Both the terms “ethical” and “sustainable” are frequently used interchangeably in the realm of fashion-for-good to denote a commitment to slow fashion and an understanding of the industry’s impact on both people and the environment.
Environmental activism has embraced them as a means of achieving their goals.
When you look at the definitions of these terms, you’ll notice that these terms have distinct definitions, but that they work in concert to produce the highest level of justice available.
What’s the end result? Corporations are prohibited from claiming to be “earth-friendly” or “worker-friendly” while at the same time making items that harm the environment.
When it comes to fashion, what is the difference between ethical and sustainable fashion?
What Is Ethical Fashion?
At every stage of the garment manufacturing process, ethical fashion, as the name implies, places a strong emphasis on social responsibility and worker rights.
A social enterprise such as ShareHope strives to improve working conditions for textile workers in poor nations while also informing clients about their purchasing power.
Accordingly, even though some fashion companies have taken steps to improve labor conditions in the industry, they must also be ecologically conscious in order to be considered truly ethical.
Those who work in this trillion-dollar industry are routinely subjected to abuse and exploitation on a daily basis.
Garment workers, particularly women, who make up 85% of the workforce, are more vulnerable to unfair working conditions due to the 97% outsourcing of garment manufacturing to the Global South.
Clothing companies can exploit workers quite easily due to lax labor laws that allow for long hours, low pay, and hazardous working conditions.
There are countless human rights breaches faced by garment workers, ranging from exposure to toxic substances in the workplace to physical aggression.
As striking as these stats and first-hand testimonies may be, they only reveal a small portion of the hardships faced by millions of people in the fashion business around the world.
Environmental justice, on the other hand, does not signal the end of ethical fashion.
When it comes to creating clothing, environmental damage is tied to the challenges faced by those who produce it.
What Is Sustainable Fashion?
“Sustainable fashion” is a concept that emphasizes how clothing is made in relation to the environment rather than its ethical implications.
As opposed to ethical fashion, environmental fashion examines how fashion affects human health from a more global perspective.
An environmental justice ideology like ethical fashion examines strategies to improve garment production in a more efficient and environmentally manner in order to attain this goal.
At the heart of the concept is a desire to use as few natural resources and energy as possible while yet producing high-quality clothing.
The goal of sustainable fashion is to both improve and change consumer habits.
Rothy’s, for example, has made a commitment to only using recycled plastics in the production of their shoes as part of its sustainability strategy.
Many businesses have achieved progress in environmental sustainability, but fewer have done so with regard to promoting ethical standards.
Some sustainable fashion brands, for example, have recently come under scrutiny for employing organic cotton farmed in China using forced labor.
Our oceans are being decimated by microplastics in our clothing, and greenhouse gases account for 10% of global emissions. These are all reasons why it is critical that the fashion sector adopt sustainable methods.
Reusing clothing is an excellent technique to promote sustainability in the fashion business. Rather than purchasing new clothing, which pushes businesses to make more, try purchasing used clothing.
You can purchase used clothing at vintage/secondhand clothing businesses or accept stuff that has been passed down or traded between friends and relatives.
Merging Ethical And Sustainable Fashion
In order to bring about the emergence of ethical and sustainable fashion, individuals must modify their conduct and the policies of the entire country.
Workers and the rest of the world will benefit if both philosophies are upheld at the same time.
Sustainable fashion and ethical fashion are more powerful together than they are apart.
What is the point of organic cotton if it is gathered by slaves? Even though garment workers get paid living wages, their health is at risk because of the toxic waste produced throughout the sourcing and stitching procedures.
Each piece of clothes we wear leaves a permanent imprint on our environment, as well as on each other. Our ability to influence the firms we buy from is critical, but it isn’t sufficient.
Ethical and sustainable fashion both ask for major changes in the fashion industry’s social, economic, and ecological structures.
A paradigm shift is needed: enterprises must pay their employees properly and utilize environmentally sustainable materials, not just one or the other.
Companies are obligated to promote employee and environmental well-being.
If a company wants to last, it must also uphold high standards of ethics and vice versa. Even if adopting environmentally friendly products is helpful to everyone, the continued unjust treatment of workers highlights the sometimes dishonest character of popular environmental initiatives.
Environmental justice can’t be achieved by focusing solely on one aspect of environmental justice, such as protecting vulnerable people.
The purpose of ethical fashion is to make and design clothing in a way that maximizes the benefits to both the industry and society as a whole while minimizing the negative consequences of the process on the environment, humans, and animals.
Sustainable and ethical fashion, on the other hand, encourages ethical and morally acceptable practices in the production and sale of clothing.
This means that water, land, and soil must be used wisely and efficiently.
Furthermore, sustainable fashion ensures that the most ethical working conditions are possible on the field, in factories, during transportation, and in retail stores and outlets.
Clothing must be both ethical and environmentally friendly in order to be really ethical, and the same is true for other goods.
These complementary concepts must operate within the same paradigm in order to accomplish their ultimate goals.