WTF is Sustainable Fashion?

Our mission at Sustainable Clothing Co is to create a circular economy that reduces the social and environmental impact of waste from the fashion industry, by developing a sustainable clothing community which encourages the reuse, recycling and repairing of existing materials and products.

SCO is making it easy for you to get involved in sustainable fashion and to do your part for the planet, with very little effort.

Fashion is an $800 billion global industry. However, it is a ten trillion-dollar environmental disaster and major contributor to unregulated labor conditions as well. Compared to 15 years ago, the average person buys 60% more clothing - and keeps them for half as long, and over half of all new clothing purchased ends up in a landfill within 12 months. If the fashion industry continues on its current path, it will produce 26 per cent of the world's carbon footprint by 2050. Clearly, something needs to be done to control the situation and disrupt the industry.

When learning these facts, we understand the whole concept of sustainability can be overwhelming, and there is no industry recognized definition or benchmark for sustainable fashion because there are so many different facets to think about.

We believe a small start will help make a big difference. Being sustainable doesn’t mean being judgmental or making others feel guilty about their choices, it means being aware of what's happening and working toward a better future for all of us.

The contradiction of sustainability lies within the very nature of fashion, which implies constant change and newness, trends, exclusive drops, seasons, overproduction, overconsumption etc., but this is depleting natural resources at an alarming rate, just so we can wear this season's high-waisted pants that are ultimately destined for landfill, just for an #ootd Instagram pic.

So, rather than following the current narrative; a simple immediate solution would be to just wear the clothing that already exists, and have some fun treasure-hunting for high quality second-hand garments. You can still invest in your favourite brands without paying full-retail too, and stick with what you have for a longer period of time, rather than copying what someone else is wearing just because it might be "trendy".

The vintage and second-hand clothing world gives you the freedom to wear and style clothing, shoes and accessories from different eras such as the 80’s, 90’s Y2K and now, making your aesthetic authentic to you, so you can be fashionable AND sustainable at the same time! It’s a win/win!

The recognized definition for sustainability… is the ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level —to sustain. Its secondary definition means avoiding the depletion of natural resources to maintain an ecological balance.

What is clear is that the fashion industry has a significant impact on the environment. The manufacturing process of apparel produces the most greenhouse gases and worldwide consumption has been forecast to continue increasing over the coming years, meaning these problems will only be exacerbated.

What makes clothing or products sustainable?

It is believed that if you just buy the sustainable thing, then you are doing the right thing, as opposed to considering that not buying the thing, which will help reduce impacts on most of these measures.

A 2015 study shows that 97% of what goes into making clothes are new resources, with only 3% of it being recycled materials. This adds up to an annual resource input of 98 million tons – including oil to produce synthetic fibres, fertilisers to grow cotton and an endless list of chemicals needed to dye & finish fabric.

Sustainability has come to encompass many different things, and some of these things might actually be at odds with one another, including: climate impact, human and labour issues, chemical use, microplastic pollution, waste and waste-management, development, agricultural management, and land use, Greenhouse gases, water usage, and plastic waste are all concerns linked to the industry.

For a product to be sustainable it has to be designed and manufactured in that way from the beginning, encompassing care for people and communities, while minimizing the impact on the environment.

Where to start when it comes to sustainable clothing?

Doing something is still better than doing nothing at all. Even small changes can have a big impact because the fact is that you’re never going to reach perfection in this area, but if you make an effort to improve even a little bit, any increases in demand for sustainable fashion and brands will lead to companies changing their manufacturing procedures in the long run.

Donating to op-shops is a fantastic way to re-home your pre-loved clothing, but it's actually even more ethical to host or attend clothes swaps with your friends, family! Swapping your clothing encourages reuse, re-wear and recycling of clothing, keeping them within the clothing economy and out of landfill. Find the next upcoming swap event on the Events Page. 

Shopping local is important, not only does garment transport gives off co2, which can be reduced by minimizing distances, but you are also going to be supporting your own community where your dollar makes a bigger difference.

And YES! It's ok to purchase a pre-loved fast-fashion garment. Investing in any pre-loved or vintage clothing will extend its life on average by 2.2 years, which in turn reduces carbon, waste and water footprints.

... more information to come!