We’re facing a major fashion emergency – and that’s no exaggeration, in the eco-sense. The global fashion industry is big business, worth $2.5 trillion, and its operations requires a staggering amount of water. As an example, 2,700 liters of water go into the production of a single cotton t-shirt, according to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). One in six people worldwide works in a job related to fashion, an industry known, in too many instances, for unsafe conditions and exploitative practices.
When doing your best to ensure that your best looks are planet-friendly as well, you’ll want to shop consciously, checking fabrications and production practices to determine whether they align with your ecological values. This is the philosophy behind sustainable fashion, a growing trend that considers the environmental impact and social responsibility for our clothes.
How does one shop with their ethics in mind?
While more companies than ever are ecologically-conscious in response to the backlash towards fast, disposable fashion, nothing is kinder to the planet, or on your pocketbook, than recycling or reusing clothes and accessories. Check out your local offerings, including garage and estate sales, charity shops, thrift stores, vintage shops, consignment and resale places. Online sales boards are a great way to find out if people near you are looking to unload (at a great price!) the perfect item for your eco-conscious wardrobe.
SWAP, DON’T’ SHOP
Gather some friends together for a casual clothing swap. Everyone brings their personal stash of gently-used items that they’ve been thinking of donate for a friendly trading exercise. Participants walk away with some "new" pieces and whatever’s left over is hauled off for donation or consignment. Everybody wins!
And now, some tips for buying guilt-free when you need to shop brand new:
1. Think of your new clothing purchase as an investment that is only worth making if it complements your existing wardrobe or serves a unique (and useful) purpose.
2. Read the labels and look for easy, sustainable care options as well as hints about brand ethics that align with your own (i.e., if cruelty-free matters to you, you’ll want to avoid animal-sourced components and reduce the water, energy, and toxic chemicals that often go into processing them).
3. Look in your own closet to get a sense of the synthetics fabrics you may already own and, going forward, try to avoid materials like rayon and polyester which have a high environmental impact in the production phase. Long after purchase, some synthetics are responsible for shedding micro plastics into the ocean during washing.
Eco-friendly brands are on the rise and they aren’t shy about sharing what they’re up to in terms of preserving our plant. It’s easy to get connected with producers of clothing that you can feel great about and look great in!
Check out some of our favourite eco-friendly brands on IG and tell them we sent you!
With love and compassion,
Photocred Organic Basics