6 easy avoidable purchases for the eco-fashion beginner
Making changes in one’s life is rarely an easy operation and is often a long process involving multiple relapses along the road. Habits take time to modify and with temptation all around – Gosh you must be really willing not to eat that piece of cake. If I was to visualize it, it would definitely not be a straight line but more like a heartbeat portrayed on an electrocardiograph; you start by well behaving until your reach a peak and then you get bumps on the road that bring you back to square one. The long-term objective is to get to a stable point – to attain something close to a straight line. No one is perfect because perfection does not exist. If following the eco-fashion trail is something you are considering but are not ready to fully commit to, here are some things you can do to help start your journey without making big compromises.
1) Avoid plastic based garments aka fake leathers
PU an acronym for Polyurethane is a popular fabric that imitates the look and feel of leather. This artificial fabric is made out of plastic components making its environmental impact a questionable matter. Actually, PU is known for its long-term durability and easy maintenance. OK great – when talking sustainability, yes we are looking for a long lifecycle but what if I told you that It is estimated to take 500 years for PU or any plastic based material to biodegrade in the environment? This is equal to 5 generations of humans entering and leaving the planet while the same PU pants remain. It makes my heart ache.
PS: Nylon is also made out of petroleum
2) Distressed denim or stressed planet?
Distressed denim is a big trend right now. You know those jeans that your mother hates – the ones that every time she sees you wearing she pulls out THE question: ‘’So how did you rip your pants?’’ I’ve given up a long time ago trying to explain to my parents the torn pants trend – they just don’t get it. I got to give them one thing though – paying for ripped clothes is a bit irrational. It looks great indeed, although once your clothes go through the process of being distressed (made to look worn), you are faced with a loss of quality and a shortened lifecycle. If you are really not willing to give up this trend, I suggest you make your own distressed denim on old jeans you stopped wearing. It’ll give them a new look, a new life, giving them a second chance in the trendy department. Otherwise, if you purchased a brand new distressed jeans, washing them less frequently on delicate cycle or by hand, using a gentle detergent will stretch out their shelf life.
3) Burn baby burn
Burnout or Devoré is a fabric technique used to get a transparent pattern on certain areas of a fabric by using chemical agents that destroy only certain areas and leave the rest intact. Essentially, what happens is that a blend of fibers is used so that only one gets ‘’devoured” by the acid, giving that researched transparency. Basically, you are once again purchasing a degraded item. Initially, this technique was used for velvet fabrics but is now commonly used on regular jerseys. Not only this process involves the use of chemical produce but burnout also fragilizes the fabric making it susceptible to a quick and ugly degradation. Trust me, the burnout T-shirt in the image below is mine and is now happily part of my pajama collection.
4) Oh my prints
In the world of textile, there are many techniques used to print on fabric. Although, the most common one or in other words, the cheapest one used in the fashion industry – is called screen printing and uses what we call reactive dyes. For each print, the manufacturer needs to develop a screen which consists of a mesh stencil mounted on an aluminum frame where the dye will be applied. For big volume orders, such as in the fast fashion industry, there is an insane amount of dye wastage. The technique demands gallons of dyes and a high percentage of waste is created from leftovers. Not to mention that the chemicals used in the inks are highly toxic. Now It’s hard to ask you not to buy printed garments but if you can privilege natural dyes, please do. Water-based inks and digital printing are considered more eco-friendly options. Another good example is a vegetable-tanned leather good in the accessories department.
5) Choose your fibers consciously
On a general note, natural fibers compared to synthetic are a better option for the environment but not all the time. Take cotton for example; it’s highly water intensive and sprayed with unpronounceable pesticides. Nonetheless, synthetic fibers are often derived from petrochemicals. Petrochemicals = plastic = not biodegradable = release of toxins. So not only transforming these fibers requires a lot of energy but they will stick like glue to our planet and sicken everything in their surrounding. Overall, I still recommend choosing naturals fibers over synthetic (although I highly recommend for cotton to be organic) and If you really can’t avoid them, try to prioritize recycled materials.
6) Leave the drama for the drama queen
Remember a few wears ago when the neon color trend was the shit? Well, I remember it too because I barely see any of these colors in 2017. Adhering to a trend in which you know you won’t be following in the next months is probably the worst thing you can do but also the easiest thing you could avoid. Big trends are fairly easy to spot – they are normally outstanding in color or shape, most fashion stores will have them and once they disappear you will get fed up very quickly. Here are some examples of fashion trends that will most likely lose their way on their journey to planet earth in 2017: the corset, the oversized shoulders, the underwear used as outerwear, the deconstructed shirt, etc. The key here is to learn to know yourself, your style – if you KNOW you won’t wear it again, you should hold yourself from an emotional purchase.