Reading Time: 11 minutes


By Rhumaa


Words By José M. Sainz-Maza

A main advantage of buying high-quality clothing is durability: we have all had a bad experience with that trendy, low-cost t-shirt that ended up stretched, frayed and without colour after a few uses. Unpleasant and frustrating, we often find ourselves spending more buying multiple cheap garments that we will end up throwing out after four washes, as opposed to investing a little more for one long-lasting piece.

Lower prices are often dictated by the materials characteristics, production methods, and labour costs (most often coinciding with poor working conditions). In addition, it is important to be aware of how the garment can impact the environment during its life cycle in your wardrobe and when you no longer want it. Decomposition of synthetic fabrics and loss of colour commonly occur due to the degradation of the dyes and are a source of water pollution contaminating the marine environment.

To ensure the sustainable future of our planet, we need to understand that the lifestyle of the future must involve more eco-conscious consumption habits and accountability for the choices we make when looking at the entire production chain of the clothing we choose.

By Sloanie

Fabric First

One of the most important steps in making sustainable clothing is fabric and textile sourcing and selection. The textile industry produces over 100 million tons of fiber each year. With the fashion industry growing exponentially each day, this has a major impact on the environment. 

Companies like Sloanie use a unique modal fiber that can be obtained from Austrian trees and negates harm to the environment as it is derived from renewable wood sources. In terms of production, it uses ten to twenty times less water when compared to other conventional cotton materials. This modal fiber is also lighter, breathable, and more durable. Next time you are shopping, take the time to look into the fabric used in the garments to truly see the benefit of investing in quality sustainable fabrics.

By Reformation

Woven with Love

Fast-fashion brands often have products manufactured in countries far from the places where they are later bought. The precarious working conditions and the meager labor rights of textile factory workers make it possible to produce at very competitive prices, even when it is necessary to maintain complex logistics chains to deliver these products to stores. This has a human and environmental cost that must also be taken into account when purchasing our clothes. In addition to this, the characteristics of serial production of millions of products often include kilometer-long assembly lines, where there is little time to promote safety and sustainability at each step, rather focusing on quantity over quality.

When it comes to acquiring clothing from sustainable brands, we can have greater control over the processes used to sew, dye and assemble them. Through this action, we support local economies, favoring quality jobs and shorter distribution lines with less environmental impact. In addition, you will find garments with much better finishes and crafted in a careful way for durability.

One brand that prides itself on its sustainable production process is Reformation. They are an American based company that dives deep into their eco-friendly practices and aims to deliver quality in every step of their apparel production process. With regard to their manufacturing facilities, they source their electricity through 100% wind power suppliers and use LED lighting and energy-star rated appliances to reduce their carbon footprint.

When shopping, it is so easy to look up a company’s sustainability initiatives through a simple google search. Take the time to see what brands are doing before you purchase to make sure their efforts align with your mindful consumption. At Staiy, we make it even easier for you: we assess all the brands we work with on sustainability under 5 pillars, and we show you the results of our evaluation clearly on our website.

Packaging Matters

The boxes, plastic, paper, and other materials used in the packaging and shipping of clothing are one of the aspects of sustainable fashion that can often be looked over. According to research, retailers use excess packaging to ensure that the articles arrive to the customer in perfect condition. We are used to getting garments shipped to us in the classic cardboard box with plastic inside to protect each piece, as well as the clothing item being put in one, or even two plastic bags. It is clear that all of these materials create plenty of unnecessary waste.

This is not to say that packaging approaches have begun to show change. In addition to increasing consumer awareness, some conscious brands are carrying out initiatives in order to make this whole process more sustainable and environmentally friendly. AllBirds, a company whose shoes are made out of natural materials, has adopted a single-box approach. When delivering shoes there is often one box for the shoes themselves and another one or a plastic bag for shipping, so AllBirds are shipping their shoes in only one box made of 90% post-consumer cardboard and 100% recyclable materials. Other brands have also started offering the option to opt-out of extra unnecessary materials that often come with their packages. This is an excellent way for consumers to make the shift toward a more sustainable lifestyle by themselves and be responsible in their decision-making.

Even if you don’t shop online, there are still plenty of ways recommended with regard to your shopping in offline retail settings. Bringing your own reusable bag, such as a tote, just like you do for groceries is the simplest step. It is easy to keep around and an excellent way to avoid spending on an extra bag when you buy something at a shop. If you forget about it, simply tell the person helping you at the checkout that you do not need a bag or do not want the extra tissue into it to minimize waste.

“Polyester, the major synthetic textile fiber, now commands a 65% market share and sheds on average six times more micro-plastic fibers than nylon.”

Care For Your Clothes

Whenever you shop for clothes, and especially when you’ve bought high quality garments, it is important to think about the after care. Stronger or more environmentally friendly materials do not equate to indestructibility, and better care will always entail more durability which is linked to a lower impact on the environment. Therefore, it is essential that you follow the manufacturer’s instructions when washing clothes, and that you do not wash them more often than necessary.

Frequent washing of apparel is a major source of ocean pollution. Not only because of the textile dyes that are poured into the wastewater when the clothes lose their colour but also because of the contamination caused by microplastics. Synthetic fabrics are responsible for about 35% of microplastic pollution in the world’s oceans. According to Commonobjective, “Polyester, the major synthetic textile fiber, now commands a 65% market share and sheds on average six times more microplastic fibers than nylon.” Therefore, buying items made with, or woven with natural materials is a simple and effective way to reduce the consequential deterioration of marine ecosystems and preserve marine life.

Making conscious clothing purchase decisions, going for higher-quality natural materials, and rejecting quick-to-use and throw-away synthetic products, you will also be showing more love for your body, more responsible consumption and a greater degree of respect for the environment. Driving change towards sustainability in the fashion industry is in the hands of all of us, and with the information in this article, you can go one step further in that direction.

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