Sustainable awareness has become part of our everyday lives. Recycling, using green household products, composting, and consuming organic foods all have become widely practiced. Now the fashion industry is stepping up, and there are more and more independent designers launching lines of eco and ethical clothing that you can feel good about supporting and look great wearing.
Here are some basic guidelines to keep in mind when shopping mindfully:
Natural fabrics. Choose fabrics that are made from natural fibers and renewable materials that are free of chemicals that cause harm to people and the planet. Look for pesticide-free organic cottons; fabrics made of bamboo, hemp, or the wood-based fiber lyocell (which you may find under the brand names Tencel and Modal); certified organic silk; and certified organic flax, used to make linen.
Kind color. Your skin can absorb chemicals and toxins from heavy metals in petroleum-based conventional dyes. Look for clothing that use sustainable coloring methods, no-impact or low-impact dyes, and natural plant and earth dyes that are kind to the environment and your body.
Local manufacturers. “Made in the USA” is a better choice. Keeping it local keeps the carbon footprint of shipping overseas down, and designers who manufacture locally have more assurance that their products are made in factories that uphold strict labor laws.
Fair wages. Support humane working conditions by giving preference to designers who follow fair-trade principles of ensuring a fair living wage.
Vintage items. Spice up your wardrobe with some truly unique vintage pieces. If vintage clothes are not your style, try vintage accessories or the local consignment shop for “gently used” contemporary clothing. Keep these treasures in use and out of the landfills.
Quality and sustainability. Don’t be a slave to fashion trends. Stand tall in your unique personal style, and support independent designers who adhere to sustainable production methods and are not driven by fashion trends. Put your money into quality and timeless items that will last for seasons to come. You will always make out as a winner and have clothes that never go out of fashion.
Fashion at the expense of people and the planet is just not chic. From luxury brands to Levi’s, apparel companies are changing the rules of one of the most polluting industries. There is hope for a promising future!
Lissa Dohl is the owner of Lissa the Shop, an online sustainable-fashion boutique for women. After working in the fashion industry for companies such as Barneys NY, Prada, and Vogue, Lissa launched her business to bring together a passion for fashion with a commitment to an ethical lifestyle and sustainable future.