. of used clothing every year, sending 11.1 million tons of textiles straight to the dump.”
It goes without saying that reducing, reusing, repairing, re-purposing and choosing long-lasting eco-friendly fabrics is pretty important. A few other reasons to choose eco-fashion over conventional clothing are:
It’s healthier for people. Not only are you going to benefit from pesticide-free clothing but the eco-fashion industry takes the working conditions of other people very seriously. We all remember the horrific tragedy in 2013 when the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh collapsed, killing 1,129 people. This brought much needed attention to the true cost of clothing and whether or not buying that “cheap” $5 t-shirt is worth it.
It’s better for animals. There used to be a time when flashing some fur was a status symbol. That mink coat or fox stole spoke volumes when you entered a room. Well, they still do but not in a positive way…and wearing these may get you dosed with a coat of red paint. Cruelty-free clothing is the new ‘status symbol’ and many companies are producing faux furs which not only look as impressive as the real deal, but last longer too.
Speaking of lasting longer. One goal of the eco-fashion industry is creating fashions that last a long time. Gone are the days of cheaply made, disposable fashions. Designers are producing classic pieces that will last multiple seasons.
Companies like Patagonia are taking eco-fashion one step further. In a recent ad campaign, they challenged their shoppers to buy less stuff. Yes, you read that right. A company, who is in the business to make money, is asking you to purchase less and repair more. Patagonia founder, Yvon Chouinard, had this to say regarding actions individuals can do for a healthier world:
“Three words stick in my head: quality, innovation and simplicity. Consumers questioning whether they really need something leads to buying things that last a long time and can be recycled. That’s quality. Innovation is replacing an old technology that is polluting or inefficient with a better one. The last word is simplicity. Our philosophy here at Patagonia has always been that a product is perfected not when you can’t add anything more to it, but when you can’t take anything away. As a general philosophy of life, we should work toward simplicity rather than increased complexity.”
Finding ways to go green involves more than tossing that aluminum can into the recycle bin. Eco-fashion strives for longevity and quality that benefits everyone and the planet.