Sustainable, renewable, vegan, and environment-friendly fashion have become buzz words lately to sell clothing to various customer groups to feel good. Let’s see how environment-friendly fashion may be or not. As so often in life, it all depends on the item, and special case. Read to learn more.
- The New Trend to Improve Fashion Sales
- What Do They Mean with Fashion from Renewable Resources?
- Sustainable Resources for Material Is Not Environmental-friendly Fashion
- How Environmental-friendly Fashion May Be If It’s Wool?
- Is Cotton Environment-Friendly?
- What about Qiviut?
- The Consumers’ Trend in Environmental-friendly Fashion
- Slow Fashion by Thrifting
Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post. Thank you!
The New Trend to Improve Fashion Sales
Recently, merchants jumped onto the bandwagon of society’s increasing environmental consciousness to drive sales. Recycling was the first big trend. The gowns graduates rent for commencement have been made from recycled plastics bottles. H&M has collected old cashmere and wool sweaters that have been recycled into new sweaters. Some textile industries recycle some of their own waste that is unavoidable during the production process.
Some merchants have gone a step further with vegan fashion. Renewable resources for fashion products is a new trend in marketing. Well, the term “from renewable resources” is sort of a mock from a physical point of you.
What Do They Mean with Fashion from Renewable Resources?
When a resource renews itself than a product from it is not the same product from a chemical point of view. It’s a new one, chemically identical. But it’s not the old one. The resource is the same one, for instance, a cotton plant for fiber, birch wood for Modal, a sheep or goat for wool. Or bamboo and hemp for cellulose from which bamboo or hemp fiber for textiles are made.
Wouldn’t it be better to talk about sustainable resources? Are these so-called renewable resources environment-friendly because they are providing a product more than once? Well, as so often in life, it depends.
Sustainable Resources for Material Is Not Equal Environmental-Friendly Fashion
Let’s look for instance at wood. Earrings, frames for sunglasses (like in the OOTD) or watches made from wood mean the trees are dead! When a deforested area is afforested wood can be harvested again in 50-80 years depending on the kind of wood. In that sense, one might talk of wood as a sustainable resources.
However, it is well known that deforested watershed have increased runoff, i.e. the risk for flooding and washout of fertile soils is increased. The land-cover change alters the local water cycle. As a result, when the area is not immediately afforested there will be no sustainability of the wood resource possible anymore after a while.
How Environmental-Friendly Fashion May Be If It’s Wool?
Let’s take a look at sheep and goats. They provide wool once a year. Typically, in spring, they get sheared. Sounds good, right?
The animals are vegan and graze. When there are no regulations for grazing, overgrazing may happen and the grass doesn’t grow back. The topsoil is exposed to wind and weather. Wind may take up small soil particles and blow the fertile soil away. Strong, short rainfalls like they often occur in connection with summer thunderstorms may wash the soil away. The area may desertify. If the grass were still there, its interception capacity (the storage of water on the surfaces or the blades of grass), and roots would take up water and hold the soil, respectively.
The change in land-cover from grass to desert changes the local recycling of precipitation. Grassland gets less hot than the bare soil. Since it holds water back when it rains, grassland evapotranspirates more, and longer the water of a rainfall than the bare soil (where the water just runs off).
Together this means how environment-friendly wool and cashmere fashion may be depends on whether the owners of the animals make sure not to overgraze their land.
Is Cotton Environment-Friendly?
Most of the cotton is grown with a lot of fertilizers to obtain harvests that are profitable for the growers. These fertilizers may affect the groundwater when brought onto the field in too high quantities, i.e. when not applied as recommended. Furthermore, soil bacteria may emit more gases due to the fertilizer than without it. Some of the gases may contribute to ozone formation and/or aerosol (particle) formation, i.e., they may reduce air quality.
So-called “environment-friendly”, “organic” or “bio” cotton is grown without chemical fertilizers. Sounds great for the environment, right? But what about the dung and/or waste that may be brought onto the field? What chemicals remain in the compost made from waste water cleaning?
I recall from my childhood that my parents’ neighbors had bought sludge to improve the growth of their plants in their yard. Their kids and we played in their yard after the sludge delivery. It was a huge pile, and we climbed on it to slide down. That sludge was full of used condoms! We kids hadn’t seen them before, and thought they were balloons! Well, that was just the visible debris. Who knows what was in there what wasn’t visible on first sight?
In other words, how environment-friendly fashion may be also depends on the kind of bio fertilizers used.
What about Qiviut?
Qiviut (kiv’-ee-ute) is the wool from musk ox. In Alaska, the resource is the live animal. Fashion made from Arctic musk ox wool stems from qiviut either collected on the tundra or from domesticated combed animals. In Canada, qiviut mostly stems from hunted musk ox, i.e., the resource can’t “renew” the wool anymore.
The Consumers’ Trend in Environmental-Friendly Fashion
Hard to say. But it looks like that today more consumers see fast fashion as a waste of the (limited) resources. Thrifting and consigning have lost their “poor people” status as more and more fashion and style bloggers don thrifted and consigned items (like the belt and the sandals in the OOTD) and share how to score high in consignment stores or score high on eBay. Recycling old clothes into new clothes is a thing like upcycling an old sari into a skirt.
That’s it for the Thursday Thoughts.
Slow Fashion by Thrifting
I wore this look on a nice summer day on date night with my husband. In the outfit, the belt is an eBay find. I found the sandals when looking for designer brands in thrift stores while strolling thru Georgetown on my visit to Arlington a couple of years ago. The sandals pick up the orange in the print of the dress as does the turquoise and the fuchsia of the bag and sunglasses. I love that the dress has nearly the same color as my skin.
You don’t want to let the right outfit be a random thing. When in doubt, it’s easy to create the right look for the situation by looking up what to wear when in How to Dress for Success in Midlife. Buy my book now when you haven’t done it so far.
While you are here, don’t forget to register for my free newsletter to be among the first to know about new posts, and to get info on how-tos and special style subjects!!
Bhatia, D., Sharma, A., and Malhotra, U., 2014. Recycled fibers: An overview. International Journal of Fiber and Textile Research, 4(4), 77-82
Mölders, N., 2011. Land-use and Land-cover Changes: Impact on Climate and Air Quality, Springer Science & Business Media.
Photos of me: G. Kramm
© 2013-2022 Nicole Mölders | All rights reserved