Every day we have guests signing up to our platform with a variety of skills and tasks they’re happy to help you with. One such guest is Nina from Melbourne. Nina is a sustainable fashion stylist and content writer.
In this article, Nina talks about things we can consider when it comes to buying clothes and the impact the garment industry has on the planet.
By Nina Gbor
Sustainable fashion refers to apparel produced, consumed and disposed of in ways that ensure minimal damage to the environment. It’s also based on the rights and fair wages of garment workers in manufacturing.
We need to be concerned about the state of the fashion industry as it’s laden with a huge amount of social injustice issues such as unfair wages, inhumane work conditions, modern slavery and other human rights abuses. For example, it’s common for garment workers in some low-income countries to earn $2 a day in a 16-hour shift. The wage is not enough to meet their basic human needs nor that of their families. A vast majority of retail is affordable because the people who make our clothes are not paid a liveable wage. However, some high end and designer fashion brands who charge a premium, also produce their apparel in factories where human rights abuses occur.
Where the environment is concerned, fashion is one of the most polluting industries in the world. Fashion production is rapidly damaging to the environment during farming and manufacture. Several natural water bodies like the Aral Sea have dried up due to over-irrigation from cotton farming amongst other things. The Aral Sea was once home to over 40,000 fishermen. Cotton farming is used to make jeans. It takes 2,700 gallons of water to make one t-shirt. Poisonous chemicals from chemical pesticides and toxic dyes regularly wash into seas, lakes and rivers where manufacture occurs. These poisons the water resources used by communities for food, agriculture and life functioning.
In consumption, majority of contemporary clothes are made from petroleum-derived textiles like polyester, nylon and spandex which are a form of plastic. When washed, they release microfibres that end up in the ocean. Fish ingest these microfibres which is not only harmful to them but also to humans who ingest the fish.
In disposal, we throw away 6,000kg of textile waste every ten minutes to landfill (ABC TV, War on Waste). This waste epidemic is damaging the environment because the clothes are not compostable. They are usually made from synthetic fabrics which are not typically able to be composted in any typical landfill scenario. They then produce methane gas which is toxic to the environment.
1. Buy preloved (second-hand)
Wearing second-hand clothes is a circular economy concept that reduces the amount of clothing going to landfill. You can source from eBay, op shops, clothes swaps, markets, Carousell, Facebook Marketplace and other online platforms.
2. Shop with ethical clothing brands
Support ethical manufacture that protects humans and the environment. Acquire new clothes from ethical clothing brands. They are quality-made and last for a long time. Some examples are Etiko, Pure Pod, Dorsu, and Carlie Ballard to name a few.
3. Buy clothes made of natural textiles
Examples are organic cotton, silk, mohair, linen, leather, wool, jute and cashmere.
4. Invest in a Guppyfriend
Instead of throwing out all your pieces made from synthetic fabrics, use a Guppyfriend bag in the wash with your garments that will capture the microfibres.