April 2019 witnessed the ninth instalment of H&M’s sustainable line of clothing- The Conscious Exclusive Collection. This year’s collection used Pinatex, a leather alternative created from by pineapple leaves, BLOOM, a creation that originates from freshwater algae biomass and Orange Fiber, an element that is created out of peels of citrus fruits in addition to materials like organic silk and cotton. To pair with environmentally friendly clothing H&M also used materials recycled plastic bottles and bags to create accessories.
Besides H&M, various members of the fashion community like designers, brands, and a small portion of consumers are trying to purchase and promote sustainable brands. However, most people are still unaware of the concept of sustainable fashion which leads to 300,00 tonnes of textile wastage in household bins per year.
So, what is it?
Sustainable fashion can be described as the process of manufacturing and selling items such as clothes, shoes and accessories by using methods that protect and help the environment, rather than hurting it. This could also mean recycling, upcycling, reusing and most importantly, repairing items rather than buying a new ones just to keep up with the trends.
Why should I care?
Most people in today’s date unknowingly follow the idea of ‘fast fashion’. A concept that is the opposite of sustainable fashion and one that persuades consumers to use and throw clothes rapidly due to changing fashion trends. Watch the video below to understand this in further detail:
Video Source: Kristen Leo YouTube Channel
Engaging in fast fashion means two things:
- Terrible conditions for mother nature (more wastage, increased carbon footprint, etc).
- A wardrobe full of poor quality clothes, more expenditure and an unhealthy environment for the future you and your children.
Adding to this, according to this year’s Interim Report on the Sustainability of the Fashion Industry, UK topped the charts in terms of per person consumption in all of Europe.
How do we know this? In autumn of 2018, 16 crowd-favorite brands across the UK including ASOS, Primark, Burberry, Debenhams, Marks and Spencers (M&S), Boohoo, Amazon and Kurt Geiger were sent a request to disclose their strategies with regards to staying environmentally cautious in their process of manufacturing and selling clothes, accessories and shoes. These brands were then categorized as: most engaged, moderately engaged and less engaged based on their efforts to be more sustainable. However one brand that stood out for all the wrong reasons was Kurt Geiger, as they failed to respond to the request of the parliament, providing no information whatsoever.
Okay, I am onboard. But, where do I find it?
While the above mentioned mostly engaged brands would make good mainstream options to shop for sustainable clothing; H&M, Stella McCartney, Rapanui, Adidas can be added to the list too as they have been known to regularly follow and promote sustainable strategies for their lines of clothing, shoes etc. Having said that, there are many conscious brands in and around the UK that work tirelessly and solely for producing and selling eco-friendly fashion. You can find five of these here:
- Here Today, Here Tomorrow (HTHT): This brand specializes in creating handmade knitwear along with many other ethically created fashion items which can be found in various regions of UK, Germany, Switzerland and Belgium.
- Komodo: Komodo has been creating eco fashion(clothing and accessories) for the last 30 years for men and women by using raw materials like soya fibres, organic linens, bamboo, eco cashmere and more.
- Mud Jeans: Specializing in eco-friendly denim-wear, MUD allows consumers to shop for their denim fashion line as well as lease a pair of jeans for a monthly fee. You can find their physical and online stores all across Europe in countries like UK, Netherlands, Switzerland, Finland, Portugal, Italy and Spain.
- Newbie: This Sweden-based sustainable brand is one of the few ones that creates clothing, shoes, blankets and accessories for babies and children. It has stores across UK, Norway, Sweden and Finland.
- Madia and Matilda: The British fashion label that specializes in womenswear provides free shipping worldwide for their consciously created pieces that are also supplied to Silk Fred, ASOS Marketplace and Brighton Fashion Week.
While buying clothes from responsible brands is a better idea than purchasing from fast fashion brands, it is highly recommended to make fewer purchases and repair your clothes instead. Additionally, it is always a good idea to donate, recycle and upcycle your wardrobe as it adds value to your clothes rather than turning them into unhealthy, toxic waste.
Is the government bothered?
Short answer: yes.
The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) have taken up a voluntary initiative called Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP) after publishing the interim report. This plan includes targets such as reducing carbon footprint by 15 percent and overall waste by 3.5 percent by 2020. They are also continually running campaigns like Love Your Clothes that provides tips and tricks for caring, refashioning, repairing and recycling or donating clothes.