What does eco-friendly fashion really mean? Every piece of clothing you buy today has plastic woven into it, with about 69% of clothes made up of synthetic fibres, including elastane, nylon and acrylic. Plastic is versatile and durable, making it crucial to a fashion industry that creates an estimated 13 kgs of fashion waste for every person on the planet each year. That amount is equivalent to a landmass larger than the size of France.
Sea2see has pioneered change in the fashion industry: our glasses and watches are a statement that says we are willing to fight for our oceans. Our high quality frames are 100% made in Italy and we offer a wide range of shapes and styles that are affordable. Sustainable fashion needs to go beyond high-end, exclusive design and create products that every conscious consumer can buy. The more people change to sustainable fashion, the better: this is the only way to make real change happen.
Designers going 100% eco-friendly
The choices made at the design stage of a garment will have the biggest impact on sustainability, and some high-end designers have made important decisions to be 100% eco-friendly. They are showing that it is possible to reduce the number of micro-fibres released into the environment, reduce toxic waste and promote sustainable practices while designing clothes that are original.
However, making these kinds of choices remains a luxury for many shoppers as high-end designs are unattainable for many people. That cost is a significant barrier to more eco-friendly shopping habits for many. Moreover, even thrift stores, who have always been providers of sustainable fashion, have succumbed to gentrification. Fashion has always been a tool for experimentation and expression, but it must also be accessible.
Is high street fashion really recycling?
With 80 billion garments produced each year in the fashion industry, a growing number of high street brands are also using recycled plastic as a raw material. Whether these more conscious garments are a real move towards protecting the environment or another form of greenwashing, is another question.
190,000 tonnes of textile microplastic fibres are released into the world’s oceans annually. Fibres continue shedding from recycled plastic yarns at the same rate as new ones, so recycling synthetics does not solve this problem. We spoke about the effects of fast fashion on the world’s oceans in an earlier post.
Also, the most used recycled substitute for virgin synthetics is polyethylene terephthalate (PET), the common plastic bottle. PET is sustainable within its own closed-loop system where bottles are recycled many times, but not when converted into a piece clothing that will be discarded after a few uses.
What role do I play?
As consumers we have often thought of ourselves in a passive role under the influence of advertising and fashion trends. Now is the time for us to see ourselves as conscious citizens with the power to change the fashion industry with our purchasing choices.
Sea2see uses recycled nylon collected from old marine plastic to create our UPSEA™ PLAST. This is a more complex process than that of PET or polyester, but ultimately a more sustainable way of creating fashion. Read about the process here.