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Sustainable and ethical fashion

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In a nutshell: sustainable and ethical fashion is an approach towards sourcing, manufacturing and designing clothes which maximizes the benefits to the fashion industry and society at large, while at the same time minimizing its impact on the environment. The two concepts overlap in ideology, but they each have slightly different concerns, both equally critical to the future of fashion.

We love fashion as much as the next person: fun outfits, glamorous accessories, individuality… what’s not to love?!
Well, devastating environmental damage and severe human rights abuses, to name a couple.
Fashion, as it turns out, is a whole lot more complex than pencil skirts and shoulder pads, and with all the green washing it certainly doesn’t make it easy to find ethical and sustainable clothing.
While the road towards sustainability in general isn’t easy, it’s now critical that we all learn what qualifies as truly sustainable and ethical fashion. This article teaches you just that, from examining raw materials used to the practices implemented all the way down the supply chain.
We hope to not only educate you (and ourselves) on the problematic status of the industry as it currently stands, but also provide you with the knowledge necessary to judge whether a clothing company or item is truly ethical.
Call it a fashion framework.
Use the quick links below to navigate around the article, especially if referring back to it (as we hope you’ll do!) in your future searches for sustainable brands.

THE PROBLEM WITH FAST FASHION
We live in a world where artisan coffee costs more than a T-shirt.
This is the world of Fast Fashion and it’s a major problem.
Merriam Webster defines fast fashion as “an approach to the design, creation, and marketing of clothing fashions that emphasizes making fashion trends quickly and cheaply available to consumers.”
Fast fashion has essentially turned what was four seasons in into 52, one for almost every week of the year. So designs go out of style as fast as they come in. And they’re so cheaply made it’s no surprise to find a hole after one wear.
But no sweat(shop) because if it wears out, it’s mere pocket change to just buy a new one.
Fast Fashion’s headliners include stores like H&M, Forever 21, Primark, Zara, and Target (yes, even Target).
While pulling back on consumption is absolutely one solution, conservative shopping habits alone aren’t enough to eliminate fashion’s unglamorous dark side that looms beneath all the satin and sequins.

PROBLEM #1: HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS

Let’s start with the problem that most people are at least vaguely aware of. Namely, the working conditions of millions of people. According to the Fair Fashion Center back in 2016, 150 million lives are touched by the global apparel industry daily. Most of these people do not receive a living wage and work in terrible conditions. To name but a few of the ethical violations:
unlivable wages
child labor
modern slavery
migrant exploitation
gender discrimination (the majority of these workers are young females)
verbal, sexual, and physical abuse
forced overtime (on average, workers in Bangladesh work 60 hours per week while earning ⅓ as many wages as other Asian garment factories… and they often work over the legal limit of 60 hours a week)
hazardous work conditions
As Lucy Siegal says, “Fast fashion isn’t free. Someone, somewhere, is paying.”
It wasn’t really until the 2013 Rana Plaza incident (where aBangladesh-based garment factory collapse killed 1,135 people and injured 2500 more) that people started paying attention. This single event sparked the Fashion Revolution movement.
If you haven’t seen it already, The True Cost documentary is utterly eye-opening. For an even more in-depth look at this issue, see the Garment Worker Diaries, a podcast and data collection project that records and presents interactive reports on the working conditions of workers in Bangladesh, Cambodia, and India.
And make no mistake, these human rights violations happen across the ENTIRE supply chain:
Raw material production: Unfair labour practices for farmers and processors and exposure to numerous chemical pesticides and plasticizers, which negatively affect human health. This study found 61% of Pakistani cotton pickers experience related health problems like skin irritations, coughs, headaches, and more.
Garment manufacturing: More unfair and unsafe working conditions (i.e.Rana Plaza) in countries with no union representation or workers rights. This is particularly relevant in Asia and specifically China, where about 40% of clothing was made in 2016 (though that number is declining).
Post-production (sales, wear, use): Fashion as a whole isn’t known for being very diverse or inclusive. While diversity and inclusion may pale in comparison to the slave-like conditions of the production side, it’s still a major problem. Fashion’s focus on rail-thin, white models has created all sorts of body image issues across the years, as well as either marginalizing or totally ignoring minority groups.
For a good example, this short video by the Fairtrade Foundation summarized the injustices of cotton production

