When we think of the most significant contributors to pollution, oil companies, coal mines, and transportation often come to mind. However, there is another industry that is critically overlooked: fashion. The fashion industry is one of the most substantial polluting industries in the world, primarily due to fast fashion: a design, manufacturing, and marketing method focused on rapidly producing high volumes of clothing.
Not only does the fast-fashion industry account for 10% of global carbon emissions, but the industry is also the second-biggest consumer of water and puts the lives of workers at risk due to unsafe working conditions and unlivable wages.
Thankfully, there are many eco-friendly clothing brands that are committed to sustainable production methods. According to an article by CNN, sustainable fashion refers to “eco-friendly practices in the fashion industry, referencing the approach of designing, producing and consuming clothes that respect the planet by causing little to no damage, and therefore sustaining the environment.”
Moreover, sustainable clothing brands practice ethical fashion, which thegoodtrade describes as “garment design, production, and distribution that focuses on reducing harm to people and the planet.” Therefore, eco-friendly clothing brands provide buyers with a simple way to reduce their carbon footprint and take concrete action toward promoting social justice.
While straying from fast fashion may at first feel overwhelming due to its low cost and easy accessibility, ultimately, making the switch to eco-friendly clothing brands can help you live a more sustainable lifestyle while remaining on a budget. With that being said, whether you are a seasoned “green” shopper or someone who is looking to start shopping sustainably, here are five eco-friendly clothing brands committed to fighting fast fashion and climate change.
Patagonia is an American brand that designs clothing and gear for outdoor sports such as climbing, surfing, skiing and snowboarding, fly fishing, and trail running. According to the Patagonia website, their values “reflect those of a business started by a band of climbers and surfers and the minimalist style they promoted in their lives and their sports.” Even more so, Patagonia is dedicated to producing sustainable, ethical, and long-lasting apparel. According to the company’s website, 89% of Patagonia’s fabrics are made with preferred materials, 100% of their down is responsibly sourced, and 100% of the virgin cotton in their clothes is grown organically. Even better, Patagonia is determined to move towards 100% renewable and recyclable raw materials.
However, Patagonia moves beyond just eco-friendly apparel, as they are also determined to fight for social and environmental justice issues. Not only has the company implemented a self-imposed “earth tax,” meaning 1% of their proceeds “provides support to environmental nonprofits working to defend our air, land, and water around the globe, but they have also funded over 1,020 groups working on issues from climate action to biodiversity loss.
Furthermore, the website states that “since 2016, we have dedicated over $4M to increasing support and attention to grassroots groups in frontline communities who are often hardest hit not only by racial injustice, but also the climate crisis, environmental pollution, and now the COVID-19 pandemic.”
With more than 70 Patagonia stores worldwide and a website featuring all their available products, purchasing sports gear or the perfect winter jacket has been made simple and sustainable.
Everlane is another American retailer with timeless products and essential pieces. The company, which primarily sells its clothing online, features collections for men and women and is dedicated to providing ethical clothing and transparent prices for its customers. Everlane aims to create what they call “Cleaner Fashion.” According to the website, this means that “[they] carefully consider [their] materials and work with our production partners to reduce waste, minimize natural resource use, and remove harmful chemicals and plastics.”
To achieve these goals, Everlane uses only ethically sourced materials, including organic cotton, renewed materials, and cleaner leather. Additionally, Everlane employs advanced technology to reduce water usage and create plant-based leather. Finally, the company supports animal welfare and responsible forestry practices. As a result, Everlane only sources from farms that “follow the 12 Provisions of Animal Welfare Quality” and “FSC or PEFC-certified forests,” meaning they “surpassed audit standards for forest conservation techniques, chemical, air, and emissions management, and traceability and transparent sourcing.”
Not only is Everlane committed to fighting climate change, but they produce a vast range of clothing, from t-shirts to swimwear. If you’re looking for simple statement pieces that make a statement against fast fashion, be sure to check out Everlane.
Colorful Standard is a bright, Portugal-based apparel company with a striking slogan: “You. Me. Us. Raising Standards.” According to their website, one of Color Standard’s primary goals is to “hold the fashion industry to a higher standard, which no longer risks the health of workers or of the environment.” Furthermore, Colorful Standard wants to make sustainable fashion the easier choice, stating that “In today’s world, it shouldn’t be so difficult to make a sustainable choice. That’s why we created a concept that goes against the fashion industry’s seasonal models.”
To achieve their goals of creating affordable clothing that does not compromise the safety of their workers, Colorful Standard “created a regenerative concept of long-lasting products made ethically and vertically integrated at an in-house manufacturing center. Our mission has always been to identify ways we can produce garments while remaining responsible for the planet and the people involved.” To back up each of their claims, Colorful Standard uses 100% Organic Cotton and recycled extra-fine merino wool, Oeko-Tex® certified cotton. They also follow Safe & fair labor standards, use Recycled Packaging, and are PETA approved.
Finally, this company strives to improve sustainability while promoting equity and diversity. Describing the motivation behind the range of vibrant hues of all of their products, the website states, “The colors are a tribute to diversity and inclusion, to being bold, vibrant, and unique. At Colorful Standard, there is a shade or tone for any and every kind of person.”
On top of Colorful Standard’s commitment to ethical labor and using recycled materials, the company strikes joy in the hearts of their customers with colors that range from bold pinks and daring oranges or more reserved and laid-back neutral tones.
By buying from more sustainable clothing brands, you can reduce your carbon footprint, support the communities that supply these companies, and fund social and environmental justice organizations they support. So, next time you need active wear, a simple t-shirt, or a matching sweat-set, consider buying from one of these companies, and see how well sustainability fits you.
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