Sustainable fashion. A subject that has become an ongoing conversation topic and rightly so with the rate at which fashion releases new products. On a daily basis about "eighty billion pieces of clothing are consumed globally every year.” – 1 Million Women - which is having an immense impact on the world. Many well-established brands are now attempting to implement eco-friendly methods into their business models as well as a rise of fresh brands that are entering the industry sustainable from the offset. From a Christian perspective, it made me wonder if God was concerned about it and if it's something other Christians should be actively considering when buying or producing clothes.
I searched the scriptures and whilst there were no direct references to fashion and it's sustainability I did find a verse I believe we can adopt when it comes to fashion and the rate at which we produce and consume. When I think of sustainability I lean towards an understanding of managing resources in a responsible manner which then leads me to think of stewardship - a word we saints can certainly recognise in the scripture.
So on that note, what does God have to say about this topic?
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
I know this doesn't immediately scream to the sustainable fashion subject BUT we're going somewhere with this verse. If we look at the word 'dominion' which means to subdue, you could begin to think it simply means to rule over - which it does. However, I believe this to be in a manner that is responsible and not in an 'abuse of power' type of way because God placed man on this earth to tend to it a.k.a look after it which we know from Genesis 2:15
Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.
Part of that 'tending to' is not limited to gardening, it is in reference to the world at large. This earth, our temporary home needs to be looked after by us, so excessively producing clothes for consumption at a rate (if we're honest isn't necessary) does nothing to look after the planet.
Globally, 80% of discarded textiles are doomed for the landfill or incineration. Only 20% are actually reused or recycled.
With these scary statistics, it's no surprise that those with a genuine passion to save planet earth are protesting against fast fashion. If this is an outrage to some of us, I can't imagine God is pleased with our stewardship of the earth either.
So what can we do to contribute to the betterment of the environment and implement more sustainable methods of enjoying fashion?
1. Invest in classic and quality items when buying new clothes.
You may spend a shinier penny for your clothes but they should last longer. Trends fade! Try building your own capsule collection with timeless classics that don't go in and out of fashion. Don't feel the need to keep up with the Joneses , Kardashians or the influencers!
2. Dispose of your unwanted items more responsibly.
It's SO easy to fill bin liners and drop it off at your nearest charity shop or 'cash for clothes' outlet, just to rid your wardrobe of space. Many charity shops receive more clothing donations then they can handle. So why not use platforms like e-Bay or Depop to resell your clothes? This way, you know it has gone directly to another home. For the unwearable, stained, shabby items bring them to your local textile recycling facility, to avoid them ending up in a landfill. Your old t-shirts could now end up being a rug, insulation or cushion filling!
3. Research and shop with sustainable fashion brands.
The price points, sometimes, even for basic items are generally higher BUT the pricing reflects the chain of manufacturing better. The ones who make your clothes are likely to be getting paid and working in safer environments (God cares about you and the factory worker ). Whilst some well established fast fashion brands do have ethical ranges too, it doesn't outweigh their main contribution to fast fashion. Check out brands like Ama Ella for ethical sleepwear and lingerie (even their compliment slips are made of seed paper! so you can plant it then watch it grow)
Other brands you can consider are Reformation, Stella McCartney for the luxury gang and for the sneaker lovers French brand Veja. One out of four trainers they make is 100 per cent vegan and not bland in style!
Trying out these ways isn't going to end the terror fast fashion is making on the planet tomorrow, but it being a step in the right direction, I think God would be pleased with it.