Sustainable, transparent, safe, minimal waste, fair – what does ‘ethical clothing’ actually incorporate? Ethical clothing for a long time was a topic I thought ‘ I should look into that’, but it felt like such a huge task! Can you relate? I thought (and sometimes still do think) ‘am I really ready to confront my wardrobe and think about it’s effect on the world?’, ‘Am I ready to find out about the production practices of all my favourite brands?’ It’s a tough adjustment and commitment to make, but I am convinced that we have a responsibility to make informed decisions about how we spend, and so I am, somewhat nervously, continuing to turn my steps in that direction.
What does ethical clothing mean?
The term ‘ethical clothing’ or ‘ethical fashion’ encompasses all aspects of the fashion industry, from growing the plants to make the fibres, design, production and purchasing. It considers all kinds of issues within this industry, such as working conditions, slave and child labour, animal protection and environmental sustainability among others. But such a huge umbrella term can make this research intimidating. Where do you start? Well you can take a breath, reading this post IS your start! You’ve already begun.
Why is ethically produced fashion important?
Our world, and the resources in it, is not infinite and the fashion industry is one of the largest polluters in the world. The impact of the fashion industry affects waste, water usage, toxic chemical supply and disposal and energy consumption. Here’s a scary stat (from global news), the average T-shirt uses around 1500-2200L of water to produce, while a pair of jeans uses nearly 7000L! That’s a heck of a lot of water usage for a T-shirt, and I have SO many T-shirts in my wardrobe! So, I’m convinced I need to be more careful in my purchasing and my wardrobe purging. My dollar has an impact with a much farther reach than I have previously realised and I have a responsibility in how I spend it.
What type of ethical fashion should I choose?
As I mentioned before, ‘ethical clothing’ is a huge term. Trying to find brands that are doing everything right is difficult, and it can feel overwhelming to go from not considering ethical clothing at all to having to consider every aspect of it! So where to start? A good way to start is to have a think about the types of ethical grading I mentioned and choose one or two that are particularly important to you and start your research there.
Today I’m starting with Environmentally friendly, or ‘eco-friendly’ fashion. This term looks at aspects of clothing production such as the way your clothing is died, how the waste water is handled, which fibres are chosen (as some require less water to produce such as hemp or linen), how much Co2 is emitted and which chemicals are used during production.
Eco Friendly Fashion – this is where I’ve started.
I was recently lucky enough to attend the launch event of Paco Loves Luna’s eco friendly active wear range. Apart from being a beautiful event, overlooking Sydney Harbour, Lauren (the founder of Paco Loves Luna) also included eco friendly drink bottles and keep cups into the event. I’ve included some pics from the event that showcase the new eco-friendly range.
Lauren Vickers sources from many eco-friendly brands around the world that not only employ sustainable practices in manufacturing products, but also look after their workers well to make sure they have optimal working conditions and fair pay. In particular, one brand is brought across from Hawaii, USA in which every product is hand sewn, with the use of 100% organic cotton and recycled polyester, with the personalised production of using recycled plastic bottles.
She’s using fabric made from recycled bottles! I think that’s amazing! It is such a great way to reduce the waste in our world. This is how it’s done:
– The plastic is picked up from a recycling centre and then sorted into type and colour
– The plastic containers are then put through a removal process to ensure they have no labels or caps and are then chopped into flakes.
– The flakes are melted down and made into consistently shaped pellets which go through a second melting process and are extruded to make fibre which is cut, drawn and stretched.
– This can then be used as fabric for a variety of textiles.
Crazy right? I love it when technology can be used to create excellent processes like this! What’s more, ‘all textiles used to create the garments are BPA-free. The dyes to create patterns and colouring are made with vegetable oil and are not only bold and vibrant but hold their colour’.
I love what Lauren is doing, and there are so many labels out there who are improving their practices and advocating for responsible fashion production. Some of my favourite eco-friendly fashion labels also include Patagonia, Style Saint and Alternative Apparel. Do you know of other eco friendly fashion labels? Have you got any favourites? If so please share them with me! As a community we can work to collate and share this information.