Photos by Callie Hatcher
Sustainability is the process of maintaining change in a balanced environment. It’s about being kind to our environment and responsible with our resources. Sustainable fashion is treating our garment workers like human beings and treating our clothes with love.
When you initially think about fast fashion you think: Cheap, trendy, speedy production. But as you take a closer look and dive more deeply into the industry, you’ll see the horrors that fast fashion entails.
According to the documentary "The True Cost," the average American throws away 82 pounds of garments, accessories and shoes annually. This clothing contains dyes, toxins and pesticides that harm the environment when they are thrown away. Along with chemicals these industries use, a large amount of water is consumed – up to 2,700 gallons of fresh water are used just to make one cotton t-shirt. Worst of all, these fast fashion retailers employ large sweatshops in low-income countries. Working conditions are dangerous and the workers are paid an average of $2 a day.
Sustainable fashion has been developed to reverse the toxicity of the industry through environmentally-focused garment production. More brands than ever are turning to eco-friendly and sustainable means of production so the needs of the clothing industry do not jeopardize the climate and the health of future generations.
My personal experience with sustainability is at the root of my involvement with the brand Eileen Fisher. I had the opportunity to attend the Eileen Fisher Leadership Institute where I learned the importance of sustainability and how to integrate it into my daily life. I was challenged to look at my own closet – it was full of fast fashion. I found that I only wore about 25 percent of my wardrobe. I realized I didn't need all these clothes.
The leadership institute taught me the simple ways I can implement a sustainable lifestyle while not spending a lot of money. Some options include buying second-hand clothing or swapping clothes with others. Whether it’s Poshmark or your local Goodwill, there are tons of options available to buy, sell or donate clothing. This will eliminate the need to buy from fast fashion retailers.
If you want to buy new clothes, there are many fashion brands that use sustainable production methods, such as Patagonia, Reformation, Ever Lane and Alternative Apparel. You can also swap clothing with your friends, which can be a fun way to have new clothing as well as help the environment by reducing a need for new production.
Sustainability is a large part of the fashion industry and it is an important component in saving our environment for future generations.