YHD Blogs — Sustainability in the Fashion Industry

This article is part of our “Youth Head Delegate Blog Series” — written by our YHDs! 

By Kaia Richardson

The world we live in is one that thrives on the overconsumption of goods due to ever-evolving trends. Clothing is widely regarded as a status symbol, used by the consumer to portray a certain persona and express creativity, and those who enjoy fashion will often find themselves regularly following trends globalized via social media. This obsessive -and often subconscious- need to maintain a specific presentation of oneself in the public eye is what fuels the fire that is the millions of tonnes of clothes thrown into landfills annually. As a seventeen-year-old girl who enjoys fashion as a creative outlet, I am absolutely guilty of buying clothes for the sake of trendiness and then only wearing them a couple of times. However, as I’ve developed my tastes and educated myself upon the issue of waste and pollution in the fashion industry, I have developed a list of ways to minimize my wasteful consumer habits and maximize the clothing that I already own. 

The first thing that I would like to mention is that I completely understand how people use trends to find a way of dressing that suits them; however, basing your entire wardrobe off of clothing items that go out of style every six months isn’t good for anyone. I suggest making mental notes of certain pieces, colours, and silhouettes that evoke excitement every time you style them. Find the trendier pieces you’re interested in at thrift or vintage stores, and spend more on long-lasting basics. I’m willing to spend a bit more on basics if they are exactly what I’m looking for and I know they were made sustainably, which brings me to my second point: ethical shopping. Sustainable brands are often listed at a higher price point, which is a dilemma that many people, like myself, face when trying to shop in an environmentally-friendly way. One of the main things to look for on a “sustainable” company’s website is “B-Corp Certified” or “B-Corp Pending.” B-Corp is an organization that uses a thorough screening process to ensure that the company is treating its workers fairly, using eco-conscious methods of production, and ensuring the safety of surrounding communities. This brings me to my third and final point: fast fashion. You can’t talk about sustainability in the fashion industry without bringing up fast fashion, which refers to companies that solely produce based on trends with little to no regard for how their means of production and sourcing are affecting their workers and environment. My personal opinion is to avoid these companies at all costs; however, if you have to buy, then only buy one or two pieces. Skip the two-hundred-dollar Shein haul. 

Overall, I highly recommend doing in-depth research on a company whenever you’re considering making a purchase. The idea that we “vote with our dollars” is entirely true, and holding brands accountable for their harmful practices is what needs to happen in order to make true change.