In recent years, we’ve seen consumers become a lot more conscious of how to live sustainably – from the food they buy to the clothes they wear. To keep up with this, and also due to a desire to operate more responsibly, more companies are committing themselves to reducing the impact they have on the environment and working on ways they can have a positive impact on society. Bonds, for example, are aiming to divert 100% of their waste away from landfill by 2020. With this in mind, we’ve pulled together four things you need to look out for when considering whether your fashion is ethical.
1.Look for brands with a clear corporate social responsibility policy
They might be donating a portion of their profits to a charity, or they could be a small start-up clothing business that needs your support. It’s likely you’ll either be supporting a company local to you, or perhaps a brand that has a very clear supply chain (so that you can understand how your buying choices have a direct impact on the people who produce it).
2. Choose items made using upcycled or recycled materials
Many of the major brands out there are creating items from ocean plastic, for example. By supporting these initiatives, you are showing that there is a demand from consumers for this type of fashion (and, by extension, encouraging the brand to continue innovating). A lot of companies that make clothes and shoes from recycled materials have a circular or closed-loop method of production, which can massively decrease the amount of waste going to landfill.
3. Know who makes your clothes
It’s not just the environmental or societal impact that you should be aware of when shopping; you should also consider the people who make your clothes. For large brands, in particular, they need to operate at huge scales out of large factories. This can mean poor and dangerous working conditions and low pay for the factory workers. It’s never been more important to check how a company manages their supply chain and if they’re creating meaningful jobs with fair pay.
4. Buy clothes made from organic or natural materials
This is one of the easiest ways you can shop ethically without needing to do a lot of prior research: look for items that are made from organic cotton. Although only 1% of the world’s cotton is organic, it’s still possible to find it out there! It’s worth remembering that there needs to be far stricter international regulation on this but it’s a good starting point. Another easy way to start is by shopping in stores where they are committed to using natural materials like cotton, linen, khadi or wool. These natural fibres are biodegradable and perfect for regulating body temperature.