What is sustainable or sustainable fashion - we tell you

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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. We refer to the fashion sector and, very especially, to the so-called fast fashion. However, in contrast to this unsustainable and unethical paradigm, a traditional but updated model has also re-emerged, the so-called show fashion or sustainable fashion. If you want to know a little more what is sustainable or sustainable fashion, and to know why you should opt for this type of garment when you go to buy new clothes and accessories for your wardrobe, keep reading Green Ecologist and we will tell you about it.

Fast fashion or commercial fashion: throwaway fashion

The first thing we have to be clear about is what is called as fast fashion or "fast fashion". Fast fashion is what we know as commercial fashion, in the sense that it is the one that seeks to sell a large volume. It is a paradigm of garment production based on the application of the concept of "Use and throw" to the world of fashion. It arises from the hand of large international fashion firms, especially those that have a presence in all the major cities on the planet. The advantages of this system for brands stem from the fact that, by selling their products at very low prices, they considerably increase their sales and, with them, their profits. In fact, fast fashion is what allows us to have new collections of different clothing every month, or even every week, in the same store.

However, in order to carry out this model, an unsustainable exploitation of resources (human and environmental) is also necessary. Have you ever wondered how a t-shirt can cost only 5 euros or less? How much does the design cost, the raw material with which it is manufactured, the machinery used in its manufacture, the labor that does the work, the transport to the points of sale, the salary of the salesperson who attends you in the storeā€¦ ? Not to mention the benefits that, as a company, the company has to have. Do you really think that all that only costs 5 euros? The answer, obviously, is no. The way in which fast fashion manages to offer these prices is based, simply, on exploit natural resources and the people involved in production in an unsustainable way.

Environmental effects of fast fashion or commercial fashion

The environmental effects of the use of fast fashion production model they are devastating. In the first place, it is necessary to produce an enormous quantity of raw materials to be able to produce so many clothes. This entails deforestation large areas of forest that will later be used as cotton plantations.

On the other hand, the amount of industrial waste that produce this type of factories is innumerable. It must be taken into account that the use of chemical products in the manufacture of clothing lowers production costs, which is why they are widely used by those companies that prioritize obtaining more benefits over any other aspect of their production. These chemicals and toxins end up in river waters and eventually in the oceans, further polluting already deteriorating water resources and aquatic ecosystems.

In addition, as the objective of fast fashion is to obtain the highest possible benefits, its factories are always located in third world countries or developing countries. This means that these are productions that must be transported to the point of sale, usually western or first world countries, which is normally carried out by boat, with the consequent greenhouse gas emission that produces the continued combustion of the fuel used during transportation.

However, once the garments reach the consumer, the impact that fast fashion has on the environment is not over yet. In fact, all these clothes will be used a few times by consumers and will be stored for a couple of years in closets for, one day in which, because nothing else fits, the consumer decides to throw it away practically without having been released and in perfect condition. This entails a increase in garbage waste produced, which must be managed correctly in the best of cases, which will necessarily imply a greater emission of greenhouse gases, in addition to the release of certain chemical elements into the environment that were present in clothing from the time of its production.

Social effects of fast fashion

However, the devastating consequences of fast fashion are not limited to the environment, but also have negative effects on people who participate in this unsustainable production model. Companies that relocate their factories to regions and third World countries They do it because they know that they can pay much lower wages in these places, since the soils in these environments are medium low, which means that there are workers who accept them, which would not happen if the factories were located in countries of the first world.

On the other hand, the fact that salaries are low because all the wages of workers in these countries are low is not good news. Keep in mind that these salaries imply perpetuate poverty of the people who accept them, so their impact on the local economy means that it becomes a permanent problem. In addition, the situation of extreme poverty to which these people are subjected means that, in reality, they are not free to choose these wages, since it is a need for survival, not free choice.

Likewise, most of these countries they lack regulations that guarantee workers' rights, closely related to universal and basic human rights, so that companies that locate their factories in these production points can save costs not only in the wages they pay their workers, but also in the hours they have to endure, as well as in occupational safety and hygiene measures, which means that occupational accidents are quite frequent in these work environments.

Slow fashion: sustainable or sustainable fashion

Due to this unfair and unsustainable situation, a productive model has emerged in fashion opposite to that of fast fashion. Is the slow fashion, or "slow fashion". This production model is characterized by the fact that, in addition to obtaining benefits, it also cares about the environmental and social impact that its business activity has. In this way, although they reduce their economic benefits, they increase their environmental and social benefits, which has a positive impact on the ecosystems with which they interact and on the people with whom they work.

There is no closed definition of what is sustainable or sustainable fashion. However, this is usually characterized by meeting all or some of the following characteristics:

  • Ecological materials: sustainable fashion or slow fashion are garments in which the raw materials are respectful with the environment. This means that they dispense with chemical or synthetic materials, opting for fibers, fabrics and natural dyes.
  • Made to last: sustainable or sustainable fashion is designed to be durable. Unlike fast fashion, these are garments that seek to reduce the production of garbage. Therefore, these are focused clothing to be worn until it breaks, not until it "goes out of style."
  • Higher quality: As a consequence of this enduring approach, sustainable fashion offers higher quality garments, as they need to be garments resistant to use and the passage of time, which is only achieved with good quality materials and clothing.
  • Local production: Due to the fact that one of its objectives is to reduce the impact it has on the environment, local production is favored to avoid greenhouse gas emissions that would derive from the need for transportation.
  • Living wages: Unlike most fast fashion, slow fashion or sustainable fashion values the human resources that it uses as part of its added value. In this way, the salaries paid to workers are higher, which seeks not only "survival", but also to guarantee decent wages that allow workers to fully develop as human beings in this society.
  • Manage garbage responsibly: Although sustainable fashion manufacturers already generate less waste, those they do generate are managed more efficiently and responsibly. This is due both to the fact that the factories are generally located in first world countries, where there is a more restrictive regulation when it comes to disposing of industrial waste, as well as to a greater and better awareness on the part of the companies themselves of sustainable fashion.
  • More expensive prices: It must be recognized, because it is one of the characteristics that differentiates it from fast fashion. This is a necessary consequence due to the higher production costs that sustainable fashion has and therefore can offer higher quality garments and better wages. So, however, what is lost in quantity is gained in quality.

Sustainable fashion vs. commercial fashion

As you can see, there are currently two clearly differentiated production paradigms. In one, quantity is prioritized and the consequences in favor of economic benefit are ignored, while in the other, quality is prioritized and special attention is paid to balance that must exist between economy, ecology and social responsibility.

Currently, there are more and more sustainable fashion firms that can be found in many cities and countries in Europe. In fact, choosing these firms is one of the best ways that, as consumers, we have to reduce our impact on the environment, or reduce our footprint, and in disadvantaged societies. It is important that, before buying one or another brand, we inform ourselves about their products. As with food, it is important to look at the label, which will be one of the best ways to obtain information about what we have in our hands.

In addition, today all fashion firms have their corresponding web pages on the Internet. It is worth taking a look at the available offer, where we will be able to find from basic clothing to more modern or classic fashion, accessories, footwear, and even sportswear. It is important that, sooner rather than later, we assume that, in the same way that we are what we eat, we are also what we wear.

If you want to read more articles similar to What is sustainable or sustainable fashion, we recommend that you enter our category of Society and culture.

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