Global warming and carbon emissions have been a hot topic in politics over the past few decades, and this is for a good reason. Our planet is suffering from the wasteful and irresponsible methods of production that we have been utilizing since the industrial revolution.
When we think about greenhouse gas emissions, fashion isn’t always the first place our minds go. But with trends changing by the day and fast fashion rising in popularity, the clothing industry has become a major contributor in the destruction of the environment. Fabric production uses water, energy, chemicals and numerous other resources that the consumer will never even see.
Of course you don’t want to make any major sacrifices when it comes to choosing your wedding dress. This is a special day and you want to make sure you look and feel amazing in what you wear. But for anyone currently rolling their eyes at the thought of wearing a secondhand dress, you need to first understand what makes sustainable wedding dresses.
Sustainable doesn’t always mean thrifting a dress from Goodwill. You can find hundreds of dresses brand new and off the rack that are sustainably sourced and ethically produced. Let’s first talk about what sustainability means when it comes to fashion.
What is Sustainable Fashion?
So, what exactly makes garments sustainable? A study in the Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management defines sustainable clothing as follows:
“local sourcing and production, transparency across the supply chain, traceability of work process and raw materials, environmentally friendly raw materials, safe working conditions and fair wages.”
More simply put, brands that prioritize sustainability are using environmentally friendly materials that create minimal waste during the production process. They make sure to use as many locally sourced products as possible to reduce the amount of transportation used to acquire materials.
There is also an expectation that the people who are making these products are adults being paid a living wage and being treated with basic human decency and respect. The working conditions of many fast fashion brands are horrifying and dehumanizing on top of being massively wasteful.
With that being said, sustainable fashion does not have to be second hand or thrifted. While these are fantastic ways to shop sustainably, you can still buy brand new clothing that upholds these standards.
It is important to check on the retailer’s website to determine what kind of ethical processes the company practices. It is especially important to vet the shop you want to buy your wedding dress from. Let’s get into why this is important.
Why Your Wedding Dress Should be Sustainable
Now that you have some background on why sustainability is important in the fashion industry, here are three reasons that you should be shopping for ethically sourced wedding dresses.
1. Gowns Are Single Use
Weddings in general are typically a display of extravagance and grandeur, but wedding dresses themselves have a long-standing reputation of being profligate. Any garment that is single use can be deemed as such.
When shopping for your normal clothing items, you will always want to purchase items that are timeless and can be worn over and over again. Seeing as how this does not apply to a garment like a wedding dress, that makes it all the more important to purchase your gown from a sustainable shop.
2. Environmental Impact
So, you wear your extravagant garment on your one big day, but what happens to it after? You may not be aware that fabric textiles take anywhere from 20 to 200 years to fully biodegrade, and this is not a process that happens without causing further harm. Fabrics can release toxic chemicals into the environment as they biodegrade.
Before you purchase your one time use dress from an unsustainable shop, think about the repercussions that it will have on the environment for decades to come.
3. Supply and Demand
Another important reason to choose a sustainable dress is due to supply and demand. It is important to make purchases from brands that uphold ethical and environmental standards as it will help drive the demand for environmentally responsible clothing. As the demand rises, more brands will be persuaded to implement ethical processes in their means of production.
Wedding dress designers are all capable of converting to sustainable production methods, but things will only change if the demand increases. When making a large purchase like a wedding dress from a shop that already practices sustainability, you are directly contributing to the resolution of the problem.
Be the Change
When it comes to government reform, as individuals we often feel helpless. Politician’s interests do not always line up with what is ethical and just. This can be seen by how controversial something like the Green New Deal has been amongst members of congress.
In a capitalist society, voting with your dollar is far more effective than voting for a politician. Make sure you are giving your money to companies that have high ethical and environmental standards and are committed to helping protect the planet.