EASY BE­ING GREEN

WORK­ING ON THE PROB­LEMS OF FAST FASH­ION STARTS WITH YOU, SO SET A NEW TREND WITH ETH­I­CAL AND SUS­TAIN­ABLE CHOICES FOR YOUR WARDROBE

Life & Style Weekend - - MAGAZINE | CLOSET -

The fash­ion in­dus­try has a poor rep­u­ta­tion for en­vi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity, be­ing syn­ony­mous with high wa­ter and chem­i­cal use and green­house gas emis­sions. Some brands have re­sponded to crit­i­cism by pro­duc­ing more eco-friendly gar­ments. But are you truly help­ing the planet by buy­ing these gar­ments or are they just ex­am­ples of green­wash­ing – prod­ucts por­trayed as be­ing green to en­hance their mar­ketabil­ity? Emma Som­merville formed cloth­ing la­bel Folk­tribe with her sis­ter Kel­lie af­ter trav­el­ling and see­ing the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact of the fash­ion in­dus­try. “In China they know new sea­son colours way ahead of us be­cause their rivers run that colour,” Emma says. “They’ll know, ‘mil­len­nial pink, this is on trend’.” Folk­tribe’s fash­ions are de­signed to be long-last­ing, rather than be­ing based around trends, and can be worn in dif­fer­ent styles, in all sea­sons, and are made from durable nat­u­ral fi­bres such as hemp. Here are Emma’s seven tips for buy­ing eth­i­cal and sus­tain­able fash­ion:

1. UN­DER­STAND WHERE YOUR GAR­MENT GETS ITS COLOUR

Dyeing pro­cesses in­volve a lot of wa­ter and the waste­water from tex­tile dyeing is a huge pol­lu­tant of wa­ter­ways world­wide. While some dyes don’t ever de­grade, oth­ers pro­duce harm­ful sub­stances as they de­com­pose. There are also harm­ful ad­di­tives that not only de­grade the en­vi­ron­ment but are bad for those wear­ing the end gar­ment. Nat­u­ral dyes and dig­i­tal print­ing are best – and don’t be afraid to reach out to a brand and clar­ify this kind of in­for­ma­tion.

2. KNOW YOUR FI­BRE TYPES

Not all fab­rics are cre­ated equal. Some syn­thetic fab­rics can be toxic in their cre­ation, some nat­u­ral fi­bres can be re­source-in­ten­sive in the process and even some re­cy­cled or “eco” fi­bres can have both toxic and re­source-in­ten­sive im­pacts. There is plenty of in­for­ma­tion out there – a quick Google search could be your best friend.

3. MAKE FRIENDS WITH YOUR BRAND

Con­nect with them on their so­cial plat­forms and read their “about us” sec­tion. This may seem like a very sim­ple task but un­der­stand­ing the true val­ues of the brand will give you an in­di­ca­tion of what you’re buy­ing.

4. FIND OUT WHERE YOUR GAR­MENT IS FROM

Think about the steps it takes to get that new top to you. There is a farmer grow­ing the crop, some­one weav­ing the fab­ric, dyeing the fab­ric, de­sign­ing the gar­ment, mak­ing the gar­ment, trans­porta­tion, and the list goes on. How much do you think that is re­ally worth?

5. TRANS­PARENCY IS THE NEW SUS­TAIN­ABIL­ITY

Find­ing it dif­fi­cult to nav­i­gate through all the claims of eco brands? Trans­parency re­quires brands to be open about their claims and hon­estly share the rel­e­vant facts be­hind them. For ex­am­ple, a brand that claims to be fair trade will share where their gar­ments are made, who makes them, what they are given in ex­change for their labour and any cer­ti­fi­ca­tion to go with it. Gen­er­ally speak­ing, if a brand is do­ing the right thing they are more than happy to give you ev­ery de­tail of their process. You can usu­ally find this on a brand’s web­site, but again, con­tact them di­rectly if you’re feel­ing un­sure.

6. SAY NO TO PLAS­TIC OR EX­CESS PACK­AG­ING

If you’ve de­cided to buy a piece that you adore, there’s only one thing left to do at the counter be­fore you pay: let them know you don’t need a bag or a re­ceipt (un­less for some rea­son you need it). If you’re buy­ing on­line, there’s un­usu­ally a com­ments sec­tion that you can re­quest min­i­mal pack­ag­ing and no plas­tic.

7. LONGEVITY IN YOUR CLOTH­ING

There is 6000kg of cloth­ing that goes into land­fill ev­ery 10 min­utes in Australia, so there’s no deny­ing fast fash­ion is a huge prob­lem. This part starts with you: know your style. Find brands that suit your style and buy pieces that will stay in your wardrobe for a long time. Avoid brands that con­stantly re­lease new things that you “can’t live with­out”, and in­stead look for time­less de­signs and pieces you re­ally love. Fo­cus on qual­ity over quan­tity. Seem like too much re­search? Emma says to send the brand an email ask­ing ex­actly what you’d like to know, par­tic­u­larly things that are im­por­tant to you. “Keep the email as a draft so you can use it over and over,” she says. “If you want a tem­plate, drop us a line at [email protected]­tribecloth­ing.com and we will send you an email to use with all the ques­tions you should be ask­ing. “The power for change around ethics and sus­tain­abil­ity in fash­ion is in your hands and your ques­tions and your choices make all the dif­fer­ence.” Folk­tribe is an en­trant in the in­ter­na­tional en­trepreneur­ship com­pe­ti­tion Pitch @Palace. The Queens­land fi­nal will be held at Bond Univer­sity on the Gold Coast on Novem­ber 27.

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