When I started Tiny People Organics I always knew I would work with sustainable and ethical materials. Why is it important to buy not only sustainable but also ethical? Ethical fashion is about seeing the people who make the materials and clothes we buy, whereas sustainable fashion is about saving the planet through the kind of clothes we buy.
So why do we need to talk about sustainable fashion? Well, the fashion industry is the "second dirtiest" industry in the world after oil. The "fast fashion" industry ensures that the latest, hottest garments are easily available and cheap, but it has some serious environmental consequences - whether we are aware of it or not, by driving this industry we are making ourselves accomplices and contributing to the pollution of our water supply. On top of this there are millions of so-called "unwearable garments" in landfills, which, like plastic, can take hundreds of years to decompose.
There are many problems on this side of the garment industry, one of which is the toxic chemicals used in dyeing. These toxins are washed into rivers and the ocean, contributing to our growing water pollution problems. This harms ecosystems and can even affect the quality of our own drinking water. The chemicals in the dyes are also associated with serious health problems for those who work with the dyes.
My personal "No way, Jose" are synthetic substances. Most of the garments available on the market today are synthetic, such as polyester. For me, wearing polyester is basically like wearing a plastic bag because it is made of plastic. The most frightening problem, of which many people are still unaware, is that these synthetic fabrics are damaging our environment in a similar way to plastic bags, bottles and straws. Every time a synthetic garment is washed, tiny fibres - microplastics - are washed into the water. Since our washing machines cannot catch these tiny fibres in their filters, they end up in our water supply and in the ocean.
This microplastic is absorbed by living creatures in the sea and automatically lands on our plates. They are also contained in our table salt and drinking water. So how can we prevent microplastics from our synthetic garments from entering our water supply? Not only can we stop buying synthetic clothes, but we can also use a wash bag to catch microplastic that comes off our clothes during the washing process before it flows into the drain.
There is also the problem of quality when it comes to fast fashion. Due to the disposable nature of the fast fashion industry, the garments usually do not last long. I read somewhere that these garments are worn about seven times on average. After a little wearing and washing, we see that the garments look worn out, brittle or the colour fades.
What happens to the worn out "not so trendy" outfits? They cannot be resold and charities often do not accept them. That's why they end up in the landfill with all the other clothes, because they are no longer wearable or trendy. Just like plastic in landfills, these garments take hundreds of years to decompose. Toxins from the synthetic materials are left behind and contribute to greenhouse gases.
That is why access to sustainable fashion should be made possible for all - so that natural materials, natural dyes and high quality clothing are the most normal thing in the world. With my background in fashion, I have always appreciated quality clothing and natural fabrics, for which I am quite grateful today. A large part of my wardrobe is made up of high quality items that I have owned for years and these fit perfectly with my values at Tiny People Organics today.
For me it is important to buy responsibly - ethically AND sustainably, quality before quantity. When I or a member of my family really needs a new garment, I don't just buy it, I think about it. I research which brands fit my values, who is ethical, who is sustainable and only then I buy. I try to make a wise decision to make sure I do my part and set a good example. Privately and at Tiny People Organics.
Buying intelligently and consciously has never been more important than today.