PROBLEM #2: COMPLEX SUPPLY CHAINS AND LACK OF TRANSPARENCY

A friend of ours who works in sustainability monitoring for a fashion company says that every business that makes anything has contributed to modern slavery in some (even if small way) because it’s so difficult to have full visibility about all elements of the supply chain.
The process to produce one garment is incredibly lengthy and complex, with many hand changes along the way. Essentially, a seed-to-shelf supply chain includes all the following steps:
Sourcing raw materials for every fabric involved (this includes farming techniques as well as soil and seeds used)
Spinning raw materials into fiber
Turning fiber into fabric
Fabric dying and prepping
Design
Garment production (don’t forget all the added components like thread, buttons, and zippers- where did all those come from?)
Finishing touches (adding tags, pre-shrinking, etc.)
Shipping to sellers across the world
Shipping to buyers across the world
We’re talking tons of different hands and production bodies involved here. Plus, keep in mind that all this typically changes for every season and every garment, so each brand isn’t even always dealing with the same list of suppliers.
Even the most well-intentioned brands would likely be complicit along their supply chain somewhere simply because they don’t even KNOW every step. It’s almost impossible to keep track.

PROBLEM #3: THE RATE OF FASHION CONSUMPTION
The scale and unrelenting desire for economic growth within the fashion industry is mind-boggling huge. Capitalism keeps the engine moving.
On the production side, it keeps people employed (however dismal that employment is) and has raised the overall standard of living for many.
On the consumer side, it tells us “have it all, you deserve it”. #TreatYoSelf, after all.
Globally, we consume 80 billion pieces of clothing each year (up 400% from two decades ago). North America is the largest textile consumer in the world, with each person buying 80 pounds per year. They’re followed closely by Australia’s annual clothes consumption rate of 60 pounds per person.
This is partially proportional to the explosion of the population growth (more people = more clothes). But it’s also greatly due to overconsumption and unsustainable shopping habits cultivated by fast fashion.
People all over the world are striving toward the consumption levels of developed countries. On average, shoppers purchase 60% more clothing every year which lasts only half as long as it did 15 years ago. This unchecked growth business model operates with no regard to the social and environmental implications.

PROBLEM #4: CHEMICAL USE IN FASHION PRODUCTION
When you think of pollution, you think of carbon-spewing factories, oil refineries pumping gas and other noxious visuals. You don’t think of the fashion industry.
Yet the fashion industry has been called out as one of the most environmentally damaging industries.
According to the WWF, approximately half of all textiles are made from cotton. When conventionally grown, cotton happens to be the dirtiest crop requiring the largest percentage of chemicals: 25% of the world’s insecticides and 18% of the world’s pesticides. In fact, the cotton required to make an average t-shirt (about 9 ounces) is grown with an average of 17 teaspoons of chemical pesticides and fertilizers.
Toxic chemicals are not just used in the growing of the fibres, they are also notorious for their presence in dyeing and processing of textiles.
These chemicals include heavy metals (like nickel, lead, and chromium), phthalates (which are known carcinogens), and formaldehyde.
Not only are these chemicals dangerous to growers and manufacturers, but to us as wearers! Surely, fashion can’t be worth the price of wearing formaldehyde.
PROBLEM #5: WATER WASTE & WATER POLLUTION
All those chemicals don’t just disappear after dying and production.
They spell an enormous amount of run-off and pollution for rivers and oceans. In Dhaka, Bangladesh’s leather tanneries, dump 22,000 cubic litres of toxic waste into Buriganga, which is the city’s main river and water supply.
Post-production, even us wearers are still polluting waterways. Every time we wash clothes with synthetic fibers, tiny bits of microplastics make their way into our pipes, waterways, and eventually the ocean. There, they get eaten by fish and other marine life, which in turn gets eaten by us. Microplastics are becoming a huge issue.
One way you can prevent this is by using the Guppy Friend microfiber catching laundry bag.
Fashion is also the second largest consumer of water globally, between 6 and 9 trillion liters per year. Again, we’ll point the finger at conventional cotton here, an incredibly thirsty crop. The cotton used in one pair of jeans requires almost 2000 gallons of water.
But there’s plenty of water in the world, right? Eh, not so much. We’re already seeing the devastating effects of cotton farming. The Aral Sea in Central Asia has shrunk 15% due to cotton farms drawing on it for water.

