A Push Towards Fashionable Sustainability

Can a clothing line be 100% sustainable?
Can a sustainable foodware be fashionable?

 Fashion Forward – A push towards sustainability

The fashion industry is one of the most exciting industries on the planet. From designer brands at Paris fashion shows to hometown boutiques we love, there is a place for everyone. For those of us trying to live an all-around more eco-friendly lifestyle, fashion seems to be jumping onto the sustainability train. We are eagerly waiting for this concept to really take off because the fashion industry is all about taking risks. And nothing says fashion forward like a recycled water bottle evening gown.

H&M’s Conscious Collection

Sustainable fashion is in a realm of its own. It’s for the chic, earth conscious consumer willing to pay a bit more for a sustainable wardrobe- far beyond simply wearing hand-me-downs. H&M broke into this niche market by launching their first ever Conscious Collection in 2012.[i] The Conscious Collections, which have continued to launch annually, promise to use at least 50% recycled materials in every garment[ii] at affordable prices catching the eyes of every day consumers to runway supermodels.
"At H&M, we have set ourselves the challenge of making fashion sustainable and sustainability fashionable.”  - CEO, Karl-John Persson

Global fast-fashion brands can use their scale to bring change to the industry and H&M hopes to set a higher standard for others within the industry.[iii] But is the movement possible without some of the biggest players behind it? The perception of “fast-fashion” itself is not a sustainable concept. The idea that you can go out and buy cheap, trendy clothes to wear and then dispose a short time after does not scream eco-friendly. Undoubtedly, this is a great start but high-fashion, luxury brands will need to start making statements to truly change the industry and the minds of the consumers.

WWF (the world’s biggest conservation organization) is teaming up with AwaytoMars, a London based online fashion company, to create the world’s first 100% sustainable clothing range. Together, the two are determined to prove to the large industry players that “it is possible to design and produce clothes with zero impact on the environment.”[iv]

What goes into the collection[v]:

  • Newly designed cotton fibre sourced from a Finnish startup known as Infinited Fiber. This cotton fabric can be recycled an infinite amount of times and should never wear out - making it the perfect fabric for a sustainable collection combating the ideals of fast-fashion.
  • Properly sourced materials are required to keep this collection 100% sustainable. Everything from the buttons to the zippers must be eco-friendly. And it does not stop there. WWF and AwaytoMars promise to create this collection without using any pigment, only natural colors. Furthermore, even the packaging and tags will be recyclable.
  • A completely sustainable production process is a process that will not come cheap. The lights in the factory, the wages being paid, and the transportation of the resources are all being taken into account.

Why we need to buy less and buy better:

Most shoppers are unaware of how much of a negative impact their shopping habits have on the environment, according to Orobio, Founder of AwaytoMars. Fashion and textiles are the second biggest polluters on the planet, second only to the oil industry.[vi] Producing the garments we know and love has a big cost beyond our wallets. And the destruction does not end after production. The reality is, we are buying more clothes than previous generations and keeping them for shorter periods of time.[vii]

Breaking down the impact[viii]:

  • The average European consumers purchases 60% more clothing items per year than 15 years ago.
  • Polyester (present in 60% of clothing items) produces 3 times more carbon dioxide than organic cotton.
  • Polyester manufacturing is up 157% since the year 2000

 

What do Element and Stella McCartney have in common?

Stella McCartney is one of the big-name fashion designers pushing for change in the industry. Her latest collection was 53% sustainable and designers are hoping to push that boundary even more as prices begin to stabilize.

The Element foodware is both sustainable and fashion-forward.

Element products are:

  • certified OK Biobased by Vincotte and ASTM D6400 and D6866;
  • made from Origo – a starch based bio-plastic made primarily from up to 70% of corn and yam and 30% pp (polypropylene) pallets for water proofing and heat resistance qualities.
  • 72% more carbon efficient than traditional plastics, such as polystyrene in the production process;
  • carbon neutral, non-toxic, microwaveable and freezable, and strong and durable;
  • available in 12 vibrant colours bringing a bit of fun to the typical earthy coloured eco-friendly foodware
  • competitively priced to normal plastics and cheaper than most biodegradable and compostable products.

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[i]  Weigle, Lauren. "H&M Launches Eco-Friendly Fashion Line." TheFashionSpot. N.p., 02 May 2013. Web. 13 Apr. 2017.

[ii] Devaney, Susan. "H&M's Latest Conscious Collection Is Their Best Yet For Sustainable Fashion." The Huffington Post. The Huffington Post, 24 Mar. 2017. Web. 13 Apr. 2017.

[iii] "About H&M Conscious." Sustainability Reporting. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Apr. 2017.

[iv] "About H&M Conscious." Sustainability Reporting. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Apr. 2017.

[v] Walker, Rob. "From Cotton Fields to High Street Racks, Fashion Bids to Be 100% Sustainable." The Observer. Guardian News and Media, 08 Apr. 2017. Web. 13 Apr. 2017.

[vi] Walker, Rob. "From Cotton Fields to High Street Racks, Fashion Bids to Be 100% Sustainable." The Observer. Guardian News and Media, 08 Apr. 2017. Web. 13 Apr. 2017.

[vii] Walker, Rob. "From Cotton Fields to High Street Racks, Fashion Bids to Be 100% Sustainable." The Observer. Guardian News and Media, 08 Apr. 2017. Web. 13 Apr. 2017.

[viii] Walker, Rob. "From Cotton Fields to High Street Racks, Fashion Bids to Be 100% Sustainable." The Observer. Guardian News and Media, 08 Apr. 2017. Web. 13 Apr. 2017.