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The Importance of Shopping for Sustainable Fashion

The Importance of Shopping for Sustainable Fashion

The Importance of Shopping for Sustainable Fashion
By Clear Givings Market

Table of Contents

  • What is sustainable fashion?
  • What is the environmental impact of fast fashion?
  • How do I discern sustainable fashion from fast fashion?
  • What are the benefits of shopping sustainably?
  • Tips for sustainable fashion shopping

  • Sustainable fashion
    is a growing movement encouraging people to move away from fast-fashion brands with large carbon footprints to more environmentally-friendly made apparelskincarehair care, and accessories.  Sustainable shopping is when we buy goods and services that cause little or no harm to people and with the most efficient and beneficial options for everyone and the planet. Simply put, it's our opportunity to support brands and products that align with our eco-friendly values. It is also our chance to avoid those brands that do not.
     

    Living an eco-conscious life may require significant changes to your current behavior, especially when it comes to shopping for fashion. Before shopping for earth-friendly options, taking stock of what you already own and your current purchasing habits is essential. How many retail shopping sites have you visited recently that provide information about the sustainability of their clothing and other product options? How much do you know about the environmental impact that has occurred from the manufacturing of their apparel and accessories?  Since most brands aren’t transparent, you will need to do research about the potential environmental harm caused by these manufacturers. 

    Whether you’re looking for made-safe colorful knitwear, a festive skirt, or active tanks, new, sustainable clothing brands are emerging to help you get the perfect ethically-made outfits.  Are you ready to get on board with sustainable fashion? Do you want ethical shopping to be easy? To help you transition to green options, we’ve put together a guide to shopping more sustainably to help you make the best decisions for your wallet and our planet.

    What is sustainable fashion?

    You see many options when browsing your favorite retail sites. Maybe you see adorable cocktail dresses with bows, a beautiful long sleeve black sweater, khaki pants, bags, or that perfect pair of designer shorts for women.  Before clicking the checkout  button, slow down and look at the information provided for the product. Have they disclosed if sustainable materials have been used inthe item or how it was constructed? Do they screen for child labor? The difference between fast fashion vs. fair trade and sustainable fashion on the most basic level rests on whether this information is disclosed.  Manufacturers of ethically made fashion will reveal whether the textiles and materials used in manufacturing the products are non-toxic. They disclose how it was made with care for impact on the environment in mind. From the beginning stages, such as growing the raw materials, to the final stages, when we purchase the product, all practices should be carefully considered to avoid environmental consequences such as water and air pollution or water waste. You might see terms like fair trade, cruelty-free, ethically made, sourcing, artisan-made, or sustainable in the titles and descriptions of the items. 

    To be considered sustainable, clothing might have some combination of the following descriptions:

    • Using natural resources, like water, responsibly 
    • Utilizing natural energy sources such as hydroelectric, wind, and solar
    • Creating durable clothing that will last 

    What is the environmental impact of fast fashion?

    If asked how you might act more environmentally friendly, you may instinctively answer by recycling glass, paper, and plastic and opting for clean energy. We don’t often think about how our clothes could harm our environment.  But the clothes we wear do have a BIG impact on the environment. Many consequences associated with today's fashion industry trace directly to the misuse of water and pollution of air and water.

    Water Misuse

    • The fashion industry is the second largest consumer of water and generates, on average, nearly 20% of the world’s wastewater.
    • The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) estimates that within the fast fashion industry– meaning clothing created without sustainability in mind--it takes an average of 3,781 liters (998.8 gallons) to make one pair of jeans. 
    • The Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimates that the fashion industry uses 93 billion cubic meters of water. To give you a little context on how astronomical that number is, Lake Superior contains around 12,232 cubic kilometers of water. So essentially, the fashion industry wastes the same amount of water as if you drained and refilled Lake Superior 8,000 times.

