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Fashion and sustainability with cork products in Portugal

We have heard many times when our elders remember us that they owned just one pair of footwear or two pairs of clothing. Do we still own just a pair of clothing? Today it is common to hear, “I don’t have to wear it. Do we really not have anything to wear? Check your closet; how many pieces of clothing, accessories, footwear do you own and how many do you use on a regular basis? What do you do with the clothes that you don't wear? Do you know how the clothes production you wear happens? This is where fashion and sustainability steps in. Sustainability in fashion is a way of life to create and use clothing without negatively affecting the environment. While the world is heading towards full sustainability in energy production, clean energy and alternative means of transportation, the fashion pollution generated is often neglected.

Fashion and sustainability can be achieved by combining manufacturing and the use of clothing, accessories and shoes in as many sustainable ways as possible, keeping both the environmental and socio-economic aspects in mind. This needs permanent control of the product life cycle. The process from the raw material to the way the product is used, reused, repaired and recycled is supervised. The aim should be to minimise any fashion pollution impact that could arise in the product’s lifecycle.

Slow Fashion 

Most independent fashion labels and brands tend to follow seasonal trends, making more styles more often, thereby increasing production and the overall burden on the environment. Buying a lesser quantity means lesser production, and higher quality clothing tends to last longer. The carbon footprint generated by large fashion houses could be reduced by shopping for local brands and tailor-made clothing. Local communities benefit economically and can create job opportunities. Better washing practices also positively impact the environment; using non-chemical, low impact detergents helps reduce water pollution and avoid fashion pollution. Fashion individuals, brands and labels should strive for fashion and sustainability as a single term right from the raw material stage, ensuring careful, frugal and efficient use of natural resources, water, energy, soil, animals, ecosystem etc. and opting for renewable energy, maximising the repairability and recyclability of the product and its components. 

Organic Fabrics

From a socio-economic perspective, the whole ecosystem should work together to improve the present scenario of working conditions for workers in all stages of the product life cycle by utilisation of best practice and good business ethics. Using organic fabrics such as cork, organic cotton, and linen, which are obtained organically without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and synthetic fertilisers, provides better health for farmers, soil, and land. Organic fabrics are safer for consumers, farmers, workers as it eliminates the chemicals used in production, which normally cause any skin allergies. Additionally, companies should contribute to more reasonable consumption and a sustainable attitude towards fashion. 

Today's immediate drawback for the adoption of sustainable fashion is the higher cost and change in lifestyle required to move away from the desire to follow fashion seasons, colour trends and the affordability and availability of fast fashion. While we are pursuing sustainable fashion mainstream and affordable, hurdles to widespread adoption still have to be overcome. 

From Cork Element, we care about all these issues and problems, causing a huge threat to the ecosystem and the environment. We are very aware of the fashion pollution problem. Our production processes derive our cork material from the forests of Portugal. The method of harvesting doesn’t harm the tree or the forest. Removing the cork bark from the tree helps the tree release oxygen, promoting enriching biodiversity. Our artisanal creation of cork products in Portugal collects all the principles for a limited production whose main objectives are fashion and sustainability.