Customers often look for the cheapest clothes that look good and fit well. What people don't realize, however, is that many companies take shortcuts to produce such products. Among other unacceptable practices, fashion brands frequently source products overseas where they can rely on unethical human labor and unsustainable materials. A few companies emphasize sustainable fashion, but sorting these from the rest can feel like a frustrating chore.
What Is Sustainable Fashion?
When fashion companies take shortcuts or cost cuts, there are usually negative consequences. Sometimes, the workers responsible for making garments suffer under exploitative conditions. Often, the materials used to create garments are made from cheap, synthetic materials sourced far from assembly warehouses and even farther from consumers.
Though it can seem like the treatment of workers and reusability of materials are separate issues, they are closely related. This is because workers paid low wages are unlikely to feel that they have a stake in creating quality products. Items are then made to deteriorate quickly, causing consumers to throw them away soon after purchasing. Worse, when workers can't support themselves with their wages, they don't elevate their positions in the world or implement positive changes in their communities.
Sustainable fashion can be a confusing term, but it simply means that a product line, from the most basic material to the finished item, can be produced indefinitely without creating excessive waste in the form of CO2 or chemical pollution. This is a tough standard to reach, but it can be done.
What Makes a Product Sustainable?
A product that doesn't create excessive waste needs to be made from renewable materials. Cotton, hemp, linen, wool and cellulose are generally the best materials for sustainable production. They are less likely than synthetic fibers to hold harmful chemicals that can leach into waterways and become absorbed into human pores. Natural fibers normally degrade within a reasonable amount of time, after which they become the basic organic compounds they're made from.
Polyester, nylon, rayon and spandex, on the other hand, stay around for almost incomprehensible lengths of time. These materials can emit toxic fumes into the air for as long as they exist.
Unfortunately, even natural fibers can be harmful to the planet. Though they break down easily, they can be just as toxic as synthetics when textile manufacturers use cheap, unregulated chemicals or dyes in the production process. These "forever chemicals" tend to stay in the body for a long time and in the environment for far longer.
Some of the best sustainable fashion clothing lines are produced close to where they are eventually sold. This provides a huge sustainability boost because transportation creates a large amount of CO2. It's highly wasteful when minor materials and parts have to move to a warehouse before being shipped across the globe. Although no product made today requires no carbon, some locally made, natural clothes are made with such little waste that they can be considered sustainable.
When Should You Buy Recycled Materials?
In a world where toxic waste dumps are overflowing and spilling into the ocean, recycling offers a great way to take critical pressure off the planet. It's worth noting, however, that just because something is recycled doesn't mean it's healthy or good for the environment. Reused materials still end up in landfills eventually, and recycling simply slows the lifecycle of a product down.
Most recycled clothes are made from synthetic polyester and nylon, and these materials are produced with harmful chemicals more often than almost any others. Buying clothes with recycled versions of these ingredients is laudable, but you should make sure that the company you buy from isn't simply contributing more toxic chemicals into the already-overburdened environment.
Why Should You Avoid Unsustainable Products?
Giving money to businesses with the worst sustainability records essentially tells the world that it's okay to lie to consumers while contributing to climate change, health disasters and human rights violations. While it would be great if the world's governments got together and agreed that sketchy fashion industry dealings needed to stop, it just isn't realistic to expect regulations to take hold anytime soon.
When you avoid wearing unsustainable clothes, you keep money away from predatory industries. When you buy from only the brands you know you can trust, you tell controversial brands that doing things right can be profitable. Buying responsibly is a growing trend, and some of the world's fashion giants have already begun making ambitious pledges to remove harmful substances from clothes or improve supply chain sustainability.
How Do You Know Where To Buy Sustainable Fashion?
While a lot of company websites make outlandish claims about commitments to environmental causes or global justice, few can actually live up to such statements. Simply looking at a company website is perhaps the worst way to learn about its culture and environmental standards. Sure, a website might be telling the truth, but you might as well flip a coin.
Your best bet is to do in-depth research on your preferred brands. It's a good sign when a brand uses renewable energy to power its warehouses. You should also look into where materials are sourced. The closer to you, the better.
As a last-ditch effort, you can look at the available products and make an educated decision. If a deal seems too good to be true, it's probably because it is. Expecting to buy an elegant new dress for eight dollars isn't realistic. Look for more reasonable prices that you can still afford. Clothes made with care and quality materials are likely to last far longer than cheap ones.
What Is Paris Laundry?
It can sometimes feel like the whole world is made of unethical, unsustainable and harmful products. Sorting out what you should and shouldn't buy can be difficult, if not impossible, to do on your own.
Fortunately, Paris Laundy has already committed itself to selling only cosmetics and clothing with clean health practices and acceptable sustainability records. For sustainable fashion, makeup and wellness, shop Paris Laundry online today. Read about our story and find out why we dedicate ourselves to clean fashion and healthy living.