Sustainability – Key Words in the Industry

Sustainability is a key driving force within the fashion industry at the minute, and it is important to understand exactly what it is you are talking about otherwise things can come off as misleading.

These are just a few terms explained to make your sustainable journey a little more simple:

Slow fashion – a direct opposite to fast fashion, slow fashion champions slower production and a reduction in consumption.

Circular economy – circularity within the economy is about keeping garments in circulation for as long as possible in order to get the most out of your products. It takes all parts of the fashion lifecycle into consideration — from design and sourcing to production, transportation, storage, marketing and sale, all the way to usage and end of life.

Consumers in the circular economy -

Green – often used as a vague buzzword which doesn’t actually provide any information around environmental practices. Can be swapped out with specific terms instead.

Eco-conscious – again, usually used as a non-descriptive way to advertise ‘sustainable practices’ without going into detail. This buzzword should be swapped out for terms that make it more obvious which practices exactly what companies are doing.

Sustainable collection/sustainable line – limited range of garments or accessories released from a brand that focuses on elements of sustainability. This might include using organic materials, recycled plastic, or more environmentally-friendly packaging.

Ethical fashion – while often used interchangeably with sustainability, ethical fashion focuses on what is considered ‘morally right’.

The Best Ted Talks for Ethical Fashion — THE GOOD WEAR

Greenwashing – this term is an inherently negative one and usually refers to when brands label themselves sustainable or eco-friendly to stay on ‘trend’ with the changing industry. Greenwashing can be avoided by brands being up-front and honest about their sustainable practices.


Global warming – this is the long-term effect that we are having on the earth’s environment through various different means such as chemicals and fossil fuels, which leads to the heating of the environment through trapped green-house gases in the earth’s atmosphere.

Recycling – repurposing old garments or scrap fabrics through recycling programs is something that many companies are starting to incorporate. Recycling can help to decrease the harmful impact of clothing as it gives garments a second-life instead of being sent to landfill.

Circular fashion is textile recycling

Renewable energy – this is energy that has been collected from natural resources that replenish themselves. It can include sources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves, and geothermal heat.

Sustainable alternatives – this is in reference to alternatives of harmful fabrics and goods such as animal leather or fur, which has an increasing impact both ethically and sustainably on us. Creating alternatives to these is a good way to bring the fashion industry into the future.

Carbon footprint – something many people are taking care to reduce. This is the total amount of greenhouse gases that are generated by our actions.

The Basics of a Carbon Footprint - EcoMatcher

Carbon neutral/net-zero – is a term used to describe the state of a company, service, product, or event, where the carbon emissions caused by them have been balanced out by funding an equivalent amount of carbon savings elsewhere in the world.

These key terms will come in handy when referencing sustainability in your day-to-day life, so it is important to understand what they mean. As a business owner, when using any of these terms you have to make sure you are eligible for such claims, otherwise you are misleading and could get into trouble.

You can find out more about the fashion industry and sustainability in particular through our blog selection, here at Seamless Source.


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