What Is Eco-Friendly Fashion? Sustainable Fashion 101

We spend all day talking about sustainable fashion around here, but we have never really tackled eco-friendly fashion.

Each day there are more and more brands claiming to be eco-friendly (which is AWESOME when we don’t fall into greenwashing). But how do we know if these brands are really eco-friendly?

And what the hell does eco-friendly even mean when we talk about fashion?

And no. It’s not about wearing hippie harem trousers and vegan Birkenstocks.

You cannot imagine the options you have to create an eco-friendly closet. Stick until the end to talk about that.

So what is eco-friendly fashion?

Do you already know what sustainable fashion is? And what about ethical fashion? A fashion lover like you shouldn’t mix these terms up.

Well, so eco-friendly fashion seems pretty simple. Fashion that takes care of the environment – or at least doesn’t do any harm.

But there’s a lot more to it. You know, sustainability is exhausting.

We have to think about everything: how we get the materials, what impact the whole manufacturing process has, and how material leftovers or scraps are disposed of.

And no matter how we put it, making clothes is going to need energy, water, and some kind of material (duh). But eco-friendly companies will try to make it as green as humanly possible. How?

  • Using renewable energy
  • Reducing the amount of water needed
  • Using recycled materials, or materials that don’t need a lot of water to grow

Good – no, GREAT – materials

We will talk more about this topic in another post, but let’s see the basics.

Turns out not all natural fabrics are eco-friendly and not all synthetic ones are that bad – SHOCKER. Some examples:

  • Cotton is often GMO, which is terrible for the soil. The alternative is organic cotton, but it needs A LOT of water to grow. So it’s not really that good for the environment either.
  • Producing new synthetic fabrics requires a lot of energy. The alternative is recycled plastic clothes: this helps saving plastic from landfills and oceans, and it’s less energy-intensive. But they’re still synthetic and release microplastics. So it’s not a permanent and final solution to greenify the fashion industry. Read more about clothes made of recycled plastics here.
  • Natural leather is not only unethical, but it also can be very very bad for the environment. In this post, we talked about a river in India that receives 50 million liters of polluted water every day from leather factories next to it. The alternative? Vegan leather. But vegan leather is often synthetic. So we’re back to the plastic problem

So what? Should we just walk around naked?

Hmmm…Whatever floats your boat, but there are very eco-friendly material options that are not very well known yet. And that’s sad. Let’s see

  • Hemp and bamboo clothes. They both need very little water to grow and they grow pretty fast. Now more companies are using bamboo fibers. But hemp is a different case because…well…legal stuff.
  • Clothes dyed with natural substances. Dyes are a whole thing. Conventional dyes are actually incredibly toxic for humans, animals, plants, the earth. For everyfreakingbody. But we still use them because they’re cheap, of course. But there are alternatives: natural dyes that come from plants, spices,… Good stuff.

Quality over quantity and style over trends

In the age of fast fashion, quality is so overlooked.

You say: ” oh, this blouse is only 5 $

I hear: “I’ll spend 5$, wear the blouse for two months, and when it tears apart, I’ll spend other 5$ and like that indefinitely for the rest of my life”

This is how fast fashion thrives. They need you to need stuff. So quality is not their concern. Their goal is to create this circle of dependence: you will always need something new because the last thing you owned didn’t serve you.

Instead of that, why don’t we invest a little extra on a piece of clothing that makes you happy, is going to last, and it’s not going to mess with the environment.

And don’t get me wrong. Having an eco-friendly closet is not just about consuming less, or about not consuming anymore. It’s about being selective and conscious of what you buy. And also being aware of what you already own.

How you use and dispose of your clothes can make the difference

How we take care of our clothes and how we dispose of them does a lot for their carbon footprint.

It doesn’t matter how good the quality of your new dress is if you’re going to wash it every two days in the wrong settings. See where I’m going?

And how we dispose of our clothes when we don’t want them anymore? It really depends on the city you live in. But nowadays there are recycling containers for clothes almost everywhere. But before throwing them away, ask yourself:

  • is there a slim chance you’ll use those clothes again?
  • can you upcycle them?
  • can you donate them?
  • do you know someone who would need them?

EXTRA: how to create your perfect eco-friendly closet

    • Invest in timeless pieces that you can use as wardrobe staples.
    • Spend some extra $$ on great quality clothes – it will pay off!
    • Avoid buying on impulse. Have you heard of the 30 day rule? You basically wait 30 days before making a purchase to reflect on whether you need it or not. You can make it a 10 day, or 5 day rule, but either way it works! Oh, and you’ll avoid overspending.
    • Research, research, and research before you buy something. Make sure the brand is honest about their materials and manufacturing process. Don’t be greenwashed! In this post, you can learn how to tell if a brand is actually sustainable.
    • Follow the care instructions on your clothes to make sure they last longer.
    • Build your closet around your own style and not around passing trends.

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