The A-Z guide to
Ask where it’s made. Ask who made it. Ask because you deserve to know how your clothes are made. They’re your clothes after all.
Choose carefully. Buy what you need. Make it last.
Contrary to what the disbelievers say - climate change is happening. Production emissions release CO2 and other harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere - contributing to climate change. It’s pretty scary - but let’s fix it.
Over 2000 chemicals are used in order to process textiles - including nasty ones like mercury, lead, formaldehyde and chlorine. Some of these are known carcinogens and not even 1/10th of the 1600 used just in textile dyeing are approved by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Production is resource heavy - but did you know that 2/3rds of the environmental harm of clothing is created in the consumption phase through washing and drying? That’s actually good news because you can wash only when needed, skip the dryer and save tonnes of energy (and water, too).
Slow > fast
Fast fashion sucks. Slow fashion rules. Period.
That’s when brands pretend to be sustainably focussed but in reality they don’t take any action to improve their processes. Look for signs of greenwashing and ask questions - even if you think they’re being ethical and transparent.
Cause less harm
Fashion is dirty. In fact - it’s the third most polluting industry in the world and one of the largest consumers of water on the planet. Fashion is responsible for 20% of the world’s water pollution. So it’s not only using significant amounts of water - it’s also polluting those same waterways after production has ended. That’s never a cool move. It doesn’t need to be that way - your clothes can be made better - and with resources that don’t harm our environment.
Insecticides and pesticides
According to the World Wildlife Foundation, conventional cotton (non-organic) uses 11% of the world’s pesticides and 24% of the world’s insecticides - despite the fact that it only uses 2.4% of the world’s arable land. That’s got to be the world’s worst ratio.
It’s a journey
Sustainability is a journey - not a destination. We need to keep learning, researching, asking and challenging ourselves to become better consumers (and manufacturers, too). As long as you do the best that you can right now and look ahead to improve - it’s the right pathway.
“Power is knowledge.” Someone important wrote that a long time ago - but it’s still true. The more you know the more you can respond and change. Here’s looking at you - fashion industry.
Humans send approx. 92 million tons of textile waste into landfills every year. Why - you ask? Because fashion often doesn’t last. So it should be designed to last - obviously. That’s the #1 rule when it comes to sustainable fashion.
Mother Earth - that is. Protect her - because she’s the only one we have.
Always a good choice but not always the most sustainable. They often take a lot of water to produce. For example, it can take over 2,500 liters of water just to make one cotton tee - that’s like 20 full bathtubs of water.
It’s probably the #1 reason why you wash your clothes. We all sweat - and that’s cool. Sweat creates bacteria which leads to smelly clothes. But it’s actually possible to stop the growth of odor causing bacteria - helping you to reduce the need for frequent washing and saving litres of water and loads of energy. Hint: it’s called SilverTech™.
Plastic - not fantastic
Synthetic clothing releases little microplastics into the environment during washing. That’s because synthetic clothing is made from - you guessed it - plastic. But it’s not quite as simple as that. Recycled synthetics actually have a much lesser environmental footprint in production - as they take significantly less water and energy to make. Anyway, remember that a GUPPYFRIEND™ washing bag traps those little bits of plastic before they enter the waterways when you wash your synthetics.
That means quality fabric and workmanship but also having a quality work environment. You’d think that all of these things would be normal in the industry but let us tell you - it ain’t.
Recycle textiles are the future. Textiles can often be recycled - but they rarely are. So as more clothing donation services are working with textile recycling centers - there’s no reason why they should end up in the trash.
Fabric scraps are natural in the production phase. But it’s possible to use machine cutting to have waste efficiency of up to 90%. Plus, fabric scraps can be recycled into things like upholstery filler and stuff like that. Hate it or love it - scraps can be reduced, reused and recycled.
How does a brand innovate to make the industry more sustainable? Technology is a big part of the answer. It can assist with reducing water and energy waste, closing the loop and it also helps extend the lifetime of a piece of clothing.
Taking scraps, excess textile waste and plastic and then not just downcycling them but upcycling them into new clothing is something beautiful.
These are semi-synthetic fibers made from trees - but that doesn’t mean they’re more sustainable. In fact, viscose fibers have been marked as D or E sustainable fibers in the Made By Environmental Benchmark for Fibers because they’re chemical and water intensive. On the other hand, Lenzing from Austria makes incredibly soft and sustainable fabrics like TENCEL™ lyocell in a much, much more eco-friendly process (so it gets the fancy A grade).
It’s our planet’s most important resource, but over 1 billion people don’t have access to safe drinking water. The fashion industry is the second largest consumer of water because it takes so damn much water to grow, dye and process fabric. Let’s fix that.
Eliminate unsafe and unfair work conditions
Accreditations like the GOTS Certificate, BSCI core labor rights and the SA8000 Standard ensure that factories are held accountable for the safety and wellbeing of their workers. Working with factories that treat their employees with respect and pay them a living wage is equally as important as the environmental perspective.
The fashion industry is dirty. In fact - it’s the third most polluting industry in the world and one of the largest consumers of water on the planet. It doesn’t need to be that way - your clothes can be made better - with resources that don’t harm our environment.
Going zero waste isn’t easy. It is possible to downcycle loads of things but less easy to actually prevent any waste from going to landfill. Brands need to work with consumers better in order to reduce waste. Take packaging for instance - there’s a lot of room for improvement. So let’s just refuse single use plastic, okay.