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Can Sustainable Clothes Be Fashionable?

The dangers of fast fashion and how you can make more sustainable shopping choices.

SIR David Attenborough said he has been "astonished" by the response to plastic pollution after Blue Planet 2, helping launch awareness to the issue and the UK certainly seems to be waking up to the importance of "doing our bit" with companies now responding. But, there is much more to be done as consumers to update almost every aspect of our lifestyles.

With claims that fast fashion is the second-most polluting industry in the world, we also need to start making better, more sustainable shopping choices when it comes to our wardrobes.

Fast-fashion focuses on speed and low costs in order to deliver frequently but it is particularly bad for the environment, as pressure to reduce cost and the time it takes to get a product from design to shop floor means that environmental corners are more likely to get cut. Criticisms of fast fashion include its negative environmental impact, labour exploitation, water pollution, the use of toxic chemicals and increasing levels of textile waste.

So how do we start making more sustainable shopping choices?

Get Informed

Research brands and companies that are focused on ethical and "green" clothing. Retailers like H&M have begun to work towards adhering to environmental requirements and implementing sustainability initiatives dedicated to restricting the production of harmful materials. Patagonia prioritises social and environmental awareness, in all aspects of its business. They've formed developmental practices in ranching and agriculture and contribute one-percent of all sales towards conservation groups. 

H&M and Patagonia


Invest in quality pieces that will last a long time

Learning what your clothes are made of not only help how you take care of your clothing but is crucial when you are thinking of reducing environmental impact. Timeless brands like Levi's produce their items with top quality materials that have withstood the test of time. Build a capsule wardrobe that will last a lifetime!
How long does clothes decompose


Buy Vintage and Donate

Take a time-out before refilling your wardrobe - don't buy something for just one occasion or because it's a bargain. There are now great places to shop for vintage pieces like Depop and ASOS Marketplace and when you do add a new piece, also think about donating a piece. Thrift+ makes it a lot easier, offering a free service that will collect, sell and donate for you! For clothes that are in bad condition, stained or ripped and are not suitable for donating, look at clothing recyclers in your area. You can find more info on Love Your Clothes and Recycle Now.

Brands who are making a change

Get some fashion inspo with our favourite items from labels that are Eco-Friendly.
Life in Balance T-Shirt
Not only is our Tee sustainable and ethical, but with every purchase, a donation will be made to MIND. The t-shirts are made from organic cotton, manufactured through a supplier that works in partnership with the Fair Wear foundation and that uses solely renewable energy from wind and solar power.

 

Stella McCartney pride themselves on being a vegetarian company, none of their products contain leather, fur, exotic skins or feathers - and none of the glues used in their shoes or bags come from animal origins. They've done an incredible job reducing their impact, read more about their achievements here.

Best sustainable brands
Stella McCartney

 

Since 2005, Stella McCartney have worked with Adidas creating a collection of high-performance sportswear for women which aims to encourage the creation of more sustainable products. Adidas has continued this ethos by working with Parley to reduce ocean plastic waste. Creating products that are made from upcycled ocean debris and waste intercepted from beaches and coastal communities before it reaches the ocean.
Adidas x ParleyAdidas x Parley

 

You may not know that 75 percent of all Nike shoes and apparel now contain some recycled material. They have also diverted nearly 5 billion plastic bottles from landfills since 2012. With at least 12 of those bottles forming the backbone for every one of Nike's federation kits - the very uniforms worn in Russia this summer. The process involves melting down 12 or 18 recycled plastic drinking bottles to product a fine yarn. Making Nike the number one user of recycled polyester in the industry.

Nike Recycled Plast Shirt
Nike

 

Since 2005, VEJA has been making environmentally friendly sneakers, made with raw materials sourced from organic farming and ecological agriculture, without chemicals or polluting processes.

Veja Vegan Sneakers

Veja

 

Simon Miller is a big name in the world of sustainability and its bags are frequently spotted on the arm of the most fashionable influencers. The brand reduces impact and conserves water by using organic mills and ozone technology in its production.

Simon Miller Sustainable Bags
Simon Miller

 

There you have it, 'eco' shouldn't be a word that immediately conjures up images of oatmeal-coloured fashion or garments that are lacking any sort of luxury or beauty and proof that brands are starting to produce high-quality, eco-friendly collections so that you can enjoy shopping with a clear conscience.

 

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