Sunday, 17 May 2015

WHO WHAT WEAR'S 5-Step Guide To An Eco-Friendly Wardrobe

The concept of sustainable fashion is finally breaking into the mainstream, if Who What Wear's "5-step Guide To An Eco-Friendly Wardrobe" is anything to go by. If the world of ethical and sustainable fashion still seems confusing, the article offers some great bite-sized pieces of advice - here's a summary of the main points below, along with some of my thoughts on each.

"It’s probably not feasible to revamp your entire wardrobe all at once, but upgrading your accessories is a simple and cost-effective place to start. From timeless, designer jewelry staples to handmade artisan pieces, there are plenty of options from brands with a conscious. Plus, wearing a statement-making, handmade collectible is always a guaranteed conversation piece."

Accessories are a great place to begin when thinking about shopping sustainably - not only are there a whole range of ethical options available, from vegan handbags and eco-leather to sustainably sourced real leather, but as an investment piece, it's likely that you will put a lot more time and effort into your purchasing decisions, which is a useful thought process to apply to the rest of your wardrobe. Asking questions such as "do I really need this?", "can I make this work with lots of outfits?" and "how will this date?" will help you buy better and reduce the likelihood of bad choices ending up in landfill.

"The tag on your clothing is your new best friend. Look out for fabrics that are blends and may not be truly certified organic and sustainable, as well as for ones with chemically processed dyes. Steer clear of those and instead opt for some of these popular natural fibers."

Fabric blends are almost impossible to recycle, meaning that rather than being reused, they often end up in landfill. Minimise this risk by checking the label states "100% [fabric type]", and choose fabrics such as organic cotton, hemp, bamboo, linen and Tencel, which can easily be remade into new items.

"With a few little changes, you can make your weekly washings more energy-efficient and chemical-free. Good practices including washing on cold (it requires less energy to heat water), only washing full loads (to save on water), letting a garment hang-dry when you can, and using a phosphate-free detergent and chlorine-free bleach. Also, when it comes to dry cleaning, look into wet cleaning services, which offer a non-toxic and environmentally safe alternative."

Although I'm sure most people know to only do a wash when you have a full load (with cost being the main factor!), I think the tip about choosing environmentally friendly cleaning products is really helpful, as that's something often overlooked. Most retailers now seem to stock some sort of eco-friendly cleaning range (see John Lewis or the Honest Company), and green dry-cleaners are also becoming more popular (see here).

"Luckily, it’s now becoming more and more common for brands to reveal the factories behind their fashions. Companies like Everlane, Zady, Helpsy, Ethica, and Kowtow are committed to providing transparency, so you know you’re shopping from factories of integrity with solid construction, the best materials, the lowest environmental footprint and the highest labor standards."

True, but the global fashion industry still has a long way to go (see Business of Fashion's ongoing discussion of the issue). As a basic starting point, check out who's signed up to the Ethical Trading Initiative, and read retailers' ethical policies on their websites, which will give you a better idea of the steps they are taking (if any) to address the problem.

"Cut down on constant consumption by shopping vintage. Sites like Vaunte or Vestiaire Collective offer high-end designer options, while other brands—like The Reformation or Christy Dawn—design their collections using reclaimed fabrics. Want to get into the habit of recycling your own clothes? Sell once-loved pieces at local secondhand stores or through apps, like thredUP."

It may be stating the obvious, but Ebay is also a fantastic place to find some pre-loved gems at a great price - not only are you helping the environment by reusing and recycling, but saving money too - what's not to love? Charity shops are also a good option if you like to try before you buy - my best tip would be to travel to some more affluent areas, where you are likely to find designer items for next to nothing (list of good London charity shops to follow soon!).

Is there anything important you think Who What Wear missed off their list? What tips would you give to someone starting to dip their toe into the world of sustainable fashion?


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