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7 Unexpected Benefits of Sustainable Fashion Nobody Talks About

We’re pretty sure you’re aware of how polluting and exploiting the fashion industry is and how sustainable fashion can help reduce many environmental and social problems. In the same way, we’re convinced that personal benefits – or the benefits you can get from sustainable fashion as a consumer – are too often glossed over.

Yes, indeed, sustainable fashion is good for the planet, for other people, for animals, but also for you. As a consumer, there are a ton of benefits you can get once you start shopping for sustainable clothes: from having a long-lasting and valuable wardrobe to creating a unique style.

Overall, sustainable clothing shopping habits contribute to reducing water pollution and CO2 emissions, supporting fair working practices, and stopping animal abuse. Are you curious to know more about these benefits? Then keep on reading!

Does sustainable fashion have real benefits?

All the benefits we could ever imagine of sustainable fashion fall into two broad categories:

  • Global benefits – for the environment, workers, and animals
  • Personal benefits – for consumers

When the environment is so compromised and workers and animals so exploited, why should personal benefits matter? Well, it’s known that only when we understand what our real “gain” is we pay more attention to something, don’t we? And with this article, we want to encourage more conscious behaviors by showing you that sustainable fashion is good not only for the environment, workers, and animals but especially for you!

Why is every single consumption behavior so crucial? Because everything – from a greener world to a fair and cruelty-free industry – starts with your consumption choices. Everything begins with what you choose to wear.

Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.

– Anna Lappé

Let’s cut to the chase and discover together the benefits of sustainable fashion.

Sustainable fashion benefits for you: selfishness or not?

Fashion and our clothes have a lot to do with selfishness – who doesn’t love to dress up and feel good in their own clothes?

Clothes have always been at the centre of our lives (…) What we wear often bring us together with others who wear similar things, helping us to find our people, connect and belong.

– Orsola de Castro

Let’s be honest, each of us cares about what benefit we can get from our actions, even from what is apparently an altruistic action. And there’s nothing wrong with that! Well, I mean, it’s only by deeply understanding the value of something that we can keep doing it, isn’t it? And it is precisely by understanding the real benefits and what we receive in exchange for conscious choices that we could “convert” ourselves (if we are not yet), and also keep behaving sustainably. As such, let’s take a look at the main benefits you can get from sustainable fashion!

1. Long-lasting wardrobe

A sustainable wardrobe is all about timeless pieces you can wear forever. As such, the first benefit you get from a sustainable wardrobe is that it lasts for ages! Yes, indeed, consciously made clothes are made from high-quality fibers that don’t wear out easily. Plus, they often have a minimalist design that never goes out of style. So, basically, there’s no need to change your clothes following the trends and seasonal releases! The best feeling ever is that your sustainable staples are always up with the times.

2. Valuable, high quality, and fair wardrobe

On average, sustainable fashion is more expensive than fast fashion. While we’ve repeatedly shown you that there are tons of ethical brands that are anything but expensive (go and check out our list of 50 brands to dress consciously on a budget), it’s undeniable that being conscious and striving to leave small traces behind isn’t cost-free for brands.

This “extra cost” includes at least higher quality materials (because the fabrics used in fast fashion are really bad!) and a fair wage for workers. As such, creating a sustainable wardrobe may indeed be a little more expensive for you at first, but your higher initial investments will save you a lot in the next few years! Do you want to know how? Let’s figure this out in the next point!

If you want to enjoy the benefits of a sustainable wardrobe but you can only afford fast fashion at the moment, we have a post with plenty of actionable steps you can already take as well as some tips for changing your mindset about clothes.

3. Mindful shopping and savings

We should look at sustainable fashion as a new mindset: buying ethically means buying consciously, which then means buying only what you need and when you need it. As a result, simply changing your shopping habits and transforming shopping for clothing from a regular event to a needful one will save you a lot! In the end, you’ll have a valuable wardrobe made of clothes that you like and that don’t cost the planet!

4. Loved clothes

When you shop mindfully and consciously, you only buy what gives you emotions and so you’ll end up loving your new clothes… which is the prerequisite to keep wearing them and avoid throwing them unused. Don’t know where to start your new mindful shopping path? No worries, we’ve got you covered! Here’s a list of simple questions you should ask yourself when it comes to buying new items (if you don’t have a clear answer for more than one question, then maybe you shouldn’t go ahead with the purchase):

  • Do I really need it?
  • Can I find it second-hand?
  • Does it match my style and my other clothes?

5. Unique and well-defined style

Oh yes, style is important and it’s what guides us in our shopping sections. What if I told you that sustainable fashion helps you define a personal and unique style that is not influenced by passing trends at all? Usually, sustainable clothing is designed and meant to matter to you for years to come. As such, sustainable and ethical brands strive to create timeless, original, and well-made silhouettes that make you feel better than wearing something that is ultimately disposable.

People who wear fast fashion only live in the illusion of being stylish. There’s nothing more wrong! Fast fashion brands create 1 machine-made collection every week, often even copying and stealing ideas and designs from small producers. As such, how can they offer pieces with a bold and unique character? They have only one goal: to sell. They don’t care about the environment and people, and they certainly don’t care about the uniqueness of your style.

6. Health… and healthy skin

We don’t usually think about our health and skin when we talk about fashion, do we? Well, we should start worrying about it instead. The skin is the largest organ of the body and clothes sit right on it 24/7! Recent research shows that textile dyes are highly toxic and even potentially carcinogenic… we better choose what we wear carefully!

