How Millennials Can Save The World Through Eco Fashion

How Millennials Can Save The World Through Eco Fashion

There’s no denying that the fashion industry is taking a significant toll on our planet, contributing tonnes of pollution and causing large-scale environmental damage.

Thankfully there is a group of concerned people that seem to be taking fashion’s environmental problems seriously – they are the millennials. 

Millennials account for a large part of the world’s population. According to a study by the Census Bureau, in the US, 92 million out of 230 million individuals are millennials, or approximately 40 percent of the population.

It goes without saying that this generation may help pave the way for sustainable fashion since it is this generation that has fastest growing social and environmental conscience. Writing for the Guardian, ethical ecommerce entrepreneur Rachel Kibbe states “millennials are interested in social change thus making them the perfect partners for influencing others for the greater good.

How Millennials Can Save The World Through Fashion

Here’s how millennials contribute to the growing sustainable fashion movement:

First comes knowledge

Change first starts within an individual, and it usually begins with acquiring knowledge. Knowledge as they say is power so when wanting to change the way of fast fashion, learning how materials are grown, how fashion brand’s source fabrics, where they manufacture, how workers are treated, how much they’re paid and how transparent the supply chain is is crucial to making informed shopping decisions and understanding the importance of ethical clothing.

Leading by example

Knowledge doesn’t mean a thing if people don’t spring to action after acquiring it. A recent study by PSFK stated that millennials’ spending by 2017 is estimated to reach about $200 billion. Millennials could change the consumer game towards ethical products simply through conscious purchasing behaviour.

How Millennials Can Save The World Through Ethical Fashion

Imagine if a big chunk of millennials’ spending moved away from cheap unethically produced fashion and towards green fashion, then the industry would naturally improve. If retailers and designers notice the influx of ethical clothing sales, more will decide to move away from fast fashion and create ethically-produced sustainable fashion because that’s where the demand is. A domino effect would then occur so that industry standards are improved across the board.

“Fashion, like any industry, will evolve to the demands of the market,” said Kathleen Talbot in an interview with Nylon. As head of sustainability and operations at Reformation, a US-based ethical fashion label popular with the female millennial demographic she knows exactly what she’s talking about. “So if more consumers shop ethical brands, more brands will adopt ethical practices to capture that market.”

So shop from fashion labels, boutiques and online shops that support sustainable fashion because caring about ethical fashion means taking action and voting with your dollars, not just your words. 

Quality over quantity

Since people are paid living wages and there are higher costs for organic materials (for now), green fashion often comes at higher costs. Companies that offer ethical clothing are doing their best to be efficient in what they do and sell the products that they offer, but they just do not have access to the economies of scale that fast fashion brands have.

Luckily millennial consumers – who aren’t tied down to the costs of raising a family and large mortgages – are much more understanding about the price issue. A recent global survey stated that millennials are willing to pay more when it comes to sustainability as they focus on the quality of the products that they buy.

One way that millennials afford ethical clothing is by buying fewer fast fashion garments and then purchasing clothes from brands and labels that produce ethical product. Another way millennials do this is by buying low-cost second-hand items from op-shops and then saving up for sustainably produced fashion garments.

How Millennials Can Save The World Through Conscious Fashion

Spreading the word

Millennials have an extensive network of friends and acquaintances thanks to social media. They therefore lead by example by spreading the word about sustainable fashion and sharing conscious fashion labels with their social networks. Sharing ethical products and brands they like and purchase, and starting important conversations about green fashion with their friends help others become more conscious about the impacts of their purchases. 

Millennials don’t just restrict these conversations to their friendship community. They also enlighten their family and wider community too. By paving the way for change, millennials can empower others to make them feel like they are a part of something bigger, and that they can vote for positive change simply by buying better.

Blogs and vlogs are great communication tools and millennials are embracing these mediums to expressing powerful points of view about conscious consumerism. The goal is to make ethical clothing a social norm, and blogs and vlogs are great ways to contribute to more depth in shallow fashion conversations.

“Social norms are how people think of themselves, what they aspire to be like, and how they expect others to act,” Dara O’Rourke founder of GoodGuide and part of Amazon’s sustainability team explains in a report about transforming the apparel industry. “As for social influence, people are constantly watching other people, and the biggest predictor of purchases is people like you driving that car, wearing that jacket, or holding that phone.” 

Eco Fashion Shopping Tips - Eco Warrior Princess infographic (2)

Waste not want not

Rachel Kibbe, the founder of HELPSY, an online shop that stocks clothing and accessories from ethical labels, told Nylon Magazine that the global fashion industry produces roughly about 80 million of new clothes each year and approximately three out of four will end up in landfills or burned.

The power of millennials to change that number to a significant level due to their strong presence globally and affect society as a whole is what the world needs. By promoting change, one person at a time, sustainable clothing may eventually become the only choice for society and will help to reduce the resource burden on Mother Earth.

Stephanie writes for Seed Heritage.

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