Why Ethical Fashion?

You may be wondering why you should bother with ethical fashion. It’s more work to research and it’s certainly more expensive. It would be a lot easier to buy the latest fashions at the closest department store. Next time the urge hits, remember these reasons to buy ethical clothes:

It’s better for the environment

Making, caring for, and disposing of clothes is an immense strain on the environment. The Natural Resources Defense Council states that it takes 200 tons of water to make a ton of fabric. Toxic chemicals are frequently used on the clothing to wash, soften, or make clothes wrinkle-resistant. Then these chemicals end up in our rivers and lakes. That’s not the only thing that ends up in our water: synthetic fabrics make up the majority of the micro plastics in our natural bodies of water. 1,900 individual fibers can rinse off a single synthetic garment in a standard washing machine. These microfibers end up eaten by marine wildlife and working their way up the food chain. Then there’s the disposal. Just in the United States, we dispose of 12.8 million tons of textiles annually. This all adds up to a major environmental burden.

It’s better for textile workers

In three countries with many garment factories – Bangladesh, Cambodia, and India – workers earn between $0.97-$2.53 per hour. These workers work 14-16 hours a day, 7 days a week during busy seasons, in buildings with poor ventilation. Child and forced labor exist in many countries. Physical and verbal abuse is common. Then there are the disasters. It starts with the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire in 1911. 145 workers died, leading to worker safety laws in the U.S. Nearly a century later in 2013, the Rana Plaza collapsed, killing 1,135 people. These are the major tragedies, but smaller tragedies happen on a regular basis. Ethical clothing companies provide living wages, humane hours, and safe working conditions.

Now for the selfish parts…
It’s better for your wallet…long term

Thinking long-term, it is much cheaper to splurge now on a piece of clothing that will last for years rather than a single-season piece that will break down or fall out of fashion in a few months. Americans now buy 64 pieces of clothing of more than seven pairs of shoes a year, double what they bought in the 1990s. Wouldn’t it be better to buy less, at a higher quality, and have it last longer?

It might be better for your health

We all know the skin is the body’s largest organ. While the common saying that 60 percent of what gets put on your skin is absorbed into the body is false, that doesn’t mean there are no consequences to rubbing against toxic chemicals all day. The NRDC points out that poisonous fishing chemicals are used to make our clothing soft and wrinkle-free. Nonylphenol ethoxylates are used to clean and rinse garments, and are also dangerous to our health at low levels. However, I could not find a conclusive study that indicates the chemicals in our clothes harm our health. Without something solid, I will keep this to a “might.”

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