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Wiser Living

Finding a natural solution

The Rise of Sustainable Fibers in the Fashion Industry

Fashion has always been considered a way to express yourself through the clothing choices you make. Still, showing who you are through the fashions you own and wear has quickly moved from “I love it” to “I must have it” as a result of in-your-face marketing placed in various magazines and advertisements we encounter daily.

This seasonal and repeated trend has made us collective victims of not only over-spending, but insensible over-pollution and consequently conscious destruction of our planet. How so? Well, it’s no secret that fashion doesn’t care much about the negative impact it’s having on our environment or lives of the planet’s inhabitants. Constant endangering of animals through fur production and animal testing is just the tip of the iceberg.

fashion show runway
Photo by Denmarkdotdk/Courtesy of Flickr

“Fast fashion leaves a pollution footprint, with each step of the clothing lifecycle generating potential environmental and occupational hazards. For example, polyester, the most widely used manufactured fiber, is made from petroleum. With the rise in production in the fashion industry, the demand for man-made fibers, especially polyester, has nearly doubled in the last 15 years, according to figures from the Technical Textile Markets. The production of polyester and other synthetic fabrics is an energy-intensive process requiring large amounts of crude oil and releasing various emissions, including volatile organic compounds, particulate matter, and acid gases such as hydrogen chloride, all of which can cause or aggravate respiratory disease”, writes Luz Claudio in his paper on fashion pollution, Waste Couture: Environmental Impact of the Clothing Industry.

To all the environmentally-friendly fashionistas out there, sustainable fashion could be a way out and keep us looking good without harming our planet. Although, in all truth, sustainable fashion hasn’t always gained positive critiques in terms of its chic design and variety; candidly speaking, it has rarely even been linked to style. Why? Due to the poor resources it relies on rarely anything could be made so that it parallels the lush, extravagant runway fashion we are usually fascinated by. Well, not anymore!

Luckily for all of us nature lovers, recent years have brought a twist that makes sustainable fashion as chic and stylish as we’ve always desired! The color choices, cuts, amazing use of cheap yarn for incredibly on-trend designs, along with the overall intent of sustainable fashion are in a rapid state of progress and change. We’re sure whether we’re more excited about how gorgeous it is, or about the fact it’s actually happening!

For everyone who is passionate about saving the planet (as much as is in their power), but still not at the cost of looking drab, sustainable fashion has found a way to make it happen.

examples of women's fashion
Photo by ivabellini/Courtesy of Flickr

One of the main problems for sustainable fashion was that it had faced limitations due to the impossibility to manipulate fabrics and colors in such a way they resemble the already set expectations of the fashion industry. People are often in search for the latest “hip and trendy,” without considering what a toxic and harmful impact the trend has had on the environment and the people working with it. Sustainable fashion takes extreme care that all the colors used are of natural origin, usually with pigments made of microalgae, which can be grown in small amounts so there is no over-production. What’s also amazing is that the colors are changing dramatically—from pink to bright orange, for example, or green to blue.

With sustainable fashion you may easily end up owning a pair of trousers you can throw on the compost after years of wearing them, and they will decompose among the vegetables and eggshells, leaving behind nothing but some fertile soil to help grow new raw materials! Isn’t that amazing?!

While sustainable fashion still has trouble positioning itself alongside larger companies due to their burden of history or a production chain, smaller companies and brands are giving their best to introduce real innovations in the world of eco-fashion. Who knows, maybe even huge brands will change their ways as consumers start demanding better—we’ll see!

Zoe Clark is an environmentalist, home decorator and DIY enthusiast from a land down under. When not obsessing about designing perfect homes, Zoe is spending time with her family. You can find her on Twitter.