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Sustainable Fashion & Beauty: Understanding Sustainability Better

By Sanjoli Arora

Sustainability seems to be the buzzword in every industry right now. But is this yet another trend taking the fashion and beauty industry by the storm? Will we see it outlive other FADs to become a movement? We think it will.

Sustainability is unlike any other trend. It does not simply define a type of style, color, look or feel. It defines how things should be done in a way that is both profitable for all the people involved and the planet. 

For a long time, the beauty and fashion industry have focussed only on one thing- making profits. As a result, we have ended up in a system of not just overconsumption of trending goods but also over-wastage of clothes or products used once or twice and discarded away. This grim cycle of use and throw is not just harmful to planet health (read how big is the waste problem in India) but also resulted in poor, unhealthy living conditions for the people behind the scenes.

Sustainable fashion and beauty seem like a better solution. Sustainability at its core follows a model that gives equal importance to all its three pillars- social, environmental and economic. Or people, planet and profits. Thus, any product that is made or a purchase you make needs to factor in these three aspects and give the best viable solution at the present moment.

Sustainability: What is it?

But the question of the hour is how do you really define sustainability. The dictionary defines sustainability as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the future.”  This definition dictates why we need sustainability moving forward and a broad sense of how to do it. But sustainability does not have one definition. It is very unique for each individual, business and organisation. 

Since sustainability encompasses many values, sub-movements and ideas, it can be difficult to define it in one simple line. But that is the beauty of it. Sustainability is so much more than a one-line definition. You can make your own definition or simply have a list of ideas and values you strongly believe in and want to support.

What does the future of Sustainability look like?

For sustainability to become a successful movement and an everyday part of our lives, the three core members need. To be in sync. The consumers dictate market trends by generating demand. Every time consumers make a purchase, they vote through their pockets on what products and policy approaches they support.

The suppliers take a queue from consumer trends to produce products and services they are demanding. Manufacturers need to find an approach that is profitable, sustainable and ethical.

Finally, the lawmakers will need to support tax benefits for consumers making eco-friendly purchases and create incentives to support manufacturers supporting sustainable causes to continue their supply and get others to join the movement. 

When these three key aspects come in sync, we can expect a model that is running on constant feedback from each other and redefining what sustainability means in a constantly evolving and innovative world.

How to start your sustainable fashion and beauty journey?

Starting your sustainable journey is not that tough. It is all about taking small steps each day. Some steps you can Strat taking today include:

  1. Reuse what you already have. This way you are reducing your carbon footprint and not mindlessly consuming products.
  2. Reduce your consumption. Buy only what is necessary and prefer the need for a product over simply wanting it.
  3. Recycle & Repeat your outfits. Send your beauty product packaging to recycling. Support brands that use recyclable packing or have a ‘send us back the empties’ scheme.
  4. Refuse any freebies and resist the urge to shop mindlessly during sale season
  5. Rethink your consumption patterns because every purchase does not just mean a debit from your account balance but also various long term consequences on the planet and its health.  

There is no perfect solution to sustainability and there may never be because we are constantly learning more about it. However, do not be discouraged to take the first step. Sustainable living is not about making an overnight change one day but about taking small steps each day.

Sanjoli Arora is a Content and Social Media Strategist who helps homegrown brands scale their digital presence and reach consumers online. She has a Master’s degree in Fashion Journalism and runs Conscious Charcha, a digital publication decoding sustainable living as her passion project. Conscious Charcha is a media partner for the upcoming Sustainable Fashion & Beauty 2.0 Webinar happening from 29th-30th October. You can book your tickets for the same here.

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