The longer we’re on this planet, the more we realize the importance of leaving less of a footprint. That’s why it is so important that the products we produce and consume are sustainable from start to finish. Sustainability, in environmentally conscious terms, means that the things we produce and consume do not deplete natural resources, but instead use and replace them, so that the natural resource is continuous in growth.
Sustainability applies to natural resources like trees, fibers, plants, water, and ground space. For instance, something that is grown and harvested in a sustainable manner means that the resource will be available repeatedly for the current generation and future generations. Many companies who strive to achieve the maximum amount of sustainability with their products also maintain extremely high standards of ethics concerning the environment and their human workers as well.
You don’t have to spend a fortune to invest in sustainable items. You just need to be selective with the companies you buy from and make a personal decision to invest in them. Purchasing items from companies that produce sustainable products supports their efforts to use the earth’s resources more carefully, which creates a more significant impact than you may think.
Sustainable Clothing: What is It?
Sustainable clothing refers to clothing that has been manufactured in whole or in part using resources that are replenished either directly by the company or through their business partners. This can mean the reseeding of plants that produce the fibers for the clothing, the recycling of water used in production, and the continued employment of independent workers who maintain farms, operate factories, and the like.
Oftentimes sustainable clothing is also eco-friendly. Eco-friendly means that a product is not harmful to the environment. This means that from start to finish, the creation of the product does not negatively impact the environment in any way.
You’ll almost always encounter sustainability and eco-friendly practices hand in hand. Most companies that are concerned with creating sustainable products are also invested in creating them in the most eco-friendly manner possible to reduce the impact the production of the product has on the environment.
When considering sustainable clothing, you may wonder how the production of clothing can be harmful to the environment. Many of us don’t realize the number of chemicals, dyes, and treatments that are used to produce our clothing. These processes:
- Require energy. Energy is needed to run factories where clothing is produced. This energy must come from a source like solar power, gas, or coal.
- Release chemicals. The byproduct of creating some clothing is the release of chemical pollutants into the air and water.
Eco-friendly, sustainable clothing does not use non-renewable energy and does not pollute the environment.
What to Look for When Buying Affordable Sustainable Clothing
Many brands may purport to be sustainable and environmentally conscious; however, sometimes, these companies are simply using phrases and terms associated with sustainability and environmental protection without actually committing any of their own resources or production to actual environmental preservation. Here are some of the key elements you can look for when searching for affordable, sustainable clothing.
- Say goodbye to synthetics. Synthetic clothing is clothing that is created from fibers that are essentially made in a lab; through chemical processes, fibers are made, which are then used to make clothing. Natural fiber clothing is clothing that has been derived from living organisms, like plants.
Synthetic fabrics are chemically laden, especially synthetic performance wear. These fabrics are generally sprayed with more chemicals to give them properties that allow them to wick away moisture and prevent UV exposure. The end result of all this chemical usage is the byproduct; it has to go somewhere, and that can mean release into the air and/or water supply.
- Organism replenishment. Those living organisms that end up as eco-friendly textile fibers should be grown and replenished for the end product to be considered sustainable. For instance, the use of bamboo viscose is a wise choice because bamboo is such a rapidly growing and easily replenished resource.
As the fastest growing tree in the world (bamboo can actually grow up to a foot in a single day), it can be planted, harvested, and regrown in a year’s time on the same patch of land for an indefinite period of time. This means that the land and the resource are in a continual state of replenishment.
- Closed-loop processes are a win. Some sustainable clothing brands, such as tasc Performance, are even able to reuse their own byproducts. Because bamboo clothing, like the clothing offered by Tasc Performance, is not treated with harmful chemicals, the runoff water from factories it is produced in can be brought back to the factory, treated, and reused in the production of additional bamboo clothing.
- Renewable energy. Clothing factories require energy. That energy should be renewable or replenishable. Look for solar-powered factories when searching for affordable, sustainable clothing.
- Sustainable human employment. Sustainability isn’t just about the environment; it also means supplying employment to individual workers for a living wage in a job that they are able to depend upon long-term.
A great example of sustainable employment is the continued use of local, independent bamboo farmers to produce the bamboo that a company turns into bamboo viscose. Instead of mass-planting and protecting bamboo corporately, allowing local farmers to grow and maintain their bamboo crop ensures they have a stable livelihood and funnels money into what are oftentimes small, struggling communities and villages.
- Fair work and labor practices. Another side of the sustainable employment coin is the fair and equal treatment of all workers involved in the process of creating the final product. Bamboo fabric factories, including the ones used by tasc Performance, are historically known as some of the fairest and safest work environments in the entire textile industry, with wages considerably higher than local averages and access to healthcare and housing.
Affordable, Sustainable Clothing: What is Available?
If you like the idea of sustainable clothing but are afraid it won’t be affordable or that you won’t be able to find clothing that is durable, constructed with a high level of craftsmanship, or performs as you need it to, think again. Sustainable, affordable, performance-driven clothing is available, and once you try it, chances are you will never be tempted back to poorly performing synthetic clothing pieces again.
Here are some of the benefits of using sustainable, eco-friendly bamboo clothing.
- Moisture absorbing. Bamboo is naturally moisture-wicking because of the hot, humid climate where it thrives. Bamboo is efficient in retaining moisture, which allows it to grow more quickly than any other tree. When we create bamboo fabric, the process of fabric development allows the bamboo fibers to retain their moisture-wicking capability, so when you sweat from a run, hot yoga, or trail hiking, you stay cool and dry.
- Temperature regulating. Sometimes you need clothing that keeps you warm; sometimes, you need it to keep you cool. The beauty of bamboo fabric is its ability to do both when needed. Bamboo fibers are filled with tiny gaps that increase ventilation, which means you stay cool when it’s hot and hot when it’s cool.
- Odor resistant. We all know the distinct smell of workout gear that won’t come clean. No matter what specialized detergent or “stripping” process you use, once you begin to sweat, the odor trapped in the synthetic fibers is activated, placing you in one incredibly embarrassing, smelly situation.
Bamboo fibers have antibacterial properties that make them resistant to the development of mold and mildew. That means the bacteria that pass from your skin or the environment onto your clothing won’t take up permanent residence.
- Sun protection. Bamboo is naturally UV protectant. While most clothing that has UV protection has it because it is sprayed with a chemical finish that can resist damaging UV rays, bamboo fibers are naturally UV protectant.
- Skin sensitive. Bamboo fabric doesn’t need to be treated with chemicals to develop its performance qualities like other fabrics. As such, people with sensitive skin can wear bamboo viscose clothing with impunity; there are no harsh chemicals in the fabric which will irritate their skin.
- Supremely comfortable. Bamboo fiber is some of the softest in the textile industry. When blended with organic cotton to produce french terry cloth, the result is a material that looks as soft as it feels. The zero chemical treatment means the bamboo clothing you receive is soft and ready to be worn; you won’t need to wash it to soften it or make it any more wearable than it is.
Sustainable, eco-friendly, performance-ready clothing can be an affordable option. Purchasing sustainable clothing really means so much more than spending money on clothing; it means investing money in the environment and into the lives of other humans who are producing and manufacturing the clothing in a safe, fair, and earth-friendly way. It means discontinuing the cycle of use and abuse that other clothing manufactures may allow. Purchasing sustainable clothing is a step toward freeing the environment of unnecessary burden.