Buying clothes from sustainable and ethical brands is not a panacea. Investing in expensive items instead of “fast fashion” products does not stop the exploitation of workers, says Burning hut.
We bring to your attention a list of nine myths about sustainable fashion - now it will be easier for you to figure out where is the truth and where is marketing.
- Myth: Buying from “conscious” and ethical brands is the best way to do less harm to the environment
Truth: The best way to do less harm to nature is to buy fewer things. Get the most out of your current wardrobe: mend or alter existing clothes, upgrade outdated ones, and trade items with friends.
If you need to buy something, try to find the item you need in a second-hand store or on flea market sites. Go to the store only if you have used the other options.
- Myth: Premium fashion is more sustainable than fast fashion
Truth: a high price does not guarantee environmental friendliness. Yes, Burberry put on a zero-carbon show and Stella McCartney is fighting climate change. But research has shown that the energy spent on running fashion weeks throughout the year would be enough to power a small country or power 42 homes.
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- Myth: The more expensive the clothes, the less the workers who make them are exploited.
Truth: Many mid-priced and premium brands make clothes in the same factories as discounters and fast-fashion stores. Workers' rights are violated, they are paid unfair salaries and they are not provided with comfortable working conditions, regardless of the level of the brand.
- Myth: donating old clothes is a sustainable way to disassemble a closet.
Truth: Most likely, your clothes will end up overseas, into resale markets in developing countries, and this negatively affects their local industries and overloads landfills. Only 10% of clothes donated to charity centers actually find new owners. Americans send a billion pounds of unnecessary clothing to other countries every year, and Africa receives 70% of used items from all over the world.
- Myth: Brands that claim to be eco-friendly are actually eco-friendly.
Truth: “sustainable development” and other buzzwords can only be used to attract conscious consumers. Environment-related searches grew by 2019% in 75. But in reality, sustainability is much broader than brands claim, and consumers often don't understand what it really means. Therefore, it is easy to mislead them.
- Myth: Most clothing can be recycled.
Truth: Clothes can be difficult to recycle because of the way they are made. Many fabrics are made from blends (such as cotton and polyester) that need to be separated first, and few are willing to do so. In the US, less than 14% of discarded clothes and shoes are recycled, most often made into fibers for carpets or home insulation. And according to Circle Economy, in Europe, less than 1% of collected clothes are turned into new things.
- Myth: you shouldn't fix cheap clothes.
Truth: Yes, you can give the seamstress as much as you have already spent on this item, but only in this way can you reduce your level of consumption. Learn how to do minor repairs yourself to save money, because sewing on buttons, changing broken zippers and hemming trousers is not so difficult.
- Myth: your online returns are reselling to other customers.
Truth: Items that you give up after trying on can be burned or sent to landfill. It is often cheaper for a store to dispose of an item than it is to check and repackage it. This practice became particularly popular in 2019, while online refunds have increased by 95% over the past five years.
- Myth: your clothes are really made in the country indicated on the tag.
True: a thing can only be packed in this place. The label does not indicate where the cotton was grown, where the fiber was spun into yarn, where it was made into cloth, where it was dyed, or where it was printed. Where did the threads, dyes, zippers, buttons, beads and other accessories come from? In fact, each of your things has come a very long way before it fell into your hands.