FASHION . TRAVEL

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Sustainable Fashion! How do we make the change?


We all wear clothing, it is a necessity. Some of us indulge significantly more than the average consumer because we love fashion and we love shopping, we love newest trends and that feeling when you have those super cute items on the shopping cart. What we are not aware of is the unethical practices, environmental damage and harm to planter earth and people around the world. 
Last year while visiting Florence, Italy with Couturista Travel I had an amazing private tour at the Ferragamo Museum. While visiting the museum, the Ferragamo tour guide showed us a specific part that was dedicated to all the upcoming designers that have made clothing with 100% sustainable textiles, using materials from plants to new technologies. That tour left me more intrigue and I wanted to learn more about sustainability. Thanks to a Fashion School from Argentina Inside Studios, I took a Digital Marketing course where they also had a class about sustainable fashion. It was then that I really learned about what sustainable fashion is about.
It was a real eye opener for me.
As lovers of fashion and being consumers we have to decide how we spend our money; how do we care for the clothes we already have. To give you an idea, on average we wear only 20% of what is in our closet and 40% are clothes we never wear. It is time to take responsibility about our choices, be mindful and learn if the brand we are buying from has ethic and transparency on their supply chain.

What is Sustainable?

Sustainable fashion is about values. It is not about just recycling, in fact that is not what matters the most, what matters and it is more important is our values and consciousness. Sustainable is what can satisfy our present necessities without harming and compromising future generations. It is what is ecologically bearable, economically viable. When is socially, culturally and spiritually equitable. 

When is a product Sustainable and Organic?

A textile product has to have a minimum of 95% of certified organic fibers and products that have the label "made with organic material" have to contain no less than 70% of certified organic fibers. The labor has to be "organic", what this means is the workers are chosen to work equally, their work environment has to be safe and hygienic. They have to be paid at least the minimum wage and vital salary and they can't exceed work hours. It has to be certified by the international fair-trade. In order to contain the fair trade certification, an Auditor has to authorize the ISO-65 (International Organization for Standardization) rule that guarantees transparency on the quality of product, that products are suitable for sustainability mechanisms and contain the world renowned seal.

Organic cotton: It is organic when it does not need to be fertilized in the soil, nor does it have to fumigated with pesticides. When it has not used any plant that was genetically changed and when the labor is not illegal. 
Now only 1% of the cotton production is organic, the majority is produced in India and it occupies around 30 million acres of cultivation. It consumes 25% of all the insecticides in the crops and 50% of this production is by irrigation which 20 thousands liters of water is used per kilograms of cotton (To produce 1 kg of cotton it needs 10 thousand litters of water)😳. The cotton production it is part of the income of 350 million of people in the world. 

Photo by USDA-GOTS

What is the damage and how it affects us people and our environment?

The distribution and production of the fibers, crops and clothing used in fashion, they all contribute on the different forms of environmental pollution, including water, air and soil pollution. The fashion industry is the second highest polluting industry in the world after petroleum. 
In the last 100 years the population multiply by 4 times, the production grew 20 times more and last year there were produced 114 billion of clothing garments. 
Nowadays 11 thousand liters of water are used to make a pair of jeans and 2900 liters are used to make a shirt. 
The textile Industry model that began since 1970 with a phenomenon called "relocation" where multinational American and European brands have moved their garments factories into countries like China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Turkey were there aren't any social rights, where they pay under less than minimum wage and there are not any unions, in order to produce more garments at a very low cost; they have also reduced their employees pay by 80% so they manage to double its production by reaching 150 million garments per year. In Asia, Marruecos and India the outsourced clothing working conditions are deplorable. You may have heard what happened in 2013 in Bangladesh at the "Rana Plaza" building where it collapsed and 1100 illegal workers died. These souls were exceeding working hours and manufacturing garments for very known brands and high end designers in deplorable conditions. 95% of the laborers are women and kids, some of them were 5 under 17 years old. 
The technique use to make the "worn jean" denim produces a type of chemical that causes deadly contamination in the factories where they are produced. This is a prohibited practice since 1960 in the USA and Europe but it is allowed in Bangladesh where products are processed for brands like Zara, H&M, Levi's, Diesel even when these brands/firms supposedly forbid the practice. 
Nowadays 70% of garments that we buy end up in the garbage dump which takes around 20 years to decompose. 

