What’s in style today is often quick, easy, and disposable. The high turnover for new merchandise has created a culture of fast fashion. This means that clothes are being tossed into landfills and high amounts of energy are needed to re-purpose an old shirt into something new.
This cycle of environmental destruction as a byproduct of fashion is not the only option that is available. There are many brands that are ethical, eco-friendly, and create sustainable incomes for people who would otherwise be at risk for some of the worst and most dangerous jobs in the world. Sustainable brands are often overshadowed by large name brands that are able to offer a disposable dress for the person-on-the-go for $15 or less. Sustainable brands are so worth the investment, though, because if you want to send the world a message about what you stand for, sustainable fashion choices is one of the most beautiful ways you can do this.
- Chinti & Parker clothing line because they produce their clothing in carefully selected factories and actively offset their carbon emissions through the Carbon Neutral Company guidelines. Everything is made from organic cotton, bamboo, and even seaweed. Even the packaging is organic, now that’s exciting! There is no polyester involved here, which can take 200 years to decompose!
Companies can quickly imprint logos on plastic sunglasses by changing up the style or colour, but this is just adding to the endless stream of unnecessary products. A new trend in eye wear that is out on the market right now are frames made out of wood. If you’re into this look, you should check out frames made from bamboo, since it grows at a rate of 3 feet in 24 hours! This is a more sustainable way to make sunglasses that are not only stylish, but environmentally friendly as well! Panda Sunglasses are custom made for your face shape and are completely made from sustainable Moso bamboo. The great thing about these sunglasses…actually two great things are…number 1: you still get the UVA protection that you need from the sun and number 2: the company partners with Pencils of Promise to bring education to 250 million kids lacking basic education levels of reading, writing, and math.
- Wedding Dresses:
The average bride in the U.S. spends about $1,281 on a wedding dress that they will only be wearing for less than a day. Even if they continue to wear a wedding dress once a year instead of just once, there are brands out there which use completely recycled materials or cut fabric leaving no leftover scraps. One of these brands is Minna, which is an “eco luxe” brand that creates wedding dresses, veils, and bridesmaid dresses made from sustainable, organic, recycled, and locally produced textiles. An example of this would be in the following image, where the dress is made from 100% recycled silk materials.
The majority of running shoes are made from rubber, but since natural rubber production has now shifted to Southeast Asia, farmers are often struggling to make ends meet to compete with the synthetic rubber made from oil. The Amazon is the only place in the world where rubber grows naturally, and Veja makes shoes sourced from 60 families who own land with wild rubber. They only take orders six months in advance so they don’t overwhelm production. Bia Saldanha,who is the co-founder of Veja, also works within the rubber industry to create a fair price for rubber, and preserve valuable rainforest.
In order for the textile industry to dye clothes in bright, eye-catching, neon prints it takes a lot of water and chemicals. Textile plants in China and India can destroy rivers with dye and drain local water supplies. Investing in small-scale production that uses less water to dye clothing is a great start to reducing environmental damage in these regions. Punjammies, made by Sudara, are making the world a better place all around because these pajamas are made by women in India who have escaped human trafficking, so wearing a set of them isn’t just cozy, but it’s also compassionate. The brand is helping women to evade trafficking and sex slavery, which is an amazing cause to get involved in!
6. Jewelry and Bling:
If you start investing in sustainable jewelry or brands that are working to keep women out of sex slavery, you will definitely get more for your money. There are many talented artisans that are not only making beautiful jewelry, but are also reducing some of the 20-30 million modern day slaves in the world today. 31 Bits is a company that was started by care-free college kids who became remarkable entrepreneurs. The designers of 31 Bits created a gorgeous jewelry line while also giving displaced women in Northern Uganda an opportunity to combat poverty. This socially conscious jewelry company encourages consumers to think about where the money they spend will ultimately end up.
Another good company for eco-conscious jewelry is Alex & Ani; their newest line features re-purposed copper from the restoration of the Statue of Liberty, and it’s helping to make the world a better and brighter place.
7. Leather Boots:
Buying a leather product will always come with its own set of ethical questions, but there are leather products that are more sustainable than others. Environmentally speaking, though, it’s better to invest in a pair of shoes that can last decades compared to boots or shoes that will only last a year or two. Teysha uses ethically sourced Guatemalan textiles and leather for handmade shoes.
These shoes are custom-made and include original textiles that are handcrafted on looms in sustainable factories. This, in turn, is helping to empower artisans in a country where 59.3% of the rural community lives in poverty.
There are so many better options out there for sandals than the rubber ones you find hanging in Walmart or Target, such as sandals that send girls to school and brighten their future! An example of these would be Sseko Sandals, with their slogan that says, “Wear Sseko. Send a girl to college,” it’s very difficult not to buy these shoes out of impulse! Each pair of sandals are ethically handmade in East Africa, and their strappy leather designs are just as fabulous as their cause.
9. Basic Cotton Tee
A plain cotton tee can go a long way in your wardrobe, but in order to make one cotton tee and a pair of jeans, did you know it takes about 20,000 litres of water, according to WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature)? In addition to this, 73% of global cotton production takes place on unregulated land.
People Tree makes a super comfy basic tee that is made out of 100% FairTrade cotton and works to help organic cotton farmers earn 30% more income. The company has created sustainable fashion for celebrities like Emma Watson and is definitely a brand worth investing in because their garments are made with organic cotton and sustainable materials. They also use traditional skills that help support rural communities!