Fashion is a 2.5 TRILLION dollar industry responsible for the employment of hundreds of millions of people around the world. It is also one of the largest carbon emitters, water polluters and users of toxic chemicals. At 8% of the global carbon emissions the fashion industry is responsible for more Co2 emissions than the airline industry. It is also responsible for 20% of all industrial water pollution and devours a quarter of all chemicals produced worldwide. More than a third of the micro plastic that end up in the oceans come from clothing. Globally we discard 2.1 billion tons of fashion every year.
The most sustainable garments are the ones you already own. Take care of them. Mend them when broken. Wash cold when you can. Wash them in a micro plastic catching bag if they are synthetic. Hang to dry. Buy less.
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The average consumer bought 60% more clothes in 2014 than in 2000 but kept the garments for half as long. We need to slow down. Look for fashion items that are well made and will keep. Consider buying second hand or renting your wardrobe. Look for brands that produce on a made-to-order basis. Buy less.
The Real Real
Keep clothes out of landfill by buying (or consigning) used mens', women' and kids' luxury designer clothing and accessories on The Real Real. Your pre-loved luxury clothing is bought on a consignment basis and stored, authenticated and shipped from The Real Real's warehouse (or one of their physical stores if that is where it went). You get paid as your items sell but all you need to do is decide what items you are ready to let go off. No messaging, no measuring, no bartering, no packing, no shipping. Your earnings are lower than if you were to sell yourself (obviously) but you really don't have to do anything but wait for the check.
The resale market is (thankfully) a fast growing market. Vestiaire was originally, when it launched back in 2009, a french company but have grown to a global one with over 7 million members all over the globe over the last few years. In the first months of 2021 Kering, owner of Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga and other luxury brands acquired a 5% stake in the company, confirming that resale is no longer something that is frowned upon. Vestiaire let's you as a consumer sell and buy pre-loved luxury fashion pieces and works as a middle hand to authenticate the goods. Create an account and get started.
Designer, Preloved, vintage, streetwear, sneakers-whatever your style find it on Depop. Originally founded by the co-founder of PIG magazine as a social network where readers could buy items featured in the magazine. It grew in to a mobile space where you can see what your friends and the people you are inspired by are liking, buying and selling. 21million + users they pride themselves on having creative community of stylists, designers, artists, collectors, vintage sellers, sneakerheads and more. Check them out here.
Buy (and sell) woman's, men's and kids' used clothes and accessories on the Poshmark app. It's as much an re-sell app as a social community with virtual posh parties arranged for specific categories.
Patagonia Worn Wear
Patagonia famously took out a full page ad in a newspaper a few years back encouraging us NOT to buy their jacket. What they meant was of course unless you really needed to. As in actually really needed to. Patagonia offers good quality clothing meant to last, a repair shop for when it doesn't and a buy back program for used Patagonia clothing. They have been part of 1% for the Planet (an alliance of businesses that commit to contribute 1% of their gross annual sales to grassroots environmental groups) since 1985 and have to date awarded over $89 million in cash and in-kind donations to domestic and grassroots environmental groups making a difference in their local communities.
You can buy their new clothes here and their used clothes here.
Rent the Runway
Rent your wardrobe on a subscription basis starting with trials from $69/month, or do one time rentals for special occasions, work or weekends away. Shipping, returns and cleaning is included in your plan so just wear until you are ready for a change and send back (or buy for discounted price if you don't want to see it go) Rent the Runway carries brands like Veronica Beard, 3.1 Philip Lim, A.L.C, Badgley Mischka, Jonathan Simkhai, Mara Hoffman, Ulla Johnson, Reformation and many many more. Clothing is shipped in re-usable garment bags but are individually packed din plastic after their rigorous (but conscious) cleaning process. Used plastic bags are sent to their partners at Trex who in turn recycles them into wood alternative building and decking materials. Learn more here.
Rent your wardrobe with Armoire. Pick your plan-four items per month, seven items per month, or unlimited items per month (six items at a time). Armoire carries brands like Diane Von Furstenberg, Paige, French Connection, Equipment and Boden. Free shipping and returns and complimentary dry cleaning (and minor repairs). If you love something and don't want to let it go theres an option to buy at a discounted price.
If you are a fan of Vince you can sign up for their monthly subscription and rent four items at a time. You can change them out when you are ready by sending them back in a pre-paid bag. Cleaning and dry cleaning is handled by Vince. If you fall in love with the item you can buy them at a discounted price. You can learn more about it here.
Nuuly rents brands like Urban Outfitters, Free people, Levi's, Zadig & Voltaire, Citizens of Humanity and Agolde on a subscription basis. Pick six items at a time and they're yours for the month. Repairs and laundry is included so just send them back when your time is up-Or if you've fallen in love with anything theres an option to buy. Learn more about Nuuly.
Rent your wardrobe from Gwynnie Bee. Pick your items and wear as much as you want. When you are ready for a change, send them back in the prepaid envelopes included. Dr cleaning is included. If theres an item you want to own forever you can buy it at a discounted retail price. They offer brands such as NYDJ, Calvin Klein, Lauren Ralph Lauren, Anne Klein, Vince Camuto and Eshakti.
Choose your subscription plan then pick the clothes and accessories you want to try. Both shipping and returns are included and so is laundry and dry cleaning. Return everything when you are done, unless you want to buy something at a discounted rate. Learn more here.
