The Importance of Supporting Sustainable Brands
Nowadays, everyone’s aware of the environmental impact their consumer habits have. With global temperatures on the rise and many species on the decline, it’s never been more important to make mindful choices when shopping for fashion and other everyday essentials.
According to some estimates, the fast fashion industry alone contributes more than 10% of global CO2 emissions. Addicted to the latest tech? Electronics manufacturers are responsible for around 3.7% of C02 emissions. That’s not even taking into account the toxic effects of e-waste.
The good news is that more brands than ever are making a commitment to sustainability. Need help navigating the world of sustainable clothing brands to ensure you’re making the right choices? We’ve got you covered.
Reduce Your Impact by Supporting Local Brands
If you want to do your bit for the planet, you need to be supporting local brands. While unsustainable materials and energy-intensive manufacturing contribute heavily to carbon emissions, it’s the transport of goods that is the biggest problem.
The further a product has to travel from source to customer, the more carbon that’s generated and pumped out into the atmosphere. When it comes to food and perishable items, the environmental impact is even more significant. Preservatives and extra rounds of manufacturing lead to further greenhouse gas emissions.
One of the easiest ways you can curb your carbon footprint is by choosing to shop locally. If you’re based in North America but your favorite clothing brands are produced in South Asia, an off-the-rail garment probably has more air miles than you’ll manage in a decade.
However, there are many other reasons to choose sustainable brands that are based locally. Buying from fashion brands based in your own country or city means you’re supporting the local economy. What’s more, you don’t have to worry about the ethical considerations of purchasing products produced in third-world countries with poor working conditions.
How to Shop More Sustainably
Choosing a sustainable brand is all well and good, but there’s a lot more you can be doing to mitigate your carbon footprint. When shopping for items, mindfulness will go a long way in ensuring you’re making eco-friendly choices.
First, ask yourself whether you really need the item you’re considering adding to your basket. If you can’t put off purchasing a new coat or pair of boots any longer, consider pre-loved apparel and accessories instead. Next, try and avoid replacing things if you don’t really need to. It’s tempting to switch out your wardrobe staples every season, but if something’s fit for purpose for another year, it’s best to keep it in your regular rotation.
Buying online? Try grouping purchases together before hitting that ‘Buy It Now’ button. It’s no secret that online retailers have come under scrutiny for excessive packaging in the past. By ordering multiple items at once, you won’t have to worry about being overwhelmed with cardboard and paper bound for the recycling bin. What’s more, fewer individual deliveries means less carbon is going to be produced.
Finally, think about spending a little more on premium products that will last you for longer. Many sustainable brands are leading the way when it comes to slow fashion. As well as using materials like recycled cotton, these brands focus on high-quality finishes and superior craftsmanship that will ensure your products last for longer.
What Are the Best Sustainable Brands to Support in 2023?
Keen to start shopping more sustainably? You don’t have to wait until Earth Day to start making greener choices. Below, we’ve picked out a selection of brands that are leading the way when it comes to sustainability.
When it comes to accessories, bags are something most of us can’t do without. However, all bags aren’t created equal. Ever spend a small fortune on a designer tote, only to find yourself having to deal with busted straps or torn lining a few months after handing over your hard-earned cash? We’ve all been there. If you’re looking for an alternative that’s never going to let you down, the Hulken rolling tote is the way to go.
Unlike many single-use bags on the market, the Hulken is designed for long-lasting use. With an incredibly durable body and unbreakable handles, it can cope with the heaviest of loads. What’s more, stainless steel wheels make it an excellent choice if you’re always on the move. Need more convincing? The sturdy baseboard is made from recycled material, while a versatile design means you can repurpose the Hulken for all manner of errands.
In the market for ethical fashion? Make KOKOworld your first port of call. Every item available from this fashion label has been carefully produced with Fair Trade and sustainability in mind. As well as using sustainable fabrics to create trend-setting garments, this brand has a zero waste philosophy. Anything left over on the cutting room floor is repurposed into original accessories, while surplus fabrics are donated to other eco-friendly initiatives. At KOKOworld, sustainable production is the standard. Meanwhile, eco-friendly shipping solutions ensure you’re not adding to your carbon emissions by ordering online.
