An Everyday Sustainable Glossary
Whether you’re new to the sustainable fashion realm or a pro in the circular fashion movement, this glossary of terms will help you stay on top of all the things we talk about here at So Over It.
A term used to describe a wardrobe or a collection of timeless and classic pieces (garments, shoes and accessories) that are easy to put together and meant to be mixed and matched. The capsule wardrobe promotes slow and conscious consumerism while also encouraging the re-wearing of clothing, creating a longer lifespan for the pieces before they end up in a landfill or recycled.
Carbon neutrality in fashion means that after greenhouse gas emissions are accounted for throughout all stages of the supply chain and that amount cannot be reduced or minimized any further, brands will then invest in eco-friendly and sustainable practices to absorb CO2, thus resulting in net zero emissions. Brands such as Gucci are known as entirely carbon neutral.
The circular system of designing a product that never reaches the waste stage of the cycle. The circular economy uses the systems of repair, reuse and remanufacture so that there is zero waste resulting from the creation of a product.
Clothing care is a big part of living a sustainable lifestyle. Storing and properly laundering your clothing can greatly extend the life of garments you love. The process of laundering your clothes less and buying clothing made out of 100% natural fibres can greatly reduce the amount of microfibres that are released into the environment.
To be a conscious consumer in fashion you must look at how buying impacts society at large. The impact could be environmental thinking about the processes involved or the ethical impact of pay and the conditions of workers who created the product. Buying consignment is a fantastic way to consume fashion because it promotes the wearing of pre-loved items, having a smaller impact on society at large.
The opposite of upcycle, downcycle refers to the process of reusing and repurposing an item or material into an item that is of lesser quality than the original.
Fast fashion is an unsustainable, rapidly moving linear system of take, make, waste. It follows fast moving trends, producing poor quality clothing for cheap by using unethical and unsustainable practices. This results in mass amounts of waste that is regularly disposed of in landfills. Brands such as Forever 21, H&M, and Shein are just a few of the fast fashion brands that have come under fire recently.
The false eco-conscious marketing of a brand or product. This term can be used when a brand says they are sustainable and eco-friendly, but cannot prove or are very vague about their processes. This is misleading to consumers.
The linear system is the system of designing a product that after consumption enters a final waste stage. This is also called the take, make and waste approach that most products follow.
Minuscule fibres that come from clothing when washed and worn. There are mass amounts of microfibres that are released in the water system and ingested weekly. The wash and wear of synthetic clothing releases thousands of plastic microfibres into the waterways, creating pollution that is currently impossible to get rid of. Washing clothes less frequently and buying natural textiles can aid in the fight to reduce microfibres.
Natural Fibres/Biodegradable Textiles
These are materials, fabrics and textiles that are 100% natural and are plant or animal based. This includes materials such as cotton, wool, linen, silk and many more. Natural fibres are both cultivated from a natural resource and can biodegrade back into the earth throughout its life cycle.
Refers to the life of a product from beginning to end or disposal. This includes: design, extraction of raw materials, manufacturing, distribution and packaging, product use, disposal or recycle. These are all aspects that an individual should consider when thinking of sustainability.
Re-wearing outfits is something we heavily believe in at So Over It. This promotes continuous wear and use of a garment — keeping items out of the landfill for as long as possible. When you love an item and feel confident in it — you should wear it again and again and again!
Pre-loved garments are obviously our favourite at So Over It. Second hand refers to pre-loved items that can be found in thrift stores, can be handed down from friends or family members and of course can be bought at consignment stores. The second hand market gives items a new life by delaying the item from going into a landfill where approximately 80% of textiles end up each year.
A slow, thoughtful design and creation process. Slow fashion focuses on the quality of garments over the quantity. Taking part in slow fashion results in less waste and more ethical and conscious consumption.
Sustainability comes from the work to sustain meaning to keep and maintain at a certain rate. The fashion systems are working at an unsustainable rate that negatively affects the environment. The fashion industry is the second biggest polluter in the world and our environment cannot withstand the processes that go into clothing at the rate that the fashion systems are working at. To be a sustainably-focused fashion consumer we must take part in sustainable processes. This means being a conscious consumer, participating in slow fashion, buying second hand, re-wearing garments and trying to keep products out of landfills for as long as possible.
These are materials that are man-made. Synthetic materials are made out of plastic and produced through chemical-heavy processes. These products are not biodegradable and can create mass amounts of waste throughout their lifespan.
The re-processing of unusable textiles and used clothing into usable textiles. Recycled textiles go through the process of sorting, shredding, cleaning, carding and lastly re-spinning. After going through the stages the thread can be re-made back into textiles.
A term used in the sustainability community to define the process of reusing and repurposing a material or item into a higher quality product than the original.
Zero waste fashion goes hand-in-hand with the circular economy and needs to be looked at in every facet of the clothing process. Zero waste fashion is only possible when we combine sustainable thinking and techniques with: design, the retrieval of raw materials, the manufacturing processes, the distribution of products, the product use and the disposal or recycling of the product. Once all of these facets are looked at and there's no or very minimal waste, then we can call an item zero-waste fashion.