Always prefer brands that use natural dyes – fruits and vegetables are great as dyes and don’t hurt you and workers that make the garments. Raspberries, spinach, nettles, red cabbage mango, rambutan leaves, mahogany, and jackfruit are just a few examples! In addition, natural dyes and colors give clothes amazing hues and shades that don’t fade away at the first wash.

7. Gratification

As if the benefits listed above were not enough, is there such a thing as the feeling of having done something good for you and for our planet and millions of other lives? Gratification… what a wonderful feeling! And yes, the positive impact of sustainable fashion on the environment and all other living beings is what we have termed “global benefits”, but hey, do never forget that all these other benefits are only possible if you make the right consumption choices! Let’s see why.

Sustainable fashion benefits for the environment: our planet needs us all

We are nowhere near where we need to be yet.

– Barack Obama

At COP26, former US President Obama has warned about the consequences of not moving fast enough on climate change. And again, the fashion industry has a lot to do with climate change and pollution as it contributes between 2-10% of global carbon emissions annually.

The fashion industry also creates incredible amounts of waste! Read our post ‘How Much Waste Does the Fashion Industry Produce?’ to learn more about the devastating effect of our clothes!

Switching to a (more) sustainable way of doing business is now inescapable to save our planet, the one and only home we have. And sustainable fashion could benefit the environment in many ways:

  • Less used, wasted, and contaminated water: the fashion industry is responsible for 20% of global wastewater (it takes more than 3,000 liters for a t-shirt!).
  • Less textile waste: sustainable brands are committed to using recycled fibers, reusing production scraps, producing in small batches to prevent overproduction and deadstock.
  • Plastic-free packaging and CO2 compensation: many brands plant trees, give 1% for the Planet, and undertake to offset emissions from shipping.
  • More environmental protection practices in low-income countries: being sustainable also means investing in poorer areas.

While sustainable fashion might not be enough to save the environment, it takes a crucial part in building a more responsible future of fashion. Read more about this in our post ‘The Truth about Why Sustainable Fashion Won’t Save the Environment‘.

Sustainable fashion benefits for other people: let’s build a fairer world

The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world.

– Paul Farmer

It’s sad, but it’s true: most of our clothes are made in low-income countries where workers’ rights are non-existent. Supporting fashion brands that are committed to doing better and treating workers fairly would make it possible to:

  • Turning miserable wages into fair wages
  • Stop endless working hours and guarantee a good work-life balance
  • Make health and safety working conditions from unacceptable to dignified
  • Stop child and forced labor

This is the world we should be fighting for! No firearms are needed – it just starts with what you choose to wear. How can you be sure that a fashion brand is doing what it has promised to do? Look for certifications such as Fairtrade, Fair Wear, and GOTS.

Want to know what these certifications actually mean? Check out our post about ‘The Most Important Sustainable & Ethical Fashion Certifications You Should Know’!

Benefits for animals: cruelty-free as a state of mind

When it comes to sustainability in fashion, we can’t help but mention animals too. Yes, indeed, sustainable fashion is about the conscious use of natural resources, the respect of people, and also the protection of animals. Overall, sustainable fashion refers to a way of producing that prioritizes not having harmful impacts on the planet, society, and animals over making money.

Four Paws – a global animal welfare organization – estimates that over two billion animals are used in the wool, fur, and leather fashion industries alone every year. Most of these animals, suffer poor living conditions, brutal physical mutilation practices, and chronic stress. If you care about the environment and other people, you can’t ignore other living beings’ sufferance.

Animals are here with us, not for us.

– anonymous

Our clothes are meant to make us look stylish and fancy, but there’s no need to cause pain, and abuse to animals for these (futile) purposes! If you decide to wear cruelty-free clothes and accessories, you won’t only avoid animals suffering but also contribute to launching a powerful signal to those fashion companies that continue to turn a blind eye and ignore that the market is changing.

The main benefits of sustainable fashion for animals are:

  • Fewer impacts on biodiversity: from deforestation to water pollution, the fashion industry is accountable for the degradation and destruction of many ecosystems around the world. And this happens at every stage of the supply chain, from raw materials extraction to final sale.
  • Safety and protection: leather, feathers, silk, wool, and other animal derivatives can be replaced by innovative and plant-based materials. Luckily, many fashion brands are taking up the challenge and developing innovative fibers that won’t make you regret the old animal-derivative fabrics.

Note: Keep in mind that someone might argue that many animal derivatives – and leather is an excellent example and somewhat controversial discussion topic – used in fashion production are waste or “by-products” from other industries. Does buying a leather item, even if it is made from a by-product, make us less cruel to the animal that has been slaughtered? No, we don’t think so. By purchasing leather goods, even if made from waste materials, cruelty to animals is indirectly and financially supported.

If you are already against fur, you might want to read ‘Leather Vs. Fur: Same Cruelty Perceived Differently’ to see why we don’t think leather is as ethical as it seems.

Bonus tip

We’ve said it (more than) once and we’ll say it again: give secondhand clothes a try! Buying and giving a second (third, fourth, etc.) life to something that has already been produced and that is still in a good shape means preventing it from ending up in landfills and wasting precious resources.

Alberta Bernardi
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Alberta Bernardi is a Ph.D. in Management, Innovation, and Sustainable Development. She likes to call herself a “sustainability warrior” because she aims to spread knowledge on the environment, ethics, and plastic pollution day after day. Her love of nature and battle against plastic around the world are on Instagram @together_no_plastic