Conscious Fashion 101: A guide to choosing sustainable fabrics #bringingcottonback

Conscious Fashion 101: A guide to choosing sustainable fabrics #bringingcottonback

Block Printed cotton skirt : Max Fashion India (all skirts)

Handcuff: 7 Sister Trading Co.

Shoes: H&M (Same herehere)

Rings: Lost Lover Store

Hi there!

This is a very serious post, not for the light hearted! Just kidding 😬! Well it is kinda serious actually because i am going to open your eyes towards some disturbing statical data or facts about our very own environment but i feel the sooner the better right?

If you follow me on Instagram (i hope you do 🙂 because there’s so much more i share on a daily basis that sometimes do not make it up to the blog so you should!) you might have gotten small dozes of my personal journey on how i have slowly & gradually stepped into a much more conscious lifestyle. I try to share almost every step (baby 👶 steps i must say) i have taken so far that kinda does make me proud to be honest but at the same time i am an amateur at this coz there’s literally so much to learn and adapt.

Now that i am almost reaching 30 soon (can’t believe 🙄), i can tell that i always had a desire to live a simple, conscious and a creative life and stick to my beliefs. I have never desired a lavish life, i realized that at a very early stage that life’s authenticity lies in its simplicity! Too intense right? Pheww.. .

Sharing a quote i recently came across and i feel it fits perfectly with my thoughts:

I stand for honesty, kindness, equality, compassion, treating people the way that you want to be treated and helping those in need. To me, those are traditional values – Combat flipflops

Well, one might argue on how being a blogger and writing at on online portal is going to help those in need? Not true! Ummm …Well it is true in some sense because one has to really go out there if one needs to change the system but how would you all know about it then ? This blog is a medium to translate my beliefs and my thoughts into a visual diary, a source of inspiration to a few or many (don’t know, doesn’t matter!) and to build a community of like minded people and that will make a change. For sure it will take time but if we really think, every big venture or a revolution takes years to finally happen right?

 

CONSCIOUS FASHION: THE NEED OF THE HOUR

Stepping into a much conscious lifestyle and learning to be patient with ourselves and to those around us including the environment when it comes to sustainability is not only something we need to do for our personal benefit but it is indeed the need of the hour.

The Rana plaza tragedy almost 5 years ago certainly opened eyes for many. Most of the clothes we wear are outsourced from third world countries like India, Bangladesh, Thailand and so on and the dialogue over treatment of garment factory workers exploited physically as well as verbally and International luxury/ fast fashion brands like Zara, H&M, Mango etc having no knowledge or no sympathetic feelings about it. They are certainly ignorant about how and under what physical and atmospheric conditions the clothes are made.

Whether you are aware or not, our fashion industry is considered today as “fast fashion” because there is literally so much more consumption of garments than needed. What used to be 4 seasons has become 52 now and we buy more clothes than we used to while spending less on them, piling up on fashion waste.

Not only more consumption has failed for high fashion brands to abide to basic human ethics considering the large number of people working extra hours in sweatshops trying to meet larger demands, but the unstoppable consumerism has contributed towards environmental pollution at a major destructive level. At this point, there are more clothes in landfills than in this world. Almost 13 millions tons of it makes it’s way into our landfills every year.

Did you know that our very own fashion industry is the 2nd most polluted industry contributing to global warming? Yes you heard that right! Fashion alone is responsible for 92 million tons of solid waste globally.

 

HERE ARE SOME FACTS THAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

-Almost 80 billion pieces of clothing are being bought globally every year.

-Only 10% or less donated to the charities are recycled or reused, the rest 90% ends up in landfills, creating methane & warming the planet.

 

Apparently, most of us only wear new items of clothing about 5 times. 5 times only can you imagine? Fast fashion is fun i totally agree but it is incredibly destructive to the environment.

 

BECOMING A MINDFUL CONSUMER

Stepping into conscious fashion choices and starting your journey being a mindful consumer is not a day’s work and undoubtedly not something easy to do like binge shopping. You have to make serious efforts and great amendments in your lifestyle & choices keeping in consideration that whatever you already own (ethical or non-ethically made) is not going anywhere.

A common misconception when it comes to being mindful of our fashion choices is that every article or piece of clothing you own that has not been made ethically or sustainably has to go away. NO! NO! NO! It doesn’t work that way. In fact it that results in making more textile waste than what it is right at this point because you are thinking of getting rid of the clothes that are in a ridiculous good shape and can be worn for years.

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Source: Fashionrevolution.org

 

CONSCIOUS FASHION : STEP BY STEP GUIDE

When i started my journey, i had a lot of questions and queries as to how to take that first step. A lot of influencers who promote slow and ethical fashion on social media did not really explain their journey and what exactly happened to the clothes they still own. Buying new clothes from a few sustainable brands and not talking about what has to be done to the old ones was something that really put me off from these big influencers. Anyways, for that reason i decided to share a step by step guide for becoming a mindful consumer and becoming conscious of every decision you take that has a direct impact on people’s life and the environment we live in, what’s better than sharing personal experiences right?

