The importance of clothing can never ever be underestimated or discarded because it is regarded as one of the basic necessities of life after food and shelter. Thus its production is of great importance. In producing clothes, the conventional method (using agro-chemical) and non-conventional method (organic or sustainable or eco-friendly) can be employed to develop sustainable fashion.
The rationale behind sustainable fashion can be associated to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 13 (climate action) which has incorporated the now popular slogan of ‘going green’. Growing green entails living life as an individual or community by protecting the natural environment in a friendly and sustainable manner and maintaining the ecological balance. Sustainable fashion is one of the best methods of going green.
Sustainable fashion is fabrics sourced from eco-friendly and biodegradable materials such as renewable grown fiber crops and recycled resources. Traditionally, being environmentally friendly entailed shopping for clothes in stores dealing with second hand clothing or giving used clothes to stores, charity or thrift shops for reuse, recycling or resale at cheaper prices.
In recent times, with the great drive towards sustainability through the SDGs ‘going green’ slogan, sustainable clothing has expanded to include: reduction in degradable impact of agro-chemicals in fiber crop production on the environment and decrease in the number of clothes dumped on landfills to become more eco friendly.
The concept of sustainable fashion encompasses the principle of the Triple R’s of the environment i.e. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. The principle of ‘Reduce’ involves using organic fiber production methods to reduce the unhealthy and degradable impact of agro-chemicals on the environment. The principle of ‘Recycle’ and ‘Reuse’ fully embraces the sustainable fashion concept.
Eco clothing brands
Sustainable and ethical clothing brands have other benefits besides being eco-friendly. The additional benefits include: steady supply of money into the economy, low possibility of extracting already used materials during recycling, reduction in pollution and water wastage through recycling which consumes less usage of water than new production, decline in the probable occurrence of health related diseases like cancer, tumor, lung disease etc or allergic reactions like hives in field and factory workers through organic method of fiber production.
The concept of eco friendly fashion has also evolved to include sustainable fashion. Sustainable fashion also referred to as eco friendly is a development of sustainability which aims to reduce the amount of waste in cloth production and its hazard to the environment. It also strives to enlighten the public to practice environmentally friendly consumption by promoting the “green consumer”. It makes use of eco friendly and quality materials, which are relatively expensive, thereby enhancing the life span of the cloth with the consumer.
The principle of the triple R’s in sustainable cloth production would be discussed using the organic method (Reduction) and sustainable method (recycling and reusing).
Sustainable method of cloth production (Recycling and Reusing)
The recycling and reusing method of cloth production involves the collection of fabric scraps which are processed back into small fibers for spinning into a new yarn. There can be distinctions in the combination of recycled cotton fibers and RePET yarns for strength to cotton fibers and virgin acrylic fibers for colour consistency and strength. Recycling and reusing methods of cloth production can occur in different techniques such as upcylced fibers, by using PET plastic, cloth swapping, cloth donations etc
Upcycled fibers for sustainable fashion
Upcycled fibers for cloth production are made from resources not originally used to make fibers. For instance, fish leather derived from fish skin can be used to make fibers used in cloth production. Similarly, upcycled fibers can include reconversion of resources into materials of greater value in its upcycling. Upcycling also allows for creativity on the part of designers to act as“entrepreneurs of taste” by adding design ideas for the purpose of creating a new garment from an old one.
- PET plastics for ethical clothing
They are also known as Polyethylene terephthalate(PETE). The PET plastics (often plastic bottles) clothes are made from recycled bottles that are gathered, squashed, baled, and shipped into processing facilities where they will be severed into flake, and melted into small white pellets. These pellets are processed again, and spun into yarn-like fiber where it can be made into clothing. Advantages of making clothes from recycled bottle include reduced litter of bottles and plastics, 30% less use of energy in plastic bottle cloth production unlike with virgin polyesters.
- Clothing swapping and recycled cloth
These entails producing new fashions from the old or ready to recycle cloths or other materials, donations to charities or consignment shops. Clothing swapping can further promote the reduction, reuse, and recycling of clothing. By reusing clothing that’s already been made and recycling clothing from one owner to another, source reduction can be achieved. This moves away from usage of new raw materials to make more clothing available for consumption. Through the method of clothing swapping,an alternative resource for consumers to ultimately save in regards to money and time is provided.
- Organic method of cloth production
Materials and resources used in the production of organic clothing are derived from eco-friendly and biodegradable materials such as renewable grown fiber crops which are in conformity with agricultural standards. Organic clothing materials may be composed of bamboo, hemp, cotton, wool, silk, ramie or jute. Here, reliance is placed on natural inputs. The organic farmer who produces these organic materials use only natural pesticide and fertilizers, crop rotation, primitive tools like hoes are used to control weeds. They also control pests by using beneficial insects to drive away insects.
Organic materials like jute is one of the most reasonably priced natural fibers. Jute is a lengthy, soft and shiny fiber spun into coarse strong thread. Because of its cheapness, softness and fiber uniformity it can be used to make twine ropes, brown paper bag for rice storage.
Benefits of sustainable fashion
Sustainable fashion brands are very beneficial to the environment because it focuses on reducing waste, enhances soil fertility appropriately, consumes less water during production, is far kinder to the soil and environment through its crop rotation regime, and it makes babies and children’s clothing less sensitive to their skin. While the production costs may be higher than fast fashion the benefits of sustainable fashion certainly out way the costs.