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Once upon a time the words eco-friendly brought to mind an image of an unwashed hippy, wearing something resembling a sack, hugging trees. Any clothes that promised to be fairly traded or organic were dull and drab, and although perfectly decent clothing, they’d have never have made it onto the catwalks. Today however, there is nothing stopping the everyday shopper from buying stylish, designer clothing, with a conscience. These days you can have fashion, without the victim.
Sustainable fashion is fashion that is created and produced with consideration to the environmental and social impact it may have throughout its total life span, including its carbon footprint. Garments are made with environmentally friendly materials, by workers that are treated fairly and paid well – that means no sweatshops. Luckily it’s a trend that’s been picking up speed in the past few years, with even Vogue supporting it.
From high street stores like Urban Outfitters, to top designers such as Stella McCartney, sustainable fashion is everywhere. Fair Trade jewellery and fashion are often advertised in the glossy magazines, without you even realising it. Gone are the days of scratchy beige fabrics, instead brands like People Tree and Monkee Genes provide stylish eco-fashion.
But there’s no point relying on designers to support the eco-fashion cause for you, there’s plenty of ways that you can help out too. Rather than buying new stuff, why not customize your clothes? In the UK we throw away 7.5 billion articles of clothing each year, that’s over 1 million tonnes of clothes and textile materials being left to rot away in landfills. So, rather than throwing away your clothes, reinvent them. Shortening a hemline, adding a belt or getting the sewing kit out are super-cheap and eco-friendly ways to create a totally new look.
If second hand shops aren’t for you, then have a swap party or log on to one of the growing number of swapping sites in the UK. Get all your friends together, bring all your unwanted clothes with you, and swap – after all one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. But be warned; be prepared to see clothes that looked terrible on you looking fantastic on one of your friends.
Buying vintage is also a great way to be sustainable. It is oh so cool to buy vintage these days anyway, plus the quality of fabric and workmanship is often much higher than with mass-produced clothing. Buying vintage will guarantee you a unique and environmentally friendly look.
Finally it seems that stepping out in style doesn’t mean having to compromise your beliefs, sustainable fashion is everywhere, and green is the new black.