wool for sustainable fashion

Sustainable clothing in fashion and how we can recognise it more easily

Join the movement to ensure clothing is manufactured with consideration for the environment, social responsibility and ethical labour practices.

The fashion industry is one of the world’s biggest that has a bad rep; the production of textiles over many years has had such a negative impact on our planet. Making the positive move towards sustainable fashion means a shift in using more eco-friendly materials such as organic cotton, hemp, bamboo, Tencel, and other recycled materials.

Not only do we need to use more sustainable materials, we need to ensure fair labour practices, safe working conditions, and fair wages for workers involved in the production process as well as avoiding child labour and doing more to support workers’ rights.

Supporting local artisans and small-scale manufacturers can help reduce carbon emissions associated with long-distance shipping and support local economies and these smaller retailers are often more transparent in their production and buying processes. Brands that are committed to sustainability often provide information about their supply chain, production line, and the materials they use and this helps environmentally-aware consumers make better buying choices. Even using eco-friendly packaging materials and adopting efficient transportation methods can further reduce the environmental impact of the fashion industry. A popular choice in some smaller boutique stores is the pre-loved section; this concept emphasises recycling, upcycling, and reusing clothing and textiles with the aim of extending the lifespan of clothing and reducing waste.

Vegan and cruelty-free options are now more widely available and these garments are produced avoiding the use of any animal products in clothing, such as leather, wool, or silk, and opting for alternative, cruelty-free materials. But how do we know what we are buying is legitimately environmentally-conscious?

In the UK, there are several certifications and standards that are recognised when it comes to ethical fashion and these help consumers identify brands and products that adhere to specific ethical and sustainability criteria, such as:recycled-clothing-bins

The Fair Trade Certification ensures that producers in developing countries receive fair wages and work in safe conditions. It covers a range of products, including clothing and textiles.

The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) applies to textiles that contain a minimum of 70% organic fibres. It ensures environmentally and socially responsible production from the harvesting of raw materials all the way through to the labelling of the final product.

The Soil Association Organic Standard is a UK-based organisation that offers certification for organic products, including textiles. This standard covers the entire supply chain, ensuring that organic fibres are grown and processed sustainably.

The EU Ecolabel is a voluntary label awarded to products with a reduced environmental impact throughout their life cycle and covers various product categories, including textiles and clothing.

The PETA-Approved Vegan Certification is awarded to fashion brands and products that do not use any animal-derived materials, ensuring that they are entirely vegan and cruelty-free.

Whilst the Fair Wear Foundation is not a certification, it is an organisation that works with brands to improve working conditions in their supply chains. Brands that are members of the Fair Wear Foundation commit to implementing ethical working practices.

Primarily focused on leather, the Leather Working Group (LWG) assesses and certifies the environmental compliance and performance capabilities of leather manufacturers ensuring ethical practice.

The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) is a global organisation, not specifically for the UK, that works to make cotton production more sustainable and is recognised worldwide and includes brands that operate in the UK.

When shopping for more sustainable clothing, look out for the products and brands that carry one or more of these certifications or are affiliated with organisations promoting ethical and sustainable practices. Be mindful that while certifications are important, they are just one aspect of a brand’s commitment to ethical fashion and beware of ‘greenwashing’ tactics.

The team here at Recycled Clothing Banks are doing all we can to keep textiles out of landfill and educate consumers on how to make better buying decisions when it comes to sustainable materials.

recycled clothing bin

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