Earth Day takes place on April 22 in 193 countries. Individually, it’s an annual reminder that small steps like shopping local, ditching plastic shopping bags and bottles, and recycling can reduce our footprint on the environment. It also sets a good example for the generation rising behind us. But for businesses, Earth Day is a reminder to look at the bigger picture.
At Everviolet – both in our garment manufacturing and wellness community – we believe that sustainability is the key to the future. Transparency is essential, and we earnestly support the importance of knowing and engaging with all parties in our supply chain. We produce our collection in small batches and sell our inventory through to avoid contributing to landfills. We also purchase only the highest quality fabric, in small quantities, to ensure that our garments endure the test of time and yield as little waste as possible.
Supporting responsible businesses not only feels good, it’s also better for the environment, our bodies and results in more ethical human treatment. From manufacturers to suppliers to retailers, fashion is responsible for 8-10% of global carbon emissions. Yet we can choose where we spend our dollars. As consumers of a world being dramatically hit by climate change, we believe it's our responsibility to create and invest in fashion that stands for good and reduces its environmental impact. Not sure where to begin? Join us in taking a look at what it means to support sustainable, earth-friendly, clean fashion.
Why Sustainability in Fashion Matters
No doubt, the global climate crisis is top-of-mind as concerns over our welfare have reached near epic proportions. Disasters such as wildfires, storms and rising CO2 levels can no longer be ignored. Clean fashion has historically been overlooked – often justified by the notion that the clothing we buy simply has to look and feel good – but ethical and responsible manufacturing are now becoming an expectation to mindful consumers.
The word "sustainable" has become something of a buzzword, but to truly earn its title, an article of clothing needs to do more than be made of natural fibers or be long-lasting. Truly sustainable garments also take into account the supply chain: the materials sourced, the labor used to process and ship the items, the chemicals used to dye the fabrics, and so on. We now want to know whether or not clothing has had a negative impact on the environment or if there are harmful chemicals involved in the production. And for good reason, too. In 2014, a chemical used in the production of leather jackets was found to be carcinogenic. While the risk to consumers was low, the people producing those garments were at an increased risk of developing cancer.
Major Benefits to Our Health
When we start paying more attention to the processes behind the fashion we wear, we can make decisions that impact our health as well as the environment. Many synthetic materials make their appearance in our activewear and athleisure due to their performance abilities, yet knowing these materials often include harmful, petroleum-based chemicals should be cause for concern. Synthetic fibers can break down and release microplastics into the environment every time they get washed. And recent reports indicate that microplastics were found within the blood and organs of at least 80% of people tested. When we start paying more attention to the lifecycle of our clothing, suddenly our health becomes a factor in the equation.
The Lifecycle of Our Clothing
When we consider the full lifespan of clothing within the apparel industry, at what point do garments become sustainable? Currently, synthetic fibers still make up 60% of clothing. These garments are difficult to recycle and generally end up in landfills, once they are discarded for new trendy items. Additionally, petroleum-based synthetic fibers – think polyester, acrylic and nylon – require a lot more energy to produce than natural or recycled fibers.
It's important to consider the existence of a garment from start to finish. Consider a cotton shirt. The fibers grown from the plants used during production require water, farms, human labor and transportation to produce. Truly responsible clothing should ensure that ethical behavior is guaranteed at every point along that journey. The more pressure we, as consumers, place on the brands we wear, the better our entire planet will be.
How to Break the Cycle
It’s not all doom and gloom. As consumers, we have a powerful voice in the brands and products we choose to buy (or not to buy), and that makes a big, big impact on both the environment and the fashion industry. Brands will listen when we vote with our dollars. Mindful shopping may take practice, but it asks us to consider what’s behind our incessant need to fill our closet with fast fashion. Do we really need it or are we filling an emotional gap?
On Earth Day, we’re reminded just how fragile our ecosystem is. It's a day to remember that we can take small but practical steps to be more conscious of our impact on the environment. Former President Barack Obama said, “We are the first generation to feel the effect of climate change and the last generation who can do something about it.” By personally choosing what we wear, which businesses we support, and being aware of the lifecycle of the goods we own, we can make a difference. #beautyofchange
“To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.” — Mary Oliver