Why My Clothes Cost Me More Than I Think

Article by: Arnav Dutta and Gamze Coecen

How frequently do you buy clothes? Do you buy from sustainable brands? Sustainable fashion does not only mean to reuse or recycle old clothes but also understanding every step of production, from sourcing the raw materials to designing the products in a way that they minimize negative impact on the environment. In today’s time, fast fashion has taken over the likes of people with the ever-growing trends. In a recent discovery in the Arctic Ocean, scientists found microplastics. Out of those pollutants 92% come from synthetic fibres used in clothing. Washing clothes, meanwhile, releases 500,000 tons of microfibers into the ocean each year — the equivalent of 50 billion plastic bottles.

The fashion industry is a crucial hurdle to achieve SDG 12 on responsible consumption and production. At least 1.5 Trillion litres of water is used by the fashion industry every year and over 200 tons of fresh water are needed to dye 1 ton of fabric. As consumers keep on buying new clothes to stay updated with recent trends, people should be aware of their decisions and how they can take charge of the situation by switching to a sustainable fashion consumption to realise SDG 12.

Every Step Matters

Sustainability holds great potential for consumers and producers alike. Industries can reduce their footprint by switching towards material that requires less water and energy to be produced. The strategic integration of sustainability into their business models will also increase customer satisfaction by giving them an opportunity to play a part in a sustainable future and can reduce essential production costs. Fabrics like organic cotton, hemp, linen, silk and tencel can be used as substitutes instead of regular polyester. This step of switching the fabrics will result in less microfibres into the water bodies and provide a more efficient way to recycle clothes. Moreover, it is important to note that the apparel industry accounts for 10% of the total greenhouse emissions in the world. Synthetic fibres are mostly made up of fossil fuels and a lot of energy is used to produce it. Switching to renewable energy sources for mass production is an important step for every apparel company to consider on the path towards reducing their emissions

How to make an impact?

Together, consumers and industries can bring positive changes in our surroundings by taking small steps towards a sustainable future. Hold on to your clothes more rather than falling into the trap of fast fashion. Companies nowadays produce 52 micro-collections instead of the usual 2 seasons amounting to 80 billion garments produced every year. Switch to sustainable brands, look more into the process and the quality of the product instead of just cheap prices. Nowadays, many brands offer information on their production processes and material sourcing. By spending more time and learning more about the company, we can make more conscious decisions.

While buying your next outfit for any occasion or leisure wear do keep these steps in mind:

  • See where the clothes were made- choose clothes made in countries with strict environmental regulations and consider only buying from brands with certificates for ethical and sustainable practices

  • Choose natural and recyclable fabrics that use low water consumption

  • Consider upcycling or reusing old products (try using that old t-shirt as a pillow cover for old times sake!)

  • Rent clothes that you are only planning to use for special occasions to save money and reduce your environmental footprint

Join us in learning more about this topic through our Sustainable Fashion Coffee Hours where we exclusively talk about sustainable fashion and how companies can adopt sustainable techniques to achieve the SDGs.

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