Earth Day: 10 sustainable clothing brands to support
Wear with care — MP Edition 030
Garments you can feel good about, physically and mentallyThe clothing industry has a significant impact on our earth.
- More than 60% of fabric is synthetic, which is derived from fossil fuels and doesn’t decay once it reaches landfills
- The average water consumption for a kilo of cotton is 10,000-20,000 litres
- The washing of textiles releases 878 tonnes of plastic microfibers into the oceans every year
- The UN states that the fashion industry emits about 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions, which is more energy than the aviation and shipping industries combined
- In most of the countries where the garments are produced, untreated wastewaters from textile factories end up in the river, harming aquatic life and the health of millions living by the river
- Only 15% of clothing is recycled or donated, and the rest goes directly to the landfill or is incinerated
More and more consumers are taking notice of the environmental impact of fast fashion, and in turn, the industry is responding. These days, consumers are looking beyond brands that churn out cheap items at an environmental cost and instead looking for more from the brands that they give their money to. Consumers are looking for affordable ethical brands that have made sustainability an inherent part of their DNA.
There has been a burgeoning industry of “slow fashion”, a term coined by Dana Thomas, which uses “locally-grown materials, often domestically manufactured or sourced on a relatively small scale”. Slow fashion brands place an emphasis on producing clothing and accessories in a way that is environmentally sustainable at every stage.
As consumers, we also have a role to play. The impact that fast fashion has made on our society means that the average consumer now buys 60% more clothing than they did 15 years ago but each piece is kept for half as long. By choosing to invest in higher-quality, sustainable items, you invest in pieces that stand the test of time and ultimately help reduce fashion industry-related waste and damage to the environment. Luckily, there are plenty of sustainable clothing brands to choose from. We’ve rounded up some of the best sustainable fashion brands to check out below.
Reformation’s tagline is “being naked is the #1 most sustainable option. We’re #2”. In addition to being sustainable, they also aim to be as transparent as possible. The fashion brand produces a yearly report that calculates their environmental footprint, as well as makes all of their products locally in Los Angeles.
Girlfriend Collective makes all their workout gear with recycled plastic in Taiwan - in a wide variety of fun colors to boot. Much like Reformation, the fitness fashion brand is dedicated to transparency and explains their entire production process so that consumers can understand exactly how the products they choose to buy are being made.
When it comes to high-quality pieces made with sustainable materials that have longevity, Mara Hoffman is among the brands that are doing it right. Their pieces are made with hemp, linen, Tencel, and organic cotton. Even their tags are made of 80% recycled paper printed with soy-based inks. In addition, the brand also produces compostable bags with recycled trims and buttons.
Levi’s “Water<Less” technique reduces water use in the denim-making process. Right now, 67% of their products are produced this way, saving more than 3 billion liters of water, and they hope to bring that number up to 80% by this year. Levi’s also has RE/DONE, a pre-loved clothing line that gives vintage Levi’s a second life.
Everlane is another brand that lives and breathes sustainability. They make classic, high-quality pieces by designing styles and using materials that are meant to last. Everlane’s production is ethical and transparent. On their website, you can find information on where and how their garments are produced. In addition, every one of their factories undergoes a compliance audit to make sure fair wages and reasonable hours are in place for their employees..
People Tree’s clothing is made using methods like hand weaving, hand knitting, and hand embroidery. In doing so, they help create job opportunities in rural areas where work is hard to come by. People Tree steers clear of harmful plastic and toxic substances and uses natural materials where they can. Plus all of their clothing is colored with low-impact dyes, reducing the number of toxic substances that pollute the waters.
The principle that Cuyana was founded on is “fewer, better”, and it’s ingrained in everything that they do. They carefully consider the design, material, and production process to create timeless pieces in small batches with “a greater impact on your wardrobe and a smaller impact on the environment”. They’ve also established a Lean Closet program in partnership with H.E.A.R.T that allows customers to recycle the pieces they no longer need.
While H&M falls under the category of “fast fashion”, they’re making strides to change the tide with their H&M Conscious collection. This line is meant to have less of an environmental impact because the clothing is made with organic cotton and recycled fabrics. Because of the materials used, their Conscious collection is often at a higher price point than the rest of their clothing but is still affordable and accessible, with some of the items starting at only $10.
Perhaps one of the most well-known sustainable brands, Patagonia’s goal is to be carbon neutral by 2025, and they’re well on their way. From creating environmental and animal welfare responsibility programs to ensuring that their products are produced under safe, fair, legal and humane working conditions, to sharing information regarding their supply chain, Patagonia takes responsibility for and provides transparency into the entire lifecycle of their products.
A Vancouver-based vintage clothing boutique, Hey Jude curates a selection of sustainable, contemporary-style pieces from both local and international brands. They help reduce the environmental ramifications of fast fashion by giving timeless pieces new life and placing emphasis on pieces with natural fibres.
So the next time you find yourself online shopping, consider supporting one of these slow fashion brands to help make our planet more sustainable, one garment at a time.
Muff love ❤️