Is Sustainable Fashion a Lie?


Credit to country living magazine

Living in the 2020s, we are constantly surrounded by an endless barrage of mixed messages and juxtapositions in the world around us. With the rise of fast fashion in recent years, partially due to the spread of social media, people have begun to point out that our consumerist habits may cost us in the long run, mainly due to the increase in waste and carbon emissions that the fashion industry produces. Clothing companies started taking note of societies growing interest in the environment, and long story short, green-washed labels and companies started popping up everywhere. But what is greenwashing? 


According to Investopedia, “Greenwashing is the process of conveying a false impression or providing misleading information about how a company’s products are more environmentally sound.’’ In other words, many companies give us buzz words such as ‘’sustainable’’ or ‘’green’’ to appeal to more people, all while ignoring their actual climate responsibility. Of course, this is not the case with all companies; however it is important to remain aware of the misleading information that is often presented to us. 


In addition to greenwashing brands and labels, many also don’t understand exactly what goes into clothes, and how much waste the industry truly creates. With modern clothing is most often made of mixed fabric and polysynthetic materials like polyester, fabrics are now virtually impossible to make safely, or to dispose of properly. Many synthetic materials are made in factories overseas out of plastic, with harsh chemicals and unsafe working conditions. In addition to being made unsafely, these clothes also release these chemicals and microplastics into our environment. 


Even those so-called sustainable companies may take part in such things. All clothing has to be made of materials and shipped somewhere. Transportation emissions add up, so the carbon footprint of our clothes is often much more than we think. Many companies proudly advertise their clothes being made out of recycled plastic, but next time you go to think about buying it, maybe consider how long that item will last, and how much of a toll it has. At the end of the day, plastic is plastic, and it all has consequences. These factors mean it is almost always safer to buy non-synthetic clothing. 


The next issue that people continually have with these companies is simply underestimating how much of a carbon footprint the fashion industry truly has. According to, the fashion industry is responsible for 10% of annual global carbon emissions. Whether we like it or not, we are each a part of that statistic. How? We consume. 


All consumption takes a toll on the environment in some way and according to Forbes, ‘’The average consumer today purchases 60% more clothing than 20 years ago’’.Whether you thrift, shop ‘’ethically’’, or are a major fast fashion consumer, you have at least some impact. Of course, I’m not saying to stop buying clothes, nor am I saying that attempting to shop sustainably doesn’t matter. As someone with a major interest in fashion, I understand that it is necessary, and can even be an art or a form of expression. However, we all must take some steps to make our footprints as small as possible. 


As with most things, my main form of advice is education. If we are all educated on this topic, then together we can come up with more regulations, laws, and advice for the industries which are so much harming our planet. If we each research the companies we are buying from, we can look more into how transparent their products are. Be mindful of greenwashing, consume what you need but don’t over consume, be mindful of what you are consuming, use the 3 R’s, and most of all, keep learning. As Nelson Mandela once said, ‘’Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,’’ I hope that if not the whole world, we can at least change fashion.