8 Benefits of Sustainable Clothing: Ways to Make Fashion Guilt-free

8 Benefits of Sustainable Clothing: Ways to Make Fashion Guilt-free

There are some advantages to fast fashion. There, we’ve said it! It allows you to try newer clothes without spending a fortune, and the size and style options are plenty. But every time you shop from such deals in bulk, you experience a bit of guilt rolling down your gut and think to yourself that you’ve shopped enough for the next six months — and then you go shopping again next month! This is a common experience among people as fast fashion is a slippery slope — it makes you believe that you’ve got an impressive deal on fashion items when, in reality, you have cluttered your wardrobe with items that you don’t need and would soon want to get rid of! What’s worse is that it leaves no room for wardrobe essentials — clothes that you’ll need repeatedly in the future.

Fast fashion is not only responsible for 10% of all carbon emissions in the world but also your own lopsided finances. And, only through personal experiences does one truly understands the benefits of sustainable clothing. Sustainable fashion is not about stripping yourself of the perks of being stylish and trying new looks; it is about doing the same in a well-planned, guilt-free, and environmentally agreeable manner. To embrace this in our lifestyles, let us understand what sustainable clothing is and in what ways it benefits us.

What Is Sustainable Clothing?

Sustainable clothing is an umbrella term for clothing that has been manufactured end-to-end through ethical and eco-friendly practices. Unlike the popular notion, where sustainable clothing only refers to garments made out of eco-friendly materials, it indeed involves sustainability in practices such as sourcing the fabric, weaving the textiles, manufacturing the garments, packaging the clothing items, supply chain, delivery, and everything in between.

It also entails the concept of slow fashion, promoting the idea of “less is more” in fashion consumerism. A counterpart of fast fashion, this ideology involves investing only in high-quality wardrobe essentials that would be useful for a long time and are unlikely to go out of style, such as a classic knitted sweater, white linen shirt, blue jeans, etc. Slow fashion suggests against spending money on fleeting fads, reducing pressure on production practices and the environment.

Today, it is pivotal to embrace sustainable clothing as an important part of one’s lifestyle to counter the adverse effects of fast fashion on the planet and society at large. Doing so would also help people develop a positive self-image that transcends superficial trends and indulges in guilt-free fashion. The following are some ways to enroot sustainable clothing and ethical fashion in one’s lifestyle:

1. Reusing And Repurposing:

If a piece of clothing doesn’t fit you any longer, consider giving it to a friend or relative who might still be able to wear it. Perhaps you can repurpose an old formal shirt as a shrug or tuck a mini dress inside your jeans to wear as a blouse. Those who wish to declutter their wardrobes to make room for more relevant and useful pieces can consider renting, selling, or donating their clothes by reaching out to a suitable organization. And if that doesn’t work for your old T-shirt, you can probably use it as a mopping rag.

2. Shopping for the Right Fabric And Product:

Research by Environmental Sciences Europe discusses the adverse effects of polyester as well as other synthetic fabrics and dyes on the environment, deeming them responsible for landfills, carbon emissions, and depletion of fossil fuels in addition to other problems. This makes it crucial to resort to biodegradable and eco-friendly fabrics in clothing. Ethically-produced cotton, organic cotton, hemp, linen, bamboo-derived viscose, modal, mushroom leather, and Ahimsa silk are some excellent organic fabric options that one should look for when investing in their wardrobe. In the case of garments wherein the use of synthetic materials is inevitable, such as yoga pants, moisture-wicking T-shirts, jerseys, swimsuits, etc., one can consider options made with recycled fabrics such as polyester, elastane, nylon, etc.

Moreover, it is also important to invest in evergreen fashion and wardrobe basics over fast fashion trends. For example, it is better to invest in a plain cotton shirt, sneakers, relaxed-fit blue jeans, a sundress, linen trousers, etc., instead of tight blouses with garish sleeves. While you’ll likely get bored of the latter in a few months, the former would be useful and relevant pieces in your wardrobe that are unlikely to go out of style. Further, one should prioritize comfortable and versatile clothes over uncomfortable pieces that can only be worn on specific kinds of innerwear, such as adhesive strapless bras.

