Being eco-friendly is extremely important. We need to look after the planet and many of us are looking for ways that we, as individuals, can make a difference. As more and more of us decide to make ethical lifestyle choices, we are now more than ever aware of the terms vegan and sustainable. Lots of us are making decisions and buying goods based on these, but do we really know what they mean and are they the same thing?
Being a vegan is a way to express your desire to live a life free from anything that could be seen as animal cruelty. And dropping animal products is sustainable because the meat industry in particular uses a lot of resources.
Think back to a time long, long ago – the 1960s. OK, well maybe not so long ago for our parents, but you know what I mean. Anyway, being a vegan was seen as something very radical, niche and basically hippy-dippy. The general idea of vegans was of people who are kinda boring or weird, maybe didn’t shower much and had hair growing in places we’d usually remove it (way before dyeing your armpit hair became trendy like Miley Cyrus or Britney Spears). Veganism was seen as extreme. You’re not only giving up meat and fish, but no animal products at all are allowed. So, that’s no cheese, butter, honey, leather and even wool.
Fast forward to nowadays. Vegan is super trendy. Plant-based diets are in. There are loads of vegan choices on your typical restaurant menu and in the supermarkets – there are even restaurants serving only vegan food. There is a wealth of alternatives to animal products – not only when it comes to food. Fashion has vegan options too. Vegan fabrics include organic cotton, linen, hemp, vegan leather (made from a range of materials including synthetics like plastic and natural materials such as cork) and recycled PET plastic (RPET). These materials have been used to make a wide variety of trendy clothes, outerwear, shoes and sneakers.
A lot of these vegan materials are sustainable, but that doesn’t make veganism itself the same thing.
Sustainability is about trying to avoid using up natural resources so that an ecological balance can be maintained. This includes producing less waste. A simple example of this is fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas). They are not sustainable because there is a set amount (finite) of them on the planet and they can’t be replenished. Refining fossil fuels creates a lot of waste. Burning fossil fuels releases air pollutants that are harmful to both environment and public health. Every time you use a fossil fuel, it’s gone forever. The sustainable alternative is a renewable energy source – like power generated from the sun (solar power) or the wind through wind turbines.
Sustainability in fashion is to do with using eco-friendly fabrics and textiles, as well as eco-friendly production methods that use ecological manufacturing techniques, such as renewable energy and eco-design. Sustainable is on trend and there are many fabulous items to spend your dough on. Bamboo sunglasses, PET plastic trainers, merino wool jumpers – the list is endless and what’s available spans all seasons of the year.
So, if you really wanna go full steam ahead on being the most ethical person you can be when it comes to the environment, being vegan and choosing sustainable is the double whammy! Go for it – planet Earth will thank you.