Sustainable fashion, also called green fashion, is a part of the broader trend of "ethical fashion," is essentially fashion designing with a consideration to environmental conservation and social responsibility. Unlike any conventional fashion statement, sustainable fashion is not quite a short-term trend but one that is meant to last several seasons. Eco fashion attempts to take environmental consciousness at the very source of designing by using materials that are eco friendly and employing methods of production that are socially responsible. As the production and processing of organic clothes is done without using hazardous chemicals, wearing such eco-friendly clothes is not only beneficial for the environment but is good for health too. Going green in dressing not only involves choosing the right organic cosume but also means using and maintaining the clothes sustainably.
Tips on Eco friendly Dressing
Renovate : Repair torn clothes - with buttons / trims / tailor-made adjustments.
Reduce : buy with long-term wearability in mind; choose what you need , avoid making impulse buys.
Reuse: Keep using old clothes; try wearing what others have used / recycled.
Purchase responsibly : Buy organic clothing when possible - check labels for certification.
Maintain with care : Buy/keep only low-maintenance items for your closet.
Donate : Give away unused clothes in good condition to charities that accept them
Recycle : Sell discarded clothes to thrift shops or get recycled - if facilities exist.
Tips on Eco friendly Clothing Care
The way we use clothes has significant impact on the environment. So there's a lot to be done in terms of clothing care in order to be sustainable in our lifestyle. Particularly, it has been observed that more energy is consumed in the "use" phase of a garment's life cycle than all other phases combined. So, proper clothing care may help save energy and make clothes last longer.
Wash clothes in cold water instead of warm water - saves energy , prevents fading
Hang-dry clothes on clothesline, instead of using the drier
Use eco-friendly "natural" detergents or atleast phosphate-free ones
Adding some salt to detergents can help keep clothes brighter
Adding some baking soda to detergents can help clean and deodorize clothes
Turn clothes inside-out in washers to keep the exterior from worning out
Preferably use front-load washing machines - shortens drying time by removing more water
Keep the clothes zipped or buttoned-up to prevent snags
Store properly with natural repellants to protect clothes from insects
Showcase : Tabletop TUTORSTM from Eco-Mentor.com
Eco-Friendly Clothing Care
"Are the clothes you wear harming the environment, or exploiting others in their manufacturing process? Have you heard about sweatshop conditions overseas (or even in the US!), or factory disasters, and wondered if your clothes are part of the problem? How do you know? How can you research the impact the clothes on your back have? And speaking of impact, what about the environmental impact - is clothing manufacture environmentally friendly? How about the way you wash your clothes? These posters will provide you with tools to understand the true cost of clothing manufacture and maintenance, both in terms of human exploitation and toxic environmental impact. You'll also learn about ways to lessen your impact by finding and choosing eco-friendly and non-toxic alternatives to conventional clothing and laundry methods. "
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And for the full set of such posters
Sustainable Fashion Trends
What it is and the expected benefits
Organic Clothing is clothing made using Eco-friendly Fabrics. Eco-friendly fabrics are ones made from fibres that have been sustainably produced, processed and dyed. Broadly, to qualify as eco friendly, a fabric is expected to meet the following criteria :
it is produced using fewer chemicals and pesticides
fibre's natural, recyclable and preferably bio-degradable
fibre's cultivated organically using lesser land and water
the fibre's coloured using low-impact dyes
fibre's harvested in an animal-friendly manner
it's production / marketing complies with fair trade practices
it's certified to be eco-friendly by some authentic agency
List of Eco-friendly fibres
Plant-based or Cellulose Fibre
According to an estimate, cotton cultivation covers roughly 2.5% of the world agricultural lands and consumes nearly 11% of all chemical pesticides used in farming. Some of the insecticides used in coton production are harzardous to human health. So the safest type of cotton is one that is farmed organically and processed biologically. Organic cotton farming doesn't use chemical pesticides, consumes 60% less water and emits lesser carbon dioxide than conventional cotton. Further, the process of preparing the fibre for spinning being "water-based", causes no pollution. Although the fibre has some natural hues ( green, brown, gold, tan), it may be coloured with low-impact dyes.
