Updated: Oct 22
If you've been on Instagram or TikTok scrolling through the trends reportedly taking the internet by storm, you've heard of terms like 'sustainable fashion', 'slow fashion', or 'conscious buying' - But how do you identify the authenticity of these labels?
Here are a few points to ensure that your favorite fashion fall under any of the above categories:
1. Check your fabric - Biodegradable & Toxin-free
Right from dyed textiles to toxic plastic waste used to make fabric, checking the fabric of the clothes you select is one of the most important indicators of ensuring your clothes are sustainably made.
The origin of fiber and dyes is very important. Fabrics like polyester, nylon, spandex, and acrylic are created using manmade fibers derived from petrochemicals, these are toxic and are responsible for considerable off puts of carbon dioxide. Stay clear of anything that says recyclable, reusable, and renewable - all the above fabrics are recyclable, reusable, ad renewable because they will stay on the face of the earth for over 200 yrs without degrading and polluting our land and oceans.
In addition to materials, you should also investigate color and dye processes. Most textile dyes are incredibly toxic, and manufacturing facilities leach chemical toxins directly into waterways. To make sure your clothing brand is using the right textile look for SGS, OEKO-TEX, and GOT certifications.
Pro tip: Stay clear of any clothes that are made out of RECYCLED PLASTIC in them. Recycling PET plastic bottles into textiles ends up polluting our oceans. If you like to learn more about recycled material that's flooding the market these days, please read this insightful article in The Guardian.
How do you stay clear of "greenwashing"? Go for Brands that are transparent with their supply chain- working, working conditions, and open about their brand's fabric, sources, and authenticity. Look for minimal or green packaging, according to EPA, the packaging alone can account for 30% of waste. Green packaging. Most important are the brand’s core values align with the sustainability goals they outline. Many fast-fashion brands make broad claims while producing goods with no consideration for the environment or people's health.
3. Domestically produced has reduced carbon footprint and increased traceability
Fast fashion brands usually come from mass production sites, with underpaid workers, making your favorite outfits, These manufacturing units are usually located in countries with poor working conditions and underpaid employees. By choosing locally-made clothes you also cut down on the amount of travel and carbon emissions. Buying locally means more accountability and traceability. However, buying locally is more complex than it seems in our global setting, so choosing local can be a good choice only if the brands you choose to support are managing their social and environmental impacts across the supply chain efficiently.
Most importantly, look beyond the buzzwords and become more aware. Responsible brand owners would make sure that everything they make has an influence, beginning from the small tags to the packaging to how far the product has to travel to reach you. Awareness in our technology-centric world is very important. As we all see brands put out misleading information by putting “ethical” "green" "eco-friendly" or “sustainable” on their social media and websites, with no solid evidence to back up their claims.
If you are doubtful, don’t be afraid to ask brands where and how their clothes are made.