What is Sustainability?

I want to first say that I am no expert in this field. Just a curious consumer that wishes to learn more about the clothes she wears. I have been researching this topic for a little over a year now and have always been fascinated by what people can create. When I was little I would go to craft fairs with my nana and my mom and be amazed by what people could do. I think this is where my fascination with handmade objects first started. So when this desire to further understand where my clothes came from first started, it seemed like a natural direction for my curiosity to go. 

I have begun the process to try and understand sustainability and my goal is to make it digestible for everyone. Something I also want to quickly confess before I dive into this post is that I am not living sustainably in every area of my life. To me it is not a change that needs to happen immediately everywhere. You can’t rush thoughtfulness when it comes to your lifestyle. It takes time to plan. So in my life I am starting with my wardrobe and then we’ll see where we go from there. 

So now to move into our main topic: Sustainability - avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance

That is the definition that dictionary.com gives us. However, it is a much more complex topic. I’ve touched on the definition of sustainability before but wanted to revisit it again since I want to make it a main focus this year. I could dive into each consumer vertical and discuss sustainability but since my focus is on style that is where I will start. 

Sustainability in fashion has been branded as “slow fashion.” The idea that you invest in quality and buy fewer things. It’s the complete opposite of fast fashion which is based mainly on trends and will quickly become outdated. Ultra fast paced consumerism. 

Buy less, choose well. I once read a quote that said “Your purchase is a vote for that company” and it really is. It’s a vote for them to stick around. To keep doing what they are doing. Many people do not think about where their clothes came from or even can conceptualize the process that a garment goes through to get to your closet. 

So for those of you who are curious about what makes a garment sustainable, I’m going to try and break it down into digestible pieces. 

In my mind I’ve classified slow fashion into two sections:

  1. Recycled/Reused
  2. Sustainably Made

In another post I’ll talk about buying used clothes and selling clothes but for now I’m going to focus on sustainably made. 

Just to give you an idea of how complex this topic is, I’m going to list all of the factors that need to be taken into account when making a sustainable garment.

  1. How the fiber/material was made & the resources used to make the material
  2. How the material is made into the actual fabric
  3. The labor that is used throughout this entire process
  4. How much impact did the transportation of the garment have on the environment
  5. How long will this garment last
  6. When the garment has exhausted its use, is it biodegradable and when it decomposes what kind of impact will it have on the environment.

There are so many different touch points where sustainability needs to be taken into account. Something I am still exploring is how much of this process needs to be “sustainable” for the whole garment to be considered a responsible choice. Right now I don’t know the answer. I personally strive to find products that have a true human touch from design to material creation and garment construction. 

I’m not going to lie, buying a responsible made product is usually going to be more expensive. But with that higher cost you are contributing to someone’s livelihood. You’re paying for suitable conditions for them to work. You are paying for garments that have as low of an impact as possible on the environment. You are also paying for quality and for that garment to last you 10x longer than any fast fashion garment. You are no longer mindlessly consuming but putting intent behind your decisions. 

My main connection to this topic is the human element. For me slow fashion is putting the human component back into fashion. No longer machines mindlessly spitting out the next big trend but people designing, creating and making. Investing part of themselves in this thing that they have been a part of since the beginning and putting it out into the world. Hoping you will love it as much as they do. I believe that is why I am so passionate about this and hopefully I sparked some passion or at least interest in some of you. 

Thank you for listening and hopefully this introduction was educational! I will be sharing an exhaustive list of my favorite responsible brands soon to give you a place to start! If you have any questions that you would like answered please let me know.

Cheers!
Allison