Fashion has been a part of our lives for as far as we can remember, be it those innumerable dresses or never-ending color choices we have in our wardrobes; are now questioning our fashion choices and demanding us to be more responsible. It is not only a specific amount that we pay as customers but a cost that environment pays as well.
While plastic-based fibers do not require agricultural land and use little water in production and processing, they do negatively impact the environment in other ways.
Not only are synthetics not biodegradable, but they also rely on the petrochemical industries for their raw material, meaning fashion industry staple is dependent on fossil fuel extraction. These fibers contribute to ocean plastic pollution in a subtle but unavoidable way: These fabrics along with synthetic-natural blends leak into the environment just by being washed.
Cotton is the world’s most used natural fiber and is in nearly 40 percent of our clothing. It does tend to be biodegradable at the end of its lifetime but is also one of the most demanding crops to cultivate and process. According to WWF, the amount needed to make 1kg of cotton is 20,000 liters, showing cotton production methods are environmentally unsustainable.
Traditional cotton takes an exorbitant amount of water and chemicals to be produced. Organic cotton is an alternative to this harmful process and still creates a comfortable product. Organic cotton means that the crop is harvested without any toxic pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. Always check the label and know that organic cotton will feel a bit better than conventional due to less damage from chemicals in the production process.
Hemp is coming back into popularity and for good reason—it is an extremely sustainable crop! This plant is fast-growing, neither exhaust the soil nor require pesticides. Hemp creates a strong, durable fabric that does not irritate your skin.
The fabric has the benefit of being warm in the winter and cool in the summer. While clothes made of linen often get the bad rep of being scratchy at first, the fabric soon becomes incredibly soft and comfortable. Along with hemp, it is biodegradable—if harsh chemicals are left out of the process.
Sources: Independent.co.uk, The Medium, The Good Trade