Why is sustainable fashion important?
7 May 2020 at 7:00 am
While independent label Team Timbuktu may be small, their ability to reduce their negative impact and use alternate fabrics and processes proves it’s not just the giants of the fashion world who can make a difference.
Sustainable fashion. Ethical fashion. Fairtrade. Organic. Recycled. That’s not even the tip of the iceberg, yet it’s easy to see why it’s so confusing to everyday consumers to understand the fashion industry and why it’s important to support sustainable and ethical fashion.
Put simply, the clothes you wear matter. All clothing is handmade, yet most people have never thought about what the fabric in their favourite jumper is made out of, or who made their clothes. They’re important questions and they really do make a difference. Unfortunately the fashion industry has traditionally had, and still has, an enormous negative impact upon the planet and not a great history looking after the people in the supply chain. Annually the fashion industry creates more CO2 emissions than all international flights and maritime shipping worldwide, which really shows how negative an impact it has.
One business doing things differently is Team Timbuktu, a small, independent label committed to sustainability and ethics. And while they’re only micro sized, their ability to reduce their negative impact and use alternate fabrics and processes proves it’s not just the giants of the fashion world who can make a difference. If a company with one employee and a marketing budget smaller than your weekly lunch spend can do it, how come the Nike’s and Lululemon’s of the world can’t?
Team Timbuktu is a sustainably made activewear and outdoors brand, creating clothes made for adventure out of recycled plastic bottles and organic fibres. They’ve eliminated single-use plastics from their supply chain, introduced compostable packaging and there’s no smoke and mirrors within their supply chain, they’ve personally met all of their makers.
While it can be confusing to know which brands are making a difference on the ground, versus what’s in their flashy marketing campaign, a little research can help you get to the bottom of it. Rather than purchasing an item because it’s 70 per cent off, or because you need it for the weekend and it only costs $20, think about how it’s possible for a brand to create the fabric, sew the garment, ship it half way across the world, put it in a store, pay for the operational expenses and all the workers within the supply chain, for a mere $20. Yes, there are economies of scale with global retailers, but the more inconvenient and truthful answer is that they’re simply not looking after people and planet along the way.
The majority of fabrics are synthetic, meaning they’re not natural and are most frequently derived from oil. Check your garment tags (normally in the left side seam) and you’ll find out what your clothes are made out of. Polyester, nylon and acrylic are all made out of oil, and without giving it a second thought, you know that’s far from sustainable.
Team Timbuktu creates its waterproof raincoats and sweat wicking activewear out of fabric made from recycled plastic bottles, saving plastic from entering landfill and oceans, and also reducing our dependence on non renewables, creating a better fashion industry, one pair of leggings at a time.
To recycle plastic bottles into clothing is a complex process but it is far less energy intensive in its production compared to conventional synthetic fabrics, saving up to 70 per cent energy. Once the plastic bottles have been collected for recycling, caps are removed and the bottles are sorted by colour, the bottles are cleaned and sterilised before being shredded into flakes, which are then melted and extruded into yarn, which is then spun into a fabric before being cut and sewn into new clothes. The end fabric is one that looks and feels just like a regular fabric, it’s soft, sweat wicking and breathable, but the environmental footprint is significantly lower.
Imagine if the clothes on your back could help contribute to the world, rather than damaging it? So before you make your next purchase think about it as an investment, and if you can’t find out from the brand who made your clothes and what they’re made out of, perhaps it’s time to make a better choice.