It’s no surprise to learn that textile dyeing is the second biggest water polluter in the world according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation report. Based on the use of chemicals, the over-consumption of clothing and the many kilometres a garment travels before it reaches the store, the fashion industry is one of the world’s most polluting industries.
We live in an era where trends are changing at lightning speed. The rise of social networks and “fashion” influencers only amplifies consumers’ desire to follow these trends by encouraging companies that practice fast fashion.
What is "fast fashion"?
Fast fashion can be defined as the production of cheap and fashionable clothes that are inspired by the ideas of fashion shows or celebrity culture. This segment of the clothing industry renews these garments very quickly, often producing several collections per season. Fast fashion companies will produce these garments in very small quantities and will rarely replenish their stock once the piece of clothing is sold out in the store.
Obviously, in order to be able to produce such a large quantity of garments per collection and still have a profitable profit margin, companies try to reduce production costs as much as possible. They will use lower quality textiles and use chemicals to colour their clothing. Most of the time, they will use cheap labour in underdeveloped countries. All of these bad practices have a huge impact on our planet. It is our responsibility as consumers to inform ourselves about how and under what conditions our clothes are designed before they arrive in the store.
With this in mind, here are 6 tips on how to follow fashion trends while being a responsible consumer.
1. "Slow Fashion"
Slow fashion is the initiative of companies who wish to slow down the production of clothing to avoid the negative consequences of fast fashion. These brands will create smaller seasonal collections, they will use better quality fabrics with a view to durability. By buying a garment from a brand with responsible practices, you make sure you have influence on your personal style by buying unique pieces, get a quality product and protect those who need it the most.
“B-certified companies are companies that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. B Corps are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine business success and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy. »
– Certified B Corporation
More and more companies working in the fashion industry are trying to obtain this internationally recognized certification. By purchasing B-Corps brands, you are contributing to the development of an economy that promotes sustainable development and good environmental practices. For the register of certified companies, we invite you to visit their website.
3. Buy From Local Brands
When shopping, look for “Made in Canada” on the labels of the clothes you are trying on. Clothing made in China, for example, travels thousands of kilometres before arriving at the store. This produces huge amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which is very polluting for our planet. By choosing clothes that are made in Canada, you reduce the distance you have to travel before a piece of clothing is purchased and you contribute to improving the fate of the planet.
4. Choose Organic Fabrics
The cultivation of certain tissues can lead to the use of many pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals with negative consequences for our planet. By prioritizing the purchase of clothing made from organic fibers, you are contributing to a water-based culture of natural fertilizers that are beneficial to the environment. For a fabric to be certified organic, its composition must be made of 95% organic fibres. Growing cotton, bamboo or hemp without the use of pesticides makes it possible to make sustainable clothing by reducing the ecological footprint in the fashion industry. The label on the inside of a garment usually gives you information on the different materials used in the production process.
5. Products Made From Recycled Materials
Many companies have tried to innovate by finding clever ways to give polluting materials a second life. Some brands will favour the use of environmentally friendly materials such as recycled nylon, cork or rubber, which they will then transform into sustainable fashion accessories. By opting for these types of companies, you avoid encouraging the production of textiles that require huge quantities of water and produce unnecessary CO2.
6. Buy From Thrift Stores & Give It Forward
One man’s old clothes can make another man happy. You may be surprised by the things you find when shopping at thrift stores. Many people get rid of certain pieces of clothing and accessories because they are tired of wearing them, not because they are no longer in good condition. It is not uncommon to see very high quality clothing brands at lower prices such as a pair of Levi’s jeans that will never go out of style.
Conversely, rather than throwing your clothes in the garbage and letting them take years to decompose in the landfill, go give them to community centres or thrift stores to help someone in need.