Sustainability on a budget

As society grows more conscious about striving towards a more sustainable lifestyle in order to save the world from the growing crisis of climate change, it makes sense to look towards one of the largest contributors to global warming – fashion. For years it has been suggested that in order to shop sustainably, you must have a bigger budget because it costs more to buy sustainable fabrics. This article will debunk this myth and shed light on more affordable brands with a sustainable ethos. 

Why fashion is bad for the environment:

  • Fashion production makes up 10% of humanity’s carbon emissions and is the second-largest consumer of the world’s water supply. 
  • 85% of all textiles go to the dump each year. 
  • Many clothing items use polyester – it’s the most widely-used clothing fibre in the world – it’s made from plastic and is non-biodegradable. A lot of energy is required to make polyester which makes it highly water and air polluting. 
  • Cotton requires a lot of water and is used for many clothing items. To make a pair of jeans, 2,000 gallons of water is needed; for a shirt, 700 gallons of water is needed.

Fast fashion has a terrible reputation for contributing to a lot of these stated issues. This is because polyester is a very cheap material to produce and utilise, so a lot of fast-fashion brands would incorporate this in order to keep their prices low. They also tend to produce more clothing collections to keep up with growing fashion trends, and keep consumers interested. Having said this, some fast-fashion brands have made it their mission to contribute less damage to the environment.

H&M’s sustainability scheme:

H&M is the second largest retailer in the world, and many consumers go-to brand when they are looking for new clothing items which won’t hurt the wallet. It makes sense then that H&M took the initiative to develop their sustainability and reduce their carbon footprint. Here’s how they plan to do this:

  • They have pledged to 100% recycled or sustainable materials by 2030.
  • The brand also now offers a recycling programme, where you can return clothes from any brand in-store.
  • They produce some affordable clothing items made from sustainable cotton, or recycled polyester – and they are increasing the number of items with which they are doing this.
  • They have an entire collection dedicated to conscious sustainable fashion, so it’s easy to navigate which items to buy which have a less damaging effect on the environment.

Primark’s move towards sustainable clothing:

Primark is perhaps the epitome of ‘fast fashion’. It’s one of the cheapest clothing brands that exists, and one of the most popular. Whilst they have damaged the environment for years, they have recently pledged to aim towards a less damaging future.

  • They promise to strengthen the durability of their clothing by 2025, so clothing items last longer and do not need to be re-purchased as frequently.
  • Their clothes will be recyclable by design by 2027.
  • All of their clothes will be made from recycled or more sustainably sourced material by 2030. 
  • They pledge to halve their carbon emissions across their value chain by 2030.
  • They are striving towards using sustainable cotton, to restore biodiversity, by 2030. 

Buy clothes from second-hand stores:

Whilst it is incredible that fast-fashion brands are now promoting sustainable practices, and allowing consumers to shop more sustainably whilst having a lower budget, it is worth noting that the best way to shop sustainably on a budget is to buy products second hand. In the past, charity shops were filled with old DVDs or music or clothing items that no one would dream of purchasing, but now they have evolved to be so much more. Charity shops are brewing with hidden gems from across generations, so the clothing does not necessarily feel outdated. But if shopping in-person isn’t your preference, then apps such as ‘Depop’ and ‘Vinted’ have made it easier than ever to recycle clothes. These apps are continuing to grow in popularity, meaning you can find a range of fancy ball dresses, to comfy joggers, right at your fingertips. By filtering products to only show availability within your set budget, it’s easier than ever to replace your old clothes with a pre-loved item at an affordable price.

Featured image: Becca McHaffie by unsplash with license 

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