First published September 2020
You may well have heard about the damage that fast fashion is doing to the planet. The West’s appetite for new clothes is harmful to people, animals and the planet. Indeed, it has been claimed that the fashion industry emits more carbon than international flights and maritime shipping combined. The fashion industry accounts for 10% of humanity’s carbon outputs, uses more than its fair share of water and damages the oceans by releasing plastic when clothes are washed.
With the advent of shops like Primark, clothes have less and less value, meaning a huge percentage of formerly fawned over outfits end up in landfill. Plus there is the human cost of poorly treated workers who slave to make these clothes, sometimes losing their lives to do so, as highlighted by the horrific events of 2013, when the Rana Plaza factory collapsed, killing at least 1,132 people and injuring thousands more.
Ethical Consumer Magazine are holding their annual Ethical Consumer Week later this month, from October 24th-30th. This is a week of panels and workshops designed to help businesses and individuals make more ethical choices in the future.
So what can you do if you need some new clothes and want to avoid contributing to the climate emergency? Firstly, ask yourself if you really do need anything new. Is there something in the back of your wardrobe you forgot about? Can you put a belt round that dress so that it looks like something new? Has your flatmate got something you can borrow?
Photo by Md Salman on Unsplash
Sometimes, the answer to all those things is no. And that’s OK - you still have ethical options ahead of you.
Buying second hand is a great option. Bristol is chocca with fantastic charity shops, particularly in Clifton. Additionally, you tick the ‘used’ option on eBay, you can find great second-hand outfits for any occasion.
Mending or repairing clothes you’d given up on is another option. Can you sew or patch some old favourites? back to life?
If you’re not a dab hand with the machine, you could contact one of the local sewing geniuses on our website, such as Victoria Dry Cleaners in central Bristol, Sew Much More in Easton or Direct Dry Cleaners, Brunel Tailoring or Daddy Alterations, all on Gloucester Road.
If you’ve tried all of those options and still can’t find the right dress for that special wedding or shirt for that important interview, there are some high-quality, eco-options for buying new clothes. Ethical Consumer have a great resource which goes into detail here, but let’s have a look at some of my favourites.
Lucy and Yak are my favourites from the Ethical Consumer list. Lots of my mates own dungarees (see image to the left) made by this company, and I’ve felt very envious of their comfy yet stylish lounge-ability. The dungarees are unisex, but the rest of the collection, which includes fabulously colourful trousers, pinafore dresses and polka dot socks, is for women only.
As another plus point, while ethical clothes are always going to be more expensive than fast fashion, the prices here are not too eye-watering. If you avoid Primark for a couple of months, you might find you have enough left over for a £54 pair of dungarees without having to smash too many piggy banks.
Thought Clothing have collections for men and women, as well as sale section so tempting I nearly broke my own pledge of buying no new clothes in 2020. They set out to protect people and the environment with their clothes, which are simple, stylish and made to last.
Finally, Greenfibre Organic deserve a mention as they sell sustainable items for your kitchen, bathroom and bedroom as well as having clothes for men, women and children. Some of the pyjamas on this site look especially snuggly and delicious.
If you do decide to buy new, look out for clothing that uses organic cotton and is fair trade, and avoid vicose clothing, which is hugely damaging to the planet.
Good luck out there - let us know how you get on with your forays into slower fashion!
Did you know: It takes 2000 gallons of water to grow enough cotton to make a pair of jeans.