Updated: Oct 20, 2020
Sustainability- a term being thrown around by fashion companies everywhere, but what does it actually mean?
The dictionary defines sustainability as the avoidance of the depletion of natural resources to maintain an ecological balance. However, in fashion, it essentially means making active choices to prevent further pollution of our planet by reducing consumption and buying from companies with sustainable values and methods. While that seems relatively easy, and yes, many companies have adopted more sustainable practices- let's face it, making said decisions isn't always the easiest nor the most financially attainable, especially in South Asia. So, today, let's talk about seven easy ways in which you can be more sustainable with your fashion choices while not even really having to think about it.
1. Long Live Fashion
Let's start by trying only to buy things you absolutely love and know will wear for a long time. Sustainable brands are not always the cheapest, and although I will be posting a list of affordable, sustainable brands below, for many of us, it's hard to justify spending $100+ (7000 Indian rupees) on a single dress. So if you are unable to get a hold of sustainably made pieces instead, make sure you only buy products that you adore and will be able to wear for years to come to avoid adding to the already huge amount of textile waste.
2. Local and Vocal
This may seem obvious, but try to buy locally sourced products and support the small businesses around you. If you're in South Asia, why not purchase fabric yourself and get clothing made? You can easily show your tailor a picture of what you want and, in a few days, voila a new look. This gives you so many benefits as first of all; it will fit you like a glove; second, you have a one of a kind piece, and third, you know exactly who is making your product and how, thus avoiding unethical manufacturing methods. If you're not in South Asia where this idea of getting clothes made is not easy to come by, try shopping from local designers that source/manufacture locally. Not only will this reduce your carbon footprint but also stimulate your local economy.
3. All in All Natural
Always try and buy products that are made from natural fibers, and if the company has a program in which you can send the product back to be recycled, even better!. Natural fibers are often biodegradable and easier to breakdown when recycled. This way, once you are done with your product, you can find ease in knowing that your favorite old jacket will not be rotting in a landfill somewhere but instead feeding the soil or being made into something new for someone else to enjoy.
4. RENT RENT RENT
If your super into trends, this is a great way to still try the newest styles out without committing to a piece of clothing forever. Not only will you avoid overconsumption of products, but often you can rent designer pieces for a fraction of the price. For all my South Asians out there, when covid ends im sure, there will be an influx of weddings to attend. Don't be afraid to rent your outfits from companies such as stage3 in India or Mumu Mandarin in the USA as you can try new silhouettes while avoiding cluttering up your closets with huge lenghas that you only wear once anyway.
5. Thrift it up
Thrifting in Europe and the USA is fun and super easy in regards to finding places to actually shop at such as goodwill, threadup etc. It's a little harder in South Asia, so definitely look out for events and thrift markets that are becoming more frequent than you think. If that possible where you are, why not go thrifting in your family member's closets? I know my grandma has some beautiful pieces, just waiting for me to repurpose!
6. Pack It Up
IF you live in tropical weather (or not) invest in some good dryer balls and coverings to keep your clothes and accessories fresh. I don't know about you, but I've been known to forget about shoes or coats and sweaters in the darkest deepest corners of my closet only to be found melted, moldy or holey from the moths that had eaten them away in less than a few weeks. So to avoid having to throw out what was a perfectly good part of your wardrobe, make sure to store everything incredibly well.
7. Smarty Pants
Last but not least, educate yourself. When you have a few minutes, stuck in traffic, taking a bath, etc look into what your favorite brands are doing and see if they have any sustainable lines or are taking on initiatives to become more sustainable. The more you know, the better decisions you can make about where you choose to purchase from.
So there you have it, my two cents on how we can all try and be just a little more sustainable! Although I would like to think that the world will be all rainbows and butterflies and that the fashion industry will eventually run solely on sustainable practices, that is currently not the case. Yes, while we have made progress in recent years and because of marketing and social media, it may seem as though EVERY company has adopted said practices, there are still a lot of businesses that greenwash and many many incredibly unsustainable (not to mention unethical) fast-fashion brands. So even though not all of us have access to sustainable brands, we can take steps to make sure that we are doing as much as we can to help save our planet from the fashion industry's adverse effects. It is time to make a conscious decision to change our consumption habits to protect the planet we live and breathe on.
Also, I hate when people say look brands but don't give me a starting point, so below, I have listed some incredible, often affordable, sustainable companies from the East and the West that are paving the way for a fashionable yet conscious future! If any of you have any more to add, I would love to hear about them, so please comment, and let's work together to create a better fashion world.
Poppi- Always a little over the top in the best way possible