Clothes that are good for the environment
Being ethical with your shopping is something we should all practice for the health of our world and our society, but it can sometimes be hard to determine which clothes are actually best for the environment. That’s because practically anyone can slap an “organic” label on their clothes – and even companies that aren’t looking to deceive their customers often have varying policies in place with varying effectiveness. If you want to dress more ethically, these are the things you should look for.
Look for organic materials
We tend to wear what’s comfortable and what looks good, but you can make the search for organic materials a part of your shopping routine without sacrificing those other elements. Sustainable clothing is produced without pesticides or dangerous chemicals, but there are also some materials that are better suited to the environment than others.
A genuinely conscientious clothing company will make clear their lack of pesticides, but they’ll also focus on textiles that are easy to grow with minimal amounts of land and water. Ideally they should also be either recycled or recyclable. Two of the most effective organic fibers are hemp and cotton, but more exotic fabrics like silk and alpaca wool are also often used in the production of environmentally friendly clothing.
Seek out dependable supply chains
Shopping for materials that are sustainably farmed is important, but wearing organic, sustainably sourced cotton won’t do the environment much good if it has to burn fuel to cross the globe. Truly sustainable companies take conscientious efforts to make their supply lines as small as possible and minimize the carbon footprint of their distribution.
Seek out clothing companies that are explicit in their supply line structure and provide you with as much information on that supply line as possible. Typically, you’ll want to look for a supply chain that keeps their imprint as small as possible and ideally includes every node in their supply line within the same continent. Companies like Mon Coeur, for instance, source all of the components that make up their outfits throughout Europe and handle the manufacturing in Portugal. The results are a circular supply line that provides all the parts for a comfortable and stylish outfit while keeping that circle as small as possible.
Keep an eye on workers’ rights
In the rush to save the environment, one thing sometimes gets overlooked: the people who live on the land we’re trying to save. One reason that many companies spread their supply line throughout the world is that it allows them to hire cheaper labor, but these cheap labor practices can have a rippling effect on ecologically precarious environments and the people that actually live there.
If you care about the environment, you’ll want to look for clothing companies that are transparent about their worker’s rights policies. Decent pay and benefits along with a balanced work day can ensure that an environmentally friendly production process doesn’t exploit other human beings for the sake of efficiency.
Seek out responsible land management
You can employ a farming method that doesn’t use a single chemical and still have a net negative impact on the environment. Sophisticated irrigation systems can have a costly impact on soil quality, and your soil can also be spoiled by a lack of proper crop rotation. Any company that’s actually serious about their impact on the environment will be able to tell you about their practices for land management, and they’re encouraged to do so. If you’re shopping at a store that doesn’t discuss the policies their farmers use, chances are that you’re shopping at a store that doesn’t take their environmental obligations seriously.