Sustainable fashion is one trend that thankfully isn’t going anywhere in a hurry. Now more than ever, shoppers seem to be consuming with a conscience and actually researching if their garments have been ethically sourced before they buy. The last few years have seen a growing number of shoppers turn away from the irresponsible and fickle world of fashion-fashion, in favour of more sustainable and natural fiber made styles instead. A survey carried out in 2019 by Nosto revealed that around 50% of consumers questioned would be more likely to buy clothes from companies they know are committed to sustainability. But what are natural fiber clothes? And who actually benefits from our sustainable fashion choices? Well, opting for the sustainable choice when it comes to the materials your clothes are made from firstly means that you’re helping out planet. So many of the materials used to construct fast-fashion clothes are non-compostable, meaning they’re unable to be easily broken down in a way that’s friendly to the planet. Research shows that an estimated 92 million tonnes of global textiles waste is created each year, and the equivalent to a rubbish truck full of clothes ends up in landfill sites every second. By 2030, we are expected as a whole to be discarding more than 134 million tonnes of textiles per year. That’s why the materials you choose make a difference. By switching to organic or raw materials, you can be safe in the knowledge that your discarded items will never end up in landfill sites that are toxic to the planet. Which fabric is a natural fabric? Just a few of the alternative (and surprising) natural and eco-friendly clothing fabrics you can choose, include: Organic cotton – Grown without pesticides, it’s one of the most natural materials out there. Recycled cotton – Produced using either post-industrial or post-consumer waste. Cork – More uses than just preserving wine! Cork is sustainably harvested from cork oak trees and is now used in many garments, such as bags and shoes. Modal – A semi-synthetic fabric that’s super breathable and comfortable. Pinatex – Made from real pineapples! Yes, the fruit. This clever material is now being used as a cruelty-free alternative to making leather. Talk about food for thought! If you want to learn more, it’s time to dive into 10 more of our must-know facts about sustainable fashion and fashion waste: 1. Fashion needs to step up It makes for pretty sad reading to see that the apparel and footwear industries are responsible for a whopping 8% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. That makes the fashion industry the third highest-polluting one on the planet. It’s clear that big changes are needed, and fast. 2. We don’t wear our clothes enough Considering the amount of clothing our wardrobes are stuffed with, it might come as a shock to learn that worldwide clothing utilisation (that’s how often we wear something) has gone down by a massive 36 percent, compared to 15 years ago. So shopping sustainably doesn’t just mean buying organic fabrics – it also means getting our wear out of the clothes we already have, before we mindlessly throw them away. 3. Exploitation is a real problem A staggering 93% of Fashion Checker’s surveyed fast-fashion brands were found not to be paying basic living wages to garment workers, with many of these based in deprived countries. By choosing to buy sustainable clothes, you can feel good knowing that the skilled workers who made your favourite t-shirt are properly paid and looked after within their workplaces. 4. There’s room for more recycling Did you know that only 15 percent of consumers actually recycle their clothing? Next time you’re looking to throw away any pieces you really don’t want anymore or can’t fit into – consider taking the fabrics to your local recycling centre instead of just throwing them in the bin. This will slowly help to reverse the textiles landfill problems that are so prevalent at the moment. 5. Water is wasted too It shocked us to learn that it takes on average over 7000 litres of water to produce just one single pair of jeans. That equates to around the same amount of water the average human will drink in nearly six years! The mind boggles when you also consider that around 2 billion pairs of jeans are produced globally each year. Where possible, research the water consumption of fashion brands before you buy. One clothing brand taking this water crisis seriously is Dockers, with their WaterLess collection. 6. We can cut out carbon footprint easily We bet you didn’t know that a polyester shirt has double the carbon footprint of one made from organic cotton? This is a prime example of how we can make a real difference by simply making the switch to more sustainable materials, in order to reduce the amount of polyester produced and micro plastics that end up in our oceans. 7. Attitudes are changing There is hope! Consumer attitudes for ethical fashion are increasingly optimistic (phew!). Over sixty percent of millennials say that they really do wish to shop more “sustainably.” Which sure is a step in the right direction, at least. 8. Ethical shopping is on the up It’s a relief to hear that the value of the sustainable clothing market actually increased by 19.9% in 2018, according to Ethical Consumer magazine. Hopefully that figure has only continued to grow! 9. Brands are changing their ways Thankfully, many brands are starting to take the plunge and switch to more sustainable production methods. In fact, since May 2018, 12.5 percent of the global fashion market has pledged to make some drastic changes to reverse some of the most worrying projections for the next few years. 10. We can change the future By 2030, it’s predicted that fashion waste will continue to increase to a 148 million ton problem unless drastic changes are taken. This is where we can all step up our sustainability game to make a huge difference! By making just one small sustainability switch, each of us can help to bring that number down together. Which fashion brands are doing sustainability best? When it comes to which are the healthiest fabrics to wear this summer, why not opt for clothing made by brands that are taking sustainability seriously? A couple great ethical fashion brands worth a mention include Dockers, who work mostly with sustainably sourced materials for their stylish utility wear, as well as driving their eco-friendly WaterLess Collection. There’s also Patagonia, who have been making huge efforts in recent years to really deliver on their Fair Trade Program participation. Or there’s the guys over at Adidas, who have pledged to use only 100% recyclable plastic by 2024, and also created a range of performance fabrics that only use polyester that has been recycled. So there you have it – a rundown of the main sustainable fashion facts you need to know to make a change in 2021. Hopefully reading up on how easy it is for us consumers to make a real difference might help you to make more ethically conscious style choices when hitting the high street this summer.