3. Recycling And Upcycling:

In addition to reusing garments and shopping mindfully, recycling is a brilliant way to promote a circular fashion economy. The desire to invest in newer clothes and styles is common and understandable, but that doesn’t necessarily mean discarding old garments and buying something new. By recycling and upcycling garments, you can transform old clothes into new, high-value products. In addition to making efforts to send your old garments for recycling, you can also promote this by purchasing clothes made of recycled materials the next time you go shopping.

4. Shopping from Ethical Brands:

Another good way to embrace sustainable fashion is by shopping from fun, sustainable clothing brands. Before making a purchase, do your research and prioritize brands with ethical manufacturing practices — renewable energy, artisan welfare, fair wages and labor practices, and a controlled carbon footprint.

We, of course, know that taking the trouble to find ethical and sustainable clothing serves a good cause. However, many don’t know the extent to which this approach benefits the environment, economy, and our personal wardrobes. Listed below are the specific advantages of the same.

What Are the Benefits of Sustainable Clothing Practices?

1. Reduces Waste And the Pressure on Landfills Significantly:

The life of a clothing item generally ends in three ways — landfills, recycling, and reuse. Unfortunately, a study by the journal Resources, Conservation & Recycling shows that about 87% of textiles end up in landfills worldwide. From an ecological point of view, this severely pollutes the soil and clogs the flow of groundwater, considering that most of the fabric used in apparel is non-biodegradable, such as polyester.

However, when we invest in sustainable clothes made with biodegradable fabrics, we allow them to decompose in the soil after we’ve used them for as long as we can. By doing so, we can refrain from contributing to textile waste and reduce the pressure on the land. A better approach is to recycle the used textiles into newer apparel; this way, we get something new without discarding something old!

2. Reduces Carbon Footprint:

Repurposing old apparel has more environmental benefits than recycling, and is the ideal strategy to reduce the carbon footprint of these clothes (Resources, Conservation & Recycling). After all, by reusing clothing items, you’re preventing the manufacture and shipping process of a whole new product, which is a great way to prevent greenhouse gas emissions.

Another approach that helps reduce this is shopping from sustainable clothing brands — Tentree, No Nasties, and Kotn — that use renewable energy sources, ethical manufacturing processes, and environment-friendly logistics. The use of natural fibers over synthetic materials also prevents the depletion of fossil fuels such as petroleum and coal.

3. Reduces Water Pollution:

Like carbon emissions, the fashion and apparel industry contributes to a whopping 20% of industrial wastewater discharge in the world, which leads to the release of toxic chemicals in major water bodies, thereby harming human health and the environment at large (research by MDPI). And, while synthetic fibers certainly play a notorious role in this, conventional cotton is responsible for maximum water consumption in its cultivation and manufacturing processes.

To counter this, the sustainable clothing industry is using advanced and innovative production methods to reduce overall water consumption. An excellent example of this would be Levi’s Water<Less initiative, which consumes 96% less water in denim finishing. Other fashion brands help the cause by using recycled cotton or organic dyes that don’t pollute water reservoirs. On the consumer front, investing in long-lasting apparel compared to fast fashion products can significantly help reduce water pollution.

4. Supports Fair Labor Practices:

The term “sustainable fashion” is not limited to environment-friendliness. It also entails sustainable labor practices by forbidding the exploitation of workers and discouraging sweatshops. It rules out child labor and promotes fair wages, humanitarian production methods, and the welfare of laborers through different means. Goodwill fashion brands such as Pact and Fair Indigo manufacture clothes in Fair Trade-certified factories, offering safe working conditions and on-site labor funds.

5. Supports Cultural Legacy And Traditional Practices:

Sustainable clothing also comprises slow fashion made through traditional production methods, which empowers the craftsmen and sustains their cultural legacy. Traditional production involves sustainable practices such as handlooms, handblock printing, embroidery, the use of organic fibers and dyes, upcycling old garments, etc. to produce attractive vestiary.

Sustainable fashion brands such as Okhai and 17 Looms empower rural and other local artisans by providing them with better income opportunities through the textile manufacturing skills that have been passed onto them for generations. Besides, anecdotal evidence suggests that such traditionally manufactured garments are far superior quality compared to machine-produced bulk clothes.

