Sustainable Fashion: What You Can Do, Too

Written and modeled by Emily Perez

Did you know that the fashion industry is responsible for up to 10 percent of global CO2 emissions, 20 percent of the world’s industrial wastewater, 24 percent of insecticides, and 11 percent of pesticides use? It’s crazy to think that the fast-fashion clothes we love could be so harmful to our environment. As well as the harm of fast fashion on the environment, many textile workers are severely underpaid and subjected to horrible conditions. While there continues to be many unsustainable textile practices around the world, the good news is there are designers who are looking to make a difference.

Two of the most inspiring sustainable designers of our time are Stella McCartney and the up and coming Belgian designer Bruno Pieters. Pieters is known for his exceptional, 100 percent transparent company. He decided to create this collection, Honest by, after traveling to India to study the textile practices there for two years. Pieters explains how “Details of each supplier are diligently detailed, including items like the number of employees and how long it took to cut and to iron the garment”. This transparency is reflected in the prices but this is a good price to pay for something that is ethically made.

Another very notable sustainable fashion designer is Stella McCartney. What McCartney is most famous for is advocating against cruelty to animals. She has created a very successful brand without using any fur or leather. McCartney even dedicated a whole section of her website to her mission for sustainability and her respect for people, animals, nature, and circular solutions.

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Not only does Stella have her own brand, she often collaborates with Adidas. Adidas features several contemporary designs that are popular on college campuses. Examples of these are the Sam Smith Stella McCartney sneakers and, featured in the photo to the right, the Stella McCartney Adidas wind jacket. She was a partner of the Kering conglomerate, who worked with the Center for Sustainable Fashion. The Center for Sustainable Fashion is a research facility in the London College of Fashion. Additionally, after becoming independent from the Kering conglomerate after 17 years, she still releases an annual Environmental Profits and Loss Report, which publicizes the impact her business has on the environment.

So why shop sustainable? Even though you might have to save up to spend more on certain pieces of clothing, you’d be getting clothes that are much higher quality and that you can use for many years to come. Additionally, you’d be helping the environment, saving animals, and supporting human rights.

Furthermore, there are some stores around Boston and online that also support the quest for sustainability. These stores include Reformation, Everlane, and FjällRäven. You can find Reformation and FjällRäven right on Newbury Street and Everlane can be found online. Everlane has a particularly unique website that even shows you each of the factories where their clothes are made and shows you pictures of the factories.

So what can you do?

  1. As Bruno Pieters says, “ask questions”! Pieters, who worked a number of years at Hugo Boss, says how companies really do take customer needs into account. If you start asking stores where their products are made or what they are made out of, this will start to make them more aware.

  2. Shop less, and for more quality items that will last you a longer time.

  3. Buy from sustainable stores and designers.