    Pollution

    • Every time our clothes are washed, tiny bits of the material in our clothing is made out of separates and washed down the drain with water. These tiny bits are called microfibers and don’t disappear just because they’ve washed down the drain. Instead, they remain in the water as it travels through pipes, out into the rivers and streams, before eventually ending up back in the pipes.
    • Orb Media conducted a study regarding the presence of microfibers in drinking water. They found the presence of plastic-based microfibers in 80% of the water sampled over five different continents. This means much of the world is drinking in tiny bits of plastic with each sip of water, including the U.S. While water in the U.S. is filtered, it is estimated that only half of the microfibers present in water are filtered out before they reach our tap.
    • Because of the rapid change in modern-day fashion trends, clothing is bought and discarded at an alarming rate. In 2017, an estimated 13 million tons of textiles were thrown away in the U.S. alone. It’s also been found that over 80% of theclothes discarded in the U.S. are either incinerated or thrown into landfills rather than redistributed or recycled.  Suppose we want to change these alarming statistics. In that case, we need to voice our collective encouragement to the fashion industry to modify their practices to be more environmentally friendly.

    Why aren’t companies making these much-needed changes to help the environment? The answer: money. In 2019, the net worth of the fashion industry within the U.S. was valued at $1.5 trillion. On a global scale, the industry was valued at $2.5 trillion, making it one of the most profitable industries in the world. The fashion industry is a money-making enterprise with rapid production and sales goals. “Fast fashion” is practiced worldwide often at the cost of our environment. 

    If you are feeling a bit depressed now, you are not alone. Read on because you have the power to vote with your pocketbook. It will take tremendous willpower from many of us in many communities to counter the damage already inflicted.

    How do I discern sustainable fashion from fast fashion?

    Fast fashion operates on a cycle. 

    Clothes are cheaply madePriced affordablyPeople believe they are getting a good deal by buying inexpensive clothing. ⇒ Clothing deteriorates because the material is not durable Styles change IF the planet is lucky, we recycle the clothes via donation or upcycle. More likely than not, the clothes are discarded into landfills. ⇒ We buy something new to replace that item of clothing. 

    It may feel like you are spending less on your clothes because each item costs less, but you are paying more because you continuously buy affordable apparel and replace it. We can take responsibility for our environment and all its wild and beautiful corners of the planet by stopping this cycle.

    Benefits of Sustainable Fashion

    Now that we’ve explored sustainable fashion and the effects of fast fashion on our environment, that’s where we, as empowered consumers, take responsibility by practicing ethical shopping.  Sustainable shopping cultivates an eco-conscious, mindful awareness of the brands and products we buy.  We must begin to recognize that every item we buy impacts our health, environment, and many societies. An environmentally aware individual will want to make choices that will not harm our planet or its inhabitants.  If you’re shopping for a linen or linen-like dress, you might avoid fast fashion brands and look for brands that sell dresses made of sustainable fabric in a way that is ethical to the planet and its employees instead. 

    How a brand defines what makes their products sustainable will differ - e.g., the types of materials used, the manufacturing process, etc.,.They should be able to offer clear and transparent information on whether the essential hoodies, puffed sleeve dress, kids clothes, or bikinis being sold are indeed earth friendly. Sustainable shopping may counteract much of the fast fashion industry's harm. Moreover, it offers terrific benefits for the environment, the community, and the individual.  As you move towards sustainability, you and your shopping habits are making a powerful difference in the world. 

    Some benefits of shopping sustainably include: 

    Protecting the environment

    Any sustainable product, be it food, fashion, or something else, can have little to no harmful environmental impact. Sustainable farming to grow food or plant-based materials means avoiding chemical pesticides. Sustainably sourced raw materials for productsare essential. However, many products we see in eco-stores, such as ethical dresses or fair trade bags, have a circular or net-zero effect. The manufacturing is done by reusing materials or resources not expended in excess to make the product.You can learn more about whether products are manufactured in this fashion by researching the brand, including the information on Clear Givings Market about the brand and their processes. You can usually find articles and information about the brand online that explain the manufacturing process in some detail. 

