From denim’s colossal water waste to shunning leather in favour of vegan alternatives, via recycling fabric and buying secondhand, there’s an awful lot to take in when it comes to making your wardrobe sustainable and ethical. While we’re all too aware that the plastic waste from our clothes ends up in the oceans, tackling an industry that thrives on fast fashion, and a see-now-buy-now culture, can feel overwhelming.
Aiming to break down the information out there, Fashion Revolution, the global platform working towards a more sustainable fashion industry, today launches its third zine, Fashion, Environment, Change. An A-Z of everything from greenhouse gases to textile pollution, the biannual publication seeks to educate us on "fashion’s thorny relationship" with the Earth, and teach us how to make everyday changes so that our penchant for fashion has as small a carbon footprint as possible.
From A to Z, each entry is written by one of the platform’s team of experts, made up of writers, campaigners and poets, who examine how fashion can lessen its impact on the planet for future generations. 'C' is for China, the country that manufactures more than 50% of the world’s textiles, and 70% of its shoes. Although Fashion Revolution acknowledges that the Chinese government is investing in renewable energy and rejecting the rubbish sent there from the rest of the world, manufacturing companies that refuse to make positive change are moving to places like Vietnam and Cambodia, "where they hope to repeat the cycle of cheap and irresponsible manufacturing".
It’s not all doom, though. 'I' is for Innovation, which focuses on new, sustainable fabrics like recycled synthetics and plant-based materials. "Lab-grown materials will be more commercially available, and methane-free leather substitutes are just the start," it explains, hopefully. If you’re feeling lost and unsure how to begin making your wardrobe a more Earth-friendly space, fear not. Each page includes links to documentaries, podcasts and reading materials that will continue your education, from Greenpeace reports to information on the next Future Fabrics Expo.
Alongside the zine, Fashion Revolution produces an informative podcast, has a searchable hashtag #WhoMadeMyClothes, and runs an annual campaign around the anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster, the devastating factory collapse in 2013 that killed 1,134 people. Encouraging shoppers to demand transparency from brands, it publishes garment worker diaries and hosts an 'open studio' of talks, presentations and workshops during Fashion Revolution Week, which kicks off annually on 24th April.
Scary headlines listing the many ways in which we’re destroying our planet can take the wind out of our sails, but Fashion Revolution is here to help us change both our own shopping habits and the industry at large. "Demanding accountability is the next frontier," Orsola de Castro, cofounder of Fashion Revolution, explains. "We need to look at a fashion horizon that goes beyond just loving a brand because it looks good, but trusting it because it does good."