Photo by the New York Times

How do we make the Change? (how do we save our selves and our planet?)

What affects our planet it affects us! Saving our planet is taking care of ourselves and the future. The way to this transformation is knowledge. Knowing how the production and consumption of fashion impacts on our environment will allow the development of the next 6 skills I'm going to mention, to achieve sustainable consumption. 
  1. Anticipation: Understand and evaluate future scenarios. Creating our own visions of the future and evaluating the consequences our actions can have on risks and changes. 
  2. Norms and Values: The ability to understand and reflect on the norms and values that underlie our actions. To analyze the values, principles, objectives and goals of sustainability.
  3. Strategies: To collectively develop and implement innovative actions that promote sustainability locally and globally. 
  4. Collaborative Consumption: Empathy, learn from others to understand and respect the needs and actions of others. To be sensitive with others. For example, to rent clothing from someone or to reuse or share with each others.
  5. Critical Thinking: To have the ability to question norms, practices and opinions to reflect on our own values, perceptions and actions. To develop our own posture about sustainability. For example "recycling" is not the priority, the number one priority on the consumer scale is to "reflect", to analize our style of consumption. 
  6. Self-Awareness: To have the ability to reflect in the role we each have in our local community and in the society. We need to constantly evaluate the actions we ate taking. 
  • Reject what we do not need.
  • Reduce what we can not reject.
  • Replace disposable with reusable.
  • Repair before throwing it away.
  • Rentalize: Give it the best use possible.
  • Recycle.

How do we involve sustainability in our lives?

  • Buy less!
  • Consume organic.
  • Make sure that fair trade rules are met.
  • Environmental transparency.
  • Promote the reuse of things. 
  • Buy second hand clothing.
  • Trade. 
  • Wash less.
  • Wear more or give it to someone that will wear it (no recycling).
  • Be a Sustainability communicator by talking and creating talks and reflections with your community.
  • Educate the consumer.
  • Educate the brands you partnership with. 
  • Generate rankings of sustainability between brands.
  • Be a sustainability consultant for brands by improving processes, analyzing supplier chains.
  • Recommending a sustainable architecture in the premises to the public. 
  • Specialize in fashion from an environmental perspective. 
As consumers we have to be ethical and evaluate what is right or wrong when we are purchasing a garment. We really have to dive deep and ask: Is it ethically made? What is the environment, social, culture and economic impact the brand behind this garment have? Is the brand story lines with my values? Who made my clothes? Create awareness to yourself and others!

Photo by oceancleanwash.org

My honest and personal experience:

I have been a huge consumer of fast fashion. After "organizing and cleaning my wardrobe" I came to the realization that at least 70% of my garments are from Zara and H&M. Recently, in the middle of doing my research on Sustainable fashion, I purchased two dresses from the H&M "Conscious" line which you will see I am wearing on the photos for this article. I was happy and thought it was 100% sustainable, it is 100% organic but does H&M Conscious line meet all the requirements to be sustainable? That is my big question and I do not want to mislead you by wearing a fast fashion garment. So here it is an article I found on this matter: Is H&M misleading customers with all its talk of sustainability?
I have committed to be accountable, to keep learning about this very complex environmental and global issue and involve sustainability into my Life! 💗

All we have to do is work hard to ensure a sustainable, peaceful, prosperous and a fair life on earth for everyone NOW and for the FUTURE.

Here are a some links from Youtube to learn more about Sustainable Fashion:



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1 comment

  1. excellent work, very informative and I appreciate it since it is from a personal perspective which we can all elate to. Thank you Polly for this great work which benefits all of us fashion lovers --

    ReplyDelete

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I am a Fashion Stylist, Fashion and Travel Blogger, a Voyageur. Born and raised in the Paris of Latin America: Buenos Aires, Argentina. From Maui, Hawaii, USA. Currently living in Seattle, WA. I am the fashion designer and buyer for Iorana: A RTW collection for the feminine, sophisticated, outstanding global woman. Follow me on Instagram: @pollyonvoyage Visit my website at: www.pollycocilobo.com ♥
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