How is sustainable clothing saving our planet?

Sustainable: Causing little or no damage to the environment and therefore able to continue for a long time

Fast Fashion focuses on mass production of cheap clothes which are refreshed often to meet seasonal demands. Not only has this produced reports on unfair treatment of workers, negative impacts on the environment from the manufacturing processes and toxic chemicals but also 350,000 tonnes of clothing ends up in landfill each year. That's a staggering £140 million worth! And that's just in the UK!

Sustainable clothing also known as slow fashion is kinder to the environment and the people making the clothes. The slow fashion principle looks at the materials used, the manufacturing process, the ethical side including fair wages and safe working environments

So how is sustainable clothing saving our planet?

Materials used

Sustainable clothing is typically made from natural fibres such as merino wool, bamboo, eucalyptus tencel, hemp, modal and cotton but slow fashion is now also being created by recycling materials such as polyester, offcuts and plastic bottles too

Natural fibres come from trees or plants that can be grown and harvested over and over again, or from animals that are shorn every year. These fibres are heavily regulated to ensure the consumer is receiving what they should be. Natural fibres naturally decompose so they create less buildup in landfills

Organic, natural fibres are made without the use of pesticides, chemicals and fertilisers, often require little water to grow and are sourced in a way to keep them sustainable

Natural fibre clothing is longer lasting and high quality so you won't need to replace your clothes as often

Look out for accreditations such as GOTs Certified, Oeko-Tex and ECOCERT

Manufacturing process

The manufacturing process of natural fibre clothing is less harmful to our planet in many ways. The different fibres are all manufactured in different ways but here are a few examples

- Eucalyptus Tencel - 99% of the chemical, water and waste in the manufacturing process is reused in a closed loop system

- Modal - Has the lowest consumption of fossil energy, is CO2 neutral and meets the highest environmental standards. 80-90% of the water used in the manufacturing process is immediately returned to surface waters without contamination

- Bamboo - More eco-friendly producers use the lyocell process to turn their pulp into fibre which uses non toxic solvents and a closed loop process that captures and recycles 99.9% of the chemicals used

- Cotton - Organic cotton use 71% less water and 62% less energy than normal cotton

Companies are expected adhere to environmental programmes designed to minimise waste, pollution and minimise their carbon footprint

Look out for accrediations such as ISO Rated, Sedex and Global Recycled Standard

Ethical growing & manufacturing

This looks at how the people making the clothes are treated throughout the whole supply chain

Sustainable clothing will have a visible supply chain and have fair pay and working conditions including not being exposed to toxic chemicals

Look out for accreditations such as World Fair Trade Organization, Fair Wear Foundation and the Fair Labor Association

Consider also looking at artisan made product which support people in developing countries, are handmade and often unique

See more about the Sustainable clothing accreditations HERE

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