EASY BEING GREEN
THERE’S NOTHING ECO-FRIENDLY ABOUT FAST FASHION. FOR TRULY SUSTAINABLE STYLE, HERE ARE THE QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD BE ASKING CLOTHING LABELS
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?
Bond University student 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 longlasting, rather than being based around trends and can be worn in different styles, in all seasons. They 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. Natural dyes and digital printing are best.
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 processing and some recycled or “eco” fibres can have both toxic and resource-intensive impacts. 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.
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. 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.
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. If you’re buying online, there’s usually a comments section where you can request minimal packaging and no plastic.
7. LONGEVITY IN YOUR CLOTHING.
6000kg of clothing goes into landfill every 10 minutes in Australia alone, so there’s no denying fast fashion is a huge problem. This part starts with you. Find brands that suit your style and buy pieces that will stay in your wardrobe for a long time. 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.”