The Beginner’s Guide to Sustainable Fashion
Calling all Curious Fashionistas and Gardeners! Here’s the beginner’s guide to fashion sustainability: Four sustainable fashion shopping tips learned from your own garden.
The fashion industry gets a bad rep for being the second largest polluter in the world next to oil. How does this happen and how do we, as everyday citizens, contribute to this?!
Well, this happens for many reasons. One of the reasons being our tendency to buy fast fashion. And I totally admit it’s hard not to shop at places like Forever 21, Fashion Nova or H&M (I know there’s plenty more) when you’re in a pinch. It’s convenient and affordable, for sure!
Another reason that adds to the fashion industry getting a bad reputation is how our fabrics are processed on farms and in factories before the final clothing piece makes it to our closets.
Because of these reasons I felt so proud of myself for buying my first sustainably made outfit (at a price that fit my budget) from a local designer in Portland Oregon. I know it may seem silly but I felt as if I were doing my part to save our planet for future generations with this purchase.
After I bought it I took a look at the tag and it said 100% cotton. So then I thought, “well gosh darn, how does a cotton ball become a fabulous dress and still be sustainable?”
#1 – Start with Local
We know what a big impact weather conditions can make on our gardens. When we buy seed packets or young potted plants, the instructions generally tell us to plant in shade or non shady areas, at the required soil depth and cold or warm temperature depending on climate conditions at the time. So places where the temperature is generally warm year round like Texas in the United States or global regions like Southern India, are ideal places for cotton to grow.
Since cotton’s a natural fiber that’s farmed in over 85 different countries, there are plenty of places this fabric can come from before it becomes our fabulous dress. With so many places to farm cotton how do we quickly find which places are sustainable or not? That’s why I say, don’t be afraid to try local. There could be amazing sustainable fashion designers or stores in your town or city who have knowledge of the best places to source sustainable clothes.
#2 – Ask about Organic Fabric
As gardeners, we’re aware of how important nutrients in the soil are to our plant’s growth. We know how important potassium, calcium carbonate, nitrogen and trace minerals are to helping our plant babies grow. The same philosophy can be applied to how natural fibers, specifically cotton can grow.
It takes 11,4000 cups of water to make one T-shirt. Now imagine if a drought came in to these warm climate areas and we had to ship fresh water in to help the cotton plants grow, thereby taking away the water supply from the farmers and people who need it the most in this area. Would there be a way to reduce the amount of pesticides and use an optimal amount of water to get the same number of cotton bundles that will leave enough fresh water for drinking? That my friend is where organic fabric comes in.
#3 – Buy Fair Trade Clothes
They say a little TLC (tender, love and care) and talking to our plants helps them grow into full bloom. As gardeners, we make sure to check on our plant babies’ growth daily by checking the moisture in the soil, trimming their leaves and adding more compost when we see fit.
Then we harvest the fruits of our labor when the plants are in full bloom. We do this out of share love. We’re not getting paid dollars for this. Now let’s switch gears for a minute. Think about the folks caring and harvesting our cotton to make the fabulous clothes we wear. Are they getting paid enough for their TLC to help ensure the cotton tree blooms to its full potential?
#4 – Have Patience, Padawan
Whoosa. As gardeners, we know the importance time plays on our plant’s growth cycle. It takes 3 – 4 weeks for our plants to start sprouting. We check the days off the calendar until our plant seeds start sprouting into plant babies.
Sustainable shopping requires a little more patience and research than we’re typically used to having when we shop at the mall. It’s less about convenience and more about being purposeful in how we shop. So give yourself a little more time to research what works best for you and your style. Research price, brand, and location. I know you’ll find something you love! I did!
Thanks for landing on this site! I hope you enjoyed this post and the video! Please feel free to share your thoughts in a comment, drop a note, say hello or leave a emoji somewhere!