‘Binge fashion’ consumption seems to be on the rise. With fast fashion, new trends, summer wardrobes, ‘hot looks’ and the Misguided £1 bikini, fashion is constantly in our face.
From Facebook ads to billboards, fashion advertisement is relentless. So much so that the UK population has spent £2.7billion on summer trend items… which are often only worn once! Having just past Earths Overshoot Day, meaning we’ve used more from nature than we can renew, it’s worth remembering that the global fashion industry is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, it’s the second-biggest consumer of water and it’s responsible for 92 million tons of waste dumped in landfill each year! In short, cotton is the world’s dirtiest crop.
As millennial marketers, we love brands. We know the temptation to Amazon Prime that jumper or next day delivery those shoes. But as sustainability professionals, we also know the damage this has on the planet.
With many consumers slowly disappearing under the mountains of clothes they’ve bought, naturally, it can be hard to come up for air, let alone, work out how to reverse ourselves out of this mess. Finding out which clothes are sustainable, how we will budget for them, where we will find them and if they will even suit us can all seem pretty overwhelming.
So, let’s crack a window and give you a breath of fresh air. Remembering these three L’s is the path to doing ethical fashion easily and sustainably.
Keeping yourself educated is one of the easiest ways to keep your wardrobe green- not literally of course, unless that’s the look you’re rocking! Researching fabrics, your favourite brand’s policies and connecting with the mass of documentaries, blogs and books on sustainable fashion will all get you one step closer to creating sustainable looks on the regular.
We suggest checking out Lucy Siegel’s documentary ‘The True Cost’ or reading her book ‘To Die For’, and while you’re there, take a look at ‘Naked Fashion’ by Safia Minney. Epic.
We recently heard from Sarah Jupp, Business Development Manager of Organic Fashion & Textiles at the Soil Association on the importance and benefits of organic cotton. We heard her speak at a recent Bristol Womens in Sustainability event, here are a few things we learnt…
Having learnt a bit more about sustainable fashion, it’s time to put it into practice. When buying clothes keep an eye out for natural and organic fabrics such as lyocell, Tencel, linen, hemp and of course, our current favourite, organic cotton.
Organic cotton items are signposted with the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTs) symbol. Clothes certified with this standard are made with at least 70% organic materials and only use low impact dyes. They also ensure safer and healthier conditions for farmers and the environment by avoiding the use of hazardous synthetic pesticides, as well as keeping the water systems surrounding the production of the fabric safe and clean.
The other symbol to look out for is the Organic Content Standard (OCS). OCS verifies that a product has met strict organic standards throughout its journey from raw material to finished product.
And if you’re struggling with finding certified garms, check out ‘good on you’ app which enables you to discover ethical brands. This app gives ratings of fashion brands based on how they perform on three criteria, labour standards, environmental policy and animal welfare. So now there really are no excuses!
Finally, it can be hard to behave ethically with your wardrobe if you know you’ll only need the item once, or for a short period. For example, you may be needing maternity clothes, or need an outfit for an occasion such as a black-tie wedding. That’s where clothes renting can really help. Check out sites such as Hire Street, which enable you to rent a capsule wardrobe and hand them back when you’re done. No landfill, no waste.
You can also reduce your footprint by re-loving clothes (and get them on a budget too!) by using apps such as Depop and Facebook Marketplace.
It’s time to reconnect with your wardrobe. Spend some time getting to know your clothes. Work out what you use the most and why that is. Love what you have. Do you really need that new shirt or can you fix or upcycle it? And if you are going to buy something new, make sure you make it last. Buy it to keep forever. And ask yourself, how often will you use it, could you do without it? Do you have to buy brand new or would you be just as happy with second hand?
Dame Vivienne Westwood summed it up perfectly “Buy less, choose well and make it last.”