Sustainable fashion, also known as eco fashion , is a concept defined by methodologies and production processes through sustainable fashion accessories (in spanish: complementos de moda sostenible) that are not harmful to the environment . That is, the creation of clothing and accessories without harming the ecosystem that exists around the production chain of this article. This concept applies to the entire production chain of a fabric and is then derived in the production chain of a garment. In a third evaluation, the entire distribution chain of these finished garments must also be evaluated.
In order for a manager or engineer to do a good job of evaluating a production chain for apparel or wooden watches (relojes de madera), several factors must be taken into account in the evaluation process. These factors vary depending on each company's supply chain, but there are three pillars that cannot be neglected during the assessment: the carbon footprint of each garment, the amount of water needed to produce each unit and the amount of pesticides used in planting the raw material for this fabric (in the case of cotton-based fabric) and/or amount of chemical and synthetic components used in the fiber (example of acrylic and polyester). According to a recent IISD survey, a 250-gram cotton T-shirt manufactured in China uses an average of 160 grams of pesticides such as Temik 150, which easily contaminate groundwater.
Practices associated with sustainable fashion
Sustainable fashion encompasses practices that are less polluting and that minimize environmental impact throughout the production chain, such as the use of eco-friendly fabrics or the reuse of materials in the manufacture of clothing, for example, and consumption; such as reuse, exchanges, repairs, etc.
The practices most commonly associated with sustainable fashion are:
- Manufacturing with organic fibers, sometimes certified by international organizations such as GOTS or USDA.
- Manufacturing with more eco-friendly fabrics, such as linen or bamboo (which need less chemicals and/or water to grow)
- Naturally sourced dyes
- Use of discarded fabrics
- Recycling of used materials
- Production with recycled fabrics
- Use of less toxic glues
- Clothing made to have a long wear cycle
- Sustainable production with water savings
Some examples of sustainable materials are
Organic cotton, which is grown without chemical fertilizers, pesticides or regulatory growth. Cotton considered truly organic must use natural pigments in its dyeing process.
Because bamboo reproduces abundantly and is a plant that obtains relatively rapid growth without the use of fertilizers or pesticides, fabrics derived from its fibers can be considered organic. Mainly because its fibers are biodegradable, soft and antibacterial. However, in cases of bamboo use and cultivation, an auditor must take into account the water consumption of this plant and the reuse of other parts of the plant.
PET bottles are an interesting solution to two problems: recycling plastic bottles and reusing old clothes, because used bottles will be recycled and combined with fabric fibers such as cotton, and eventually transformed into fibers that produce a strong, soft-touch fabric.
Jute is a plant from the Amazon region that is biodegradable and looks similar to pure linen. Its planting does not require pesticides and the plant has a low environmental impact, but its cultivation requires a lot of water.
Jeans are one of the most environmentally impactful fabrics, which can consume up to 3,500 liters of water, from production to disposal. In a sustainable perspective, the eco-friendly jeans were created using Tencel, a cellulose fiber created from wood pulp, which uses approximately 1/50th of the resources needed to produce conventional jeans.
In turn, it is possible to reuse and reconvert jeans that have already been manufactured and used, following the guidelines of the circular economy and upcycling.