5 ways to clothes shop ethically

upcycled vintage fabric baby shoes - ethical clothing

Following on from my previous post ‘8 reasons why we should recycle more of our clothes’, in this post I wanted to share some ways in which we can continue to buy ‘new’ clothes, yet still be green.

As I’ve stated before, like many, I believe that sending perfectly wearable clothes straight to landfill as a consequence of ignorance and fast fashion is just not acceptable. Instead, we should try our best to give our garments a second life, either by upcycling them ourselves, swapping, donating or, if they’re no longer suitable for wear, recycling.

That said, there are occasions when a new outfit is just what you need, or indeed want. So how can we still purchase new and be environmentally friendly at the same time – is it possible?

Here are 5 ways to help you clothes shop ethically:

1. Choose an eco clothing brand

Rather than sleepwalk into your next garment purchase, why not take a little time to check out the vast array of ethical clothing brands that are available in the marketplace. There are literally hundreds to choose from, ranging from small scale designers who use only locally sourced, organic wool to larger brands who produce garments made using sustainable yarns, untreated fabrics and environmentally friendly fibres.

2. Rate your favourite high street clothes shop

If you are a high-street fashion addict, all is not lost. To make sure you make the greenest choice possible, find out how your high street favourite rates using the Ethical Consumer’s ‘Shopping Guide to the High Street Clothes Shop’. The ‘at a glance guide’ gives each store a score out of 20 based on the criteria, Environment, Animals, People, Politics, Product Sustainability. By moving the ‘of importance’ sliders against each individual criterion, you can see how the different issues affect the overall score rating of your preferred store. www.ethicalconsumer.org

3. Choose natural fabrics

Firstly, be informed; get to know your natural from your synthetic fibres. The most common natural fibres found in clothing include, Cotton, Linen, Wool, Silk, Hemp and Bamboo, the synthetics include, Nylon, Rayon, Acetate, Acrylic, Polyester
 and Lycra.

The benefits of choosing natural are that they naturally come from animals or plants and are therefore biodegradable, unlike synthetic, which is man-made. Natural fibres are also renewable which means we are not depleting our natural resources to produce them. Another benefit of choosing natural fabrics over synthetic is that they are breathable and more comfortable to wear against the skin, unlike synthetic, natural fibres wick moisture away from the skin, enabling your body to control it’s temperature more easily.

4. Choose classic styles that lasts

Try to avoid falling into the trap of buying the latest ‘must-have’ fashion statement only to fall out of love with it by the next season. Usually worn by the media’s hot picks, these items tend to have a very short lifespan and quickly look like a fashion faux pas. Instead go for classic pieces that can be worn over and over again, year on year. Here’s some classic essentials that’ll always be in style:

a good quality pair of dark denim jeans (no stone-washing or embellishments!),

a crisp white organic cotton shirt, ideal for work and play,

a little black dress, like this lace dress,

a knee length black skirt,

a fitted, single breasted jacket.

Timeless pieces that’ll always look great.

5. Choose recycled clothes

With Marks and Spencer producing a limited edition cashmere wool blend jacket made using jumpers returned through their shwop campaign, followed by their sustainable suit, created using only organic wool, lining made from recycled plastic bottles and reclaimed buttons, it’s good to see that some high street retailers are, albeit slowly, moving towards ‘closed-loop’ recycling, reducing the need for raw, virgin materials and, therefore, the depletion of natural resources.

However, you don’t have to wait for the big companies to get up to speed, if you want to buy recycled clothing now – go independent. There are simply hundreds of creative designers and fashion brands out there making fabulous garments made solely using vintage, recycled and reclaimed clothing and textiles, here’s just a few to check out:

www.amoosi.co.uk – amoosi upcycles reclaimed leather and fabric to produce handbags and tailored jackets with timeless characteristics.

www.funkipixi.co.uk – Funki Pixi clothes are made from 100% recycled materials namely jumpers, blankets and curtains that have been recycled from a variety of second-hand sources.

www.snood-revolution.co.uk – Snood rescue neglected and rejected garments and bring them back to life with a few nips and tucks and a sprinkle of imagination giving you a high quality one-off style without the designer price.

www.arella-baby.co.uk – arella-baby turn vintage and designer funky fabrics into beautifully crafted babywear and gifts

How do you clothes shop ethically, have you got any other tips for choosing eco-friendly clothes, or do you know of any other ethical clothing producers you would like to recommend? I love to hear your thoughts and comments.

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