SUSTAINABLE FASHION, (eco or ethical fashion) – Translation by Domy Kyriaki Vouvoudaki
Empty Fabric Rolls | Photography Eleni Kokkorou
Based on the principles of sustainability and social responsibility, it represents the ideal alternative choice in fashion and it is the very opposite of the mainstream “fast fashion”.
What do we mean when saying “sustainability” and “social responsibility”?
A Production Model that aims to a better economic output, for both humans and the natural environment, in the present as well as in the future. The golden section between production and recourses, that aims to achieve maximum production with minimum usage of raw materials, with “tools” like recycling, renewable energy, and bioclimatic design. This way, the exploitation of natural resources reaches the lowest possible rate, gradually reducing the carbon footprint * left by any apparel product throughout its life. The result? A Much lower cost for the planet and as a result – for all of us!
At the same time, respect towards those people who work in the fashion supply chain and those who use its products is considered to be a “must” sustainable fashion. Simply put, sustainable fashion produces products under not only legitimate but also ETHICAL processes that are friendly to the environment and to human health. (Fairtrade, organic farming, ecological fibers as raw materials, natural dyes etc.).
These are achieved with many new ways and “control mechanisms” in existing tactics that, unfortunately, prevail throughout the process chain of production. For example, by asking questions on what is already happening, it is very easy to understand if the mainstream fashion is sustainable or not:
• Cultivation of feedstock – In what ways is it achieved? Is the use of pesticides and fertilizers excessive?
• Who collects the raw material and how – Workers that work under poor conditions for their health, for 15 hours daily and are paid poorly? Are underage workers employed? CHILD LABOUR
• Spinning, weaving factories etc. – Conditions of work / workers fees. What kind of chemicals / bleaching etc. are being used?
• How is the clothing transported worldwide? – What is the impact from overexploitation of natural resources, for example, oil used by transport ships? How detrimental to the environment?
According to the Earth Pledge, a non-profit organization that promotes sustainable development: “At least 8,000 chemicals are used to convert raw materials into fabrics and 25% of all pesticides consumed worldwide is used to develop non-organic cotton. This causes irreversible effects to humans and the environment, as well as even two-thirds of the carbon footprint of a garment after purchase”.
Therefore, despite that it seems far away, this chain -with the existing and prevailing tactics of the fashion industry- is tying hand and foot the present as well as our future … At this point, we must consider what is most important. How beautiful would we be wearing a cheap and stylish shirt that we just saw at the shop window of a well-known chain store or the true story that has an ugly past and a, certainly, fateful future?
In several occasions, the same companies that have been openly accused and demonstrably found responsible for such practices, use -in the context of building a more … “green profile” – the term ecology for “awareness” campaigns, asking their clients to return old clothes in order for the company to recycle (offering to the customer a discount on his next purchase, which at least oxymoron). Failing at the same time to inform the customer that a huge percentage of the clothes collected, will NOT be recycled, depending on the material!
Another very important reason to prefer eco-fashion products is that the “conventional” fabrics are endorsed with chemical dyes and flame retardants, as well as dozens of chemicals found in clothing fibers which are gradually released and partly absorbed, with great ease, from the skin. Investigations of pharmaceutical companies have shown that drugs, which enter the body through the skin exhibit increased activity over those entering through the digestive tract.
So, maybe we should think twice about what we wear…
The counterproposal by sustainable / eco fashion is, the so called, “green textiles” because, they…:
1. facilitate the cutaneous respiration
2. do not cause itching and allergy
3. protect against fungi and ultraviolet radiation
4. are thermoregulatory
5. absorb sweat
6. They leave a pleasant sensation on the skin, as they have not been chlorinated.
The ecological fabrics made of raw materials such as organic cotton, bamboo, corn, soybeans, linen-flax, hemp, nettles, silk (cruelty-free silk) and wool, derive from organic farming and cattle breeding. Of course, the natural fibers of a garment are not always biological, because in many cases they have been chemically treated so that they can be used in weaving or acquire specific features.
The apparel companies which have an ecological profile grow at a slow but noticeable pace, mainly abroad but recently also in Greece. It is worth to seek them.
Article by Danai Fedra Thomaidou | Translation by Domy Kyriaki Vouvoudaki
Photography Eleni Kokkorou