Sustainability in the fashion industry: What it means, why it matters, and how to make a difference

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Let’s be honest. There's nothing quite like the feeling when a pair of jeans fit just right, or when you get a notification that the clothes you ordered were delivered in time for the weekend. But have you ever thought about the impact our love of fashion has on the world around us? Unfortunately, the fashion industry isn’t always great for the environment or the people who work in it. The good news is that there’s been a growing movement towards sustainability in the fashion industry, which aims to minimize the negative impact of fashion production and consumption. In this post, we’ll talk about what sustainability means, why it matters, and how you can help make a difference.

So, what’s the deal with sustainability in the fashion industry? At its core, sustainability is all about meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to do the same. In the context of fashion, sustainability means using materials that won’t hurt the environment, reducing waste, and promoting fair working conditions in every part of the fashion supply chain. Essentially, sustainability in fashion means creating a fashion industry that’s more responsible, ethical, and eco-friendly. It’s about taking a long-term view and making sure that we’re not trashing the planet for the sake of looking good.

And while the fashion industry has been a major contributor to climate change for a long time now, it’s been receiving more attention in recent years due to our heightened awareness of the impact the industry has had on the environment and society. As retailers churn out new styles at record speed, our planet is suffering the consequences. The production of clothing requires enormous amounts of energy, water, and other natural resources. In fact, it takes 2,700 liters of water to make just one cotton shirt. That’s the equivalent to what one person drinks in 2.5 years. And after using all those resources to make our clothes, they’re typically sent to landfills after only a couple of wears. In the U.S. alone, 11 million tons of textile waste ends up in landfills each year, where it can take hundreds of years to break down and release harmful microfibers into the environment. So how do we reduce the negative environmental impacts of the fashion industry? The only way to make significant changes is if everyone gets involved, from how the industry is regulated to each stage of the clothing supply chain.

As consumers, we have the power to positively influence the future of fashion by incorporating sustainable practices into the way we shop and care for our clothes. Here are our top-rated tips for being a more eco-conscious consumer:

  1. Buy less: Before making a purchase, consider whether you really need the item and how much you’ll actually wear it.
  2. Choose quality over quantity: When you do buy clothes, choose high-quality garments that are made to last. 
  3. Shop secondhand: Try shopping secondhand before looking to buy new. Not only is thrifting better for the environment, it’s also better for your budget.
  4. Support sustainable brands: Opt for brands that prioritize sustainability and ethical production practices, like using sustainable materials and supporting fair working conditions. 
  5. Rent clothes: Renting is a sustainable alternative to buying new clothes. It allows you to switch up your ‘fits without adding to your wardrobe’s environmental impact.
  6. Take care of your clothes: Extend the lifespan of your clothes by properly caring for your clothes, such as washing them less frequently and following care instructions.
  7. Donate or recycle clothes: Donating clothes you no longer wear can extend their life and support charitable organizations, and recycling clothes that are beyond repair can help reduce waste.

At Common Threads, we make it easy for consumers to adopt sustainable practices like all those listed above. Our virtual closet of high-quality clothes offers you all the fun and convenience of fast fashion without the environmental price tag. Keep the clothes we already own in circulation and out of landfills, and contribute to a more sustainable future of fashion. Get started by joining the Common Threads community today.

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