Now, we are going to do that little mental exercise that I suggested above. I want you to imagine a sustainable garment.
Obtaining raw materials
The basis for the manufacture of any garment is a fabric. So far nothing that you did not know, but what is its origin?
The fabrics come from fibers extracted from plants, animals or synthetic materials. Once processed through various methods, they become the fabrics or leathers that make up our garments and accessories.
For fabrics to be sustainable, their material base must be one of the following:
- Natural fibers such as organic cotton, bamboo, hemp or tencel, obtained through organic farming
- Chromium-free, vegetable tanned hides extracted from organic livestock
- Natural or synthetic fibers obtained from the recycling of existing fabrics or created from waste of diverse origin. In this case, it is essential to minimize energy expenditure, eliminate the use of toxic chemicals and avoid CO2 emissions in its processing
- Compostable fibers. A recent avenue of research and creation of materials that degrade into compost or compost
- Tinted and stamping: It will be of little use to buy an organic cotton shirt if toxic chemicals have been used for its dyeing or printing. The use of these products pollutes the water, endangers the health of workers and irritates your skin
The world of colored fabrics continues to be an area in full development as almost everything in sustainable fashion. The goal is still far away, but there are already interesting technologies for ecological tinting.
To make it easy for you, you can start by looking at one of these things:
- That natural dyes have been used in your sweatshirt compared to synthetics
- That the prints are toxic-free or biodegradable
- Fashion manufacturing must also be sustainable. I mean that workshop where hundreds of women work, scissors or sewing machine in hand. They are in charge of turning a piece of fabric into a clothing piece.
Their work must be guided by quality and zero waste criteria , in addition to certain working conditions that I will mention to you shortly.
Packing and transportation
Any single-use item generates waste and therefore pollutes. Packaging is a good example of this. Hence, designing a recyclable or reusable packaging is also key to sustainable fashion. This is another avenue of innovation, creativity and development. By packaging I mean that bag that wraps the sweatshirt. Also to the box in which it arrives packaged at your home. I said come to your house and I think I’m not wrong. We go out less and less to buy. We buy with a click of the mouse and wow, shortly after the courier is at our door. It almost seems like magic but … Sorry, it’s not magic and it also pollutes. Transportation is another fundamental factor to take into account to reduce pollution. The more kilometers, the more pollution. One solution is local production and commerce versus offshoring .
Recovery of the garment. Circular fashion
We reached the end to start over. That’s what the circular fashion that is so much talked about is about: mending, donating, exchanging, reusing, renting, recycling and also modifying through upcycling. It is about extending the life of your garments and fabrics. It is about seeing a valuable recycled cotton thread or a comfortable shirt to give away where you only see used clothes or scraps. Ultimately, when you end the life of one of your garments, throw it in a suitable container. It sure can still be recycled.
100% sustainability does not exist
Sorry to finish with this jug of cold water. Indeed, 100% sustainability does not exist. Whoever tells you otherwise is lying to you. You will not find any garment that meets all the values that I have been explaining throughout this section. However, ethical fashion is not a utopia. It is a reality, a trend that is here to stay.