The most sustainable clothes are the ones you already own. Take care of them by washing less, washing cold and hang to dry. If your garments are synthetic or partly synthetic wash them in a micro plastic catching bag to reduce micro plastic waste pollution. If you need to tumble dry then use wool dryer balls to reduce the drying time and thus energy consumption.
Recent estimations have concluded that synthetic clothes contributes to about 35% of the global release of micro plastics to the oceans. The Guppy Friend is a micro plastic catching bag to wash your synthetics in. The bag is made from Polyamide 6.6 and does not shed microplatics itself as its woven with microfilaments that are more like sticks than threads. The bag itself reduces microplastic shedding with 79% for partly synthetic garments and up to 86% for fully synthetic garments. 90-100% of the microplatics that are still shedded is collected in the bag and can be disposed of properly. Profits from the Guppy bag goes back to the STOP! Microwaste and STOP! Plastic Academy non profits to raise awareness of micro plastic pollution. You can buy them straight from Guppyfriend or from Earth Hero or many of your favorite clothings brands stock them too.
Wool dryer balls
The best way to dry your clothes is to let the sun and wind do the work but we know that's not always possible. Wool dryer balls can reduce drying time up to 20-40% depending on the load size. They also soften and fluff your laundry and reduce static cling. There are hundreds of brands but we like these from Dropps made from 100% New Zealand wool, and in compostable packaging. Or these from Friendship Wool that you can buy from Earth Hero. The dryer balls are made from 100% organic and cruelty free New Zealand Wool and are hand made in Nepal by Woman with disabilities, for fair wages and in ethical and environmentally conscious conditions.
•Look for clothing made from recycled fabrics-polyester, nylon, cotton, cashmere and wool , rather than virgin fibers.
•Try to choose materials that are natural and biodegradable-wool, silk, lyocell.
•If the cotton is from virgin fibers try find at least organic or, preferably, cotton grown with regenerative farming methods.
Wool is an amazing material that keeps you warm but also breathes. It is naturally water repellant and fire resistant. It is long lasting and has antibacterial properties which makes it require less frequent washing than most other fibers. Wool on its own is 100% biodegradable but dyes and finishes can contaminate the garment and producing it requires large amount of land and sheep release methane-a more dangerous greenhouse gas than CO2. If you choose to buy a new wool garment-buy it from a brand that can tell you where their wool is from and make sure their practices are as sustainable and chemical free as possible. Look for certifications like the Cradle to Cradle Standard.
Conventional cotton is among agriculture's dirtiest crops-20% of all insecticides and 10% of all pesticides used in agriculture is used for conventional cotton farming even though cotton is only grown on 2,5% of the worlds arable land. Conventional cotton also requires huge amounts of water-to grow one kilo it requires approximately 2,600 gallons (or 10.000 litres) of water.
The alternative is organic cotton, or even better-regenerative cotton. Organic cotton is grown without the use of toxic pesticides and synthetic fertilizers and requires significantly less water as the crops are mainly rain fed instead of irrigated. Organic cotton farming requires crop rotation and composting-which promotes soil health and helps look CO2 into the soil, and does not allow for genetically modified seeds to be used. When it comes to regenerative cotton farming it does what organic cotton farming does but it goes one step further and also works to replenish and strengthen the plants, the soil and the nature around it. Regenerative farming effectively sequesters carbon from the atmosphere. Through tillage, overgrazing and urban development soil has lost 139 billions tons carbon. With regenerative farming methods we can can put it back there.
Polyester & Nylon
Polyester and Nylon is plastic. Garments made from either will shed micro plastics during use and when washed. Once discarded and in a landfill it will remain there for years and years. Nylon production emits nitrous oxide, a potent green house gas and producing polyester often uses heavy metals, especially antimony (a known carcinogen). Both materials can however be recycled and be made from recycled materials. Recycled polyester can be made from recycled water bottles and recycled nylon takes industrial plastic waste, waste fabric and fishing nets to make new fabrics. Try to look for brands that use recycled nylon and polyester.
Viscose, also known as rayon is made from wood pulp. The production process used to extract the cellulose from the wood can be highly toxic but the material itself is biodegradable. Many sustainable brands make sure that their Viscose come from sustainably managed and FSC certified forests that are neither ancient or endangered. Do your research.
Lyocell can be made from fibers from wood, cotton scraps or other cellulose and the production process does not require toxic solvents. The material itself is biodegradable
The majority of silk on the market is spun by the silkworm Bombyx Mori The silk is harvested by first steaming the cocoon in order to kill the silk moth and then extract the filament. Although cruel, the result is a 100% biodegradable material. If you want a vegan alternative to silk, look for peace silk (which lets the worms develop in to moth and then fly away. The process leaves a silk that is not always of the same high quality as traditional silk as the filaments get damaged through the process. There are also artificially created alternatives like spider silk, where the DNA from spiders, sugar and yeast create a vegan friendly silk with a smaller impact on the environment.
It takes four goats to produce enough cashmere for a sweater (compared to one sheep for five wool sweaters) which is why cashmere has been considered a luxury product for centuries. But in the 90's fast fashion happened and consumers wanted cheap cashmere too. In order to meet the demand Mongolian goat herders quadrupled the number of goats from five million to the 20 million there is today. The increase of animals led to degradation and desertification of Mongolias grasslands and the demand hasn't slowed down. It is anticipated that by 2025 there will be 44 million goats on the same acreage. If you choose to buy cashmere, buy a good quality cashmere that will last you for years or even better, choose cashmere made from re-generated, or re-claimed cashmere made from post-manufacturing waste. Re-generaded cashmere is 92% less damaging to the environment than new virgin cashmere.