Linen, a "bast" fibre obtained from the stem of the flax plant, is spun into a golden thread. It's naturally durable and strong and can be cultivated using little/no fertilizers and pesticides. The plant can be easily incorporated into crop rotation cycles, thereby helping prevent depletion of soil. As flax has multiple by-products, no plant part is wasted. Being a natural fibre, flax linen is both biodegradable and recyclable. Infact, linen can be recycled into paper and insulation materials. The processing of flax consumes very little energy. There is however one problem with linen. The process of removing the flax fibre from the stalk - known as retting - involves water from natural or artificial sources. This water which brings about the rotting or degumming process, releases toxic chemicals into nature if disposed of without treatment.There is a more sustainable alternative called "dew retting" - which uses natural moisture and sunlight rotation for the degumming process.
Hemp is highly productive, grows quick and dense, and is easy to grow. It's naturally pest-tolerant and disease-resistant - so needs no agro-chemicals. Further, its deep roots bind and enrich the soil - leaving the soil in better condition for subsequent crops. Hemp fabric is reasonably durable, strong, mildew resistant, absorbent, dries quickly and improves with washing! Its natural colours are green, brown, black, grey and cream white. It's believed to be ultra-viloet resistant and not known to cause skin irritation. Hemp is more productive, stronger, long-lasting and needs much less water for irrigation compared to cotton. Further, rapid and voluminous growth - attaining maturity in a short span of time - makes the hemp plant suitable for "carbon sequestering" as well !
Ramie : Nettle fibre
Ramie, also called "China Grass", is a flowering plant of Nettle type that produces a strong natural fibre. Ramie fabric is highly absorbent, stain-resistant and comfortable to wear in warmer climates. This fabric doesn't shrink and improves its lustrous look when washed.
Jute, also called the Golden Fibre because of its silky golden shine, is a soft and lustrous vegetable fibre of the bast category that can be cultivated sustainably and spun into threads. The crop's need for pesticides and fertilizers is minimal. The demand for jute fibre is growing day by day largely because it's economical, soft, shining and uniform. Clothes made from jute fabric - especially sweaters and inner wear - are quite comfortable to wear. The fabric has good breathability, high tensile strength and low extensibility. Being completely bio-degradable and recyclable, jute is an ideal eco-friendly fibre. As a vegetable fibre it is second only to cotton in terms of global production and consumption.
Soy silk is a fabric is made from the hulls of soybeans which are byproducts of soybean food processing. It is thus a plant-based alternative to conventional silk obtained from silkworms. The fibre is absorbent, strong and has anti-ultraviolet properties. This fibre can be spun, dyed or blended in the same way as normal silk fibre. Clothes made from this fibre are soft, silky, elastic and biodegradable.
Animal-based or protein Fibre
Silk is a lustrous protein fibre obtained as a single and continuous thread from the cocoon of a silkworm. No chemicals or synthetic additives are used during the manufacture of organic silk. The producers also ensures that the mulberry trees - whose leaves are the primary food source of the silk worms - are organically grown. Apart from being naturally hypoallergenic, organic silk is considered good for sensitive skin and arguably has anti-inflammatory properties. It is also believed to be resistant to dustmites and mold. The silk fabric is warm and breathable.
"Peace Silk". The extraction process of silk thread involves boiling the cocoons to remove the glue-like sericin, killing the worms in the process. Silk is disliked by many vegans and animal lovers for this reason. But then, some silk manufacturers create a variety called "peace silk" - or Ahimsa silk - where the cocoons are gathered for silk extraction only after the moths have emerged from them. So this fabric is both eco-friendly and non-violent.
