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A GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE FASHION: 7 TIPS YOU CANNOT MISS

If you don’t know where to start to shop in a more sustainable way, we can help. These tips are all you need to help protect the planet while looking great.

Words By José M. Sainz-Maza del Olmo

18/08/2021

The fashion industry is responsible for 4 to 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions every year. While this data is already known to many, it may not always be easy to think about what we can do to alleviate this situation and promote the turn of the fashion world towards sustainability. In a society that is increasingly aware of environmental issues and whose individuals are more and more concerned about the future of the planet, consuming responsibly is practically a duty for many, and this requires having all the necessary data at hand to make the right choices.

A glance at any fast fashion website or an afternoon shopping in the city center can help us to realize that, in many cases, we hardly have information on how the garments were produced, under what conditions and with what specific materials and techniques. Labels indicating that the clothing has been manufactured in Bangladesh or other Asian countries are common, and cotton and other materials are listed in the item descriptions without any reference to how the fibers were obtained.

Large fast fashion companies often hide behind the complexity of their supply chain and claim that they are unaware of the full extent of the impact that their activity has on the environment and on the living conditions of the inhabitants of certain countries. For this reason, a growing number of people are turning to sustainable brands that offer all the information related to the manufacture and distribution of their products in a clear and accessible way. Thanks to this, it is possible to protect with our purchasing decisions both the environment and those who make our clothes.

If you too want to contribute to this cause and shop better, we bring you some tips that you may find useful:

1. Buy less and think twice before making a purchase

Does that incredible top that you have seen in the store go well with the rest of your clothes and suit your personal style? As if you were composing a capsule wardrobe, ask yourself how many times you are going to wear that garment and if you really need it at this time. Shopping in a more thoughtful way, avoiding impulsive purchases and going for those garments that truly match your look, will help you take care of the environment and will make you feel better in the long term. 

2. Look for sustainable fashion brands

There are many small brands and designers who are striving to offer high quality, 100% sustainable and locally produced products with fair working conditions and wages for the people who make the clothes. We invite you to discover these brands and thus promote the green transition in the fashion industry while supporting entrepreneurs near you and purchasing garments that will last a lifetime.

3. Shop second-hand clothes (and sell those you don’t wear anymore)

It has happened to all of us that, over the years, we have seen our style vary and we have stopped wearing those pieces that we once loved. You can help reduce the use of virgin raw materials and renew your wardrobe by acquiring second-hand clothes and selling those that you no longer wear. Nowadays, it is very easy to find great second-hand apparel stores in many cities, and there are apps like Vinted that allow you to buy and sell from home!

4. Get informed and watch out for greenwashing

Sustainability has quickly become an advertising claim for many companies, given the deep interest of society in this topic. This has led many clothing brands to use adjectives such as ‘sustainable’, ‘green’ or ‘eco-friendly’ lightly, seeking to attract the attention of consumers who want to buy responsibly but without providing enough information to support such claims. 

To avoid this, try to find more information about the specific actions that each brand carries out to be sustainable, as well as possible independent certificates that back up any statement in this regard. And if you have doubts about what some terms mean, you can always take a look at our sustainability glossary.

5. Just rent

How many times have you bought a garment and, after one use, abandoned it in the back of your closet for months or years? And we are not referring only to that striking cocktail dress that you bought for a wedding a few summers ago, but to blouses, dresses or blazers that didn’t quite fit your style or of which you have gotten tired right away. 

A very interesting option is to rent clothing, especially now that companies such as the Barcelona-based startup Pislow send you a new box of clothes every month including free shipping and returns, as well as an option to purchase at a discount if you fall in love with some items. In this way, you will reduce the amount of waste you produce and will be able to access a wide variety of garments depending on the occasion.

6. Avoid harmful manufacturing processes

From the effects of overgrazing for wool production and the water depletion of entire regions to feed cotton plantations to the use of toxic dyes and microplastics that end up later in the sea: the negative impact of many production processes associated with the fashion industry is massive. Therefore, something very important to take into account is the carbon footprint and water footprint of the pieces we purchase. Look for certificates that ensure a responsible use of natural resources involved in the manufacture of clothing, and try to choose natural fabrics over synthetic ones.

7. Give your clothes a second life

Reselling the garments that you do not wear anymore is always the easiest option to get rid of them, as well as donating them to an NGO or charity ensuring that someone else will be able to give them a better use. In the case of worn-out clothing, try to find out if the fabric can be easily recycled. Some organizations and apparel brands collect used pieces to give textile fibers a second life through recycling or upcycling processes. There are even sustainable fashion brands that have implemented processes to swap your old clothes for new ones in order to promote the circular economy.

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