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What is Sustainable Fashion?

SUSTAINABILITY ARTICLE FOR THE WEEKENDER HERALD BY LIDDY DOLMAN JULY 2013

'WHAT IS SUSTAINABLE FASHION?'

At Ecolateral we are in the process of planning an extension to our current store called ‘Nature’s Threads’ which will include a range of sustainable fashion. Our search for the right brands for this space has been both complex and enlightening to say the least.

I started my search with the following definition scribbled on the top of my notepad sourced from good old ‘Wikipedia’: ‘Sustainable fashion is where a product is created and produced with consideration to the environmental and social impact that it may have throughout its total life span, including its "carbon footprint".

We did touch on the social aspect of fashion manufacturing in our previous article so will focus on the environmental impact issues today.

When we talk of natural fibres we technically mean ‘fibres which are found in nature and are not petroleum-based’. Interestingly, cotton farming, seen by most as a natural fibre, uses a staggering 25% of the world’s pesticides. Fortunately, more and more cotton farmers are turning to organic farming methods producing quality organic cotton used more and more in the fashion industry.

The search went on to include the hemp fibre which requires little water, no pesticides and minimum quantities of fertilizer to grow and with the new weaving technology and vegetable dyes used today, is softer, incredibly durable and totally biodegradable. A ‘no brainer’ to include in our range.

The most controversial was Bamboo fibre which absorbs huge amounts of greenhouse gases during its life cycle and grows quickly without the use of pesticides or fertilizers. Our customers love this beautiful soft fabric and can't get enough of our bamboo socks. The dilemma is the chemicals used to create the soft viscose from this plant. Work is continuing to eradicate the use of the chemicals in this process which we continue to support through the selection of our suppliers.

Our list of preferences also included wool and alpaca, the use of local designers, garments made in Australia, a percentage of garments made from recycled materials, plant based dyes, transport miles from farm to store front and manufacturing environments that use ethical and sustainable practices.

Work on ‘Nature’s Threads’ space also involved the sourcing of all recycled materials for the fit out to continue the sustainable philosophy behind our whole business.

My final word on this subject is that the most sustainable fashion purchase is still from your local op shop or vintage fashion store. The gems I have discovered in the most unlikely places that now take pride of place in my wardrobe are a joy to behold.

Next edition Why choose organic food?
Visit me at Ecolateral 411 Magill Road St Morris or visit www.ecolateralshop.com.au for more info on sustainability. 

411 Magill Road St Morris, SA 5068 Australia (08) 8333 3478

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