Our clothing options are pretty much endless these days and new styles are being added to mannequins and New Arrivals pages every minute; it’s an indecisive person’s nightmare. While it’s amazing that there’s so much for us on offer, it also raises the ultimate question - how sustainable are these clothes?
If you were asked what the clothes you’re wearing are made out of, would you be able to answer? ...No? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Sadly, most of us have no idea how most of the clothes in our wardrobe even came into existence.
Thankfully, brands and labels are starting to come to terms with their social responsibility within the fashion industry and are aware of the impact they have on the environment, especially in the manufacturing stage.
Keep reading! We’re here to give you a bite-sized lesson in sustainable fabrics, so you can shop more consciously with us.
Planet Positive is a series showcasing brands that produce ethical and eco-friendly products. To be eligible for Planet Positive classification, a garment must have one of the following features:
Be bluesign approved
Be made from non-toxic dye
Be Fairtrade certified
Contain at least 50% sustainably-produced fabric
Sustainable textiles are fabrics and materials that have minimal impact on the environment, especially in comparison to man-made fabrics. Let’s be honest though, it can be hard to keep up and know why one fabric is better than another. Here’s a list of our favourite environmentally-friendly fabrications that the conscious consumer will love:
Linen: Derived from the flax plant, linen is a natural fibre that has the incredible chameleon-like skill of being warm in the winter and cool in the summer. As long as undesirable chemicals are left out of the harvesting process, linen is completely biodegradable and a favourite in the fashion world.
Organic Cotton: Organic Cotton would have to be one of the most natural fabrics. Compared to conventional cotton, this strand is grown in the absence of pesticides, chemicals and synthetic fertilisers.
Hemp: While it’s been around for centuries in a vast variety of goods, it’s recently become popular again. Not only does it grow at an incredibly speedy rate and require little water to do so, its seeds naturally fertilise the soil it grows in.
Tencel: A cellulose fabric, TENCEL is made from wood pulp sourced from sustainably grown forests. Compared to cotton, it is 50 per cent more absorbent and requires way less water and energy to make.
Modal: Lightweight, breathable and stretchy - Modal is made from beech tree pulp and is often seen as an ideal alternative for cotton.
Ever seen an acronym slapped on a tag and racked your brain trying to work out what it stands for? There’s a good chance the random letter arrangement you’ve stumbled on is a sustainable certification or promise - informing you that the garment it’s on is sustainable and ethical.
Ethical Clothing Australia (ECA): An accreditation body working collaboratively with local businesses to ensure that Australian-based supply chains are meeting their legal obligations.
Better Cotton Initiative (BCI): A global program committed to developing ‘better cotton’ as a sustainable mainstream fabric. Australian growers that have opted in to BCI have premium access to cotton grown on farms that follow the most environmentally-friendly practices.
Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS): GOTS is a textile processing standard that is renowned worldwide. To gain this certification, a brand is assessed on fair harvesting of its raw materials, its social responsibility, environmental impact, and water and energy use. A garment must be at least 75% organic to be slapped with the GOTS certification.
Fairtrade: An ethical guarantee that the brand has conducted sustainable production practices, fair trading terms, plus the promotion of economic security. It takes into account fair pay, working conditions and the management of people in farming and factory environments.
Global Recycled Standard (GRS): The GRS are responsible for overlooking the tractability of materials, and environment and social requirements, of companies that make or sell recycled fashion.
We’re lucky enough to have a few brands on board that are doing their bit for the environment.
Burton: Burton do sustainability, and they do it well. By design year 2020, Burton is striving for all softgoods to be bluesign® products, contain organic cotton, use more recycled polyester and apply only PFC-free durable water repellent.
Patagonia: This one is a no-brainer! Patagonia is transparent with the way they are reducing their impact on the environment. The brand strongly focuses on utilising recycled fabrics to avoid emissions and only using organic cotton they grow entirely.
Globe: Globe doesn’t claim to be perfect, but they’ve stepped off the fast fashion treadmill. Incorporating more sustainable fibres and materials means more durable products that are Low Velocity and have less impact on the environment.
Thrills: Thrills are making smart moves towards a sustainable future. The brand is currently using an array of environmentally-friendly fabrics such as Hemp, Ramie, Recycled Cotton and Linen in many of their garments, with new denim styles moving to Organic Cotton.
Nudie Jeans Co.: Nudie Jeans Co. is striving to become the most sustainable denim company. You can rest assured that every product is made with at least 70% of sustainable fibre. Aside from cotton, Nudie incorporates recycled fibres, such as wool and polyester. They are also passionate about the longevity of their product, offering free repairs as a way of reducing waste.
Volcom: Committed to the ongoing efforts of turning sustainability commitments to actions, Volcom focuses on their three pillars - giving back, impact evaluation and responsible manufacturing. Volcom uses industry tools (Higg Index and Textile Exchange’s Preferred Fiber & Materials Benchmark survey) to assess products’ materials mix.
Now that you’re aware of the importance of sustainability within the fashion industry, there are a few conscious habits you can incorporate into your routine to reduce your environmental footprint.
Read labels: Before you buy, read what fabrics make up the garment. Make an educated decision on what you choose to spend your money on.
Donate: Repeat after us: Never throw out clothes! If you have unwanted clothes sitting in your wardrobe, pass them on to a friend or give them to a charity instead of subjecting them to a life in landfill.
Launder less: Uh oh, it’s estimated that laundry accounts for around 60-80% of a garment’s total environmental impact. Keep your laundry days low and wait until you have a full load before you start a cycle.
Treat with care: Always read the care instructions on your label. Taking care of your garment means it will last longer and that’s an A+ effort in our books.
Keep it cool: Did you know most of the energy your washing machine exerts goes towards heating the water? Most modern washing detergents actually work more effectively in colder water. Save the planet, keep it cool!
Use alternatives: The next time you stock up on washing detergent, choose a natural or green cleaning alternative. For those wanting to go the extra mile and opt for something more natural- cut out the chemical-filled detergents and give soap nuts a go.
Now that you've got your head around sustainability, check out our Planet Positive collection.