Today, companies across sectors are looking for sustainable ways to do business. Customers are more mindful of the environmental impact of their purchases and product choices. They understand that brands have responsibilities towards the environment and if they are ethically working on it.
But what exactly is sustainability and what is this concept everyone keeps talking about?
In simple terms, according to the United Nations, sustainability refers to meeting our own needs and existing without depleting the natural resources for future generations (to meet their needs). Broadly, sustainability has four pillars: human, environmental, social, and economic.
Photo credit: www.sdgs.un.org
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are the core pillars of the United Nations. They represent an urgent call to action by all countries, developed and developing, in a global partnership. They know that eradicating poverty and other setbacks should be combined with initiatives to promote health and education, eliminate inequality, and stimulate economic growth – while also addressing climate change and protecting the environment.
Sustainability places an extremely significant role in the fashion industry. Several brands and businesses are adapting by acknowledging these issues and creating change. It is to either achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or the Textile Exchange's 2025 Sustainable Cotton Challenge, which encourages companies and retailers to commit to sourcing 100% of their cotton from the most sustainable sources by 2025.
While a lot of you may hear or see these sustainable terms used by brands and publications while you read about trends or while you shop online or offline. We have elaborated some of them for your easy understanding.
What is eco or sustainable fashion?
Eco-fashion or sustainable fashion, and ethical fashion are two intricately linked concepts. According to major websites and fashion experts, sustainable or eco-fashion can be defined as:
Sustainable fashion is an all-inclusive term describing products, processes, activities, and actors (policymakers, brands, consumers) aiming to achieve a carbon-neutral fashion industry, built on equality, social justice, animal welfare, and ecological integrity.
It can also be:
A movement and process fostering change(s) to products and the fashion system, pushing towards greater ecological integrity and social justice. Sustainable fashion concerns more than just addressing fashion textiles or products.
The fundamental goal of sustainable practices in fashion is to make certain that clothes are made in a way that the product's life cycle has the least negative environmental impact.
What materials can be said to support eco-fashion?
Sustainably Sourced Cotton:
Brands use both organic cotton as well as better cotton to manufacture apparel. Both organic and better cotton have many long-term benefits and qualities—from farm to final product.
Organic cotton is rapidly being used in the supply chains of brands and retailers today. It is better for the environment since it is grown without chemicals or pesticides. It is gentler on the skin, better for the soil, and requires less water during farming.
Additionally, the cotton sourced by BCI: The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) focuses on enhancing global cotton production for the people who produce it, the environment in which it grows, and the sector's future at large.
Organic Cotton Standard:
The Organic Content Standard blended (OCS blended) and the Organic Content Standard 100 (OCS 100) are regulatory certifications that pertain to any product containing 5-100% organic material. It authenticates the presence and quantity of organic material in a finished product and traces the flow of raw material from its source to the final product. The process is certified, and a third party then accredits the certificate to the brand/business.
Polyester is primarily sourced from petroleum-based chemicals, accounting for around 52 percent of the fibres used in the textile and garment industries. Recycled polyester, also known as rPET, is developed from recycled plastic bottles. rPET is a suitable replacement for polyester. Therefore, using it effectively relieves pressure on depleting limited resources.
Producing rPET is also less polluting. According to a 2017 life-cycle analysis, producing rPET generates 79 percent fewer carbon emissions than creating a new set of PET. It is an excellent method to keep plastic out of landfills. Furthermore, it also produces fewer emissions of carbon dioxide.
How can I promote sustainability?
The approach to such an essential topic is simple: shop from brands and collections that promote sustainability. This way, you can indulge your passion for the latest trends without contributing to the manufacturing of harmful, non-recyclable materials.