Sustainability is trending! You can make an environmental impact and look good doing it by shopping sustainably and supporting brands committed to helping the planet. Read on to learn about sustainable fashion, where to buy ethical clothing, and how to style popular thrifted pieces!
Sustainable Fashion: The Industry’s Problem
The fashion industry plays a large part in the world’s troubles with high carbon emissions, unnecessary water usage, and textile waste. On top of this, fast-fashion companies frequently use toxic dyes and harmful chemicals that contribute to industrial pollution. These types of companies harm the environment, and many of them do not treat workers fairly. Fast-fashion companies create thousands of low-quality clothes at a low cost that are often trendy for only a short time.
This method is highly profitable, and fashion brands continue to have success with it. However, coming out of 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic, many brands feel pressure to produce clothes in a more eco-friendly way due to decreased consumer spending and a scarcity of resources disrupting the supply chain. Shopping sustainably and wearing thrifted or vintage clothes has become increasingly popular.
Slow Fashion Is One Solution
Sustainable fashion or slow fashion has been a concept for decades but has only recently gained traction among younger consumers. Thrifting influencers who brand themselves on sustainability and vintage clothes have been gaining popularity as well. Sustainable fashion is better for the environment and also delivers a fashion-forward aesthetic seen all over Instagram. Sustainable brands are challenging fashion industry norms by reducing water consumption, carbon emissions, and waste from production. Many brands are also committed to treating their workers fairly.
It takes about 1,500 gallons of water to produce one pair of denim jeans. Levi’s is taking steps to become more earth-friendly. Since implementing sustainability initiatives to reduce waste in 2011, Levi’s has saved over 4.2 billion liters of water. Along with sustainable clothing lines, the company now features a secondhand shop right on its website.
Where Can I Buy Sustainable Fashions?
When shopping for sustainable clothing, you have two options. You can buy from brands committed to ethical fashion or buy pre-loved garments from a thrift store or online market. But finding environmentally-friendly fashion can sometimes be challenging.
Some clothing brands claim their products are “natural” or made from “sustainable materials,” but only as part of a marketing strategy to drive sales. The fabric might be made from recycled materials or eco-friendly materials like lyocell, but that doesn’t mean the company is trying to eliminate textile waste. Companies that are not telling the whole truth often use vague language to make a sale in this process known as “greenwashing.” Keep reading to learn how you can avoid greenwashed clothing brands!
Shopping for Sustainable Fashion? Look for These Signs
Many certifications within the fashion and textile industry can tell you what to look for to shop sustainably and trust manufacturer claims. For example, Climate Neutral, a non-profit company that aids in reducing carbon emissions, awards certifications to companies with a neutral carbon footprint. Allbirds, a Climate Neutral Certified brand specializing in sneakers and shoes, is one of the certified brands on this list.
Companies can receive a B Corporation Certification by meeting third-party standards of social and environmental impact. When you buy from a B Corp company, you can trust that they positively impact the environment and their employees. Patagonia and Athleta are both Certified B Corps, and you can find a complete directory on the B Corporation website.
Along with consumer pressure on brands to be more eco-friendly, there is also demand for ethical fashion. This means brands look out for the planet and their people. It is no secret that most of our clothes are made, but a Fair Trade certification can ensure fashion companies are transparent through the supply chain. A Fair Trade label shows that the garment workers have safer working conditions and increasingly fair wages and that company works to protect the environment. You’ll find a full list of Fair Trade Certified companies here.
These certifications are not the be-all-end-all of sustainable shopping. Some certificates are expensive and time-consuming to acquire, so smaller sustainable brands may not be on these lists. Shoppers can do a quick investigation of a company or email it directly to get more context on the brand’s social and environmental impact.
Third-Party Sustainability Ratings
The Good On You website and app allow consumers to search for their favorite brands and get a sustainability rating based on all aspects of the supply chain. Good On You bases its ratings on a company’s policies and treatment of people, the planet, and animals.
One of the most foolproof ways to shop sustainably is by thrifting. Websites and consignment apps make thrifting an even more convenient way to shop. Second-hand clothing reduces waste and decreases your personal carbon footprint. It also helps you find clothing that costs far less than new items.
Instead of allowing old clothes to pile up in a landfill, online resale stores encourage users to buy and sell on-trend clothes. Poshmark, thredUp, Swap.com, Depop, and even Facebook resale groups, allow you to thrift in the comfort of your own home. Goodwill, Plato’s Closet, Clothes Mentor, and other consignment stores get tons of new items daily that could create a fun day to revamp your closet.
Sustainable Fashion Trends You Can Find at a Thrift Store
Denim is an easy one and often bountiful in thrift stores. Current denim trends include low-rise and wide-leg pants. Thankfully trends resurface, so you should be able to score some vintage ’90s low-rises at most thrift shops! For a wide-leg look, you may find an even more extensive selection in the men’s section of your local consignment store.
Bermuda shorts are becoming a summer staple this year. If you do not already own a pair, you should be able to find something at your local thrift shop or your mom’s closet!
Once again, many thrifters find luck in the men’s section when shopping for this trend. Vintage graphic T-Shirts can add a grunge vibe to a pair of distressed denim. You can easily crop them to your liking with a pair of scissors!
Most of us have been living and working in athleisure for the past year. Certain higher-end consignment stores may even carry name-brand activewear such as Lululemon or Athleta for a fraction of the price!
When in doubt, head to the thrift store for your basic wardrobe staples. Blouses, button-ups, dresses, and basic T-shirts are plentiful and cheap. Next time you need some clothes, remember fast-fashion sites and stores may have cute pieces, but trends go out of style quickly, and these outlets can hurt the environment.
So shop wisely, and don’t forget to share your favorite ways to shop sustainably with friends and loved ones on FamilyApp!