It's a term that is being thrown around like crazy at the moment. Heck, we use it all the time to describe what we, as Thread Harvest, believe, do and strive for. What we're discovering though, is that most people just think Sustainable Fashion is a 'nice' idea, failing to see the huge problem we are creating.
Sustainable Fashion is more than just shopping from great brands that source their products responsibly and ethically (such as the ones found on our site!). It's approaching our wardrobes from a wholistic standpoint. It's about the life cycle of the whole garment.
At the Copenhagen Fashion Summit held this year the big topic of discussion was sustainability. The population is set to hit 8.5 billion people by 2030, with our current rate of apparel consumption rising by 63%, "from 62 million tons today to 102 million tons in 2030—an equivalent of more than 500 billion T-shirts" (Pulse Of the Fashion Industry 2017 Report)
That's a lot of T-shirts.
Add to this our current rate of disposing of garments in Australia - which is 6000kgs every 10 minutes (ref: WarOnWaste) - and you can see we're on the verge of having a huge environmental crisis.
So what needs to change?
Essentially it's our approach.
There are some amazing brands out there pushing the boundaries, utilising the latest technology to reduce the environmental impact when producing their garments.
"One of the most exciting potential new ways of producing apparel is, of course, 3D printing. 3D printers are capable of fabricating anything from toys to body parts to entire houses. More common 3D printing techniques use PLA, a biodegradable plastic, to build each item layer by layer with a technique called “additive manufacturing”. (ref:WGSN)
If, like me, you struggle to see 3D printing to be more than A4 sheets of paper stapled together to resemble apparel, than materials such as Pinatx - a leather alternative, or QMilch- a company based in Germany that produces a silky fabric woven from the protein fibres in milk - might be more your style.
The interesting trend we're seeing emerge is that no matter the raw material, brands are pushing the technology boundaries of fabric creation and as a result significantly reducing carbon footprints and water waste.
When it comes to the consumer, our approach to our wardrobe needs to change. Sadly our charitable ways in giving our old clothes to places like Vinnies is having a negative affect. We throw away so many garments (6000kgs per 10mins) but unfortunately only around 15% of those garments ever gets sold domestically. Most get packed up and shipped to developing nations, which sounds great in theory, but this charity actually damages the local economies. These boxes of cheap clothing end up removing the need for local textile businesses in developing nations, therefore rendering the charitable donation as more harmful than good.
So if it's going to take a collective effort from consumer and brand alike, what can we do?
It's essentially getting back to basics. Mend your clothes. Don't buy what you don't need. Get creative with your wardrobe and mix up the clothing combos.
Side note: I've adopted this approach to my wardrobe for the entire year so far and I have to say I love the challenge. I've created some great looks by just mixing "this with that" in my wardrobe and had people comment that they love my outfit and ask if it's new. The reality is that it's the same top or vest or jacket I've owned for 3 seasons now!
Buy second hand. Do a clothes swap with your friends. The options to be sustainable are endless, we just need to get a little more creative!
Sustainable Fashion is a whole world issue. We're all responsible for our part. So rather than expecting the brands to make all the changes, let's join them in creating lasting change and, as a result, a world that will last.