23 April 2018
3 min read

Like fast food, fast fashion delivers a cheap product that gives you an instant feel-good, but in the long run it doesn’t do you any favours.

The Big Mac of fashion

Fast fashion dates quickly or falls apart after a few washes, and all too often ends up in landfill. In Australia alone, we send 85% of all our textiles to landfill each year.

Fashion is one of the most natural resource-intensive industries in the world. Cotton uses more pesticides than any other crop, and polyester, a plastic made from oil, is becoming increasingly popular. And 80% of leather worldwide is tanned using chrome, a highly toxic process where contaminated water pollutes waterways. What’s more, the human price-tag on fast fashion is high.

People working in a shoe factory

People working in a shoe factory.

Eighty percent of garment workers are women; many are from developing countries, are young and easily vulnerable to exploitation. They’re often made to work long hours for very poor pay in unsafe conditions, under pressure to produce high volumes of garments. The fashion supply chain also has a history of child labour, especially in in the growing and manufacturing of cotton, and of cruelty to animals, considering the use of leather and fur.

So how did we get to a point where our fashion choices were harming the people, the planet and animals? The main culprit is new fashion which is cheap and no longer takes a season to reach the store from a catwalk.

5 easy ways to start wearing ethical fashion

So, you’ve changed over your superannuation, started taking your own bags to the supermarket, and catch the bus more than you drive, but what about your wardrobe? Can you bring your ethics into your fashion choices?

We recently challenged ourselves in the office to see if we can wear at least one ethical ‘thing’ every day. Here are five top tips that we hope help you as much as they helped us:

  1. Choose ethical and sustainable fashion brands. You can discover how ethical brands are with the Good On You app, or check out Well Made Clothes for a range of ethical and sustainable fashion brands. See a few of our fave ethical brands in the ‘Ethical fashion brands to try’ box below.
  2. Buy quality over quantity. When you buy something of high quality, it will last a lot longer than buying something you bought for a quarter of the price that loses its shape and colour quickly.
  3. Shop from op-shops or swap clothes with friends. This is a great way to keep your wardrobe fresh if you’re on a budget or truly don’t want to buy anything new. This is another reason why you should buy quality – because it will still look good if you pass it on. Check out buynothingnew.com.au for more tips on avoiding the shops.
  4. Shop your wardrobe and you might be surprised by some of the clothes you discover that you forgot about.
  5. Look for the good logos showing that a brand complies with certain standards and certifications, such as below:
Fair conditions

Ethical Clothing Australia (ECA) Indicates that the brand’s production in Australia complies with labour laws.

Fairtrade

Indicates producers and traders have met Fairtrade standards, such as avoiding child and forced labour, and workers and producers receive a minimum wage – plus a Fairtrade premium to invest in their community or business.

Organic fabrics

Global Organic Textile Standard Indicates that the brand meets a high level of organic and environmental criteria.

Sustainable supply chains

STEP BY OEKO-TEX®
An independent certification that aims to implement sustainable production, minimum wages and good health and safety conditions.

 

The Good Fashion Guide Download the second edition of our Fashion Guide ‘The Good Fashion’ now to find out how 12 big fashion brands rate against environment, labour and animal welfare.

 

Some ethical fashion brands to try:

To make more sustainable fashion choices, look beyond the high street for ethical brands that look great on – and make you feel good inside too.

Give workers a better go:

Etiko: Fair trade, organic street wear.

Bhumi: Fairtrade, organic and vegan casual wear and basics.

People Tree: Pioneers in fairly traded fashion.

Put organic clothing next to your skin:

Vege threads: Organic styles for men and women.

Thunderpants: Organic underwear and clothing.

Monkey Genes Ethical and organic jeans.

Love animals? Go cruelty-free:

Matt & Nat: Vegan and sustainable bags.

Nae Vegan Shoes: Portuguese footwear brand.

James&Co.: Faux leather jackets and coats, faux suede and faux fur.

 

You may also be interested in...