The dictionary defines Sustainability as "the attempt to provide the best outcomes for both human and natural environments both now and in the indefinite future." The Brundtland Commission defines sustainable development as development that, "meets the needs of the present with out compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
In basic terms, what does this mean when used in Sustainable Clothing Production? It means that ever effort is made from the fiber to finished product to ensure the least harmful and most natural materials are used. Also using the least energy possible to produce and distribute the clothing. Starting at the fiber, using natural, easily renewable fibers like bamboo help lessen the amount of land and energy used. Using organic cotton instead of regular cotton prevents chemicals from getting into the surrounding natural and human environments. Using fibers found closest to the end retail location also cuts down on energy consumption.
The milling process of turning the organic fiber into a sustainable clothing item is also important. What chemicals are used to process the fiber? Some bamboo fabrics are processed heavily with chemical before they are finished. Natural color organic cotton and hemp is best because little processing is needed to make the finished fabric. What are the dyes used? Are they the least harmful kind or even natural dyes? Again mills located close to the where the clothing will end up are best for less energy use.
The next level of production is the cutting and sewing of the sustainable clothing. Local is best, when items are made locally it is using less energy in transport. It is also great to shop local for from a community sustainability perspective. Shopping from a local reputable source also insures that fair labour practices are being used. Shipping is the final rung on the sustainable clothing ladder. Shipping less equals less energy and less environment damage.
All of these things add up to what it takes to make organic, sustainable clothing. When a company pays attention to what it takes out of the world to make its product it makes all of our futures brighter and more secure.