Doing sustainability imperfectly

Sustainability is a funny word.

For most people, this means doing things in a way that will allow them to continue to be done that way in the future without any or significant harm to the environment, people, or other stakeholders. In other words, "can we keep doing this for a long time and have a negative impact?"

In fashion, this is a big deal. For a very long time, companies have not conducted themselves this way and there are some scary environmental impacts, as well as a low quality of life for those who have been left with no choice but to work for low wages in difficult conditions.

So we have to find another way.

I think every fabric type and way of doing things has it's challenges, some positives and negatives. If we take wool, for example, which forms the outer shell of our beautiful, handmade coats, there is a significant amount of processing to get this fibre to it's final destination - fabric which can be sewn into a garment.

There is cleaning (scouring), combing, spinning, weaving, felting - and all of these things take time and resource like water and power, as well as human input.

BUT - it's a natural, renewable fibre. The impact on the environment to produce it is comparatively low when we consider that synthetic fibres are made from petrol and oil, and their properties are less attractive with a similar amount of environmental impact and use of resource to get them to the final product. 

So is the answer to sustainability to do it imperfectly? Perhaps. The more that companies make an effort to closely examine their supply chain and their overall impact, the closer we'll get to sustainable fashion, and those who refuse to, will eventually be left behind.

And those who do this are risking a lot in a market which has become used to cheap, easy to obtain products. The more consumers themselves demand supply chain transparency, ethics, renewable fibres, natural fabrics, good working conditions for staff, and low environmental impact, the more our whole industry will have to take action.

So vote with your dollar. Demand change. Support local businesses doing things the way they should be done.

"As consumers we have so much power to change the world just by being careful with what we buy" - Emma Watson


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