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So what is Green, Eco or more often referred to as Sustainable fashion?

Fashion makes us feel good. Whether it has to do with defining our personality through our style or dressing up to impress or simply just to cheer us up, it is safe to say that most of us feel well in clothes that represent us. But something doesn’t feel right when we realise that what we put on has contributed to the environmental dangers we face today.

Generation Z and millenials who are seen as more “difficult” (aka more aware and selective) consumers may have been one of the main reasons fashion seems to be taking a “greener shade”.

With fashion being one of the biggest pollutants for the planet it is only natural that the industry is trying to clean up the mess.

But what are the guiding lines for consumers to keep in mind when going shopping in order support brands that try to make their impact less harmful or -even better- contribute to a sustainable prospect?

Buy locally. Transportation is largely connected to the increase of concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, so when our clothes are being manufactured on the other side of the globe, the carbon footprint is not insignificant. In addition, buying products made by local workforce contributes to the sustainable development of the place by reducing unemployment and therefore improving the quality of lives of people. Also, locals may contribute to the creation of more diversity and variety in fashion itself since they have knowledge and skills of local craftsmanship.

Be wise in the choice of materials.

  • Organic cotton is healthier, since pesticides are excluded. Still the large amount of water needed for its cultivation is a major obstacle and chemical substances have been used while its been transformed into textiles, but for now it is the best available option for cotton. Hemp or bamboo are two alternatives to cotton overall.

  • Furs have been out of fashion for some time now and companies have been replacing them with faux furs as an alternative. However, it is not a sustainable alternative either due to the use of synthetic materials. Stella McCartney urges consumers as solution to never throw away the synthetic furs so that landfills won’t be burdened with non-biodegradable products. [1] Vegetarian leather and avoiding feathers are some other green options many brands use.

  • Upcycle is the new trend for environmentally conscious fashion. It is what recycling means for the other products. Many brands have been using it, with some major fast fashion labels to have lead the way, such as H&M who urges consumers to bring to its shops any items they intent to throw. Instead of ending up in landfills, these clothes end up having a second opportunity to be worn again in the form of another apparel. Nike creates air soles from recycled materials. And the list goes on.

Slow fashion, is the opposite fashion.With fast fashion having taken the world in the last decades, there are a lot of questions that have arisen negative concerning its contribution to the environment and of course many social matters. Massive production of clothes that are “trendy” only for a few weeks (the number of collections of the fast fashion companies are numerous times bigger than the ones of luxurious major fashion houses) have resulted in lower prices and consequently in the idea that clothes are only worn for a short period of time and then thrown away, ending up in landfills. Many are made out of cheap synthetic materials, so they are non biodegradable and therefore end up staying with us for a long time. “Between 1996 and 2012, the amount of clothes bought per person in the EU more than 30 % of clothes in Europeans' wardrobes have not been used for at least a year. Once discarded, over half the garments are not recycled, but end up in mixed household waste and are subsequently sent to incinerators or landfill.” [2] Reduce the amount of clothes bought, invest in quality rather than quantity. Anna Wintour urges shoppers to ““[It’s all about] talking to our audiences, our readers, about keeping the clothes that you own, and valuing the clothes that you own and wearing them again and again, and maybe giving them on to your daughter, or son, whatever the case may be.” [3]

Consumers hold the key to push companies towards more sustainable ways.“Two-thirds of consumers say sustainability is extremely or very important [...]. About a third say they have switched brands to those with positive environmental and social practices.” [4] More and more companies want to go down this road and we are more and more optimistic that in the end fashion will figure out a way not only not to have a negative impact on the planet but to also contribute towards solutions for our climate crisis.

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