I was on my Instagram, procrastinating some assignment of course. And I came across an ad for H&M. H&M is one of my favourite stores for clothes so I took the time to stop browsing memes and watch the ad. It was about their new sustainable collection. I didn’t really think much about the ad and just went on with my day. But recently, I watched an episode of Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj. It really made me question when companies claim that they are sustainable if they are even making the effort to be environmentally conscious.
Hasan explains that sustainable isn’t even a legal term and companies love to throw that term around. Not gonna lie, as a consumer, whenever I buy a product that claims it is sustainable, it would make me feel warm and fuzzy inside because I assumed it was good for the environment. But the truth is that most of these companies are part of the fast fashion movement. Fast fashion is basically companies producing large amount of clothes at fast rates to keep up with trends. This leads to a huge amount of waste since most of the clothes are of low quality. The average American woman will only wear an item for a total of 3 times because of the low quality.
The production of clothes is also a huge strain on water supplies. The cotton used to make one jacket was 10,000 L which is 24 years of drinking water for one person! This process is also wasteful and only a few percentage of the raw materials is actually used for wear. Other synthetic fabrics also use a lot of oil in their production. About 350 million barrels of oil per year are used in the production of synthetic fabrics.
So, what can we do to make our clothes practices more sustainable? Donating your extra clothes to those in need or thrift shops can be very helpful in reducing waste. Also, going thrift shopping with a couple friends can be a fun way to practice self care and sustainability. Buying from local boutiques that use higher quality fabrics can increase the number of wear per clothing item and help reduce waste.
We also had a green market with the special events team at Sustain SU. We had a lot of donations and purchases at this event. Maybe in the future we can have more events like this at the university to help students save money and be sustainable in their clothing purchases.
Avneet and Lilliana
Sustain SU Ambassadors