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  • HOW TO BUY ETHICAL FASHION
  • Pip Andreas
  • closed-loopenvironmentally friendlyethical fashiongreen fashiongreen-washinglandfilllyocellrecycleslow fashionsustainableTencel
HOW TO BUY ETHICAL FASHION
Green fashion, slow fashion, ethical fashion, environmentally friendly fashion, sustainable fashion; a lot of labels but what does it all mean, and is it just all spin?

There is a lot of green-washing going on in the green fashion world with the ultimate end game of making money out of clever marketing. It can be confusing for fashion shoppers who really do want to buy ethically produced clothes. Most of us who fall into that group want to buy clothes that are made from organically produced, natural sources that are sustainably grown, that use minimal harmful chemicals in their production, are made in factories and workshops that provide fair wages and safe, decent working conditions for their employees, use non-toxic chemicals in their dyes, use renewable energy sources such as solar in their production, and have a minimal carbon footprint when transporting their products. That’s a lot to look for!

Most fashion producers are unaware of how ethically operated each level of their supply chain is because their are so many facets of production, and it is near impossible to monitor every level. However, most companies who aim to be part of the environmentally friendly fashion, slow fashion, or green fashion movement should be at least trying to operate ethically by either inspecting their own or contracted production facilities regularly, or have a trusted third party inspector do the job.

The terms ‘Green fashion’ and ‘Environmentally friendly fashion’ can be grouped together to mean clothing that is produced from sustainable, non-toxic sources, that has minimal carbon footprint in production and has minimal impact on the environment. The best example of this is lyocell (trade name Tencel) which is sourced from FSC plantation eucalyptus trees and uses minimally toxic chemicals to break down the wood to spin the yarn, and recycles 99.5% of these chemicals in what is known as the ‘Closed loop’ system. Bamboo fabric is often promoted as environmentally friendly, but unless it has been produced using the closed loop system, it uses toxic chemicals such as caustic soda, which is washed out into the waterways. Most bamboo fabric is still produced this way so does not fall under the categories of green fashion or environmentally friendly fashion. Organic cotton may be produced without chemicals, but there is still a lot of water used to grow it and it can be produced in areas that use child labour and poor working conditions. We have to ask then, is this ethical fashion?

OEKO-TEX:registered: Standard 100 is the independent certification system to ensure raw materials used in the production of yarn and fabric do not contain harmful chemicals. Unfortunately, this certification is not labelled on most clothing consumers buy.

Slow fashion refers to quality garments usually made in small batches, that are meticulously made with care, designed to be worn many times over many years, and are made to last. These are the opposite of the cheap, poorly made, fast fashion chains that encourage women and men to buy new clothes every few weeks, wear clothes once or twice then throw them out. Most of the high turn-around fashion clothes end up in landfill.

The main thing for ethical fashion shoppers to do is ask “Where did my clothes come from and how were they made?” Also remember the words of Vivienne Westwood: “Buy less, choose well, make it last”.

  • Pip Andreas
  • closed-loopenvironmentally friendlyethical fashiongreen fashiongreen-washinglandfilllyocellrecycleslow fashionsustainableTencel

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