This article first appeared in our Earth Day special issue of My Green Pod Magazine, distributed with The Guardian on 22 April 2021. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox
Hello and welcome to our first fashion-focused article for My Green Pod!
We are British models and twins, Brett and Scott Staniland. We’ve modelled for various brands, faced campaigns and attended fashion weeks all over the world.
After a while, we started to become more mindful of who we work with and who we represent, which led us down a path towards uncovering the huge impact the fashion industry has on our planet and communities all over the world.
Responsible for 10% of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and 20% of global water waste, fashion is reportedly the second-most polluting industry behind the petrochemicals industry.
Over the last few years the impact of fast fashion has become increasingly clear; we are consuming 400% more clothes than we were 20 years ago, and yet around 85% of our clothes end up at landfill sites, discarded and seen as ‘old’ after having been worn only a handful of times.
For many brands, ‘seasons’ seem to be a thing of the past; we now see new collections every week from some high street shops and online retailers. In many cases it seems new clothes are churned out as often as possible.
Throwaway society, the need for instant gratification and impossibly cheap clothing have all led to a perception of disposability, causing gross overconsumption and unimaginable waste.
What is ‘sustainable fashion’?
As is the case with other industries, the term ‘sustainability’ has become ambiguous and diluted as a result of loose usage and often woolly
definitions from various sources.
It’s important to understand the many aspects of ‘sustainable fashion’, which extend far beyond the things you see and do in-store. The spectrum of sustainability has much more to it than shopping ‘less – but better’, though for most people that is a good place to start.
In many cases we fail to recognise the supply chain – the extensive journey garments have been on before they even reach the store.
It starts with a material: what is it, natural or manmade? Where has it come from, and who has been involved in sourcing and manufacturing it? Was the material treated with chemicals? Has it been dyed? How was it put together? Just as importantly, how are the people and their communities involved in these processes treated and affected?
80% of textiles workers are women of colour, many of whom live in deprived communities that experience the greatest negative effects of the fashion industry.
As with other industries, greenwashing is a growing concern in fashion, with brands trying to trick consumers into believing their ethical practices are better than they in fact are. These efforts are usually part of a wider marketing scheme to improve customer perceptions and increase sales.
We will try and help you spot these tactics when we discuss the topics in more detail in future issues, as they aren’t always obvious!