Each year, the world celebrates the Earth Day in April. On this day and the following days, the world of fashion makes a conscious effort to use recycle products, promote eco-friendly designs and revive the culture of sustainable fashion.
Eco-fashion is about making clothes that take into account the environment, the health of consumers and the working conditions of people in the fashion industry.
Eco-fashion clothes are made using organic raw materials, such as cotton grown without pesticides and silk made by worms fed on organic trees. These clothes do not involve the use of harmful chemicals and bleach to colour fabrics. Interestingly, some of the fashion garments are made from recycled and reused textiles. High-quality garments can be made from second-hand clothes and even recycled plastic bottles
With the eco-fashion industry still in its infancy, the main responsibility at the moment lies with clothes manufacturers and fashion designers, who need to start using sustainable materials and processes.
What does eco-friendly fashion mean to you?
Is it vegan? Has a low carbon footprint? Fair Trade? Respects labor rights? Organic? Recycled? Upcycled? It seems that it’s rather difficult to pinpoint the term ‘eco-friendly fashion’ into one definition, as it can come in many different forms. So how do we know if something should be called eco-fashion, and more importantly, how do we know when something actually is a sustainable alternative to fast fashion? The consumer is faced with a dilemma in this situation: should you believe all the eco marketing touted by large name brands? There isn’t a simple answer to these questions, but making yourself more aware of the factors involved is the best way to make your own, educated decisions.
What really makes a fashion label eco-friendly is its commitment and motivation toward offering a collection of clothing or accessories that benefit as many beings as possible whilst treading on the earth as lightly as possible. This is not the easiest feat, since the production process involved in making fashion items is fragmented and hardly ever contained within the borders of one country. In a world where profit comes first, labels and designers with integrity may fall to the wayside because of their inability to offer items at competitive prices. But not if consumers recognize and support their efforts.
Companies like Stabel, Study NY, Titania Inglais, and Tabii Just are championing zero waste by respecting the materials they work with and not wasting resources that went into making the fabric go in a landfill. Zero Waste Cutting techniques often a new level of creativity to already creative designs.
This year on Earth Day, Vancouver’s fashion scene had a head start on celebrating sustainability with Eco Fashion Week. Eco Fashion Week presented runway shows with an earth-loving edge, eco-friendly fashion design and a natural point of view, ending with seminars on sustainable style.
Eco-concsious Canadian designer and winner of Canada’s first eco-friendly award Nicole Bridger was one of the Eco Fashion Panel presenters at the event. Bridger’s Earth-aware designs use sustainable fabrics from natural and renewable resources and are dyed with low impact dyes to minimize the impact of fashion on the Earth.
No one textile is sustainable, because like all things in life, each has its positive and negative impact. Organic cotton, although grown under strict regulations, is often still bleached, meaning a heavy chemical load after it’s been finished. Fabric made of bamboo and cupro is processed with toxins to transform the cellusoic (hard plant fibers) into the soft final product, and has to be called rayon. But Lyocell, also a regenerative cellulosic fiber derived from Eucalyptus trees, are processed with a petrochemical solution, but 99.5% of the cocktail is captured and reused, and uses little water in the process, proving some technology can really affect the environmental bottom line of a fabric. Keep an eye on what your garment is made of.