Wool, a protein fibre obtained from the fleece of sheep, is used for making the sweaters and shawls worn in winter and cold climates. It's considered organic if the sheep are bred and the fleece is processed without the use of harmful chemicals. Breeding sheep organically means they have been given organic feed, have grazed on pesticide-free pastures, have not been genetically - enginereed and have not been administered synthetic hormones and insecticides. Woolen fabric's insulating, water absorbent and fire-resistant.
The cashmere fibre comes from combing out the undercoat of Kashmir goats - a native of Himalayan mountains, though now bred worldwide. Clothes made from this fabric are soft, lustrous and durable - though somewhat expensive !
Alpaca and Llama wool
This is the wool obtained from alpaca - a camel-like animal of South American origin. The fabric is soft and lustrous and comes in natural tones of white, black, red-brown and rose-grey. Another native of South America and a cousin of the Alpaca is the Llama. The wool obtained from the Llama's undercoat is as soft in texture and as similar in natural colours as the Alpaca's.
Wool obtained from camel down is a soft, matte fibre that comes in the natural camel colour, unless dyed.
Quiviut - An expensive luxurious fabric obtained from the wool of muskox,raised in the cold arctic regions of North America
Mohair - obtained from the fleece of the Angora goat, this fabric is soft, lustrous, fire-resistant and durable.
Angora - this wool comes from the Angora rabbit and is soft, lustrous and very warm.
Chiengora or dog wool is a warm , soft fabric obtained from the undercoat of some breeds of dog.
Manufactured or "Regenerative" Fibre
A non-synthetic, manmade fibre made from plant cellulose obtained mainly from wood pulp. The cellulose is transformed to fibre through a chemical regeneration process. There's considerable controversy over whether such regenerated fibre can be considered eco-friendly, as its manufacturing process is highly chemical-intensive and consumes large volumes of water. But still, fabrics from regenerated materials are recyclable and usually bio-degradable. Moreover, producers of modal and lyocell claim to use a sustainable "closed loop" processing system - where chemical solvents are recycled and reused. In fact, lyocell fabric's naturally wrinkle-free, saving need for ironing! Other fibres produced similarly as rayon include bamboo, soy silk and milk silk.
Bamboo clothing is dress made from bamboo fibres. And bamboo fibre is a plant-based fibre made from the biopolymer bamboo cellulose. Bamboo is a very fast growing grass that can be cultivated easily, without using pesticides and fertilizers. It needs no irrigation and can be harvested sustainably. Since the plant can resprout through its roots, it doesn't need to be replanted even after the mature bamboo shoots are harvested. Bamboo fibre is soft and
comfortable to wear. It is absolutely biodegradable and arguably anti-bacterial (though there are restictions on them - especially by the Federal Trade Commission - being labeled as such). The fibre is highly absorbent, thermal regulating, fast-drying, hypoallergenic and naturally wrinkle-free. Further, it can be easily dyed and is resitant to Ultra Violet rays and mold. Although these characteristics seemingly makes bamboo an ideal eco-friendly fibre, bamboo potentially loses its sustainable status once its processing starts. To be transformed into a fibre (in this case a rayon) bamboo needs to be processed with chemicals - some of which are highly toxic ! This is a viscose rayon process that converts bamboo into a rayon, thus making bamboo fabric's claim to be eco-friendly somewhat questionable! There is however a variety called "natural" bamboo, whose producers claim to use no chemicals in the manufacturing process, but as of now, the available evidence is insufficient to support such claim. Accessories, like hats, made directly from raw bamboo are however absolutely eco-friendly.
Recycled Synthetic Fibre Synthetic fabrics - polyesters/ nylons/ acrylics - emit a greenhouse gas (nitrous oxide) during their production from petrochemicals. Obviously, such fabrics are considered non-sustainable.But, some Companies create clothes from recycled plastic bottles by extracting the PET polyester (polyethylene terephthalate) from them. Such clothes can be called eco-friendly as they help give new utility to something that could have otherwise increased pollution.