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What is sustainable clothing? Combating fast fashion

Sustainable clothing is made in an environmentally friendly way from materials that have a limited negative impact on our world. There are more and more entrepreneurs that are starting a sustainable clothing brand, but also major brands are gradually shifting to a CSR policy. But what actually is sustainable clothing? And why are more and more people resisting fast fashion?

Table of contents

Sustainable clothing

Sustainability refers to the minimization of the total negative impact on the environment. In addition, the term also refers to a period of time that something can last (as in durability). If we apply this to clothing, a clothing manufacturer will have to make an extra effort to cause minimal damage. The long lifespan of a garment is also beneficial to the environment and is usually a result of quality. Often sustainable clothing also includes fair trade clothing. Although fair trade clothing has a different meaning, it is often considered part of the catch-all term.

Not enough environmentally friendly clothing

The clothing industry is responsible for 10% of global CO2 emissions and 20% of global wastewater. Although Europe has relatively well-organized controls on the degree of sustainability in the clothing industry, there is still much to be gained. Of the companies that are affiliated to the Sustainable Clothing and Textile Covenant, only 37% uses environmentally friendly materials in 2019. In 2018, this percentage was only 29%. Unfortunately, not all clothing brands are affiliated with this covenant, and the actual percentage will be a lot lower. The materials are only one part of the whole picture.

The fact that there is too little sustainability has to do with profit maximization. As you might already understand, the production of sustainable clothing requires more attention and can also be a costly process. These additional costs are mainly in the following aspects:

  • The sustainable materials
  • The smaller production scale
  • The fair wages of garment workers
  • The factory processes and their certifications
  • The means of transport

Fast fashion

Fast fashion is usually cheap clothing that does not have a long lifespan. The fast fashion industry releases several collections per season, without taking people and the environment into account. The working conditions are often so bad that it seriously damages their health. Next to that, the garment workers deserve no living wage. The environment is also seriously affected by the use of a huge amount of chemicals, factories are not monitored and thousands of liters of water are used per garment. These negative effects are only accelerated by the great throwaway culture within fast fashion. And why wouldn’t you, if the garment is of poor quality and only cost a few euros?

This explanation together with the trailer of the documentary ‘The True Cost’ will hopefully offer you a clear answer for this.

Change in the industry

Fortunately, many parties are working on a transition from fast fashion towards green fashion. There are more and more entrepreneurs in the clothing industry that operate ethically. Next to that, major clothing brands are also becoming more willing to provide data on sustainability publicly. And this is accompanied by actual green actions.

The transition to a sustainable clothing industry can be accelerated considerably by you. Above all, buy less clothes and pay close attention to where you buy it. Clothing brands will adapt themselves as quickly as possible if the consumer market requires this from the industry.

What you can do

It is still quite difficult to see whether a garment is environmentally friendly or poorly produced. Fortunately, there are plenty of solutions to help you with that. There are, for example clothing checkers that provide information about clothing brands on a social, environmental and economic level. There are also more and more webshops that only select ethical clothing brands, so that this research has already been done for you.

On you will find ethical and sustainable clothing of the highest quality. All our clothing is made from organic or recycled fabrics.

At Stricters you can find sustainable clothing of the highest quality.


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