The fashion industry can be very damaging to the planet. But if (like us) you love expressing yourself with your clothing, how can you love fashion AND the environment? We caught up with Designer and Founder of Outsider, Noorin Khamisani to talk about sustainable fashion and how to give your wardrobe an ethical and eco-friendly makeover.
“We all want to be able to shop without feeling guilty, right? We want to know that the garments we buy are produced with as little harm as possible to the environment and with people in the supply chain treated well.
According to the Ethical Consumer market report for 2016 the purchase of ethical goods in the UK during the previous year came in at £38bn, that’s a growth of 8.5%.
There have been numerous documentaries such as the True Cost Movie that have been instrumental in raising awareness of the effects that the clothing industry has on the workers, the environment and even on us as consumers.
The fashion industry and the environmental impact
Part of my work at Outsider is about raising awareness of the negative impact of the fashion industry. I also want to encourage my customers to make more ethical and sustainable choices when buying fashion.
This can be a challenge at times so I’ve created these eight tips to help you on your way…
Small incremental changes
As you replace items in your wardrobe, try to do it with items made from bamboo, organic cotton or other environmentally friendly fabrics.
Think especially about your essentials, the items that you will wear a lot; socks, vests and tops for layering.
Not on the high street
The UK spends almost £16 billion on clothes and footwear every year. It’s a big industry with a few large companies that pay little or no lip service to environmental concerns. However, there are a variety of companies and retailers that do care. Spread your money around. Do your research and buy from responsible and ethical brands.
If you can’t find what you’re looking for on our site then try a directory like Style With a Heart or Ethical Consumer magazine for guidance. Alternatively, try shopping for second-hand clothing and vintage pieces.
Buy something special
Invest in a classic LBD (little black dress) or a shirt dress that will work for many occasions. Try buying something versatile that you can style differently by adding a belt or scarf, or some statement jewellery.
Commit to wearing a piece at least 30 times and buying clothes that are of a quality to match. Avoid low quality. Cheap clothes are cheap for a reason and will often not wash well.
Don’t throw anything away
Donate clothes or textiles to charity shops or give them to your friends. Alternatively, you can get creative and cut them up and repurpose them to be used as other items of clothing. However, if you really think they should never be worn again then rip them up and use them as rags for dusting and cleaning.
Most clothing and textiles can be re-used and an increasing number of recycling centres now accept clothes and footwear.
There is no need for your shoes and dresses to go to landfill, where they decompose and release methane, the bad boy of greenhouse gases.
On top of that, the dyes and chemicals used in most conventional clothing are also released during decomposition and they leach into the soil and groundwater. These two things combined make fashion, by some accounts, the second most polluting industry in the world. Oil, unsurprisingly, comes first.
When using your washing machine, 30°C is the new 40°C. It will do the same job on the vast majority of your clothes. Use environmentally friendly washing powder to give the fish a chance.
If you’re fortunate enough to have outside space I recommend keeping an eye on the weather forecast and using the sun and wind to dry your clothes. This is far more eco-friendly than electricity gorging tumble dryers.
There are some other ways to lessen your laundry impact. Hug A Tree with Me do an excellent guide.
Making or customising your own clothes will inevitably create a personal connection and result in the pieces being treasured for longer.
Outsider now offers a range of sustainable fabrics for you to choose from or you could up-cycle something you already have at home. Have a look at The Good Wardrobe for inspiration.
After every small, step you take, reflect and feel good about what you have done. Focus more on the small changes within your control rather than how powerless you feel about melting ice caps and climate change! Remember, it just takes one Outsider to make a difference.
Noorin Khamisani is a UK-based designer who has worked with designers such as Ann-Sofie Back and Jessica Ogden in London and Susan Cianciolo in New York. From working with designers and mainstream brands Noorin gain an understanding of how the fashion industry has an impact on the environment. Noorin started Outsider in 2009. The sustainable fashion label believes in style and quality but most importantly ethical sourcing and production.
For more about sustainable fashion, check out this post by Know The Origin, talking all about why transparency is so important in the fashion industry.