PROBLEM #6: TEXTILE WASTE
Most clothing has a terrible end-of-life outcome, and fast fashion certainly doesn’t encourage a circular economy. According to the EPA, textiles have one of the poorest recycling rates of any reusable material.
Let’s consider all the ways fashion generates physical textile waste. First, there’s all the wastes trimmings and scraps that come from production. Next, there’s what’s called “deadstock”, or clothing that’s made, put on shelves, but doesn’t actually sell before going out of style. Fashion companies typically burn this excess rather than donating or recycling it.
We consumers are equally irresponsible about disposing of our unwanted clothes. Americans only recycle or donate 15% of their unwanted clothing and the Fair Fashion Center estimates that 21 Billion tons of textile waste is sent to landfills annually. Since 64% of modern fabrics contain plastic in some form, these will never biodegrade.
Of that small percentage that does get donated, less than 20% of it gets resold. The rest gets shipped overseas to for-profit textile recycling companies.

PROBLEM #7: CLIMATE CHANGE

All this leads to the dreaded double C: climate change. The fashion industry accounts for 10% of the world’s total carbon footprint.
First, tons of fossil fuels get used in production (petroleum-based fabrics), manufacturing (coal-powered processing), and distribution (gasoline which transports the majority of clothes halfway around the world).
We’ll complete the anti-cotton trifecta here and point out that global cotton production alone produces 220 tons of CO2 per year.
Second, all that clothing that gets thrown away rather than recycled, reused, or composted also contributed to GHG emissions.
Even natural fibers like organic cotton are no more sustainable than synthetics if they end up in a landfill. There they’ll biodegrade anaerobically and release methane gas, the most potent of all greenhouse gases.

SOLUTIONS: WHAT TO DO ABOUT FAST FASHION AS A CONSUMER?
A lot of these problems stem from the supply side. So what can we do as consumers?
We can use our buying power to make a difference. We (and so many others) have said this before but it’s so important to remember: Every time we make a purchase (of ANYTHING) we are casting a vote for the types of products we want to see made and subsequently the type of world we want to live in.
By supporting ethical brands that produce sustainable products, we are essentially saying we want more of those products. Fast fashion thrives only because we keep supporting it.
You don’t need to single-handedly change the industry overnight. Start with the “low hanging fruit” and implementing easy consumer changes that don’t require much more than a brief moment of mindfulness before buying.
Here are some things you can do, in order of impact!
DON’T BUY ANY CLOTHES AT ALL
The most sustainable fashion buying decision you can make is to make do with what you already have, through proper care and simple repair techniques.
According to Fashion Revolution, “If we want to see fashion become a force for good, we’re going to have to change the way we think about what we wear and why we wear it. We need to love our clothes more. We need to look at them as precious heirlooms and as trusted friends.”
Learn how to REALLY take care of your things. A few simple ways to extend the life of your wardrobe:
Wash your clothes less often: Did you know, one wear doesn’t necessarily mean something is dirty?! Shocking! Treat every item of clothes (except maybe your ethical undies) like your favorite pair of sustainable jeans… they just don’t feel the same after a wash.
Wash on cold: Saves energy and preserves the coloration of your clothing much longer.
Handwash rather than machine wash: Again, saves energy and won’t shred and stretch your clothes like washing machine agitators.
Line dry instead of machine dry: Probably the single biggest source of fabric wear-and-tear (far more than actual wear). Think about your dryer’s lint trap for a second; all that came from your clothes.

Not completed………………………………….

Source: https://www.sustainablejungle.com/sustainable-living/ethical-sustainable-fashion/

তারিখ: ডিসেম্বর ২৪, ২০২১

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