As shown by the increasing use of clean energy, support for policies such as the Green New Deal, and a movement towards sustainable products, people are increasingly aligning their political and economic decisions with environmentally-friendly measures. With this, “sustainability”, “ethical manufacturing”, “organic”, etc. are all buzzwords that have made their way into the world of clothing. Many of these companies that use such practices have reshaped their marketing structure to include this environmentally conscious message, demonstrating the demand for these products. This change in the fashion world is very much needed. With the fashion industry accounting for around 10% of the worlds’ carbon footprint, it is becoming clear that the current nature of fashion, particularly fast fashion, is almost inherently unsustainable. Clearly, this shift towards sustainability is much needed, as well as a change in consumer attitude that is more conscientious of how our purchases impact the world.
What You Can Do
While no one of us can take on this problem alone, there are small steps we can pursue to get on the right track. To begin with, spend wisely. While fast fashion is tempting, spending a bit more on a more ethical brand will not only reduce your carbon footprint upfront, but will pay off even more as the piece will last longer, reducing waste. Another great option is thrift shopping, which not only allows you to buy unique and vintage pieces but reduces your footprint by continuing the life cycle of pieces that may have been thrown away. And of course, make sure to invest in a sewing kit, which will extend the life of your clothes and prevent needless waste. Clearly, introducing a bit of environmental responsibility into your shopping habits is not too hard. Hopefully, if we priortize sustainability, environmental responsibility will become more than just a buzzword, but a core part of the fashion of the future.
Where to Begin
To get started, I recommend checking out the following brands that have sustainability and quality in mind.
Patagonia is loved by serious hikers and wall street bros alike, and for a good reason; their products last for years and never seem to go out of style. Plus, they are at the forefront of environmental activism, supporting grassroots activists, donating 1% of sales to environmental organizations, and using sustainable materials and methods to make their products. I particularly like their retro fleece and teddy bear fleece, which will keep you warm while looking cool. And while they are pricey, it is an investment you will not regret.
United By Blue
United By Blue is a very familiar Penn institution known for their cool coffee bar and locally sourced snacks. However, they also have their own line of clothing and accessories. Their backpacks, mugs, and home decor will give your dorm an outdoorsy, retro feel while also withstanding the wear and tear of college life. Plus, for every product sold, they promise to remove one pound of trash from local waterways.
This Portland-based fashion company manages to make stylish clothing while maintaining a commitment to sustainability. Among other things, they donate 1% of sales to environmental nonprofits, run on 100% renewable energy, and use all natural materials like tencel and bamboo. This season, I suggest checking out their fun rompers, flowy cropped pants, and lightweight spring jumpers.
This higher-end brand makes great pieces that can be worn to sunday brunch, spring picnics, and interviews alike. Plus, they use high quality, natural fabrics, utilize local supply chains that reduce emissions and waste, and partner with reforestation projects. Their luxurious silk blouses, summery dresses, and soft tee shirts are great additions to your wardrobe.