Top 10 Eco Clothing Considerations before you Buy
Choosing to buy a clothing item can be based on a whim or a need, or under the influence of the latest fashion trend. But whatever the reason, we think it's about time that before you buy anything, you should consider whether it has a negative effect on the environment and whether you actually need it.
We totally get that most people don't have time to evaluate the sustainability claims of the clothing brands or even where to look for those claims. It's one of the reasons why we started Ateliers Verts in the first place. Giving you the chance to find eco-conscious clothing products, along with a sustainability rating, all in one place.
Some brands however are all about sustainability and eco-consciousness. They may exclusively use eco-friendly fabrics and manufacturing processes, have mend & repair venues and support charities. Others may have one or two items which could be considered as eco-conscious and some may not have any eco-conscious items at all in their range or worse still greenwash you into believing they are eco-conscious.
By the way, following a fashion trend doesn't always work as they can be short-lived and the items over-priced - never feel pressured to buy something just because it's 'in' and everyone is wearing it.
So we thought it could be handy to have 10 Eco considerations to have in the back of your mind when you next buy any clothing. Even if you only remeber or see one element and remember the eco-conscious benefit, it will be a very good start - we want everyone to think about whether what they are buying is eco-conscious it's part of the process of minimising our human footprint.
- The Material
- The Manufacturing Location
- The Manufacturing Process
- The Treatment of its Workforce
- The Distribution
- The Packaging
- The Brand's Ethos
- Good Causes
1. The Material - Look for 'sustainable' materials- like organic cotton, FSC-certified modal, cruelty-free silk, non-mulesed wool and even recycled polyester like Econyl & Repreve. Oeko-tex certification is a good standard to follow. Generally natural materials are best and those dyed with water soluble inks are better.
2. Embellishments - Most clothing items have fasteners like zips and buttons, or embellishments like fur or leather. It's important to consider whether you consider it right to support real fur being used as an embellishment. We are against real fur unless it has come off an antique garment and is being repurposed. We think that is better to repurpose than to embellish with fake fur which is often derived from fossil fuel. Leathers should only be used if they are offcuts, and sourced as a by-product from the food industry. It's easy to forget that calfskin products for example once upon a time belonged to a calf who may have been bred for veal.
3. The Manufacturing Location - it's better to buy clothes that been made locally to support the local economy and that minimises polluting transportation. Look for back-neck labels which indicate the country it's been made in eg. Made In Italy
4. The Manufacturing Process - is the factory that's manufacturing your clothes powered by renewable energy? and does it offset its Co2 emissions. You may not be abe to see it on the product, but if you buy into a brand regularly its worth looking for their sustainability policy on their webiste, where they may detail their energy source.
5. The Treatment of its Workforce: Fairtrade- are the garment makers being paid a fair wage? Fast fashion for example has often been accused of not paying a fair wage to it's suppliers, meaning the workers are almost slaves and unable to properly look after their families' financials.
6. The Distribution- is the distribution of your clothes minimised? This is important as you don't want your clothes to have been shipped around the world to get to you as undoubtedly this will have lead to excessive co2 pollution. A big green-washing red flag should be noted at this point as some companies claim to offset their co2 emissions with various eco initiatives like tree-planting (to absorb the co2 they emit)- they shouldn't be emitting it in the first place!
7. The Packaging- is the packaging made from sustainable sources eg FSC-certfiied plant material. Is it made from recycled materials or recyclable materials. Is is easily and quickly biodegradable? Do you actually need the bag?
8. The Brand's Ethos - Is the clothing brand seen as being eco-conscious? Brands like Patagonia are, because they use eco-conscious materials, offer repair services, and launched 1% For The Planet. You could also question whether a brand supports a good cause with the sale of items from a particular collection? This happens often and you should buy in- the more you do, the more it will happen.
9. Good Causes- does the brand support a charity with every sale. We've already mentioned Patagonia and 1% For The Planet. But most brands do now make a donation to a particular good cause. Some give huge percentages of their turnover to good causes, some are BCorps so it's in their DNA to do that. Some simply help the local employees to have a steady job, which benefits the local community, and get BCorp accreditation for those services. It's all good.
10. Afterlife - Can the items be resold on platforms like eBay, Vinted, or Vestiare Collective, which advertises itself as the home of pre-loved luxury fashion. Can they be donated to charity shops?- the question really is if the quality was any good in the fist place? Can they be repaired and re-worn? Fast fashion items for example may degrade to the point where they can only be disposed of, and placed in recycle bins. Never throw them away- always recycle. It's always better to buy less and buy better - Really good clothes, like evening dresses or men's suits, may never have an afterlife because they are worn infrequently for decades. It's the way to go and this has even attracted the attention of celebrities to make this move on the 'Red Carpet'.
(Header Image: Courtesy of Burst / Shopify)
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