Despite all this hue and cry about sustainable fashion, many of us might ask ourselves- does it actually matter? Does it matter if I wear a shirt for a year long instead of chucking it out after 6 months of buying it? Or does it matter if I choose to wear polyester clothes instead of cotton? While this uncertainty is understandable given the amount of confusing data available, there is no doubt anymore that sustainable fashion does matter. Every time you make a choice to use sustainable clothing, it is a step in the direction of saving our planet.

Fashion and waste go way back

Ever since the industrial revolution, the fashion industry has been a leading contributor to pollution and wastes of all kinds and using tons of natural resources like water as well as disposal of untreated chemicals, discarded cloth on shop floors that pile up in landfills, and many other wastes in the supply chain of a material being processed to a wearable cloth.

  • This industry is also responsible for almost 8% of greenhouse gas emissions and 20% of water waste across the world.
  • 35% of the microplastic pollution (which is devastating for oceanic creatures) in the oceans is attributed to this industry.
  • And despite all the hue and cry about recycling clothes, only 1% of the material used to produce these clothes ends up being recycled.
  • The worst of it, however, is the inhumane way in which this industry’s shop floor workers are treated. Their pay is far below minimum wage levels in some countries and there is no legal recourse available to them. Safety standards are negligible, resulting in life-threatening working conditions.

So yes, sustainable fashion does matter. It isn’t only about the cloth in your hand, but about the entire process and resources that have gone into producing it, transporting it, and displaying it in the storefront. Apart from this, there are a lot of auxiliary industries attached like transportation, packaging, and retail.

So what does it mean to be sustainable in this industry?

Sustainable fashion endorses the belief that there is a safer, greener, less waste-intensive way to perform all these activities while remaining profitable. Almost 60% of the millennials want to shop sustainably while only 15% of the people recycle their clothes. By just doubling our cloth usage from one to 2 years, we can reduce emissions from that cloth by 24%. Wearing clothes more than 30 times or longer than 9 months has a significant environmental impact since you’ll be generating lower waste by buying clothes less often. The best part? It’s light on your pocket. The greater number of times you wear a piece of clothing, the lower per wear cost is and the lesser you’ll have to spend on new clothes. Yes, ladies, we know how hard it is to control those urges to shop for a shiny new piece of cloth. But next time you’re tempted, just keep these figures in mind.
July 27, 2022 — Nirant Borkar