LONG READ -- We’ve been talking a bit lately about sustainability & ethical shopping at Fashiola; think our Ethical Fashion Guide & the sustainable fabrics blogs we’ve posted recently. We also took a team trip to a sustainable fashion museum recently, where we learned about how much money, energy and raw materials it take to produce the clothing we love and wear every day. Did you know…
A garment travels an average of 14,000 km before it reaches us, the final consumer?
About 100 pair of human hands touch your clothes before you?
The clothing & textile industry takes second place as largest polluter in the world (just behind oil)?
It takes 20,000 liters of water to produce 1kg of cotton, basically one pair of jeans or a single short sleeved t-shirt?
It’s crazy, isn’t it? These are things you don’t really think about in your daily life and the impact you can have on the world is actually quite big!
All of this has made me stop and think about my own consumption - what is sustainability, and what does this mean to me, in general and in my daily life?
I came to the following conclusion...
What is sustainability to me? It’s a never ending journey of figuring out how YOU can make a difference, no matter how small.
It’s not about not shopping at all - because let’s face it, we can’t really do that! I love fashion, what it offers me and the way I can express myself through what I wear. I would never in a million years absolutely stop buying clothing at all. For me, stopping to buy clothes altogether would be just another extreme. And in my opinion, no matter what extreme, extremes are just bad news. Whether we’re talking about fashion, food, politics (let’s not get into that one, shall we?) - the middle where compromises take place, that’s where it’s at.
So what do I do?
In general: I’ve taken on a challenge for 2019. This year, I will be buying only 24 new items (average of 2 per month). This includes any kind of apparel, footwear, accessories - heck, it even includes other kinds of textiles. I’m looking to reduce my waste, my carbon footprint and my spending.
Here’s what I’ve bought so far in 2019:
January - UGG Slippers
February - Sports bras x2
March - Sports tops x2
April - Raey jeans
May - Ankle boots
Good on me, right? I’m quite proud of my ability to restrain myself - I’ve got to admit it’s hard at times, but I can make it through!
As part of the what is sustainability to me challenge, in my everyday life, I’ve reduced the amount of washing cycles to the minimum. Say, I’d have split my coloured clothes and my blacks, today I was them together in the same wash cycle on 30 degrees and they come out just as pretty and clean, with less water usage!
There are a bunch of tips on how you can have a little impact in your daily life:
Say bye-bye to plastic! Plastic water bottles are out, stainless steel is in. Use reusable shopping bags instead of the plastic ones provided at the check-out.
Hang your clothes on a rack instead of using the dryer. I’ve personally switched, and now the only thing I use the dryer for is sheets (and that’s also once to twice a month!)
Purchase fair-trade products. Sometimes spending an additional $0,50 will help.
Eat less meat. I’m not going to lecture you on this, I mean, it’s each to their own! But try to switch one day out of your week to a vegetarian or vegan option. It just means one day a week, say Thursdays, you don’t eat meat. That’s doable, right?
Use your microwave. Huh? Yes! Using your microwave actually uses less energy than an oven!
When asking yourself the question “what is sustainability to me” it’s all about figuring out what works for you. It could be some things I’ve mentioned are too much of an effort to you right now, and that’s alright! I feel that awareness is step number 1, and as long as we’re aware of something , we can eventually come to action on it.
This blog is a very personal answer to this question - but I’d love to hear what you think and what sustainability means to you.
Let me know in the comments which action points you’d consider? Which ones you wouldn’t even dream of?.. Share your thoughts with me!