Conscious consumerism can be exhausting. We all lead busy lives with endless things to consider from the moment we wake to the moment we sleep. Sustainable fashion is far down the priority list for most people as a result of our demanding schedules. Yet there are little things we can practice as consumers that require minimal effort and maybe just a little light reading where garment tags are concerned. As you will see sustainable materials are all around us… and nothing to fear
GOTS CERTIFIED ORGANIC COTTON
Who doesn’t love cotton? With its hypoallergenic, breathable, moisture controlling ways these little white clouds of magic make for material heaven. However, with half of all textiles constructed from cotton, mass production has led to substantial water contamination, pollution, soil degradation and erosion. So how can we make a difference? It’s all in the little tag which we skim over when determining if something is worth running the risk of a machine wash. To reduce the impact this industry has on the environment consider supporting designers/brands who use organic cotton. To meet regulations garments must contain 70% certified organic fibres. Even better, select garments recognised as utilising GOTS certified organic cotton as they contain 95% certified organic fibres. By investing in organic cotton you are supporting an industry free of harmful pesticides and toxic manufacturing materials
All natural and nothing short of pure comfort, wool is a fibre we should all relish in and fortunately is an easy transition to make when looking to invest in sustainable garments. The beauty of wool is in its durability. With such a long life span garments have multiple uses which further contributes to the slow fashion and minimalism movement. Micro fibres, which commonly shed into waterways during wash cycles, are limited as wool doesn’t require frequent washing when compared to other materials. Should the time come to say goodbye to your wool sweater take comfort in knowing the fibre is also biodegradable further reducing its overall environmental impact
Having been used since the dawn of civilisation, linen’s versatility and trans-seasonal adaptability has seen it thrive into the modern era. This natural, biodegradable fibre is fast becoming an alternative to cotton. However, toxic chemicals and pollutants are an unfortunate bi-product when not produced consciously. Sourced from flax, this little beauty requires little water consumption and is far from wasteful as the plant is used to make other daily products eg. linseed oil
With the fashion industry being one of the leading contributors to pollution, designers and brands are tackling this problem by rethinking all aspects of the manufacturing process. Starting with the material sourced to produce goods, it is increasingly commonplace for dead-stock to be bought secondhand. By purchasing unused fabric from manufacturers prevents unnecessary waste entering landfills and for said fabrics to have a second lease of life. As we live in a throw away society, this push back against mindless discarding of goods is a step in the right direction
Naturally derived from wood chips and thus biodegradable, tencel is making its mark in the fashion industry. With its manufacturing dependence on water and energy far less than that of cotton, many brands are fast embracing this plant based fibre. Unfortunately, dyes are still utilised in the construction process but are considerably less than cotton. With its benefits outweighing synthetic goods, tencel is a better solution for both the wearer and Mother Nature.
Not without its criticisms pertaining to the ethical treatment of silkworms, silk itself remains a highly renewable fibre due to its ability to be produced without pesticides and fertilisers. Though natural and biodegradable, sustainability still has some way to go in this industry. Movement, however, is underway particularly in relation to the development of Peace Silk which does not harm the silkworms during the manufacturing process.