    Protecting workers

    Many sustainable brands align their values and operations with the fair treatment of their workers by providing fair living wages and safe workplaces. To ensure that you're supporting workers' rights, find out about the workplace conditions of the people who made the clothes you wear or want to purchase. Do these conditions meet the standards of fair treatment and compensation as well as a safe working environment?Most brands provide information about the factory locations they are based, and many factories across the world have certifications related to sustainability and eco-friendliness. You can find information on Clear Givings Market that is provided by the brand, and you can also research the brand to find out more about their manufacturing process. 

    Promotes animal welfare

    We all know that the raw materials used in shoes, handbags, and outwear can come from animals. Sustainable brands are not just fair to their workers; they also consider the welfare of the animals whose by-products are used in their fashion. This means they research whether their materials are sourced from farmers and ranchers who practice proper livestock management. They research the materials, water, and energy that goes into each garment or accessory, the waste when the garment is thrown away, and how it enters our oceans and animal and human bodies. 

    Tips for sustainable fashion shopping

    You play a role in breaking out of the cycle as an empowered consumer by being mindful. When you’re shopping for your next luxury outfit, women’s handbag, or cross-body bag, consider skipping large retailers and choosing earth-friendlyiconic styles and innovative design alternatives that will make you stand out.  
    Some ways to incorporate sustainable shopping into your routine include:

    Look for more information

    Businesses prioritizing sustainability provide such information willingly rather than trying to hide the truth about their process. Seek out companies that are taking steps to incorporate sustainability into their business practices.  
    There are thousands of artisans worldwide taking the time and effort to make eco-friendly apparel and accessories.  Many are working to preserve centuries-old earth-loving practices in creating their products. Clear Givings Market includes many artisans today, and we’re constantly adding more eco-conscious brands to our marketplace!  

    We’ve carefully selected environmentally-friendly brands that offer luxury outfits, ethical jewelry,and accessories to help you be fashionable and sustainable. 

    Durability over trends

    It’s easy to get caught up in the latest styles and try to fill our closet with many items. But sustainable clothing like ethical dresses are handcrafted with care and created with durability in mind. It’s crucial to invest in clothing made to last. While longer-lasting items will likely be more expensive, they won’t require replacement often and will save you money in the long run. You won’t be trying to replace them repeatedly after a few washes, and you’ll be content knowing that these are clothes you will love wearing for years to come as they are or by adding accessories such as belts, a scarf, or jewelry.

    Resist the urge to keep up with every fashion trend. It’s good to be able to look at your closet over the years and feel like you could wear any of these items today without feeling like they are out to date. Just think of how great it will feel to have everything you need (easy travel dress, comfy leggings, sexy swimsuit, tote bag, and earrings that go with anything) already in your wardrobe for that last-minute weekend getaway.  So buy sustainably made clothes, like beautiful ethical dresses, flared pants, a blue shirt, or a festive skirt. 

    Consider how you wash clothes.

    We often take resources such as water and electricity for granted. How we consume these resources concerning our fashion choices can also make a difference in the grand scheme.  Water waste isn’t just a problem caused by manufacturers, consumers waste water with how they care for their clothes. It is unnecessary to wash clothing every time we wear it, especially if it has no stains or odors after wearing it. The excessive use of washing machines is a significant contributor to global water waste, and it can be avoided by spot cleaning. Here’s a resource with great tips on spot cleaning.  

    The fashion industry won’t change its ways overnight, but small steps made by people like you and Clear Givings Market will create change. We are proud to be a part of your sustainable journey and grateful to have you as a fellow Eco-Warrior. Living more sustainably can be a challenge at first. Clear Givings Market can make it easier for you because the brands on our site already engage in ethical and sustainable business practices. We aim to make shopping for all things eco-friendly easy and convenient, including the best in sustainable fashion. So shop our ethical dresses and eco-friendly sunglasses today for your next luxury outfit.  We have plenty of beautiful apparel and accessories for you to choose from!  If you are already shopping on our site, we would love for you to write reviews and post photos of how fabulous you look in your new sustainable fashion.

    Subscribe to our email list, and you’ll get a chance to win up to $500 of luxurious pre-selected skincare, haircare, and swimwear.
     

     

     

    Aria Crane
    Aria Crane

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