Environmental & Social Impact of Fashion
What makes sustainable fashion important? Along with fashion being the 2nd most polluting industry worldwide, animal exploitation and human labor abuse are common in the industry. Companies and consumers alike therefore have a responsibility to support ethical environmental and social practices to protect the wellbeing of our planet and all living things. Accelerating climate change and worldwide labor abuses have resulted in the emergence of socially conscious and environmentally friendly fashion brands; these companies put people, animals, and the environment over profits.
While fast fashion companies are using excessive amounts of water, chemicals, and energy to produce clothing and apparel as fast and cheap as possible, “slow fashion” brands are adopting eco-friendly, sustainable approaches to taking responsibility for the social and environmental impact of fashion. Sustainable fashion brands use ethical labor practices to produce eco-friendly clothing and fashion accessories by using fewer resources, committing to the use of sustainable materials, and by having better control of and a more ethical approach to their supply chain. Manufacturing fashion products with both fewer and ethical materials is equally important to how fashion products are produced (fair labor standards, avoiding animal abuse, etc.). By adhering to elevated social and ecological standards, sustainable fashion brands are minimizing the negative effects on the environment and society.
Support for Social & Environmental Causes
Environmental and socially responsible fashion brands are working behind the scenes to support a sustainable future for all. A growing number of sustainable brands have committed to supporting specific social and environmental causes: Many socially focused brands put a portion of their profits toward providing clean drinking water to poor communities or donating to youth education initiatives, while environmentally focused brands often support ecological projects such as ocean cleanup and recycling efforts, animal protection initiatives, or tree-planting reforestation projects. As an example, Kiwi Kool, www.KiwiKool.co, plants one tree for every purchase of its sustainable fashion apparel by partnering with non-profit organizations such as One Tree Planted, www.onetreeplanted.org.
Types of Sustainable Fashion Apparel Items
With the growing trend toward sustainability, eco fashion brands are coming up with new creative and unique fashion items for eco-conscious consumers to up their style sustainably. Examples include apparel made with natural and biodegradable materials such as wood, straw, rattan, and organic cotton, as well as items which utilize vegan leather or cork instead of traditional animal leather. A few products with these sustainable features include eco-friendly straw and rattan handbags, non-plastic items such as wooden sunglasses and wooden watches, and any "made to order" apparel which have essentially zero waste (items that are made one by one only after each order is received). Each of these eco-friendly items often come in sustainable packaging, such as a wooden case for wood sunglasses and watches, or by adopting minimalist packaging to avoid excessive waste. Now let’s dig deeper and see what makes each of these unique fashion accessories so great!
Straw & Rattan Handbags
Kiwi Kool Straw & Rattan Bags for Women
Eco-friendly straw and rattan handbags have become a popular sustainable alternative to leather and synthetic handbags. Compared to traditional women's handbags, these natural and biodegradable handbags offer an eco vegan-friendly option for women concerned about animal protection and the ecological impact of synthetic materials. Straw is a fast growing biodegradable resource which is plentiful and quick to replenish; it is a natural byproduct of cereal crops such as oats, barley, rice, wheat, and rye and is easy to reuse. Rattan is a sustainable, fast growing palm which can be picked without harming the plant. It's also strong and lightweight, perfect features for a small crossbody or daily handbag. The eco-friendly elements of these highly abundant, renewable resources make straw and rattan bags highly sustainable fashion items with virtually zero carbon footprint.
To stay true to their environmental purpose, these sustainable handbags have vegan leather straps and handles, as vegan leather (faux leather) requires fewer resources, creates less pollution, and does not negatively impact animal welfare. Aside from being eco-friendly, straw and rattan bags are also stylish and functional! They make for great beach bags, casual day bags, and lightweight evening bags for their minimalistic and rustic yet elegant design which complements most spring and summer outfits with a natural touch.
Traditional handcraft methods are frequently used in the manufacture of straw and rattan handbags, which can benefit regional economies and skilled craftspeople. Additionally, this promotes the preservation of cultural heritage and traditional crafts. Overall, handbags made of rattan and straw are a perfect eco-friendly substitute for conventional synthetic bags because they are fashionable, sustainable, biodegradable, and uphold traditional workmanship. They are a fantastic start in lessening the fashion industry's negative environmental effects and advancing sustainable living.
