What Is Sustainable Fashion And Why Do We Need To Change The Way We Shop? (Pt. 1)
This is the first in a series of blogs covering sustainable fashion, responsible manufacture and how Dinki Human is mindful of it's impact on our planet.
We hear terms such as eco, sustainable, organic, climate change, water pollution, global warming, zero waste and fast-fashion everywhere in the media at the moment. It's hard to watch TV, listen to the radio or scroll through social media without these subjects being touched upon.
These are important subjects, they're crucial, yet these messages can be overwhelming. It can be hard to know where to focus, and I often find myself frustrated with environmental issues that are pushed into the public eye and the perhaps, more inconvenient and politically-charged issues are pushed aside. It's far 'sexier' to discuss plastic straws and cotton buds (that seahorse photo we all saw) than it is to ask the public to consider their meat and dairy consumption, for example (as this is lucrative business for governments). Bloomberg recently published that 0.03% of plastic pollution comes from straws and 46% comes from fishing nets, I find it so interesting that we're all told to reject plastic straws but we're rarely told to stop eating fish. (Read the full article here)
My experience in the fashion industry has shown me the ins and outs and ups and downs of the design, development and production cycle, and I'm hoping I can explain some of these issues from the perspective of a woman who loves to shop, a mum who cares about the environment our kids will grow old in and a fashion designer who left the corporate fashion world to design differently.
There are so many factors to be considered when thinking about how sustainable our wardrobes are. It means thinking about the way our clothes, accessories and footwear are designed, the materials they're made from, and how those materials are sourced. Then there's how these products are made, who made them and the conditions in which they work, and the way the products are transported. Finally, we need to think about how they're used, how we look after them, how quickly we dispose of them and what happens when we do.
Fashion Revolution defines Sustainable Fashion as the,
"holistic approach to the design, production, sale, consumption and use of clothing, accessories and footwear that conserves and restores ecosystems whilst respecting and protecting the human rights of people and enabling equitable development of communities."
So there it is in a nutshell. Well, as small a nutshell as a huge issue like this can be squeezed in to, at least.
The reason we so desperately need to clean up our acts in our unsustainable appetite for fashion is that the current level of consumption is completely out of control! If clothing sales continue to grow at today's rate they will reach 160 million tonnes by 2050 which will use 300 million tonnes of non-renewable resources. We simply cannot spare those resources, and the 'powers that be', our governments and heads of state know this.
Cue the SDGs. In 2015 the United Nations formed "The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development" AKA the sustainable development goals (SDGs). These are the UN's "universal call to action". A checklist of fundamental targets to reach in order to keep the planet happy and healthy.
There are 17 goals in total covering a wide range of issues, however the fashion industry is associated with six of those goals, so I'll be focussing on just those in this little blog series.
Would you normally consider these issues when thinking about sustainable fashion? These are big issues, huge ones so there's a lot to cover. As I said, this is the first of a series, with the aim of covering these topics in bitesize chucks rather than boring you with a huge essay. I would love to hear your thoughts! Please comment below or join the conversation with @dinki_human on Instagram.
In the next blog post I'll go in to more detail about why the fashion industry needs to clean up it's act, and in the meantime check out this fantastic guide to how you can make small changes today for the sake of tomorrow.
References and additional reading materials in case you're interested;
Slave to Fashion - Safia Minney, 2017, New Internationalist Publications Ltd
To Die For - Is Fashion Wearing Out the World? - Lucy Siegle, 2011, Fourth Estate
Wardrobe Crisis - Clare Press, 2016, Skyhorse Publishing
A Practical Guide to Sustainable Fashion - Alison Gwilt, 2014, Bloomsbury Publishing
Fashion Revolution - A fantasic website full of information and resources. -
Fashion Revolution - It's Time for a Fashion Revolution - Manifesto -
ILO - International Labour Organisation - https://www.ilo.org/global/lang--en/index.htm
UNDP - United Nations Development Programme - SDGs -