The Fashion Industry and Sustainability: How the Two Connect

It’s no secret that the fashion industry isn’t always the most eco-friendly industry. As a matter of fact, the fashion industry accounts for 2% of global Gross Domestic Product, or GDP, and is now considered one of the largest polluters in the world. A big pollution driver of the fashion industry is fast fashion

What is “Fast Fashion”?

Fast fashion is all the cheap, trendy clothing that you find at stores such as Shein and Forever 21, that are created fast to meet consumer demand. Fast fashion comes at a souring environmental and social cost. While the impacts of the fashion industry in terms of pollution, water use, carbon emissions, human rights, and gender inequality are increasing, the need for a shift to sustainable fashion is evident. There is hope though. Right now, there are ways that some companies in the fashion industry are combating pollution and ways we can make steps to change how we see fashion.

How the Fashion Industry Can be More Sustainable

In 2013, more than 3,080 facilities worldwide were certified to Global Organic Textile Standard. This initiative exists to help inspire change and push for the future of sustainable fashion. One of the key factors for a product to carry the GOTS “organic” label is that it must contain at least 95% certified organic fibers.

Other clothing companies have opted to combat the fast fashion industry by using natural dyes. They avoid polyester and other synthetic, plastic-based materials that are proven to pollute our rivers and oceans.

Sustainable Fashion Initiatives to Implement in Your Home

It may seem like there isn’t much we can do to change the industry, but in fact, there’s plenty we can do right here at home and in your community. As a consumer, you have more power than you may realize. For instance:

  1. Change up your laundry routine. Only wash full loads, use cold water more often, avoid dry cleaning and tumble dryers, and don’t forget the green detergent. You can even invest in products like the Cora Ball that help reduce the amount of microfibers released into your wastewater.
  2. Purchase from sustainable brands. The more demand there is for sustainable clothing, the more big brands will want to invest in sustainable solutions. As long as there is a demand, the solutions will come. A great resource to see how sustainable a brand is, is Good On You
  3. Go thrifting. Buying from sustainable brands can be a little bit on the more expensive side. If your budget won’t allow for sustainable shopping, don’t worry, try shopping at secondhand stores! You can often find fashionable items at a fraction of the price. Don’t forget to recycle or donate your old clothes when they no longer spark your joy, as Marie Kondo would say. 
  4. Invest in fewer, higher-quality garments. While plenty of fashion brands use recycled fabrics in an attempt to be more sustainable, these recycled fabrics are still made from plastic-based fibers and will shed plastic microfibers into wastewater. When you invest in clothing made from high-quality natural fibers, like GOTS-certified organic cotton, you can decrease microplastic pollution and protect marine life.
  5. Rent clothes. Clothing rentals are a great choice for outfits you know you won’t wear often, like prom dresses and maternity clothes. There are plenty of websites out there dedicated to clothing rental. 


We all need to chip in when it comes to sustainable fashion. The fashion industry needs to do its part in the change, while we can make subtle changes for our part. In the end, these changes will help create a sustainable future for all. 

To learn more about what EcoSmart is doing to combat climate change and reach a zero energy capable energy world, head over to our solutions page