What is Sustainable Clothing (& Why You Should Care)
Did you know the clothing industry is responsible for 10% of the planet’s carbon emissions each year?
This percentage is so apparent because clothing brands across the world are manufacturing their clothes and running their businesses unethically without considering their environmental impact (cough...fast fashion brands). If this continues at the rate it is at, our planet will continue to crawl down the path of destruction.
However, in lighter news, the clothing industry's negative impact has led to the birth of the slow fashion movement, sprouting many clothing brands like Goodwear that are making clothes with eco-friendly fabrics and are doing all that they can to keep their environmental footprint as minimal as possible.
Sustainable Clothing Definition
Before we get to the top benefits of sustainable clothing, it is important to understand what exactly defines sustainable clothing.
Sustainable clothing: clothing that is designed using sustainable fabrics like hemp, organic cotton, and pima cotton that have less of a negative impact on the planet. In addition, sustainable clothing is usually created by sustainable clothing brands whose main mission is to produce stylish and comfortable clothing without sacrificing the environment in doing so.
Sustainable clothing brands have eco-conscious business models that align with lessening their environmental footprint as much as they can. For example, many sustainable clothing brands only use renewable energy to run their factories, manufacture their clothes locally in the states, use recycled materials for all shipping packaging, and create as little waste as possible (water, fabric, etc).
Below, we list the top benefits of sustainable clothing. Discover how you can feel better about what you wear everyday knowing you’re supporting the betterment of our people and the planet.
The Top 4 Benefits of Sustainable Clothing
1. When you opt for sustainable clothing, you get instant gratification of supporting the greater good of the planet
Today, it has been tested and proven that people prefer supporting clothing brands that give back to the greater good over those who don’t. Purchasing from a company that supports a good cause gives us instant gratification knowing our money is being used to help make a difference in the world.
This is why the shoe company TOMS was successful out of the gate and why Patagonia remains a leading innovator and top dog in the sustainable clothing realm. In fact, Patagonia is a big reason why 1% For the Planet is such a well-known organization for any B2C business to join forces with.
According to Jeff Fromm, expert on millennials and the impact of sustainability, the future generation of consumers are set on making an impact in the world. “They are a generation characterized by integrating causes they care about into their daily routines and purchase behaviors,” said Fromm in a Forbes article about Millennials Influencing The Future. Ultimately, when you decide to buy a sustainable t-shirt over others, you are supporting the betterment of the planet.
2. Sustainable Clothing Reduces The World’s Water Pollution, Carbon Emissions, And Large Amounts Of Waste
Unfortunately, a majority of the most popular clothing brands source and manufacture their clothes overseas. They do this because it's more cost effective, but generally overseas production and fast fashion come with a negative environmental impact. This is why you will find that the most sustainable clothing brands make their clothes in America or in a small controlled (and ethical) environment somewhere overseas.
Made in USA clothing brands have a higher quality control and overall lower carbon emission impact solely due to the intimate locality. When you buy online from American made clothing brands, you avoid the heavy carbon emissions of overseas shipping.
In addition, popular clothing manufacturing destinations like China, Bangladesh and India do not have strict environmental regulations on their factories, meaning it’s easy for them to dispose of their waste in an unethical manner polluting the world’s waterways with toxic chemicals and microplastics.
In contrast, sustainable clothing company’s business models are constructed with eco-friendly best practices in mind.
Sustainable clothing company's best practices:
- Use less water
- Use renewable energy to manufacture goods
- Use recycled/eco-friendly fabrics in their clothing
- Eliminate disposing in unethical ways
- Use recycled materials in their shipping packaging
- Fair labor practices and fair wages for all employees working in factories
3. You're Supporting Fair Labor Practices
Another big part of a sustainable clothing business model is providing fair labor practices and a proper living wage to employees that work in their factories.
Generally, clothing made in the USA has higher labor and fair wage standards than foreign countries. Unfortunately, factories overseas do not have this same level of authority. This is because the United States has federal laws set in place to make sure that no unfair labor treatment or unethical working conditions can exist.
So what does this all mean? Well, when you choose to purchase from a Made in USA clothing brand or a sustainable clothing brand, you’re supporting fair labor practices and a proper living wage. When you purchase from a fast fashion brand or a clothing brand that manufactures entirely in China, there is a good chance you are contributing to unfair child labor and unhealthy working conditions that could be occurring in their factories.
There are many great ways to shop for sustainable clothing, but one simple way to check if a clothing brand uses fair labor practices is to browse their website and see if it is mentioned anywhere. Usually, the brands who support fair labor practices will be proud to promote it and will be transparent about it. Also, you could do the same type of investigation online to learn if a clothing brand is actually sustainable. Usually the best sustainable clothing brands will have passionate messaging about this on their site and in their marketing. Beware of greenwashing though!
4. Sustainable Clothes Are Higher-Quality
Sustainable clothing is synonymous with high quality and a superior product. Eco-friendly fabrics are softer, stronger and will last you for years. In fact, sustainable clothing guarantees you won’t have to continue buying new clothes all the time.
Buying from the most popular clothing brands that manufacture overseas gives you no guarantee that the clothes you buy are quality. While shipments and products can be monitored for quality control, there is no honest guarantee that these products will be made well or last you for the years to come.
Wrapping Up: The Top Benefits of Sustainable Clothing
The fashion industry is one of the leading contributors of carbon emissions in the world every year. Thanks to the slow fashion movement, sustainable clothing brands are doing their best to lower the fashion industry's environmental impact by making eco-friendly clothes and running their business on a sustainable business model.
There are plenty of amazing benefits you can reap from sustainable clothing. From reducing the world’s water pollution to supporting fair labor practices, shopping sustainable fashion will be a gratifying experience.