To understand the term slow fashion, it is important to understand the antithesis. Fast fashion is made up of clothing brands that mass-produce cheap clothes at the expense of the environment and the livelihoods of industry workers. The new collections are produced almost weekly, aiming to minimize the time between the supply chain development stages and encourage continuous consumption.
Sustainable fashion, on the other hand, encompasses clothes that are created and consumed taking into account the environment and workers in the sector. Thus, the sustainability matrix emerges, where the reduction of CO2 emissions, the reduction of pollution and waste, the support for biodiversity and ensuring that the workforce receives a fair income are crucial.
We then have to change the buying and consumption habits of these products. So what should we take into account to ensure a sustainable wardrobe?
Buy less, buy better
As the Fashion sector is responsible for 10% of the world’s CO2 emissions (more than all flights and shipping trips combined), it is crucial to change habits throughout the chain. As consumers, we must reduce consumerism, choosing to purchase fewer and more durable clothes with less environmental impact.
With growing concerns about the environment, the number of brands calling themselves “sustainable” has risen exponentially in recent years. However, they can hide relevant information to keep their products “green”. From the lack of evidence and transparency to the irrelevance of the presented benefit or hidden steps and materials in the production chain, some companies take advantage of greenwashing to be in convergence with the movement.
Beware of dangerous chemicals
It is estimated that over 8000 synthetic chemicals are used in clothing production, including carcinogens. From chromium to formaldehyde or PFC, these substances add risks to human health (who wears it and who is involved in the production) ranging from skin irritations to infertility and cancer.
You can opt for clothes composed of linen, organic cotton or other biomaterials used in the circular economy and/or colored with natural dyes.
Also adopt laundry habits such as washing before use. Put filters on your machine so that they retain chemicals and other hazardous substances that can pollute the water.
Take care of your clothes
An ecologically responsible washing starts with the choice of detergents. Instead of chemical-based detergents that speed up the wear-and-tear process, choose natural options or make your own cleaning products.
The second step is to wash less and in cycles with cold water. Many items of clothing do not need to be washed completely after use. Sometimes you just need to air them out or clean the stained areas. In addition, using hot water breaks down the color and fibers of less durable fabrics more quickly. So, you can choose to use cold water and add, for example, white vinegar to eliminate bacteria.
Finally, the use of a dryer is one of the most energy-consuming appliances. So, to keep clothes fresh, put them out to dry in the sun.
Secure a second life
What to do with used clothes? First, we must ask the question: Can it still be used by someone? If so, there are several options: Transform/Repair – in an upcycling process, the clothes that we don’t use can have a new life as another product; sell – on platforms or to friends/family; donate – we must not do it indiscriminately, that is, we must search for institutions that accept and/or are in need of those products; swap – from clothing swap markets to scheduled social media events.
If the answer is no, reuse them for home cleaning or put them in a used clothes container/ deliver them to one of the many stores that already use old clothes and textile waste.
Slow fashion habits have to start with each of us consumers and not just buy less clothes. As we have seen, there is a whole world of stakeholders involved in this sector. So, when you buy a piece of clothing, search information about where it came from, what materials have been used and how you should take care of it.