All you need to know about Sustainable Vegan Fashion
What is sustainable fashion?
According to Wikipedia, “Sustainable fashion is a part of the growing design philosophy and movement towards environmental and social sustainability, the goal of which is to create a system which can be supported indefinitely in terms of human impact on the environment and social responsibility“.
The idea of transparency in the fashion industry is based on the importance of knowing all the information about the production process, how, where, and by whom a piece of clothing was made. It can be described as open communication with customers.
Vegan vs sustainable fashion
Even though sustainable fashion usually truly stops at fashion, vegan fashion is clothing that is 100% “cruelty-free.” It capitalized on the importance of considering not only animal welfare (no fur, leather, feathers, wool, silk, or any other animal-based fibers) but also the environmental impact as well.
The Benefits of Sustainable Vegan Fashion
While many leading fast fashion retailers continue to produce cheap and fashionable clothing, the environmental, and humanitarian costs come with a very hefty price tag. Based on a recent study, the UN Environment Programme named the fashion industry as the second-biggest consumer of water as well as responsible for 8-10% of global carbon emissions. To get a better understanding of the impacts of fast fashion and unsustainable manufacturing and sourcing processes, the aforementioned percentage equals all international flights and maritime shipping combined.
The rise of fast fashion
Arguably, most people are informed about the true meaning of "unsustainable fashion", however, most don't associate it with big house names like Guess, Fashion Nova, and Massimo Dutti, Gymshark River Island, Forever 21, and Topshop. Indeed, all of these brands (and thousands more) fall into the unsustainable fashion category. An industry that's on a mission to offer as many "trendy" styles as possible for people to use and throw away within a year.
In fact, the term "fast fashion" was first used at the beginning of the 1990s, when Zara launched their first store in New York. The phrase “Fast fashion” was assigned by the New York Times to describe Zara’s mission to "take only 15 days for a garment to go from the design stage to being sold in stores."
The humanitarian impacts of unsustainable fashion
During the present year, women and children make up for over 80 percent of textile workers globally, many of whom work extremely long hours overtime for close to no money. Child labor is arguably present with garment workers under the age of 18 constituting 60 percent of those who work in the global fashion industry. Most of the time, sewers work up to 20 hours per day for 1€ in countries like China, Bangladesh, and Vietnam.
The Environmental impacts of unsustainable fashion
Clothes are, almost always, sprayed with formaldehyde to prevent wrinkling during shipping. Extensive exposure to this chemical can cause severe allergic reactions along with numerous skin irritations. It's a well-known secret that each piece of clothing made from synthetic materials is produced using toxic chemicals. Although unsastabale fashion consumers are usually around these chemicals, textile workers are mostly exposed to them, resulting in severe health issues including cancer.
Water consumption, earth pollution & landfills
The hard reality is that over 250,000 liters of water are needed per tonne of cotton and more than 1.7 million tonnes of chemicals per year. The fast fashion industry is rapidly drowns the whole entire world with toxic chemicals, resulting in the destruction of every body of water and aquatic life alike.
In Bangladesh alone, factories are producing 56 billion liters of contaminated water.
As klow.co describes it "On average, 2 billion pairs of jeans are produced each year and a pair takes up to 7,000 liters of water to be made. It takes up to 2,700 liters of water to make a single shirt. Over 1.5 million tons of hazardous chemicals, which permanently impact the environment, are used in the production of these clothing. Chemicals such as azo dyes, NPEs, and toxic perfluorinated substances are carcinogenic to animals and humans. In total, up to 20 percent of global water pollution can be attributed to the clothing industry."
- We purchase over 80 billion pieces of new clothing each year.
- We buy a 400% more than two decades ago.
- Only Americans throw away 82 pounds of textile waste each year. A massive amount regarding that 11 million each year of textile waste is from the U.S.A only.
- Most of this waste is non-biodegradable sitting in the landfill for 200 years or more, releasing harmful gases into the air.
How to avoid unsustainable fashion
The World Resources Institute suggests that companies need to design, test, and invest in business models that reuse clothes and maximize their useful life. The UN has launched the Alliance for Sustainable Fashion to address the damages caused by fast fashion. It is seeking to ‘halt the environmentally and socially destructive practices of fashion’.
Environmentally-friendly ink is one component of ethical printing. The European Commission has recently reported that offset printing consumes around 3 million tons of petrol-based inks and chemicals per year.
As davidlu.net describes it "A water-based ink is an ink that has either the pigments or the dyes in a colloidal suspension in a solvent, with the solvent being water"
Unlike the mass-produced textiles we see in fast fashion, print-on-demand allows for products to be printed when you need them, instead of in bulk before a consumer places an order. Print on demand means no production waste, minimal water usage, and no chemicals.
Cruelty-free, vegan fashion equals no animal ingredients such as leather, wool, silk, fur, bones, gelatin, casein, beeswax, lanolin, or shellac.
The Animal Welfare Act was passed in 2006 in the hope that animals would be protected from cruelty and animal owners would be reprimanded for improper conduct towards these sentient beings. Unfortunately, not enough is being done to fully remove the use of testing on animals and using their materials for fashion materials.
Benefits of organic cotton
Organic cotton is sourced in an agricultural and environmentally friendly method. The overall production uses lower carbon due to lesser fuel and energy consumption.Due to its chemical free production process, it also prevents water contamination.
Is there such a thing as 100% sustainable fashion?
Even if we all actively try to create a greater and more compassionate future by offering sustainable vegan items made from cruelty-free sources, unfortunately, nothing can be 100% sustainable. Unfortunately, there is no clear definition of what exactly sustainable fashion means. However,
it's safe to assume that the term is used to describe all stages of the product's life circle including the design, material production and sourcing, manufacturing, transportation, storage, use, and even recycling. The main goal is to minimize the waste of all-natural resources, as well as closely monitor the working conditions for workers, factory chains, and stores in order to make sure that they all align with our ethics.