Basics of Sustainability in the Beauty and Fashion Industry

Sustainability has become one of the most important and talked-about issues, and the impact of fierce advocacy has extended to the beauty and fashion industry as well, whose value amount to $445 and $3,000 billion respectively. The numbers say it all – these are two immensely powerful and lucrative industries and it’s vital that beauty companies, as well as fashion powerhouses, whether high-end or fast-fashion, are instigators of change and foster sustainability in every possible shape and form. Now, the question is, what exactly are the basics of sustainability? Hopefully, we’ll find the answers today.

Quality over quantity

The first rule of sustainability is – create less waste. However, the amount of waste created by worn-out and subsequently discarded clothing is staggering. According to a survey published in the Huffington Post, the average American throws away 81 pounds of clothing each year, which amounts to approximately 26 billion pounds of textile that end up in the landfills. An even more disheartening fact is that about 92 percent of this amount could be recycled and put back in the rotation. What does this mean? That companies have to produce fewer collections per year and use more high-quality fabrics that will stand the test of time and won’t be thrown away so soon. This means using organic cotton, linen, bamboo fabric and wool – these aren’t only durable but have actual health benefits too.

Speaking of recycling

Certain brands, some small, some already household names are already doing their part. We have, for instance, Doodlage, a brand that uses eco-friendly fabrics such as organic cotton and corn and banana fabric. Then there are those who take things a step further by recycling items such as discarded fishing nets, post-consumer plastic bottles, worn-out tires, post-industrial cotton and even used coffee grounds, and turn all that into swimwear, sneakers and numerous other garments. It only goes to show how change is possible, and that these and several other companies have upped the ante when it comes to recycling in the most innovative of ways. Of course, this has forced fast-fashion retailers such as H&M and Zara to walk down a similar path. They offer recycling reward programs that allow customers to bring their old clothes and get a discount on their next purchase.

That timeless elemen

While high-end designers have to provide their customers, especially the younger and trendier ones, with stylish garments de jour (athleisure, deconstructed fashion and other trends of the day are a case in point), their job is to stay true to creating timeless pieces that will stand the test of time. We already know why high-end items cost as much as they do: high-quality fabrics and the tens and hundreds of hours that it takes to make a piece come with a price, but where does sustainability stand in this picture? Yes, the items in question will not lose their shape, form and become shabby – they will last you a lifetime, but in order for you to keep them forever, they have to have a timeless quality in terms of design and cut so they never go out of style. This is why brands as the amazing Fendi, Gucci, Dior, Hermes and other iconic names still create their signature pieces, along with the trendy ones – so that the consumer will cherish them forever. Of course, their commitment to going fur-free is another amazing step, and another one in the line of pillars of sustainability.

What’s going on in the beauty industry

Well, there are still a great number of companies who test on animals, but strides are taken in this department as well, and unsurprisingly, the change is instigated by newer brands such as Fenty Beauty, Tarte Cosmetics, The Body Shop, Kat Von D and several others who stand firm against animal testing. There are companies that claim they don’t test on animals, such as the much beloved MAC, but they do always state (pay attention to their Instagram comment responses) that certain countries test on their own in order for the products to be allowed to be sold in said countries. However, this is not an excuse, and if you want to be a conscientious buyer and consumer, check PETA’s list or cruelty-free brands before your shop. The list is quite extensive, which brings us hope.

Going green

According to a survey published in Allure, if given the chance, 41% of women would switch to organic and natural skincare and makeup products. This is a huge number and it shows that consumers are also committed to being part of the change, and the industry is beginning to follow. There are already tons of renowned organic and natural brands such as 100% Pure, Kora Organics, Herbivore Botanicals, the amazing Seed and Soul, as well as some very interesting makeup brands like jane iredale, Ilia Beauty and many more that don’t only offer organic and safe (for both you and the environment) goodies, but have also come up with innovative packaging solutions which are all recyclable.

Change is happening, perhaps at a slower pace than we might want it to, but it is. Let’s just hope we don’t lose the passion for sustainability and environmental causes, because, as we’ve learned, once we become silent, the industry has no voice to listen to that tells them to do what’s right.


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