Kiwi Kool Wood Sunglasses for Men & Women
For consumers seeking to lessen their influence on the environment and desiring a more unique pair of shades, wooden sunglasses are a distinctive and fashionable solution. Sunglasses made of wood have a natural appearance and feel and are constructed from high quality, responsibly obtained wood and bamboo. Bamboo, in particular, is extremely fast growing, strong, and easy to source sustainably. Compared to more conventional sunglass materials like plastic, the production of wood eyewear is more environmentally friendly, as plastic sunglasses are constructed with non-renewable materials and add to plastic pollution in our oceans, beaches, and landfills. Plastic sunglasses can be replaced with wood sunglasses as a more environmentally friendly option. Woodgrain sunglasses are also frequently handcrafted, which gives them a unique and special originality. Kiwi Kool is one such fashion eyewear company which offers these cool sustainable sunglasses made of real wood!
Kiwi Kool Wood Watches for Men & Women
Another eco fashion accessory to add to your wardrobe are watches made of wood and bamboo! Wood watches are a stylish and ecological alternative to conventional watches made of plastic and metal due to wood's renewable nature and the ability to handcraft strikingly beautiful designs with wood. Wood and bamboo watches are fashionable, durable, highly unique, and even make great hypoallergenic watches for watch wearers with nickel allergies (avoid metal watches). Handmade woodgrain watches also promote artisan craftsmanship and lessen the environmental effects of mass manufacturing.
Kiwi Kool Sustainable Graphic T-Shirts & Tank Tops:
Kiwi Kool Sustainable Graphic Hoodies:
Sustainable clothing, often made from biodegradable or natural materials such as organic cotton or hemp, is produced in an ethical and transparent manner. Clothing production is typically extremely water intensive and can be quite polluting when non-eco-friendly dyes are used or wasteful energy practices are performed. Sustainable clothing manufacturers such as Bella Canvas, www.bellacanvas.com/eco_friendly, are therefore putting forth strong efforts to minimize the environmental impact of clothing production by using 7x less water than other manufacturers, recycling almost all materials, and substantially reducing CO2 emissions. For these reasons, when Kiwi Kool first started as a sustainable fashion brand, it chose to have the majority of its clothing designs printed on Bella Canvas apparel rather than on cheaper, lower quality fabrics with fewer environmental standards.
“Made to Order” Fashion Apparel
"Made-to-order" apparel are apparel items which are produced one at a time; this creates environmental benefits such as reducing energy, water, chemical, and textile usage, as well as avoiding waste from overproduction. Made to order, also known as "print on demand" apparel also reduces transportation related emissions, as they avoid the extra shipping step that traditional mass-produced items undergo (made to order items are produced and shipped directly to the end consumer, whereas mass produced items are manufactured and then shipped to individual global retail outlets first).
Aside from an obvious example of made to order clothing, there are several other apparel items which make sense to be produced as made to order. Such examples could include any custom printed apparel catered toward small niche markets with low overall global demand, such as custom snapback hats for world traveler men, custom printed canvas tote bags for women, or custom engraved personalized jewelry... Fast fashion companies catering to the mass market would end up throwing away a lot of unsold inventory if they overproduced such specific apparel which only appeals to a small demographic of passionate consumers. To reduce waste by keeping production small, Kiwi Kool uses this made to order apparel model which also provides customers with unique apparel designs with customization and personalization options.
Creating A Sustainable Future
Brands and consumers alike must consider ethical ways of making fashion sustainable. Fast fashion companies must shift away from their detrimental practices of producing cheap apparel which often ends up in landfills, while consumers can choose to purchase eco-friendly fashion accessories and support socially conscious, environmentally friendly brands. We all have a duty to create a more sustainable future; luckily, there are many affordable sustainable fashion brands which offer stylish eco-friendly fashion apparel alternatives.
In addition to the sustainability initiatives of Kiwi Kool, check out how other sustainable fashion brands like Everlane, Reformation, Free People, Proof Eyewear, and Patagonia are also doing their part to bring high quality and affordable eco fashion to the planet.