Have you ever wondered what the environmental impact of your clothes is?

The future of the fashion industry may be the production of pieces with more sustainable materials, but it is also necessary to change the design embedded in accelerated production and the logic of fast fashion .

The accelerated consumption of clothing has left major marks on the environment: the degradation of the planet and the consumption of large quantities of non-renewable raw materials.

In this article, you will learn what sustainable fashion is and what methods are used to minimize the environmental impacts generated in the product manufacturing process.

What is sustainable fashion?

Sustainable fashion is concerned with using methods that minimize the environmental impacts that arise from the product manufacturing process. For the Environmental Protection Agency, the textile industry is among the 4 types of industries that consume the most natural resources and pollute the most, favoring sociocultural inequality and the use of seasonal jobs in order to support the low cost of production.

The need arose to rethink the way the fashion industry is produced, how society behaves from the point of view of global consumption and the consequences in terms of environmental impacts.

The extraction of large quantities of non-renewable natural resources in the production of fabrics and excessive consumption, as well as the disposal of used parts, has consequences for pollution and degradation of nature.

Measures to reduce environmental impacts in the fashion industry are numerous. In manufacturing, companies can decide to increase the life of a garment by using fabrics that cause less environmental impact, better finishing of the garments and ensuring decent working conditions.

Forms of sustainable fashion

Sustainable fashion arises from the concern of combining conscious consumption and an ecological proposal. Some ways:

  • Ethical Fashion: this form of sustainable fashion considers the full impact of the socio-cultural and environmental dimension embedded in the design of a product. This movement questions the exploitation of clothing workers, who are often subjected to conditions similar to slave labor.
  • Eco Moda: considers environmental consequences at all stages of product development. Eco Moda reduces the consumption of resources and, in its production logic, materials are chosen that help reduce the environmental impact during their life cycle. Some alternatives are the use of organic fabrics and production methods that minimize environmental contamination.
  • UpCycle: this form of sustainable fashion is a trend that helps reduce waste, transforming end-of-life objects into new products.
  • Slowfashion: is a practice that values ​​the local over the global. Promotes environmental awareness and contributes to trust between producers and consumers. Slow Fashion is a sustainable form of production with the aim of reducing the amount of textile waste in landfills.

5 Tips for having a sustainable wardrobe

Sustainable fashion has been gaining more friends and, if you haven't started this friendship yet, we give you some tips to do so and make your wardrobe more sustainable.

  • Conscious shopping: don't buy clothes in excess or on impulse. In addition to spending more money, you are also indirectly contributing to the environmental impact through the manufacture and transport of goods. Choose to buy timeless and necessary pieces for your wardrobe.
  • Choose to wash clothes in the washing machine: when you use your washing machine, make sure to fill it and, in this way, you are saving electricity, water and detergent. It uses laundry detergent and fabric softener for effective cleaning, with a wonderful aroma and free from substances harmful to the environment.
  • Clothes drying rack: using clothes dryers results in unnecessary electricity consumption. Portugal is a privileged country, with a mild climate all year round, so if you have space at home, take advantage of the clotheslines to dry your clothes naturally. Not only are you making your clothes last, you are also helping the environment.
  • What to do with old clothes or those that no longer fit: donate the items that you will no longer use. What no longer serves you can serve someone else. MyCloma accepts used clothing items, but in good condition, to give them a new life and a new home. Another option is to gather your friends and exchange pieces between you. It's always good to renew our wardrobe.
  • Invest in organic clothing: give preference to clothing made with organic fabrics and with authentication seals. Despite the higher cost, they have a significantly lower impact on the environment during their production.

Footprint of our clothes

The textile industry is one of the most polluting, from the extraction of raw materials, production of parts, transport and also the disposal of clothes. All of these steps cause an environmental impact, particularly in terms of water consumption, soil erosion, carbon emissions and resulting waste.

We, consumers, are buying 400% more clothes than we did 20 years ago. We are driven by more affordable prices, we buy more and more clothes and wear them less often.

Environmental impacts are increasingly visible, however the fashion industry also has social impacts. To be competitive and sell at cheaper prices, the textile industry locates its manufacturing in countries with low labor costs and lax labor laws. Several studies reveal that working conditions in these countries are very precarious and unsafe, with reports of abuse and violence.

Around 75 million people work in this industry, 80% of whom are women and 20% men. However, the pay gap is very pronounced, with a 39% difference between women and men.

Graphic from Jornal Público with the percentage of clothes made by young women between 18-24 years old
Source: Jornal Público

Fashion is an expression of our personal style, our individuality. When we buy a piece of clothing from a certain brand, we are carrying the moral value of the brand. If this brand uses abusive labor to make products and is not environmentally conscious, we must ask ourselves, as consumers, whether we should support this brand.

Is sustainable fashion already part of your wardrobe?