 

CONSCIOUS FASHION 101: KNOW YOUR MATERIALS

While the first step in conscious fashion class is unquestionably to “Use what you have” and that includes all the clothes you own right now including your fast fashion ones. At this point it does not matter if you have 100’s of Zara or H&M garments, throwing them away and buying new sustainable ones is still considered as textile waste. Hoarding on new sustainable garments is as terrible as getting rid of a really good garment. So in short, use what you have, as much as you can and once you think you really cannot deal with it, well by then i will have ideas for you all ready about what to do with it 😬!

I think, the first step towards limiting textile waste at a personal level is to having a clear mind about the fabrics or textiles you should invest in or you already own.

Textiles are made from natural materials can be returned to the earth to create resources. These are biodegradable ones. If something is biodegradable it just means it can be broken down naturally by bacteria.

Natural, biodegradable fabrics include:

Linen

Cotton

Wool

Silk

Cashmere

Hemp

Bamboo

Non-biodegradable fabrics: Basically anything that is manufactured and synthetic. This includes:

Polyester

Spandex

Nylon

Rayon

Non-biodegradable fabric will eventually break down, but it can take up to 200 years. Can you imagine?

Now let’s take a look at how long various clothing items take to biodegrade in landfills:

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Source: Fashionrevolution.org


• Cotton glove: 3 months
• Wool: 1 to 5 years
• Leather shoes: 25 to 40 years
• Nylon: 30 to 40 years
• Rubber boot sole: 50 to 80 years

This is so basic right? I mean we all have learnt the difference between bio-degradable and non-biodegradable materials in school but have we ever applied those principles when it comes to choosing what we wear or things we use in our daily lives like plastic may be?

Although linen, wool, silk, hemp etc are all considered great options for sustainable clothing but from my personal experience not everyone is comfortable wearing such fabrics. Cotton however is the most common fabric used and is certainly a good choice for stepping up your ethical game.

 

#BRINGINGCOTTONBACK

Cotton is undoubtedly soft, light and breathable fabric, and is a natural plant based fiber. Although it is the most used fabric but a lot of people have forgotten its importance. It is clearly one of the materials that can be decomposed in a short span of time and can be recycled as well (if not 100%, but to a great extent) and for this reason, with this post, I am #Bringingcottonback in style for you all to take notes on it! 😀

My wardrobe had a major shift towards cotton garments since last year for all the reasons i just mentioned above and the fact that it is a highly versatile both in terms of design techniques and its variety of uses with great recycling opportunities.

Here you see me wearing a very simple block printed cotton skirt, which i readily available in every fashion store in India but probably not something everyone would like to spend their money on considering its cotton, its common and is not labelled as high street fashion but with #Bringingcottonback in style i am here to show you that what matters the most is a better understanding of the system and mindfulness towards taking better decisions, and rest is all creativity. A simple sustainable garment can be styled fashionably and in numerous ways and that’s the beauty of adopting slow fashion, where you can create new looks from the clothes you own regardless of current consumerism trends or seasons for that matter.

HOW ETHICAL IS COTTON?

Although one would consider cotton as a better choice and i just explained you why but you will be surprised or rather shocked to know that it is one of those materials that is grown with a array of toxic chemicals and extremely large amounts of water is wasted during its production.

It takes more than 20,000 litres of water to produce 1 kg of cotton that is enough for making one t-shirt and a pair of jeans! Moreover, the use of hazardous chemicals for the production and dyeing process affects the health of the farmers and their families at a large scale. Whether you are aware or not but the scam regarding GMO cotton (Genetically modified cotton) accounts for 95% of the cotton market in India and due to this since 1995, more than 270,000 Indian cotton farmers have committed suicide. So really what is the solution here?

 

ORGANIC COTTON

Organic cotton it is! The fact that it doesn’t contain all those harmful chemicals, organic cotton comes with other advantages. Organic cotton isn’t just better for the health of the people growing it, it’s also considerably better for you wearing it too!

The seeds are cheaper than Bt cotton, helping farmers to escape the cycle of debt and poverty. And less pesticides = better for the environment, better for the farmer’s health, better for you!

On a serious note, cotton is a great material to start with!

I am going to end this post right here because i feel i have given you enough reasons to think about what materials you should invest in and the initial steps towards a better you!

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I hope you guys enjoyed the post! I will be sharing a series of steps to adopt a conscious lifestyle, i hope that inspires you to to be mindful of your lifestyle choices and becoming a better version of you!

 

Liked the post? Pin it and share it with your friends.

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Concept and styling: Tanvi Mutneja (@tanvi_msidhu)

Photography : Rajvir Sidhu

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