I am a week late in writing this piece. Last Monday was World Environment Day. Last Monday was also when I came back after a week in the greenest, most pristine place I have been to in the last ten years. That combined with the usual pieces on how to save the environment flooding my timeline, given the time of the year, I started thinking about how fashion has an impact on the environment.
Our usual cry of “I have nothing to wear” has turned most of us into irresponsible buyers, with clothes worth several thousands, languishing unworn in our cupboards.
Did you know that almost one-third of the clothing we buy ends up in landfills? Or that we use, according to some estimates, almost 4000 litres of water in the life cycle of one pair of denims?
Most of us are unaware of the importance of buying sustainably. We are unsure of where our brand sources from, whether or not it has a sustainable structure, whether the production takes place locally, or if the packaging is recyclable. Most of all, we aren’t even certain of the necessity of that piece of clothing in our wardrobes. While we may be investing in fashion, and helping the economics of it all, we aren’t really contributing to its sustainable side. Here are a few ways in which you can help the environment while being fashionably ahead.
A lot of people confuse organic and sustainable or even consider the two synonymous in ways. What makes your outfit organic is if the fabric is derived from a crop that was grown without chemical intervention. Sustainability is based on the thought of responsible fashion. It is need based and involves minimal wastage. The manufacturing process involved in sustainable fashion production are concentrated on minimizing wastage and pollution. It also focuses on improving the lives of the artisans involved. Sustainability means making a conscious choice.
India is a treasure trove of textiles and fabrics. As consumers, we should make use of this. When you buy something that is handmade and spread the word about it, you are creating demand for the product. Also by buying homegrown fabrics, you are cutting down on the fuels that are used to transport fabrics and finished products from around the world only to create more fast fashion which have short life cycles.
Indulge in Upcycling
Bigger and smaller designers are identifying the importance of upcycling and investing in them. Amit Aggrawal, Doodlage, 11:11, are all prominent names in the industry who have promoted upcycling, creating works of art from what would have previously been considered waste. Internationally celebrities like Emma Watson have been propagating upcycled fashion as a way of life with the actress creating an Instagram account highlighting the sustainable fashion choices she made during the press tour for her movie Beauty and the Beast.
Maybe not all of us can buy designer threads but we can make a change by simply changing the way we think about clothing and look at it. The next time your skirt has a tiny hole in it, don’t discard it, think of an innovative way you can rewear it, a badge perhaps or even some eye-catching embroidery, or just get it altered. Bored of your clothes? Swap them with friends. Start small. As small as you can. It will still be one more sartorially sustainable step than before.