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We spend all day talking about sustainable fashion around here, but we have never really tackled eco-friendly fashion.
Each day there are more and more brands claiming to be eco-friendly (which is AWESOME when we don’t fall for greenwashing).
But what the hell does the tag eco-friendly even mean when we talk about fashion?
And no. It’s not about wearing hippie harem trousers and vegan Birkenstocks.
There are tons of ways to make your wardrobe more environmentally conscious without compromising your style. We’ll talk about that later, so stick until the end of the post to learn my best tips.
Do you want to learn more about sustainable fashion? Check our series Sustainable Fashion 101 of download for free the Sustainable Fashion Beginner’s Guide here:
So what is eco-friendly fashion?
To be the perfect eco-fashion enthusiast, we have to think about everything where our clothes come from and where will they go after we discard them. From how the materials where obtained and from which source, to the impact of the manufacturing process , to how material leftovers or scraps are disposed of.
Well, so eco-friendly fashion seems pretty simple. Fashion that cares about the environment – or at least doesn’t harm it in any way.
But there’s a lot more to it. You know, sustainability can be exhausting.
For example, no matter how we put it, making clothes is going to need energy, water, and some kind of material right? A conventional fashion brand would just go for profit, regardless of the consequences.
But see, eco-fashion brands find the compromise between meeting their financial goals and – well – not trashing the planet. When it comes to primary resources, they do this by
- Using renewable energy
- Reducing the amount of water needed
- Using recycled materials, or materials that don’t need a lot of water to grow
I love giving the example of brands like People Tree that can guarantee you purchase your values by working with the highest quality and lowest environmental impact materials. My favorite part of People Tree is their denim section: fair trade, their suppliers collaborate with tree-planting programs, and they use 87.2% less water than conventional jeans.
About the materials
We will talk more about this topic in another post, but let’s see the basics.
Turns out not all natural fabrics are eco-friendly and not all synthetic ones are that bad – SHOCKER. Some examples:
- Cotton is often GMO, which is terrible for the soil. The alternative is organic cotton, but it needs a lot of water to grow. So it’s not really the perfect alternative for the environment either.
- Producing new synthetic fabrics requires a lot of energy. Now we have the technology to make synthetic clothes from recycled plastic: this helps saving plastic from landfills and oceans, and it’s less energy-intensive. But they’re still synthetic, which means that they’ll release microplastics and all that ugly stuff. Conclusion: this isn’t a permanent and final solution to greenify the fashion industry. Read more about clothes made of recycled plastics here.
- Natural leather is not only unethical, but it also can be very very bad for the environment. In this post, we talked about a river in India that receives 50 million litres of toxic water every day from leather factories. The alternative? Vegan leather. But vegan leather is often synthetic. So we’re back to the plastic problem. You can read more about vegan leather and its 100% eco-friendly alternative in this post.
So what? Should we just walk around naked?
Hmmm…Whatever floats your boat, but there are very eco-friendly material options that are not very well known yet. And that’s sad. Let’s see
- Hemp and bamboo clothes. They both need very little water to grow and they grow pretty fast. Now more companies are using bamboo fibres. But hemp is a different case because…well…legal stuff that you can imagine about importing and exporting cannabis.
- Natural dyes. Dyes are a whole thing. Conventional dyes are actually incredibly toxic for humans, animals, plants, and the soil. For everyfreakingbody. But we still use them because they’re cheap, of course. But there are alternatives that hurt no one and do the job: natural dyes that come from plants, spices,… Good stuff.
Quality over quantity and style over trends
In the age of fast fashion, quality is so overlooked.
You say: ” oh, this blouse is only 5 $“
I hear: “I’ll spend 5$, wear the blouse for two months, and when it tears apart, I’ll spend other 5$ and like that indefinitely for the rest of my life“
This is how fast fashion thrives. They need you to need stuff. So quality is not their concern. Their goal is to create this dependency cycle.
Instead of that, why don’t we invest a little extra on a piece of clothing that makes us happy, that we know is going to last, and that is not going to mess with the environment.
And don’t get me wrong. Having an eco-friendly closet is not just about consuming less, or about not consuming anything ever again. It’s about being selective and conscious of what you buy. And also being aware of what you already own.
How you use your clothes and dispose of them can make the difference
How we take care of our clothes and how we dispose of them has a huge impact on their carbon footprint.
It doesn’t matter how good the quality of your new dress is if you’re going to wash it every two days in the wrong settings. See where I’m going?
And how do we dispose of our clothes when we don’t want them anymore?
It really depends on your city and how the garbage collection system works – although nowadays there are recycling containers for clothes almost everywhere. But before throwing your old clothes away, ask yourself:
- is there a slim chance you’ll use those clothes again?
- can you upcycle them?
- can you donate them?
- do you know someone who might need them?
EXTRA: how to create your perfect eco-friendly closet
- Invest in timeless pieces that you can use as wardrobe staples.
- Spend some extra $$ on great quality clothes – it will pay off!
- Avoid buying on impulse. Have you heard of the 30 day rule? You basically wait 30 days before making a purchase to reflect on whether you need it or not. You can make it a 10 day, or 5 day rule, but either way, it works! Oh, and you’ll avoid overspending.
- Research, research, and research before you buy something. Make sure the brand is honest about their materials and manufacturing process. Don’t be greenwashed! In this post, you can learn how to tell if a brand is actually sustainable.
- Follow the care instructions on your clothes to make sure they last longer.
- Build your closet around your own style and not around passing trends.
If you want more tips, don’t forget to download the Sustainable Fashion Beginner’s Guide and go through the checklist at the end!