Sustainable Clothing Is Possible. Sustainable Fashion? A Myth

Giada Nizzoli

Sustainable Clothing Is Possible. Sustainable Fashion? A Myth

Sustainable fashion is a myth, even when ethical and eco-friendly clothes exist. 

Now, before you think we lost our minds, let us explain.

We’ll tell you why sustainable fashion is a contradiction and show you how YOU can embrace a more ethical clothing lifestyle as a consumer.

A small overview of the BIG fast fashion problem 

Consumer inside a pile of clothes to show why sustainable fashion is a myth

Fast fashion keeps growing in popularity, but more people are slowly becoming aware of its high hidden cost:

  • Environmental problems like high carbon emissions, toxic chemicals, high water usage and pollution, microplastics, huge quantities of waste, and contributing to soil degradation, deforestation, and climate change 
  • Social problems like keeping garment workers trapped in slavery conditions, abuse, and child labour 
  • Overconsumption, which keeps you trapped in a vicious cycle (NEEDING to buy new clothes to get that dopamine hit) and leads to 92 million tonnes of textile waste every year

So, because sustainable clothes are made in a more conscious and eco-friendly way, they sound like a natural and logical solution.

And they are.

But sustainable fashion isn’t.

The problem with focusing on sustainable ‘fashion’

By definition, fashion is “a style that is popular at a particular time.” So, it’s trendy and ever-changing. 

And that’s exactly why sustainable fashion is a myth: because something that’s trendy and ever-changing can never be sustainable, no matter how ethically it was made.

Consumer puchasing clothes online

Simply replacing fast fashion with sustainable fashion is NOT the answer 

You might be tempted to think you can just swap your fast fashion hauls with eco-friendly clothes. Or maybe look for an ethical alternative to a style that's trending right now.

Unfortunately, even though it’s a little step in the right direction, it wouldn’t make for a greener footprint. 

The problem with replacing fast fashion with sustainable fashion?

  • It wouldn’t justify the environmental impact of each garment (ideally, you should wear it at least 30 times to cover its footprint)
  • It doesn’t solve overconsumption and the waste it generates
  • You’d still be trapped in the same vicious cycle

So, we’ll be completely honest: we’re still going to use the term ‘sustainable fashion’ because that’s what most people are familiar with.

But the point we’re trying to make is that, for it to be sustainable, you shouldn’t actually THINK of it as ‘fashion’.

And that’s why we need a big mindset shift!

How to embrace a more sustainable clothing ‘lifestyle’

Ethical consumers embracing a sustainable clothing lifestyle

First of all, this responsibility shouldn't be just on you as a consumer. Ethical fashion brands should be the first to make their clothing more circular and market it as durable, going beyond seasonal trends.

But since we’re having this conversation with YOU (hello, there!), let’s look at some simple tips to make a difference. 

It all starts with a mindset shift

Stop seeing your garments as throwaway or ‘fashion’: think of them as timeless and an investment that’ll last you for years. 

So, focus on clothes that match YOUR style, not (necessarily) what’s trending right now or what’s hyped online.

Social media and influencers are notoriously bad for this. How many times have you seen them post yet another haul or use hashtags like #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt?

Luckily, though, people are slowly waking up to this problematic content. You might have also seen some creators deinfluencing their audience (= discouraging them from buying certain products) or promoting more sustainable challenges, like ‘the rule of 5' (= only buying five fast fashion garments per year).

So, to make this mindset shift easier, consider removing distractions and unfollowing brands or influencers who’d tempt you with the latest trends

Putting that mindset shift into practice without feeling like you’re missing out

  • Get clear on your own signature style – I promise: you’ll actually feel happier when wearing clothes that match your preferences (rather than what someone else decided was popular)
  • Declutter your wardrobe – Donate or sell those piles of fast fashion clothes that make you think “I have nothing to wear” 
  • Embrace repeat outfits – Get creative mixing your existing garments to create new outfits (but don’t be afraid to rock your signature looks multiple times, too)
  • Make it fun, and get your friends involved – You can enjoy ‘new’ clothes without buying them. For example, you could borrow them from (and lend them to) your friends or rent them online. And how about organising a clothing swap party?
  • Only buy new clothes mindfully from now on – Resist the urge to replace fast fashion with sustainable fashion! Instead, focus on ethical clothes you actually need or can see yourself wearing at least 30 times. On Project Cece, you can browse the range of hundreds of sustainable clothing brands, using filters to narrow down your choices

Sustainable ‘fashion’ is a myth, but a sustainable clothing 'lifestyle' isn’t. Now, it's your time to embrace it!

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Project Cece is a platform that collects ethical fashion from vetted brands and shops in one place. Browse ethical fashion for women and men and find items that fit your style, budget and values!

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