What makes anything sustainable? Living a sustainable lifestyle in 2021.

What makes anything sustainable? Living a sustainable lifestyle in 2021.

sustainable lifestyle
Sustainable Lifestyle (Image Source: thewebcapitals)

As we enter this long due social reckoning, consumers are facing a new expectation, to be more conscious.

Sustainability seems to be the way forward. The fashion industry has made it the trend of the decade. But more often than not, we may find ourselves buying into a trend without a complete understanding of what it stands for.

Many of us hope that a sustainable lifestyle proves to be more than a trend. The planet and its people must take a sustainable road before it’s too late. And the first step to cementing sustainability in the industry is to be aware.

Green fashion refers to the practice of designing clothes in an environmentally friendly manner.

Sustainable Lifestyle - Yes, your choices matter.

Sustainable Lifestyle - Photo by Alyssa Strohmann via Unsplash

To be aware is to know what makes anything sustainable. Is cotton sustainable even though each plant needs approximately 10 gallons of water to maximize its yield?

Part of being an informed consumer is to know what you should invest in and why? This can be a complex process because there is so much information out there and every story has its complexities. Being 100% sustainable is not only extremely difficult, it is almost impossible to be completely sustainable and stay affordable.

However, when kept in mind, there are a few things that can positively impact how your buying habits affect those in the supply chain. A sustainable lifestyle isn’t about perfection, it’s about trying.

Here’s what makes your choices ‘good’ or ‘bad’?

Let’s start by defining fast fashion: it refers to cheap, mass-produced garments that mimic runway or celebrity trends at a rapid rate to make the clothes available to the general public at the height of these trends.

Fast fashion is notoriously known to promote cheap overproduction and overconsumption which has led to fashion being one of the most wasteful industries.

Because the quantity is preferred over quality, fast fashion garments usually are created using cheap synthetic fabrics that end up in landfills and may take billions of years to decompose.

This can create a very distorted image of clothing in the public’s eye.

Instead, what we should focus on while shopping is the quality of the garments and how they define us. Clothes are a way of self-expression and while experimenting is good it can often lead to wasteful purchases that are left in the back of our wardrobes.

Our focus should be on buying high-quality timeless pieces that speak to us. This is the only way to ensure that a garment stays with us for a long time.

Here is all you need to know!

Here are a few things you should look into when shopping.

  • The raw materials used can give you an insight into the nature of the garment. Do your research on which materials are sustainable and natural. Some natural fabrics are linen, cotton, flax, jute, hemp, etc. Animal-derived fabrics are also natural but they come at the cost of not being cruelty-free.

Another important factor is how specific fabrics make you feel and how well they fit your lifestyle. Linen is light-weight and absorbent and trustworthy for people living in hotter regions, however, this may change with geography and weather.

  • How does the company deal with waste?

Do they have a zero-waste policy? Are they actively talking about recycling? How effective are they in utilizing packaging as a useful addition? Answering these questions may require some research on their website but I promise you, it will be time well spent.

  • Is it fairly priced?

By fairly priced, I don’t necessarily mean expensive.

Many luxury brands do not follow sustainable development methods. Fairly priced products include several factors like the raw materials, production, shipping, respectable pay for the workers, profit, research, shipping, etc.

Before making your next purchase ask yourself, could every person who worked on this product be paid fairly based on this price? If the answer is yes, you’ve probably found a good product.

Image credit: Maison Cleo via. Instagram
  • Can the design stand the test of time?

Trends are a natural part of fashion, and experimenting with your clothes can be fun. However, my advice will be to not blindly follow every trend that surfaces.

Instead of buying thousands of rupees worth of fast fashion products every three months, create a classic and timeless wardrobe foundation.

You can add to this wardrobe with a few seasonal pieces that speak to you!

Sustainable Lifestyle (Image credit: The Essential Man)
  • Is there any mention of the supply chain?

Fast fashion companies are notorious for not being transparent about their supply chains. This is important because the workers throughout the supply chain are to be paid and respected. The supply chain workers are the most vulnerable to exploitation as there are very few measures taken to ensure safety and security.

To learn more about the supply chain watch The True Cost.

  • How does the company treat its employees?

A lot can be revealed about a company based on how they treat their team behind the scenes. It may be difficult to directly observe how the employees are being treated but social media can be a useful tool in this regard.

A brand that cares for its consumers pays them fairly. They may also use their social media platforms to spread awareness about working conditions & the life of their workers.

Image credit: The Summer House via Instagram
  • Does it use animal-derived ingredients?

This is a more basic rule, but it is very important to be mindful of checking the ingredients. For example, plastic bags contain ‘slip agents’ to reduce the friction in the material made from animal fat. Other everyday items with animal ingredients in them include car & bike tires, fabric softeners, toothpaste, etc.

  • Was it tested on animals?

While this becomes increasingly rare, animal testing is still prevalent in some countries. However, it is very easy for you to spot cruelty-free and vegan cosmetics with a simple scan of the packaging. Here are some icons to look out for:

Sustainable Lifestyle (Image credit: Freepik)

Sustainability isn’t about perfection, it’s about trying.

If you’re struggling to take the first step towards a sustainable lifestyle, start small. Incorporate one of the above pointers and take notice of how that impacts your life.

And remember, you’ve won half the battle just by taking the first step to live a sustainable lifestyle.

It’s time to rebrand yourself as a conscious buyer!

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