Whenever I buy, let’s say a new computer (don’t worry, it doesn’t happen that often), I do a thorough research taking all aspects into account: quality, price, how things are produced and what the company stands for.
I would love to do the same for clothes. But how do I go about?
With my post on Patagonia’s approach to sustainability I already introduced a company which does a lot to distinguish itself from others. Nevertheless, they seem to be the exception. What kind of things do we have to look for when choosing our clothes?
My highly appreciated blogger-colleague Rob from Know Thank You has recently written an amazing post on how to choose the right running shoes. He writes: “First we found manufacturers selling athletic shoes that contained no animal products and byproducts. Second, among those manufacturers were a select few whose manufacturing and supply chain policies resulted in less damage to the environment”. Finally, he went as far as asking the companies directly on how they produce and what they do for the environment. Now, imagine companies would get hundreds of emails like that every day, don’t you think that would make them change eventually? You can read the whole article here, I can only recommend it!
Another great blog, Chrunchy and Chic recently explored how to “find sustainable clothes“. From this article I learned that “Since ‘sustainable’ and ‘eco’ mean different things to different people, (here are) 8 different criteria you can use to search: vegan, ethically produced, craft/artisan, custom/made-to-order (‘slow fashion’), fair trade certified, organic, recycled, and vintage/second hand.” Which to me is an amazing starting point on what to look out for. The post also recommended to have a look at what mulesing is all about. I did. And I will not keep it from you.
The best way of understanding the pratice is by watching the following video. It’s Pink for PETA, don’t be surprised. You better sit down to watch it:
So, in short we can say that buying clothes responsibly is not an easy task. Let us recapitulate: both materials and conditions of production must be taken into account. On the material side we have the vegan aspect (avoiding wool and therefore mulesing, avoiding fur and leather…) as well as organic and sustainably – and even possibly local – grown resources (cotton, etc.). On the production side we have the whole spectrum of fairtrade conditions (fair wages, protected terms of employment, right to build workers’ unions, no child labour, no health threads, etc) as well as environmental standards for production (avoiding pollution, deforestation, ect., and including recyling if possible). Finally, we can opt for alternatives like slow/artisan fashion, second-hand products and most important: we can opt for not buying.
Have you ever thought about these things when shopping for clothes? Personally, thinking about all this makes it rather unlikely I will buy anything anytime soon.
Picture by Antoon’s Foobar. Danke schön.