In the fashion industry, the word “sustainable” is vague, confusing, and frankly, a bit overused. What does it mean anyway?
Sustainable fashion refers to clothing that is designed, manufactured, and distributed in ways that are kind to the planet. It goes hand-in-hand with ethical fashion, meaning that clothes are made in a way that is kind to people (the workers, distributors, and producers of raw materials).
Often, people shy away from shopping sustainably because they think it doesn’t look good or it’s too expensive. To be honest, it’s a confusing experience to be a sustainable fashion shopper these days. This is why we hope this blog will help you bust some of those common myths so that you can distinguish fact from fiction.
Myth: I am one person, how can I make a difference
Fact: Your choices can make a difference!
As Stella McCartney said, ‘doing a little something is better than doing a lot of nothing.’ As a consumer, you have a lot of ‘little somethings’ you can do. Support sustainable brands by purchasing from them, showing your appreciation online, and spreading the word. If you aren’t sure about sustainability practices, ask questions! “Can you tell you who made your clothes?” “Do they know the source of these fabrics?” The more we poke around, the more brands will acknowledge that their shoppers care about values like honesty and transparency. You also have the power to reduce overconsumption by purchasing high-quality, long-lasting clothing items that give you many, many years of use.
Myth: You MUST buy from sustainable fashion brands to participate in the sustainable fashion movement
Fact: The sustainable fashion movement is as much about anti-consumption as it is about consumption
You can participate in sustainability by buying less, looking after your clothes well, mending and repairing them, or exchanging clothes with friends and family. All of these practices are sustainable and we celebrate them all! Even if you are buying from an eco-friendly, sustainable brand, you may still be spending less overall than with overconsumption of cheaper fashion.
Myth: Sustainable fashion is expensive
Fact: While fast fashion looks cheap at first, it can be misleading
Sure, we’ve all shopped at the sales rack of a fast-fashion store. It’s painfully easy to pick up a few pieces here and there for $10, $20, $30 apiece. But those numbers add up, and before you realize it, you’ve spent hundreds of dollars on clothes you bought simply because they were ‘affordable’.
Let’s dive into a concept called ‘cost per wear’, which will help you think through sustainable purchases more objectively.
- If you buy a $100 pair of jeans but wear them 100 times, that cost per wear is only $1
- If you buy a pair of jeans from a fast-fashion brand for $20 but only wear them 4 times before they start to look shabby, the cost per wear is $5
Myth: If a brand says they are sustainable, they’re sustainable
Fact: Greenwashing is more common than you think
Greenwashing is when a brand exaggerates or lies about its environmental or social sustainability through its marketing.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a standard or regulated use of words like ‘sustainable’, ‘conscious’, or ‘eco-friendly’. If you truly want to be a sustainable consumer, you’ll need to go a little beyond the words and look at the specific practices a brand adopts.
What materials and dyes do they use? Can they trace their supply chain? Are they paying living wages and ensuring safe working conditions?
Myth: Manmade fabrics are not eco-friendly
Fact: Sustainably-sourced, biodegradable fibers are a great option
When thinking about sustainable fashion, it can be easy to assume that natural fibers like cotton, wool, linen, and hemp are the only sustainable options. Man-made textiles and fibers have come a long way. Cellulose fibers like Lyocell, LENZING ECOVERO, and Modal are all are sustainably-sourced from renewable forests. They are also biodegradable and can be recycled. Natural fibers can sometimes be unsustainable because they need a lot of land and water to be produced.
Myth: If I recycle, I don’t need to worry about sustainability
Fact: Many fabrics are difficult to recycle
Most fabrics are made from blends of two or more fibers (like spandex, nylon, or polyester). These fabrics have to be separated if the material is to be manufactured into a new piece of clothing. Even natural fibers like linen and cotton undergo chemical processes that often mean they can no longer be reused.
Having said that, our recycling efforts aren’t totally unsustainable. It is impossible to live an entirely sustainable lifestyle, because every purchase comes at a cost to the environment, no matter how small.
Let’s wrap it up!
Being aware, conscious, and making meaningful choices when it comes to fashion can lead to the right change we want to see in the industry. Remember that sustainability isn’t something we’re competing for. It’s something we can all contribute to, whether big or small.
At Dooeys, making products that are earth-friendly is extremely important to us. That’s why we choose premium, plant-based & recycled materials to make our House Loafers and House Mules. We also use packaging made from recycled cardboard and paper as well as offset the carbon emissions for every order shipped. When you’re in need of a good pair of women’s house shoes, we hope you’ll consider our sustainable slippers.