We’ve all heard about environmental change and the fact that the planet needs us, but we understand that for some people it is difficult to know exactly what to do in order to contribute. Don’t worry, we are here to help and show you what to do in order to really identify how we can make fashion more sustainable and how to tell what makes a sustainable fashion brand.
To begin with, what are sustainable clothes?
A lot has been said about the damage caused to the environment by the fashion industry. It is reported that the production of fashion items makes up 10% of humanity’s carbon emissions, decreases water sources, and pollutes rivers and streams. Maybe the worst part is that around 85% of all textiles are discarded each year. In other words, 85% of all that damage is caused in vane. In order to help with that, sustainable fashion started.
The slow fashion trend
By definition, ‘slow fashion’ means the specific attitude towards shopping and the way decision making is done while purchasing. Slow fashion includes purchasing locally made and ethically sourced/traded products, choosing garments of higher quality that will last longer so there won’t be a need to purchase more, and rejecting characteristics proper of the ‘fast fashion’ industry. The purpose of it all is making fashion really sustainable.
Guidelines for people who want to start with more sustainable fashion habits
1: Start with a simple base:
No habit is born out of the blue, so in order to make real changes, it is important to start with simple stuff. For example, instead of shopping out of impulse or boredom, -I know, I used to do it too- plan ahead and look for the items you really need. Starting a shopping spree with a clear idea of what you are looking for, guarantees that you’ll end up buying what you are searching for and not what a salesperson in pushing you to buy.
Another benefit of planning is that you will have clothes that match, what will save you from buying yet more items to make sure you can complete at least one full look.
2: Baby steps count too
Don’t torture yourself! It is important that you understand that even the smallest changes add up in the end. Start by carrying your own reusable bag and continue by saying NO to all of those gorgeous but full-of-plastic bags that they offer you in big stores. Most of them end up going under the mattress where you never use them again, so why take them home with you?
Another great and easy step to take, is to be very careful with the way you toss your packaging waste. Reuse as many of those plastic wrappers as you can, it will save you money and help the environment too.
Avoid buying small quantities of the products you use regularly, try to go for the large version. This way you contribute by using less packaging plus you actually have to make fewer trips to the store for refills.
Not all damaged things need to go to the landfill, some of them can be restored or even transformed into something newer and better. That’s what upcycling is all about. Did your towels get stained? Cut them out and make nice kitchen clothes out of them. Did your favorite candle die? Let’s use that nice pot for pencils or even to plant suculentas. Everything deserves another opportunity.
4: Preloved clothes
There’s no shame in buying second hand, remember, some people’s trash is another person’s treasure. While secondhand clothes might not always be in the best conditions, buying preloved items helps lower the amount of textile products that go into landfills.
5: Buy quality
Every time you buy a piece of clothing, you should not only keep in mind the price, but how much you are going to enjoy it. Buying extremely cheap items usually means replacing them shortly. Consider the quality in every piece, from the materials used to the confection and finish of it. This way you will not only get the most out of your money but you will contribute with a lower environmental impact.
How to recognize a sustainable clothing brand
1: Company’s Impact report
While it is believed that impact reporting is beneficial to all businesses, it is a legal requirement only for businesses that are registered as B Corps. Companies are required to measure its social and environmental impact against governance, community, workers, environment, and customers. However, while 90% of companies report on climate change, merely 47% are specific about their policy’s intentions and how they will achieve those.
It is important to get involved in the HOW your clothes are made. Fast fashion has a price, and somebody is paying for it. So first of all, make sure you check social and employee related issues. According to the Alliance for Corporate transparency, 80% of companies are providing information on anti-discrimination or equal opportunities policies, but only 36% of them are talking about the effects of these policies.
It is important that every clothing brand becomes transparent about their employees' living conditions. If they are not being clean on the numbers, you should definitely ask yourself if you are willing to keep up with their practices.
Finally, I would like to talk to you about an illegal practice that has become increasingly popular in the last years. Yes, I’m talking about greenwashing, but, what is it and how do I avoid falling in the trap?
Greenwashing is the environmental equivalent to money laundry. By definition, greenwashing is the process of conveying a false impression or providing misleading information about how a company's products are more environmentally sound. Greenwashing is considered an unsubstantiated claim to deceive consumers into believing that a company's products are environmentally friendly.
How do they do that? By labeling their products green, or more commonly, just adding the prefix “eco” to the name of the brand. Of course, we are not here to point fingers and call names, but we want you to be more conscious of what you buy and take a closer look at the pretty labels and the eco fancy words. Make sure your products are produced under fair-trade so you are sure everyone is being fairly treated. Moreover, try to buy things you will be proud to show everyone and that will stay with you for as long as you want.