How To Shop Sustainably
We believe in a fashion industry that values people, creativity, the environment and profit in equal measure. This is why we have teamed up with Fabric For Freedom to compile a list of tips to help you shop more sustainably, more ethically and reduce your impact on our planet in terms of clothing. It is actually not as complicated as one may think - and all the small steps we make in our everyday lives matter!
Fabric For Freedom is a low impact, charity-based organisation, who produce design-led, innovative and contemporary clothing. They only use fabrics made from organic and recycled materials - including ends of rolls - and focus on minimising the impact they have on the environment. Fueled by the passion to fight against human trafficking, they assist with charitable initiatives to combat exploitation and help poverty-stricken communities. Their products are ethically produced in the UK, where they guarantee fair wages and good working conditions.
What is Fast Fashion?
Before we get into the things you can do to become an eco-fashionista, let us first explain what fast fashion is and why you should avoid it: as opposed to sustainable fashion, which might be considered as the “farm-to-table” for the industry, fast fashion is most commonly manufactured and sourced far from sustainable requirements. As its name suggests, the process of the fast fashion system is very quick, as companies want to catch the catwalk trends before they go ‘out of style’. This puts a lot of pressure on the supply chain and thus the people making the clothes as well as on the resources of our planet.
Only 10 years ago, in London alone, we were buying only a quarter of what we're buying now. We have made it a habit to consume a lot more than we used to. The value of fashion is decreasing and we're not accounting for the nature and human cost of the garments we are wearing. A lot of supply chains are built to drive financial profits, all too often at the expense of people and the environment. Systematic exploitation remains rife and unfortunately, this makes millions of workers live in poverty with excessive hours, unpaid overtime, poor health, exhaustion, sexual harassment and slavery. For this to change, consumers need to be made more aware of what it is that they are unwillingly contributing to.
Here are 5 ways to eco up your shopping routes and reduce your impact on the planet à la Fabric For Freedom:
1. Do Your Research
In order to find the motivation to restructure your lifestyle in a sustainable way, it is important to do your homework. Which fabrics are more damaging to the environment than others? Where are the clothes produced? Who made your clothes? Getting some answers to those questions is critical to spread the message and help make a change in the industry. Watch this Fabric For Freedom's campaign video to understand more about sustainable fashion.
Whilst there is a lot of information out there and it can at times seem a bit daunting, Fashion Revolution is a really good starting point for anyone who needs to get their facts straight. It all began after the tragic garment factory collapse on April 24th, 2013: Orsola De Castro and Carry Somers decided to take matters in their own hands and start a revolution against the unacceptable, poor standards for garment workers. The Rana Plaza garment factory collapse killed 1,138 workers and another 2,500 were seriously injured. In order to protest against this, Fashion Revolution Week was created in remembrance. To be a part of the revolution you can send messages to fashion brands under the well-known hashtag #whomademyclothes. Check out their website for further details on how you can take part in this movement.
2. Check Your Labels
Checking your labels before you buy a new garment can make quite a difference. Ultimately, consumers are the voters for what will remain on the store shelves and what won’t. Choosing the right fabric, with preservable quality and made with ethical methods can be your way to contribute to a more sustainable society!
Where possible, skip petroleum-based synthetics such as polyester and nylon. They are actually made of plastic and will take forever to break down once thrown away and will shed thousands of tiny microfibres out in the ocean for each clothes wash. Organic cotton and bamboo linen are better, as is hemp, linen, silk and wool. Lyocell, made from natural cellulose found in wood pulp (harvested from sustainably farmed forest plantations), also rates fairly well.
Choosing better fabrics is essential to us transforming this industry for the better,” you are supporting start-up companies creating new markets, and avoiding the toxic impacts associated with conventional textiles.
3. Support Sustainable Shops
Favour local independent businesses and support businesses that are doing trade the right way no matter what industry they operate in. This will allow them to grow and spread their messages. It’s also a lot easier for smaller companies to make big changes - huge companies will find it a lot harder to change their entire business models. Smaller fashion companies tend to produce small scale clothing runs to reduce wastage so make sure you get in there quick. Fabric For Freedom is the perfect place to start, visit their online shop here.
A fashion brand doing a one-off sustainable collection is one step in the right direction because it helps raise awareness among their customers about why these things matter, but it fundamentally does not address the underlying problem of the vast quantity of clothing still produced in unsustainable ways. But when sustainability is embedded into a supply chain it is automatically embedded into the products. At Fabric For Freedom, they have a 360-degree approach to fashion from the design process to thinking about the end life of all their garments. This ensures they are fully sustainable through every stage of the development process.
4. Resist Fast Fashion
Be choosier about your purchases. Everyone has got that one item that they really cherish in their wardrobe and often is that the ones we have had to wait and save up to buy. By making wiser buying decisions and building a wardrobe that you value more, you will care for them better and therefore make them last longer. You will build a style that is thoroughly yours. Not to mention that knowing you have items that have been ethically produced and that are socially and environmentally friendly will make you feel good.
Lastly, we do not need the amount of clothing we own, in fact, studies show that UK consumers only use around 20% of what is in our wardrobes. Buy less but buy better. FFF’s products can be worn all year round - in other words, with their products you can get yourself a seasonless wardrobe capsule.
5. Find Your Own Way of Sustainable Fashion
Mend, swap, thrift or upcycle - find your own way of practising sustainable fashion. Downsize your wardrobe and be sure to donate or sell the items you no longer need! Having a minimalist closet can help you focus on buying less and choosing well-made and longer-lasting clothes. Fabric For Freedom will be launching an upcycled/vintage section to our collection this September, so head over to their London Fashion Week event to be the first to put your hands on their lovely collection.
If you feel like you are a bit tired of your wardrobe, or for the pieces you don’t wear anymore, make sure to not carelessly throw them away. Instead, donate to charities or if they are in good condition, why not sell them? Sadly, 80% of textile waste in the UK that ends up on landfills or incinerators could have been re-used. Find charities that donate to the homeless or have strong community connections so you know nothing you are throwing out is going waste.