If you swear by reusable straws and water bottles but continue to shop from fast fashion retailers, you need to re-evaluate your carbon footprint. Fast fashion brands are cheap for a reason. Clothes from fast fashion retailers are not ethically made and often have terrible working conditions in their factories.
Many people who shop from fast fashion brands skimp out on quality in favor of low prices and say they could simply throw away the piece of clothing and just buy another one. By throwing out clothing, they are adding even more clothes to our landfills. The fashion industry is responsible for most of the clothes in our landfills today. According to Remake, the US alone sends about 21 billion pounds of textile waste to landfills every year. Furthermore, only 10-15% of donated clothing actually ends up in the secondhand market.
A good way to limit the amount of clothing in our landfills is to sell the clothes you no longer use on reselling sites like Poshmark, eBay, or Mercari. Reselling will guarantee that your clothes will have at least two homes before going into the landfill. You can also try to include thrifted pieces into your wardrobe.
You don’t have to get rid of all the fast fashion you currently have in your wardrobe in order to be sustainable; you just need to be more mindful the next time you decide to go shopping. If you know you’re only going to wear that trendy top for a couple of months, opt for a basic staple that will get you years of wear. Try to only buy items that you know you are going to get a lot of use out of. The next time you go shopping, keep an eye out for these sustainable brands!
Everlane has ethically-made clothing pieces with transparent prices. Their clothes are top-notch quality and they carry a lot of staples that won’t go out of style in the next season.
Patagonia has a program called Worn Wear, where you can recycle old Patagonia products instead of contributing to the never-ending landfill of clothes. You can get credit for your used Patagonia gear which you can then use to buy new Patagonia products or used Patagonia from the Worn Wear collection.
Allbirds shoes are made from materials straight from Mother Nature herself. Allbirds are made from wool from merino sheep, trees, sugarcane, recycled water bottles, castor bean oil. The packaging is made from 90% recycled cardboard.
Rothy’s knit uppers are made from 100% post-consumer plastic water bottles. The foam components are made from other recycled shoes. The soles on Rothy’s do not contain any of the black carbon found in most shoe soles. Their packaging is vegan and biodegradable and is made from 85% post-consumer recycled materials.
- Outdoor Voices
Outdoor Voices prioritizes worker’s safety, fair wages/benefits, and uses sustainable materials. Their recycled polyester fabric is made from water bottles. Their Merino gear is sustainably traced back to the sheep they come from. Their Seamless collection works to decrease waste and is has styles knitted as a tube instead of cut and sewn together, and therefore has no scrap materials.
Madewell recently launched their line of Fair Trade Certified denim, which sets ethical standards from safe working conditions to sustainable products. Madewell also has a denim recycling program, where they turn jeans into housing insulation for organizations like Habitat for Humanity. Madewell then gives you $20 off a brand new pair of jeans.
- Eileen Fisher
Eileen Fisher is a high-quality brand that makes their clothes from sustainable materials; their clothes are built to last. They have a Renew program, where you can donate your used Eileen Fisher clothing and they will resell them to give them a second life. The products that are damaged beyond repair go through their Waste No More team, who transforms them into artworks like pillows and wall hangings. When you donate a used Eileen Fisher item in any condition, they will give you a $5 Renew Rewards card for each item.
The VEJA employees who produce the sneakers in Brazil are well-compensated and live in normal conditions. They purchase raw materials and upcycle materials like fish leather, plastic, jute, and cotton. They are among one of the most transparent and sustainable sneaker companies in the world.
Reformation has high fiber standards for its clothing. Their goal is to make 75% of its products with natural fibers that are rapidly renewable, plant-based and have a potential for circularity or fibers that are almost all natural or recycled fibers. They also have sustainable packaging and provide health benefits to all of their full-time employees.
- Girlfriend Collective
Girlfriend Collective makes sustainable active-wear. Each pair of their Compressive Leggings starts with 25 recycled post-consumer water bottles. Their leggings are certified safe by Oeko-Tex and guaranteed recycled. Their factories in Vietnam pay living wages, provide fair working hours and safe conditions, allows unionization, and does not use forced or child labor. Girlfriend Collective partners with ECONYL to help clean the oceans and recycle the waste.
Kotn ensures their factory employees are paid fairly/equally and have safe working conditions. Kotn directly sources their materials from farmers to provide customers with fair prices that reflect the quality instead of the label. They ensure that 100% of their cotton is certified organic.
TOMS’ One for One program matches every pair of shoe purchased with a new pair of shoes for a child in need. TOMS has given over 60 million pairs of shoes to children in need through this program.
Levi’s has a Water<Less initiative, where they can reduce up to 96% of the water normally used in denim finishing, the final stage in making a pair of jeans. Levi’s also has a partnership with RE/DONE, where they turn old Levi’s and give them a new life, which lowers the environmental impact of the jean-making process.
Boyish is committed to using ethical and sustainable practices in the development and manufacturing of all their products. Their jeans are produced with sustainable fabrics and washes through an environmentally-friendly and cruelty-free process. They have a partnership with One Tree Planted, where they will plant one tree of every purchase made.
Shopping from sustainably-made clothing brands is a great way to lower your environmental impact. Hopefully, you’ll consider these brands the next time you decide to go shopping.