Sustainable fashion is built on 3 pillars: People, Planet, and Profit
Every species living on Earth consumes the natural resources that this planet provides us. It’s the very basis of living! Plants consume the water from the soil, and animals consume plants, fruits, or other animals. To quote The Lion King – It is the circle of life. And we can do that because of the planet’s ability to renew and replenish itself. Our planet is sustainable when there is a balance between consumption & renewability.
As the most intelligent species, we humans have developed the technology and tools that have enabled us to consume natural resources comfortably but also to the point where ecological imbalances occur. We can see the result of our lack of consciousness in the polluted waters, growing landfills, climate change, and more.
A lesser known fact is that the fashion industry contributes to over 10% of the total carbon output of the world. While we may have seen aggressive advancements in green energy in various industries around the world – The world of fast fashion, and quick consumption has largely been flying under the radar.
Studies show that large fast fashion brands are failing to substantiate claims of their environmental initiatives without adequate data for consumers on how it is sourcing materials and changing its manufacturing practices. A study by the Joint Economic Committee, headed by ranking democrat – Carolyn B. Maloney, concludes that more than $250 Billion U.S. Dollars are spent annually on fashion in the United States. To put this in perspective, $250 Billion is the GDP of Finland!
Imagine the changes we could make if we spent that money more consciously and the impact that this could have on the lives of people. Sustainable fashion is built on 3 pillars: People, Planet, and Profit.
The people angle – Most sustainable brands work very hard to ensure that the team that works for them are paid fairly, work in ethical working conditions, and benefit as the company grows. The focus is on creating livelihoods and increasing quality of living. Profitability is important but people come first!
The planet angle – It goes without saying that sustainable brands focus on ensuring the least harm is done to the environment. Whether it’s the raw materials used or production process, most brands are highly sensitive about the environmental impact of their business. They research materials meticulously to find quality natural organic fiber and work closely with local communities to reduce their carbon footprint.
The profit angle – Companies that focus on sustainability are more apt to share part of their profits with the communities or organization that work towards the greater good.. Amour Vert, a French brand has integrated their business profitability with sustainability. With every purchase of an Amour vert tee, they plant a tree in North America and to date, have planted over 220,000 trees with their partner American Forest®.
Our biggest strength as consumers is the ability to demand changes from corporations, stakeholders and brands to take genuine action towards environmental, social, and economic welfare. It is our collective spending that have enabled companies to grow, and it is our collective dollars that can enable a sustainable fashion movement. The easiest way to start is to practice conscious consumerism. We have to empower ourselves by making a more conscious choice in our consumption of fashion.
Are the companies we spend on contributing negatively to the environment?
Are they giving back to the communities that support their growth?
Do these companies value sustainability as a part of their bottom line?
The easiest way to start is to practice conscious consumerism. We have to empower ourselves by making a more conscious choice in our consumption of fashion by educating yourself. One way to do this is by checking the status of a company’s credibility. The app goodonyou allows you to check ethical brand ratings. Smaller brands might not be able to compete with the larger brands in sales numbers. However, thanks to the power of social media, it is easier to send a message out and to add a voice to the fashion conversation.
Conscious fashion is much more than just a tag on the label
At the end of the day, there is something wonderful about owning a product that was ethically made without exploiting people but also healthy for the environment! Continuing the circle of life for future generations should be a goal for everyone.