What is Sustainable Fashion?

Updated: Feb 14, 2020

One of the achievements of consumerism has been the creation of a sector that moves billions of dollars a year and that, in addition to attracting the consumer without often knowing the consequences of their actions, is having devastating effects on the environment and on a very important part of the societies of the productive countries. In contrast to this unsustainable and unethical paradigm, an updated model called sustainable fashion, has also resurfaced.

Sustainable fashion, slow fashion or eco fashion is a growing philosophy with the goal of creating a system that can be supported indefinitely in terms of the human impact on the environment and social responsibility.

The human impact of fast fashion (buying clothes at extremely low cost and disposing of them) is just as harmful, contributing to poor working conditions in developing countries.

Due to this rise in consumption, developed countries are producing more and more garments each season. Tragedies such as the Savar Building collapse in Bangladesh, the deadliest garment-related accident in world history, generated a lot of attention to the safety and environmental impact of the fast fashion industry.

As a whole, the fast fashion sector of the fashion industry is polluting the planet at a continuous rate.

While recycling is one way that the fashion industry is striving to change the environment, new technologies in fashion also present great potential in environmental turn around. These technologies offer new methods of using dyes, producing fibers, and reducing the use of natural resources.

The fast fashion sector thrives on a business model that pushes the environmental boundaries but with the advancements being made, the damage the industry causes can be better addressed. Through the understanding of the multifaceted sides of fashion’s environmental impact, the negative effects can begin to turn around. Here is where Sustainable Fashion finds its place.


Here's where that statement came from:

Dr. Linda Greer is a former senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council and now a world member at the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, a Chinese environmental NGO.

She believes that she could be inadvertently responsible for one of the most persistent negative facts about the fashion industry. Years ago, she examined the sources of water pollution in the only province of China that had good government data, the highly industrialized Jiangsu, and discovered that the textile industry was the second most polluting after the chemical industry in that particular province. Hence, she founded the Clean by Design program of the NRDC, which helped increase water and energy efficiency in Chinese textile factories, partly based on this transparent reverse calculation.

At some point in the next decade, the belief that globally, the fashion industry is the second most polluting industry after oil took off, much to her horror. (It continued to circulate even after I debunked it for Racked in 2017.) And better data has never emerged. “Somebody by now should have gone ahead and figured out what’s really true,” she says.