Sustainability: The Company Patagonia has pledged 1% of its sales to protecting the environment. Pushing its commitment further, the company reports being in business to save planet Earth. Not convinced? The founder donated his ownership to a collective that will use all profits that aren’t reinvested, into the business of fighting climate change. Patagonia also offers a store credit to customers who return their old Patagonia garments to the store, and offers a repair guide to promote garment maintenance for years, or slow fashion.
Why would this company take such steps to embrace sustainable fashion?
At the antipode of Patagonia and a few others lives fast fashion, fashion meant for a season, where brands produce some 20 collections a year, encouraging a disposable or throwaway culture. From the casual t-shirt requiring 700 gallons of water for production to the pair of jeans using 2,000 gallons, the production of clothing impacts the environment throughout its lifecycle by a repeated and excessive use of natural resources. It involves an intensive usage of water, energy, and chemicals, leading to water pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and soil contamination. Moreover, the short lifespan of fast fashion garments results in textile waste, finishing their life in landfills or incinerated. The human impact is significant, with the industry pushing for a rapid production at a very low cost. Poor working conditions and low wages in garment factories are common, especially in developing countries.
To reduce these sustainability impacts, several cost-effective alternatives to fast fashion have emerged.
Brands such as PACT, Proclaim or Knickey prioritize sustainable practices using organic or recycled materials, reducing water and energy consumption, and ensuring fair and ethical labor practices while producing garments with higher quality and longer lifespans. Locally, Ineffably is a store at the Flower Hill Mall, selling such brands.
Even better, adding pre-owned clothing to a wardrobe is an excellent way to reduce the demand for new garments and extend the lifespan of existing ones. Thrift stores or consignment shops (such as Junebug, La Costa Kids, Little Love, Carolyn’s Designer Resale, St-Peters Thrift, My Sister’s Closet) and clothing donations on networks such as at the Buy Nothing Project on Facebook are great places to find unique secondhand pieces. And if you have skills, why not consider making your own clothing by upcycling old garments to give them a new life, reducing waste and saving money.
By dropping our participation in fast fashion and rather building our wardrobe around well-made pieces that will last, we can contribute to a more sustainable and responsible fashion industry while enjoying fashionable clothing at affordable prices.