Why is ethical fashion important?
Ethical fashion: Ways to be a morally responsible fashion consumer
While the term ethical fashion seems understandable, it has been an overlooked matter for decades. Simply because most consumers do not question what is so unethical about fashion anyway!
The fashion industry is responsible for 10 per cent of annual global carbon emissions. This implies more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. At the same time, the industry has been responsible for its labor exploitation, animal cruelty, the pressure on landfills, and the use of hazardous chemicals threatening the safety of consumers.
Ethical fashion refers to fashion derived through ethical practices of production, supply, labor consumption, and sustainability. While shopping seems like a harmless activity, it is a moral responsibility for every consumer to prioritize ethical practices before making a purchase.
The following are the basics of ethical fashion that you need to know as a responsible consumer:
- Eco-friendly dyes and fabrics:
Commonly used petrochemical fabrics such as polyester, nylon, polyurethane, rayon, spandex, etc. contribute to the rapid depletion of fossil fuels such as petroleum. Most of these textiles often consist of microplastics that make the water toxic causing adverse effects on marine life and even chances of cancer for humans.
They are highly unsustainable and create pressure on landfills. The use of hazardous chemical dyes leads to similar effects in addition to causing skin irritation, rashes, and discomfort. Hence, it is important to opt for eco-friendly fabrics and dyes.
Fabrics such as Organic cotton (significantly less water consumption and pesticides than regular cotton), Sambe (hemp fiber), corozo (for buttons), modal, linen (flax fabric), and even some non-vegan textiles such as Bison fibers (that do not use cruelty) are ethically ideal choices for manufacture. One must look for such fabrics along with natural dyes and mordants such as indigo.
- Support local, small-scale businesses:
When speaking of Fast Fashion, most people have a blurry idea of environmental degradation. However, very few think about labor exploitation.
Simultaneously, many densely populated, developing nations do not have or execute strict labor laws. This leads to the mass exploitation of laborers to meet the competition, cruelly unfair compensation, and in cases of harmful chemicals, health hazards.
Hence, in order to protect labor rights, small-scale businesses and local artisans should be supported over large players in the fashion industry. This will promote local textiles, economic welfare and reduce environmental pressure caused by transportation.
Nonetheless, some global and large-scale businesses that ensure labor rights and sustainability must be supported as well.
Ethical fashion brands should comprise of the ones that have clean and transparent methods of manufacture. One must look for brands that not only use sustainable fabrics and dyes but also ensure a fair share to its workers. Small-scale producers associated with local artisans are great choices.
- Know your style!
“Fashions fade, style is eternal”, a popular quote by Yves Saint Laurent is highly relevant when it comes to sustainable fashion.
A major step in ensuring you do not waste clothes is to not buy the ones you will regret. And to do that, you must know your style! Make a list of the wardrobe items that you need and that goes with your personal style. Take a note of your body type, the kind of clothes that flatter your body type as well as your measurements before making a purchase.
- Avoid the FOMO:
To stick to your style and buy only the stuff that your wardrobe needs, don’t let social media fads tell you what to buy!
What is ethical shopping?
One way to avoid giving in to FOMO is by asking yourself: “Do I really need this?” “Is this product worth my money?” “Will I wear this in the long run?” “Does this go with my personal style?” Asking these few questions will not only save you from making an unnecessary purchase but also will reduce the pressure on the environment!
Takeaway: No wardrobe in the world can be 100 percent green and sustainable. But one should know why is ethical fashion important and when it comes to ethical fashion, one must not choose the all-or-nothing approach. The key is to take small steps to make this planet greener. A large population taking small steps will have a more meaningful impact than merely one person chasing perfection.