6. Helps You Get High-quality Clothes:

It is no news that organic materials and sustainable production processes generate higher-quality clothing compared to cheap and synthetic fabrics. Cheaply-made clothing loses shape and fades quite easily, which makes it difficult to reuse them for a long time. Contrarily, clothes from prominent sustainable fashion brands are generally made of great quality and don’t lose shape that easily. Investing in them prevents the need for you to keep revamping your wardrobe every two months, as your favorite wardrobe items easily last for years.

7. Makes Fashion Easy:

The fashion industry today is quite cluttered! While advertisements and in-store displays make the product look misleadingly attractive, it is only after shopping that you realize that the product fabric isn’t skin-friendly, has lost shape too soon, or the color has faded already. Besides, fast fashion clothing items are available at really low prices that are often hard to resist, thereby inhibiting a consumer’s ability to make reasonable purchases.

However, by having a sustainable approach to fashion, you filter out much of that retail clutter by narrowing down your list to eco-friendly fabrics and natural materials, ethically manufactured products, and evergreen silhouettes that are hard to go out of style. It is easier to become more confident and content with your fashion choices, as this approach keeps you from getting confused with the given paradox of choice. Organizing the wardrobe also becomes easier when you make more sustainable and minimalistic fashion choices. Also, eco-friendly and sustainable clothing items are often more breathable and comfortable than poor-quality fast fashion garments.

8. Helps Save Money:

Most people think that investing in sustainable clothing is more expensive than indulging in fast fashion; but that’s just an illusion, a notion insinuated by fast fashion companies that their products are inexpensive. This illusion misleads people into buying cheap clothes that they do not require, thereby making them lose track of the amount of money they spend solely on fashion. By shopping less frequently and more mindfully, you also reduce expenses on fads and garish clutter and can save a significant amount of money in the long run and be more satisfied with your purchases.

Having discussed the benefits of sustainable clothing in detail, one must also know that there’s no such thing as a perfectly sustainable wardrobe, and indulging in newer styles once in a while is not a crime! However, it is the frequency of apparel shopping and management of clothing that every single person should be more mindful of, to prevent their adverse effects on the environment. In fact, it is easier to incorporate sustainable clothing into our lifestyles today than in previous decades, because there is plenty of information about fabrics, manufacturing processes, and recycling options available. And, as you’ve read this article, you already know more than most others. Hence, it’s time to mindfully monitor your fashion choices for a better future!


How to identify sustainable clothing brands?

To identify a sustainable clothing brand, take a look at the website and check for how transparent the brand is about its manufacturing processes. Genuine brands would give specific and quantitative information about the positive impact they’re creating, through statistics, artisan testimonials, and customer reviews. They’ll give clear information about specific such as fabrics, dyes, manufacturing processes, favorable labor conditions, and supply chains, as well as display certifications from authoritarian organizations such as Fair Trade, PETA, etc.

Can sustainable clothing be fashionable?

Of course! In fact, sustainability as a concept will always be in style! Consumers earlier didn’t have the privilege of getting transparent information about the clothes they were investing in, but today the scenario has changed. Young consumers are all about investing in linen shirts, organic cotton trousers, modal dresses, and so on, as they are not only comfortable, stylish, and long-lasting but also better for the environment.

What makes sustainable clothes so expensive?

When clothes are made through end-to-end ethical practices, it involves the use of high-quality fabrics and dyes that cost more, as well as fair wages for laborers at every production phase. Moreover, sustainable clothes last for years at a stretch without fading or losing shape. Hence, quite reasonably, the cost of sustainable clothes is higher than fast fashion garments.

What are the pros and cons of sustainable fashion?

Sustainable fashion is better for the environment and promotes ethical manufacturing practices. It also helps one maintain a utilitarian, clutter-free, and minimalistic wardrobe and helps one make better decisions while shopping by ruling out fleeting trends that won’t serve one after a few weeks or months. That being said, it is impossible to adopt sustainable fashion perfectly in one’s lifestyle as any form of consumerism has some negative impact on the environment, which can’t be avoided. Also, sustainable clothes are quite expensive and may not be an affordable choice for a large population worldwide.

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