Eco-fashion is a veteran on the cultural movement circuit. It’s been around for awhile but is suddenly garnering a lot of press. As a result, I’ve recently encountered several people who seemed pretty confused by the whole green couture concept – that’s a thing? Do you just wear burlap dresses and daisy chains? How are the effects of something like that measured?
A Brisbane Times article on eco-fashion leader Jane Milburn gave me some answers.
Jane is an agricultural scientist and rural journalist who founded Textile Beat last year. The enterprise seeks to inspire the upcycling of fabric as a means of decreasing waste. According to Milburn, every American wastes 30 kilos of textiles per year (roughly 66 pounds). That means a whole lot of people are trashing a whole lot of fabric.
Like the food revolution, the fashion revolution is about paying attention to what we consume – where it’s coming from, the regulations surrounding its production etc. We as a society are simply becoming more thoughtful about what we purchase. Hopefully that decreases the amount of fabric waste happening globally.
Jane references The National Association of Charitable Recycling Organizations which states that 60% of the clothing we toss could actually be reused and/or re-worn. Basically, even donating your last season Jimmy Choos is better than sending them to their premature grave in a landfill.
Like most green projects, this is one that prioritizes awareness. When the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh collapsed last year, the world experienced a fashion awakening of sorts. Over 1,130 people were killed and the 2,500 who were rescued suffered injuries and PTSD. (The collapse occurred because of faulty building maintenance procedures. For more coverage, check out this Huff Post piece.)
From that unfortunate episode, we learned a valuable lesson: we can’t just reduce clothing waste, we have to look into where our clothing is coming from and how ethical the manufacturing process is.
So the eco-friendly fashion push is essentially a combination of messages, with the old triple R adage at its core: reduce, re-use, recycle. But in an age of information overload, I’m thinking we need to add an extra R: research.