We've all heard the word sustainability being used more and more lately across social media. But what exactly is sustainability? How does it affect the environment? And what can we do to be more sustainable, especially on a budget?
Sustainability focuses on meeting the needs of the present without affecting or compromising the needs of the future. In a fast moving world with constant new trends, we're all racing to keep up and do what we can to stay on top of what's “in and trendy” and what makes us feel comfortable. However, fast fashion is unfortunately one of the biggest contributors to global pollution that is greatly affecting the outlook of the environment we are leaving for future generations.
Apparel and footwear account for an estimated 8% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions and fast fashion is the highest polluting industry in the world.
Most clothing items end up in an incinerator or landfill within a year of being produced and if this continues, by 2050, the fashion industry could use more than 26% of the carbon budget.
Less than 1% of material used to produce clothing is recycled into something more. Not many consumers are willing or able to pay high amounts of money for sustainable products. Understandably, it is only possible for a lot of people to afford fast fashion and therefore it is important to remember not to shame anyone for only buying from fast fashion stores. Many of us depend on fast fashion to suit our budget needs. But instead of throwing away clothes after just a few wears, we should recycle, rework and trade garments or sell to reduce the carbon footprint that fast fashion is building up.
Cotton, a very popular material used in clothing, requires high levels of water and pesticides to be grown, which causes major issues in developing countries. As well, most fast fashion is made in these developing countries by workers who are paid a barely livable wage and are worked for hours on end so they can support their families.
Unfortunately, only 15% of consumers recycle their used clothing. If we increase that number we could have such a high impact in reducing the fashion waste by 2030 and help developing countries that suffer the most from our waste of fashion.
How You Can Play a Massive Role in Reducing Fashion Waste:
- Have a clothing swap: Have you always secretly wanted that cool shirt your friend owns? Try host a clothing swap with friends or family, in college or at school, at work etc.
- Shop smart, not fast: Thrift stores and charity shops are the best places for finding unique garments that you can tailor to create your own unique style and look.
- Tailor to your style: Better to have something more unique to yourself that can't be found anywhere else as most sustainable garments are rare in numbers and add to your wardrobe without giving into fast fashion.
- Rent, Reuse, Recycle: More and more brands are moving to using clothing subscriptions where you can rent new clothes rather than purchase. This allows you to change up your style without adding to landfill.
- Quality over Quantity: Downsize your wardrobe and be sure to donate or sell items you no longer need.
Do not beat yourself up if you cannot always shop sustainable, any little change made such as buying from charity shops, small businesses or swapping clothes can make the greatest impact without you even realising.
Some Further Options To Look Into:
Depop is one of the most popular and well known sites to sell clothes you no longer want and give them a new home. Link: https://www.depop.com/
Nuw, is a site that allows you to swap garments with another person locally. A quick and virtual wardrobe for you to find the unique garment of your dreams and give your own clothes a new home. Link: https://www.thenuwardrobe.com/
Studio Minti is an example of a place that sells pre-loved, stylish and unique garments at an affordable price. Link: https://studiominti.com/
Many charity shops such as NCBI, Simon Community, Irish Cancer Society, Barnardos, SVP and so many more offer some great and unique finds that can be bought at affordable prices and not only allow you to reduce your carbon footprint but also allow you to donate to a charity.
Thriftify is also another great place that allows you to shop sustainable clothing and support charities across Ireland.
And finally, supporting small local businesses can do the world of good for not only shopping smart but giving a small business a chance to grow. More and more sustainable businesses are being opened across Ireland and in your local community. A good few can be found on the Instagram of @eco_in_ireland.