Veganism is not just a diet, it is a lifestyle choice rooted in compassion and sustainability. More and more people are realizing that what we choose to wear has a direct impact on animals, people, and the planet. The fashion industry is starting to take notice, with increasing numbers of brands offering ethical and environmentally-friendly clothing options.
Why Sustainable Fashion Matters
The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world. Here are some key statistics:
- It takes around 2,000 gallons of water to produce 1 pair of jeans (1)
- Textile dyeing is the second largest polluter of clean water globally (2)
- Each year the fashion industry produces 92 million tons of textile waste (3)
- The fashion industry accounts for 10% of global carbon emissions – more than international flights and maritime shipping combined (4)
Sustainable fashion aims to reduce the environmental and social impacts at every stage – from design and production to transportation, use, and disposal.
The Vegan Connection
Veganism extends compassion to animals by avoiding the use of animal products. The production of leather, wool, fur, silk, and down all involve animal cruelty.
Here’s how these two concepts intersect:
1. Avoiding animal materials
Leather production supports the beef and dairy industries. Vegan fashion avoids leather, suede, fur, wool, silk, and down feathers. Popular animal-free alternatives include mushroom leather, pineapple leather, recycled plastics, upcycled fabrics, and high-tech materials.
2. Choosing eco-friendly materials
Some vegan materials like polyester and nylon are made from fossil fuels and shed microplastics when washed. Eco-friendly vegan fabrics include organic cotton, hemp, linen, bamboo, and recycled polyester. These have a lower environmental impact.
3. Opting for natural dyes
Toxic chemicals are used to dye most fabrics, polluting waterways near production facilities. Low impact dyes made from plants, minerals, and insects are an eco-friendly alternative. Many vegan brands use natural dyes.
4. Supporting ethical manufacturing
Fast fashion exploits low-wage labor in developing countries. Ethical vegan brands ensure fair labor practices and safe working conditions throughout their supply chains.
5. Buying quality, durable items
Cheaply made fast fashion is meant to be worn briefly then discarded, generating huge amounts of waste. Investing in well-made vegan pieces that last is a sustainable choice.
Sustainability Starts with You
Here are some ways you can make eco-conscious choices when buying vegan clothing and accessories:
- Buy less: Avoid impulse purchases. Only buy what you truly need and will use often.
- Shop secondhand: Extend the lifecycle of clothing by shopping at charity shops and vintage stores.
- Wash clothes less: Let clothes air out instead of washing after each wear. Use gentler cycles when you do wash.
- Choose natural fibers: Go for organic cotton, hemp, bamboo over synthetics.
- Research brands: Look for transparency around supply chains and manufacturing.
- Buy quality: Splurge on classic, durable pieces made to last years instead of being disposable.
- Dispose responsibly: Donate, upcycle or recycle clothes instead of throwing them away.
Every choice matters! By being mindful consumers, vegans can help drive positive change in the fashion industry.