Wear No Evil: A Practical Guide to Sustainable Fashion

by - January 30, 2018


I’m not certain when I became interested in sustainable fashion, but I think I can trace it back to last year when Emma Watson wore all sustainable fashion for her Beauty and the Beast Press Tour. She even created a new instagram handle

I’ve always admired Emma Watson as a person for many reasons, so I looked into this whole sustainable thing. Well, mostly it looked very expensive. As a very wealthy woman, Emma has the means to purchase (and even have specially made) clothes with recycled materials, sustainable fabrics, and all that jazz. For your average human being/college student? Didn't seem so attainable. 

So what was the big deal about clothes being “sustainable”? Was it just a marketing ploy to make us feel better about our obsessive compulsive consumerism? Around that time, I also came across anushkarees.com. I loved her book on creating a "curated closet" and not just a wardrobe full of miscellaneous clothing items. She also discusses minimalism and conscious fashion. When I hit upon this article, I put a few of the books in my Amazon wishlist, which I recently obtained and read. 

First up: Wear No Evil by Greta Egan 


“Every day we make two decisions that have an enormous impact on the world around us: what to eat and what to wear.” 

This opening line intrigued me. During my junior year of high school, my mom decided we were changing to a plant-based diet. I had spent the majority of sophomore year being sick and depressed, and my mom was determined that this new way of eating was the answer to all my health problems. I just thought she was going crazy.

As the year went on, though, I learned more about this plant-based diet and, for the first time in years, saw a positive change in my health as I implemented it. I discovered that it was better for my body and the planet. I read books like these and watched documentaries like these. Could what we wear have a similar story?

Turns out it does. Egan’s first chapter gives us a quick and dirty coverage of the woes of the fashion industry. I had heard of sketchily cheap labor from countries without laws to protect garment workers, but it turns out that most of the fashion industry is sketchy. 

First off, there’s this idea of disposable fashion. We buy cheap clothes, wear them a couple times, then throw them out where they sit in a landfill. This creates insane amounts of unnecessary waste, all in the name of keeping up with trends or wanting to try new things or not wear the same outfit twice. (I still can't believe people do that!) But it’s cheap right? Not so much for the environment and the people who made your clothes (or even for you). 

Then, there’s the synthetic materials that go into your clothes. They’re not biodegradable, so they get to just sit in the landfill. Oh and there's all that water that’s required make fabric. And fabric that gets wasted. And toxic dyes in the water (not to mention on your skin) and pesticides leaking into the soil. 

You get the picture. It’s not a pretty one. Egan doesn’t spend a ton of time on these issues, making recommendations for other books to read on the subject, but she hits the main points that drive home the message: We, our wallets, and our planet cannot sustain the status quo of the fashion world. 

Next, Egan outlines sixteen concerns that make up what she calls the Integrity Index. You then pick the ones that matter most to you (the list includes style for #16) and strive to keep to at least style and one other concern (eco-citizen). If you want to get extra credit, you purchase items that satisfy your need for style and two other issues (eco-warrior). And, if you want the whole (plant-based) enchilada, go for style plus three (eco-guru). 

After learning so much about the perils of the fashion industry, this section helps to put things in perspective and allows you to approach sustainable, conscious fashion in a practical, doable manner. You don’t have to save the world right now, but you can make better choices. 

She also emphasizes that the best thing you can do is use up what you already have. For some reason, I half expected her to say to buy a whole new wardrobe of sustainable clothing or to only buy from certain specifically approved places. I appreciate that she makes sustainability livable and sensible. 

Later on she gives more advice on your closet and shopping, plus some tips on clean, non-toxic skincare and makeup. I confess I skimmed through this part. I already had so much to think about. 

So, that’s cool, Amy. What now? 

Now, I have a million ideas running through my head about how to be a more conscious consumer. Is it possible to wear sustainable clothing that doesn't cost as much as my college tuition? I chose natural fibers and fair trade certification as my two eco-friendly concerns, so how do I ensure that what I buy measures up?

Keeping in line with the book’s tone of practicality, I am choosing to approach this whole eye-opening experience with a level head. I have a few experiments that I want to try. The first of which I will post about tomorrow morning, so be sure to come back and see! 

Stay amiable!

Amy

*Book links are through Amazon Affiliates. At no cost to you, I sometimes make a small commission on what you purchase through these links. It helps keep this blog up and running (and me sane). All links would be made regardless of receiving commission. 

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