Sustainable Clothing Brands You Can Actually Trust

The fashion industry has turned into a huge contributor to climate change and waste. The manufacturing of clothing results in a lot of water waste and other types of pollution, not to mention that harvesting the materials needed for the fabrics has increased the rate of deforestation. However, there is a way that you as a consumer can avoid those issues and lower your overall carbon footprint. Buy your clothes from sustainable clothing brands. But why are sustainable clothing brands important and what are the terms to look for? Actually, what even is sustainable clothing? 

What Is Sustainable Clothing?

Sustainable clothing refers to fabrics that are derived from eco-friendly resources, like sustainably grown fiber crops or recycled materials. But it also has to do with how the fabrics are made. Originally, the only way to be really environmentally conscious with clothing meant that you would have to exclusively buy from thrift stores or other shops that sold second hand clothing, or donating used clothes to shops for reuse or to be resold. However, in today's day and age, companies and manufactures are taking steps towards reducing their carbon food print and their overall waste, as well as where they source the materials from their clothes. This means that it is becoming more common to be able to buy brand new clothes and still be environmentally conscious. 

There is a fair amount that goes into sustainable clothing. For brands, it means creating in a way which is most considerate of humanity and the environment. The goal is to have a system that works without leaving a huge negative footprint. However, sustainable clothing also has a lot to do with you as the consumer. For you, it means thinking about what you buy, knowing which philosophies you are supporting through your purchases. Also asking yourself if you are really going to wear that new piece to the extent that it was worth being made. I know, deep, but it is worth thinking about. Overall, the fault lies with both the consumer and the manufacturer because they only make what you buy more of. Stop buying their clothes and the supply/demand standard will flip. 

Types of Sustainable Clothing

There are a lot of ways that you can be sustainable with your clothing and how you buy clothing. Knowing the various approaches to sustainable clothing can help you understand all of the options that are available to you. In addition, it can help you find and choose a brand that you trust. 

  • Second Hand- This is the most common and one of the most trendy options, especially if you live in a city. Buying second hand clothes from a thrift shop or vintage store, or otherwise, eliminates the need to produce more clothes. 
  • Slow Fashion- This is a fairly new concept. Basically the key here is that companies will put out fewer new items, ultimately reducing the amount of resources they use. However, if you are the type of person who buys a new outfit every other week, you may find this approach difficult. 
  • Fair- Companies that practice fair fashion ensure that their workers get a fair wage, a living wage. While the general consensus is that fair trade practices are coupled with being eco-friendly, that is not always the case. In addition, there are certifications that will tell you if a brand is fair or not. But the smaller brands usually can not afford that certification, even if they do practice fair trade. Best thing to do is to ask the brand. 
  • Vegan- Essentially, being vegan about fashion is the same as vegan with food. Avoiding using animals as resources for the creation of clothes. So no real leather, or animal products in clothes. However, some brands will use plastic or other non biodegradable fibers to create their clothes which pretty much defeats the purpose. Gotta do your research on your chosen brand. 
  • Local- Buying from local stores is a great way to not only reduce the overall carbon footprint but also support your local and small businesses. Transporting goods is a huge contributor to carbon emissions. However, with local stores, they do not need to transport any goods, which reduces the carbon footprint of the fashion industry. However, that is only if local becomes the new norm because big companies aren't going anywhere anytime soon, unfortunately. 
  • Minimalism- Another trendy option, this requires you to do more with less. Basically, having as little as possible, which means less overall consumption. But it is hard to stick to and most people see it as a fad that quickly dies out. 
  • Organic- Buying organic materials is a great way to reduce the pollution caused by the fashion industry. Organic materials like cotton and Hemp avoid the use of pesticides when growing the material, which saves us and the earth from that source of pollution. Unfortunately, even organic materials, especially cotton, require a whole lot of water, which leads to water waste. Also many "organic" brands still use chemicals and dyes in the production process, just not in the growing process. 
  • Recycled- This is great as it reduces the overall waste that is produced. However, recycled clothing can often use more energy to filter and recycle than it would to use raw materials, since with clothing, there is more to filter and refurbish than with regular recycled materials.  
sustainable clothing

Sustainable, Ethical, or Fair Trade

When looking into sustainable clothes, it can be confusing, especially because there are so many terms to take into consideration. You'll often see fair fashion, ethical fashion, and sustainable side by side. But what does it all mean? What are the differences, or do they all overlap? Let's start with sustainable since that is the keyword for today. Sustainable clothes refers to making the product from environmentally friendly resources. This will often include fabrics like bamboo, hemp and linen. However, sustainable can also include fair trade, as it can be seen as an umbrella term. Being sustainable for the environment as well as humanity. 

When it comes to ethical, it gets a bit looser. The ethical term is a broader word that can encompass fair trade and sustainable fashion, but it is not always explicit. This is because the term ethical has no standards, regulation, or governing body to enforce the term. Basically this means that just about anyone could slap the term on their product and call it a day. However, in general, ethical clothing includes pioneering brands working on everything from upcycling to fair trade practices. 

Finally, we have fair trade. This term mostly focuses on the workers themselves, rather than the way the clothing is made. Fair Trade ensures that the workers get a living wage and are treated fairly for their work. This is particularly necessary when a brand gets their materials from a foreign farm where the workers are locals. Fair trade makes sure that those local farmers, growers, harvesters, etc. are compensated fairly for their work and have a stable income. 

So overall, some of the terms can overlap and take into account others, like ethical and sustainable. However some hold more of a meaning in the fashion industry. Ethical currently has no standard to uphold it, while sustainable does. It is a lot to take in but it is important to understand and research. Most of the time, a brand will have multiple certifications, so it is best to keep an eye out for those. 

Sustainable Brands You Can Trust

Knowing which brands you can trust in today's society can be a difficult task. However, there are a few that have the right certifications and the right kind of thinking and practices to do the right thing. Here are a few brands that you can put your trust behind for 2018. 

  • Alternative Apparel- A vintage style clothing company that has been around since 1995. They make sure that over 80% of their clothing products are made with sustainable processes and materials.
  • Amour Vert- This company changed their entire philosophy after finding out that the fashion industry was the second highest cause for pollution. Now they have a zero waste policy, use non-toxic dyes and sustainable fabrics. 
  • Reformation- Here is a company that puts sustainability at the center of everything. They incorporate green building initiatives and minimize energy, water, and waste footprints. They also source their materials from local and screened suppliers.
  • DL 1961- This denim company is changing the way jeans are made. They use responsibly sourced raw materials and partners with socially responsible vendors to help reduce the pollution output. 
  • prAna- A clothing and lifestyle company that is focused on inspiring free-spirited, active, and healthy living. Some of their initiatives include the use of organic and recycled materials, fair trade, polybag reduction, responsibly sourced forest materials, and traceability. 
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Conclusion

Sustainable clothing is definitely important. It helps reduce the pollution caused by the fashion industry and encourages more green practices. You can help as well by following green living practices and buying sustainable brands. To learn more about pollution, the different types and how it is caused, check out the rest of Green and Growing. 

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Patrick Sands
 

Hey, I'm Pat. I am a Millersville grad with a Bachelors of Arts in English. I love to write, play video games, watch movies and TV, basically be a total nerd whenever I can. Green and Growing is important to me because it allows me to help others be as green and eco-friendly as possible. With Climate Change being what it is, it is even more important for people to get educated about their environment. This website allows me to do my part in that. Also, I'm a huge goof who tries to add some humor into anything I write. Stay Excellent out there!

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