Fashion and the Environment

EcoFashion Defined?

So what in fact is EcoFashion? Is it a merging of economics and fashion, or is it a new type of consumer sustainability demand? Is there a legal definition or standard in place? Does the standard vary from country to country, designer to designer?

The Oxford online dictionary provides a generic definition of EcoFashion: “EcoFashion: clothing and other goods produced by methods that are not harmful to the environment, e.g. using materials that have been recycled or that have been grown without the use of pesticides.” 

At this time however, no uniform standard exists in the U.S. for what truly constitutes EcoFashion. Some organizations use the component of environmental sustainability within the production of goods while requiring additional factors. The International Fair Trade Association for example offers a label for those who can meet the organization’s mission for fair trade while also being pro-environmentally conscious. 

EcoFashion World, a website dedicated to educating the newest regime of “green shoppers,” provides a wide spectrum of criteria for goods that can be EcoFashion. Organic is only one label amongst labels such as vegan, custom made, recycled, and vintage.  EcoFashion as it turns out could be difficult to define or standardize.

Various initiatives to implement greener practices and materials have also started in the U.S. fashion industry without developing an EcoFashion standard. For instance the  Council of Fashion Designers of America  has started the Clean by Design program with the National Resources Defense Council to help offset the fashion industry’s carbon footprint. The program has isolated areas to reduce negative environmental impact from the types of materials used, to how finished goods are transported to mass market.

Unlike requirements for organic food in the United States, which have legally mandated requirements for achieving USDA organic labeling, EcoFashion in the U.S. can mean many things to many people while failing to provide a uniform national standard to help the U.S. fashion industry achieve its noble environmental goals. Without a uniform standard, EcoFashion can continue to make a beneficial impact on our environment, but to what measurable and documented degree will be difficult to determine.

-Natalie Laczek 

One Response to “Fashion and the Environment”

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  1. Fashion and the Environment « Chicago Fashion Law Update - September 14, 2012

    […] Fashion and the Environment […]

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