Fast fashion comes at a cost — a cost borne by the planet and, occasionally, even your own pocket. Just like some people mistake a local brand for an ethical label, there are some widespread misconceptions about the sustainable fashion industry. We wouldn’t claim to be experts, but these myths have come up repeatedly while writing about fabrics or even thrifting. So, we couldn’t help but debunk some of the common sustainable fashion myths we’ve listed below.
Debunking some common sustainable fashion myths
With the fashion industry failing the planet, there are some sustainable clothing brands we’ve mentioned in this piece to help you on your ethical journey. So, let’s bust these sustainable fashion myths below. And do follow us on @good.guilt to discover more about sustainable fashion with us!
Myth #1: The first step toward a sustainable wardrobe is a closet cleanout.
Around 85% of all textiles are thrown away in the US. And globally, an estimated 92 million tonnes of textiles waste is created each year, with the equivalent of a truck full of clothes ending up in landfill sites every second.
In contrast to one of the most common sustainable fashion myths, sustainable clothing is about making the most of what you already have. So, a sustainable lifestyle does not only imply purchasing from sustainable clothing brands; instead, it means making do with is already in your closet. Because getting rid of those piles of clothes will only contribute to landfills, which is the last thing you want to do while on a sustainable journey. So, the aim is to reuse, recycle, and re-love your clothes.
Myth #2: Buying used clothing is essentially ethical and sustainable.
Well, we at GoodGuilt are great fans of shopping secondhand as wearing a garment for just nine months longer reduces 20% of its footprint. Also, secondhand fashion will hit US$64 billion within five years, i.e., by 2026, which is great news. But, what we want to address here is that secondhand clothing items aren’t perfect or entirely sustainable.
This sustainable fashion myth stems from the secondhand economy’s lack of transparency, mainly that secondhand clothes are always sustainably made. This occurs when fortunate buyers shop at a thrift store and purchase items at lower prices, leaving low-quality items behind. So, these affordable yet unethical pieces are not obligated to be sustainable for obvious reasons!
Related Article: Is Thrifting Really Sustainable?
Myth #3: Sustainable brands are way too expensive.
One common complaint in the sustainable community is that sustainable fashion is ridiculously expensive. Compared to fast fashion brands, it may appear that spending so much on clothes is a waste of money. But we’re here to tell you that you don’t have to spend a fortune to look fashionable and be eco-friendly. All it takes is a mental shift and discovering the right brands for you.
This has to be one of the most common sustainable fashion myths of all time! Regardless of how many affordable sustainable clothing brands enter the market almost every day, most people believe that sustainable fashion is too expensive. But, contrary to popular belief, sustainable, vegan, organic, or ethical fashion does not necessarily have to be expensive.
On the other hand, even when you’re about to switch to organic foods, don’t you know it’s only good for your health if you pay a slightly higher price? Similarly, sustainable clothing brands (may or) may not be expensive, but you can rest assured that they are good for you, and for the planet.
Note: You can also choose from brands that give back to you and the planet with their recycling programs!
Myth #4: It’s very difficult to find sustainable brands.
With Americans only wearing 18% of their wardrobe and more than $500 billion lost due to underutilized clothes and a lack of recycling, slow fashion brands have entered the market for the good of the planet.
Speaking of sustainable fashion myths, we knew we had to address this one, right away! First, there exist plenty of ethical clothing brands! Furthermore, thanks to the rise of slow fashion, these brands are now easier to find all over the US and around the world. So, the next time you think, “I need to shop from a sustainable fashion brand,” just type it into Google, and you’ll find plenty of sustainable fashion options all around you. Just remember that not all sustainable clothing brands that market themselves as ‘eco-friendly’ or ‘ethical’ are, as myth #6 will reveal.
Myth #5: Fashionable & stylish sustainable clothing items do not exist.
Did you know that fashion contributes 8% to 10% of humanity’s carbon emissions, which is more than maritime shipping and international flights combined at 5%? And that the fashion industry is responsible for 20% to 35% of microplastic found in the ocean – then style should be the last thing on our minds!
However, we understand that you too, deserve style, especially if you’ve made the conscious decision to live a more sustainable lifestyle for the planet’s sake. And so, you can find brands like GoodTee and Re/Done, to name a few. Looking boring in a dress or even a sustainable bra is the last thing we would ever want for you!
So, contrary to the most common sustainable fashion myths, there are clothing brands for you, for men, and for your children that are both classy and trendy.
Myth #6: If a brand claims to be sustainable, it really is!
Oh, we’re so sorry to disappoint you! But unfortunately, greenwashing is real, and it is widespread in the fashion industry.
Nearly 60% of sustainable fashion claims are greenwashing you, state report. “There are still very, very few brands who know where their stuff comes from in the supply chain, and even fewer of them have entered into active relationships with those suppliers to reduce their carbon footprint,” says environmental scientist Linda Greer.
Despite pledges to reduce their environmental impact, most brands continue to rely on synthetic fibers derived from fossil fuels. Unfortunately, some also fail to provide credible information about how they intend to reduce their environmental impact.
So, if a brand overstates or outright lies about its environmental or social sustainability through green marketing (greenwashing), you shouldn’t trust their words alone. So, what should you do next? Let’s see.
How to identify sustainable clothing brands?
1. Sustainable clothing brands should use textiles made from recyclable, renewable materials such as linen, hemp, or modal fibers. Of course, this applies if they are not vintage or secondhand.
2. Say no to leather. No matter where the leather comes from, killing of animals, skinning them, tanning, and dyeing their skin all involve a significant amount of energy and resources. The same is true for fur. Using animal products for fashion is also obviously unethical. You can refer to this guide about leather to know more.
3. Don’t get caught up in the ‘locally made.’ The popular trend for ‘handmade, local’ goods is unquestionably good. As purchasing items made close to where they are sold reduces CO2 emissions. However, this does not necessarily mean that they follow sustainable fashion practices.
4. Look for transparency. Is the brand secretive about how/ where/ by whom its clothes are made? Is the brand conducting regular checks to ensure that ethical and fairtrade conditions are met, if they are produced in developing countries?
5. Look for third-party certifications such as Global Organic Textile Standards, B-Corp, or OEKO-TEX.
6. Focus not only on their ‘ethical’ aspect but also on how they deliver their products. For example, is the packaging recyclable, compostable, biodegradable, or reusable?
We hope that this article on debunking of sustainable fashion myths has inspired you to take the right steps on your sustainable journey. Also, if you’re into a minimalist lifestyle or want to have a capsule wardrobe, we’d love for you to tag us and let us know.