Last week was the FASHION REVOLUTION WEEK (April 23 to 29) and Earth Day (April 22). In this spirit of fair trade and sustainability, we take this opportunity to remind ourselves of good habits to buy our clothes responsibly. Some practices that we do not always think about, but that can make a big difference in the end.

 


 

Learn more about sustainability in textileSubscribe to our Newsletter


 

1. Repair

It is often forgotten, but the most responsible way to buy is sometimes not to. If you wear your clothes longer, you can reducing your consumption. And the best thing to do for the environment is, without a doubt, to decrease consumption. Make the effort to mend your own clothes or have them repaired by a seamstress. You won’t need to buy new ones.

Getting in the habit of repairing our clothes may seem inconsequential, but small things that make a big difference. Above all, it changes our perspective on the need to consume. Even if, sometimes, it is only an excuse to continue wearing our favourite old clothes :).

Also important to make your clothing last longer is how you wash them. Inside out, avoid the dryer, etc.
 

 

2. Second-hand

Currently, there is far too much supply of second-hand clothing compared to the demand. There are more and more donations because more consumption. People are no longer buying out of necessity because the prices of new fast fashion items are almost equivalent. Developing countries no longer want our surplus of old clothes. There is just too much.

Making a habit of going to a thrift shop to give a second life to an orphaned clothing gives the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone (this expression is horrible, don’t kill birds). On one hand, we reuse a garment intended to be sent to a landfill. On the other hand, it reduces the consumption of new clothing and, by the same token, the supply of second-hand clothing.

 
 

 

3. Composition label

Representation label possible locations

According to the Textile Labelling Act, all textile products must be identified with the help of a representation label (also called a composition label)

Most of the time, this label is inside the garment. Either in a seam, on the side inside the garment (1) or at the collar, in the back (2). It contains very relevant information on the fibre content (percentage), the country where the product was made and the care of the garment. Also, if there is a certification for the product, for example Oeko-tex 100, it will be mentioned in there or on another nearby label.

 

 

Forming the habit of always looking at the composition label is a must to make an informed choice.

 

 

 

 


 

Learn more about sustainability in textileSubscribe to our Newsletter


 

 

4. Know your priorities

The clothing industry is complex. In many different stages of production (fibre culture, fibre processing, fabric dyeing, clothing assembly) environmental and human rights (or animals) can be flouted.

Having a garment 100% free of synthetic fibres, certified organic, certified fair and dyed naturally is very rare. Most of the time, companies make compromise to get to a reasonable final price. We have to know our priorities to make a choice aligned with our values.

If your priority is to be human rights, buy fair trade.

You want to go zero waste (or zero plastic), buy clothes made of natural fibres (biodegradable) without synthetic fibres (these produce a plastic micropollution during washing).

If you want to contribute to reduce the use of insecticides and pesticides for the environment and health, buy clothes made of certified organic cotton or other alternative fibres (hemp, linen, tencel, bamboo viscose).

For animal rights, buy vegan.

If you are for the preservation of water, buy Oeko-tex 100 certified or naturally dyed garments.

 

 

5. Keep informed

As previously discussed, the apparel industry is complex. As a result, the global production of fashion causes many problems at different levels:

  • Microplastic contamination of oceans directly related to synthetic fibre clothing.
  • Hazardous use of insecticides and pesticides to grow cotton.
  • Contamination of watercourses by dyeing plants.
  • Toxic products in clothing: NPEs, PFCs, heavy metals, phthalates, etc.
  • Violation of human rights by manufacturers in developing countries.

There is much to learn about these topics. Making a habit of getting information, researching and finding different sources make us a knowledgeable and responsible consumer.

 


 

Learn more about sustainability in textileSubscribe to our Newsletter


 

About the author Ugo Dutil: I grew up at the ecovillage “La Cite Ecologique” from 1 to 11. I decided to go back and live there when I was 25 years old. I like this way of life that allows us to prioritize human relationships over material possessions. I’ve been working with Respecterre since 2013. Minimalism and responsible consumption, especially in textiles, fascinate me.