As you know, I regularly share articles about informative topics on zero waste and environmental pollution for you. This week, I could not decide what to talk about, I thought for days. Then something amazing happened; Met Gala! In the gala held on May 6, a theme is usually determined and famous names wear “different” clothes suitable for that theme, most of the time I can call it crazy. In the internet age, where information spread at the speed of light, what is possible to be unaware, the visuals of the gala night have fallen on social media like rain. I saw him while I was looking at what the celebrities were wearing and thinking, “What are the different clothes?”
The pink dress that Gisele Bündchen wore was as glamorous as she was, I love it! However, what made the dress even more wonderful for me was that it was sustainable. When I went a little bit older, I saw that he was wearing sustainable clothes before and how sensitive he was about it. Thus, the subject of this week was shaped in my head.
The dark side of fashion
Did you know that the fashion industry came right after the oil industry in terms of environmental damage? The amount of water spent for toxic fabric dyes, cotton fields and sheep with wool sources, toxic gases released by the vehicles during transportation shows how much this sector can cause damage even during the production phase. Textile wastes constitute 20% of the water pollution determined worldwide. These textile wastes are the primary factors that pollute the rivers in India, Cambodia and Bangladesh, making the agricultural land unusable. Undoubtedly, China is undoubtedly one of the countries most affected by the environmental damage caused by textile production.
There is also a consumption part of this; Due to the “fast fashion” concept, which releases new collections almost every week and declares the product you bought yesterday to be outdated tomorrow, durable, unusable, short-lived products fill the market. They are generally preferred because they go on sale at reasonable prices, and they are thrown away because they are damaged or out of fashion in a short time. Waste fields are full of less used clothes like these! States, who do not know what to do with these wastes, find the solution to burn these clothes, as they do for some plastics. In the USA alone, 13 million tons of clothing are destroyed for this reason.
It’s not just the environment, it also has a socioeconomic aspect. A large number of workers is required to produce a large number of products very quickly, but costs must be reduced to sell the products cheaply. This has caused a social disaster in the third world countries of many world brands, such as employing workers, or even child workers, with wages that would not be enough for toughness. I definitely recommend those who want more detailed information on this subject to watch the documentary “The True Cost”.
The necessity of building a more humane, more environmentalist fashion approach has emerged against these terrible damages caused by the fashion industry to the environment and employees. The idea of sustainable fashion was first introduced for this reason and has already affected many people.
What is sustainable fashion?
Sustainable fashion is a fashion concept that does not destroy the environment at the stage of production, offers a higher quality and safe working environment for employees, and that the products that are produced are more robust, quality, long-lasting and recyclable. In the words of Textile Engineer İrem Yanpar Coşdan, the aim is to “Minimize the harm done to the environment through fashion and to maximize social contribution.”
For this purpose, companies, while maintaining their own profit rate, on the other hand, should protect employee rights, turn to more natural and environmentally friendly raw materials and design their collections in accordance with this understanding. It is not enough for fashion designers, companies and manufacturers to pay attention, but there are many things we can do as conscious consumers. Let’s examine what we can do one by one.
- To preserve the existing: The first thing to do is to evaluate the clothes we have for the longest time possible. We should read the instructions for use well, without using contempt and avoiding wearing. Instead of throwing away the products that break the button and the zipper, instead of throwing it away immediately, we will both extend the service life and save money by not buying a new one.
- Do not hesitate to wear the same clothes: In most people, there is a strange thought, “I should not wear the one I wear again”, especially when it comes to the clothes worn at the invitations. However, there is no such requirement, neither shame nor something to be ashamed of. Thanks to the Green Carpet Challenge, which is spread among celebrities, we witness that the same clothes are worn in different invitations even on the red carpet. If the people who are in the eyes of the world can do it without any hesitation, we can do it too.
- Forward transformation: If the outfit we have is no longer able to be repaired or recovered, we must try to transform it before we give it up. With solutions such as making dust cloth from faded cotton t-shirts, turning torn jeans into shorts and sewing wallets from increased fabrics, creating a hairpin from rubber on the wrist of torn / pierced socks, you will not only fill your garbage but also have brand new products that are your own design.
- Giving a chance to second-hand products: We can reuse products that have not lost their value, are available but are no longer used by the owner. This may be a vintage cardigan from your grandmother’s dowry, or another product sold in second-hand shops. Items with memories and stories are always in fashion!
- Choosing sustainable brands: Choosing brands that are sensitive to the environment, respect employees’ rights, do not hesitate to use natural raw materials and recycled materials, will open the way for organizations and entrepreneurs who have a sustainable fashion approach and also give other brands a good order. We also enjoy wearing our clothes, which do not contain toxic dyes and synthetic threads such as polyester, nylon, which are insoluble in nature, for years with pleasure and health.
- Reading the labels well: Just as we look at the list of ingredients when shopping for food and drinks, it is important to read the label of the product we will buy while shopping for textiles. The production place is China, India, Vietnam, Bangladesh, etc. We should be careful not to choose products that are synthetic materials and chemically treated. We must separate our paths with companies that make these mistakes in production.
There are no significant developments in the name of sustainable fashion worldwide. Colorful cotton breeding activities seem to eliminate the need for fabric dyeing. More vegan ways to produce materials from animals are being explored; Silk is produced from fungi using skin-like materials and yeast cells’ proteins. Companies with sustainable fashion understanding are increasing, new entrepreneurs are offering new solutions to prevent problems caused by the fashion industry with their fresh ideas. Both nature and skin-friendly fabrics are produced from organic cotton, eucalyptus trees and bamboo. In the production phase, some brands make use of renewable resources by using solar and wind energy. Popular bloggers tell people about the transformation by sharing DIY ideas with their followers.
These developments show us that the awareness of sustainability is increasing worldwide and people are taking steps for the environment by trying to do their best. We are a part of this development and we can do our part to change the fashion industry and protect the environment without neglecting to look beautiful.