How to Make Sure The Clothes You’re Buying are Sustainably Made

In a world of fast fashion, consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the horrific effects of the clothing industry on the environment. Furthermore, global trade has exacerbated problems with human rights issues, with factors like unfair pay and slave labor being rightfully called into the national dialogue. The good news is that people are starting to pay attention, perhaps due to documentaries like The True Cost. But being environmentally and socially conscious doesn’t mean needing to give up a passion for fashion. If you love to express yourself through clothes, you have sustainable options available — you may just have to do a little digging.

What Makes Clothing Sustainable?

If you are on the lookout for a new piece of clothing and your intention is to purchase something that’s good for the planet, you’ll want to pay close attention to the garment’s fabric tag. According to Money Crashers, the most sustainable materials to look for are linen, hemp, bamboo, lyocell, organic wool, alpaca, and silk. Of course, if you’re vegan, you’ll want to skip wool, alpaca and silk.

Going organic is another good option, but organic cotton isn’t necessarily better than non-organic bamboo. It really comes down to your priorities and your budget. So go organic if you can afford it, but if you can’t, stick with the most sustainable fabrics.

The Role of Fair Trade

Many people who are eco-conscious are also socially conscious, and socially conscious people have a lot to be wary of when it comes to fast fashion. People in developing countries, as the film The True Cost shows, are often subject to low pay and dangerous working conditions so as to keep the cost of Western fashions low.

Look for a Fair Trade label if you’re concerned about these humanitarian issues, as this certification process shows that the companies involved paid the people manufacturing the clothing a fair living wage. You can also check out each individual brand’s website to see if they have issued statements on their supply chains.

The Most Transparent Brands

While some brands do discuss their supply chain standards and adhere to human rights principles, other brands are not so forthcoming. The website Babe recently categorized 40 of the world’s biggest brands in order of their levels of supply chain transparency. Take a look a the list and see how your favorite fashion brands fare.

The Role of Thrift Shopping

Finally, for many ethical shoppers, all bets are off when it comes to thrift store shopping. This is because no matter how ethically sourced a garment’s ingredients are, nothing is more sustainable than reuse. And besides, what you buy in a thrift store, you won’t buy new, which means that you’re requiring fewer resources to be expended for the sake of your wardrobe. Whenever you can, buy things secondhand. They’ll be more affordable, too!

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26 comments

Anis M
Anis Mahjoub2 months ago

I believe in the Brand

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Chad Anderson
Chad Anderson3 months ago

Thank you.

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Margie F
Margie FOURIE4 months ago

I still wear some clothes that are 20 to 30 years old. Perhaps I should have bought more of them.

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Laura K
Laura K4 months ago

Thanks

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hELEN hEARFIELD
hELEN hEARFIELD4 months ago

Tyfs

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Virginia Miller
Virginia Miller4 months ago

Thanks, good info

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Diane Wayne
Past Member 4 months ago

I also buy at 2nd hand shops for the last 10 years. It helps to recycle as much as we can. I believe in Fair Trade.

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Peggy B
Peggy B4 months ago

TYFS

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Angeles Madrazo
Angeles Madrazo4 months ago

Thank you

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Anne Moran
Anne Moran4 months ago

Who wears wool these days ??

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