Don’t assume that these impressive eco-friendly credentials come at a cost. Despite going above and beyond to produce sustainable collections, KOKOworld offers an incredible range of stylish apparel and essential accessories. You’ll find dresses and skirts for any occasion, casual staples like hoodies, and much more besides.
In the market for a new pair of sneakers? Brands like Adidas might have legions of fans across the world, but they’re not particularly sustainable. All that leather carries a pretty significant carbon footprint. If you’re looking for a more sustainable alternative, try Brazilian footwear brand Cairuma instead. Scoring top marks for eco-friendliness, Cariuma uses materials like organic cotton. Meanwhile, the leather it does use comes from responsible tanneries.
This is another brand that’s committed to producing as little waste as possible. A huge proportion of its offcuts are reused, while the brand has made strides to use less water in its production processes. What’s more, Cariuma uses BlueSign-certified dyes. These dyes are better for the environment and result in fewer harmful air emissions and less water pollution.
Few brands can claim to be Climate Neutral Certified. However, Made Trade is one such company. This brand has been working to reduce its carbon footprint since 2020. By 2021, it had already succeeded in going 100% carbon neutral. There’s no truth-bending here, either. That neutral rating applies to every aspect of production and shipping. Made Trade has managed this by investing a significant amount of capital into carbon credits. Today, the brand supports conservation projects in the United States, Brazil, and elsewhere in the world.
What makes Made Trade so appealing is its sheer range of products. You’ll find bath and bedding essentials, along with kitchen must-haves, and more. In the market for a new outfit? There’s a full range of apparel available here, with an impressive selection of footwear and accessories up for grabs.
ABLE takes sustainability to a whole new level. Rather than purchasing carbon credits to offset its environmental impact, this brand has invested in a multitude of eco-friendly initiatives. Looking for a new pair of jeans? If you want to make greener choices, sustainable denim is a must. At ABLE, you’ll find some of the most eco-friendly denim around. You won’t find any fast fashion here. Products in ABLE’s range are made from traceable materials like organic cotton, while zero waste manufacturing means you can be confident you’re buying something that’s not harming the planet.
While leather and eco-friendliness might not seem like a match, ABLE has gone all out to ensure the leather goods it sells are as green as possible. Leather products available here are made from surplus hides from the meat industry that would have otherwise gone to waste. Furthermore, some of ABLE’s biggest sellers like bags and wallets are made entirely from scrap leather.
How Do I Identify Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Fashion Brands?
It can be tricky to make the right choices. However, most brands with a commitment to sustainability underscore this as part of their mission statement. Some even spotlight their green credentials on the label or packaging. Other times, you might have to do some digging.
If you’re already on a brand’s website, product descriptions will almost certainly highlight any eco-friendly materials for sustainable manufacturing processes. If the information is a little light, head to the ‘About Us’ section to see exactly what those eco-friendly initiatives entail.
Shopping for fashion? A quick glance at the label should tell you everything you need to do. Try and avoid anything that’s composed of synthetic fibers. Anything derived from crude oil can take more than a century to decompose. Everyday cotton is better, but not always the most planet-friendly choice. Instead, look for natural fabrics like hemp, linen, and organic cotton. When in doubt, you can use websites like Good On You to check a brand’s sustainability rating.
How Can Brands Be More Sustainable?
There are plenty of ways a brand can make an effort to be more sustainable. In the fashion industry, using sustainable materials is an effective method of mitigating environmental impact. Brands like Eileen Fisher and Mara Hoffman use organic and recycled materials. Meanwhile, companies like Armour Vert operate a zero waste policy.
However, sustainable fabric alone won’t save the planet. The fashion industry uses a significant amount of water. Manufacturing a single pair of jeans can easily waste more than 8,000 liters of the stuff. Sustainable brands also need to stop using toxic chemicals in manufacturing. The dyes in garment manufacturing tend to be laden with things like lead and arsenic, which can quickly leach out into the ecosystem.
Responsible brands also need to be making efforts to protect biodiversity and reduce their dependence on animal products. Designer labels like Stella McCartney have been cruelty-free since the start, but are no longer the exception.
However, there’s a broader picture to consider when we talk about sustainable brands. Ethical fashion calls for fair working conditions for all and transparency when it comes to supply chains and shipping. The likes of Girlfriend Collective are pretty open in this regard.
What Are the Main Types of Sustainable Fashion Brands?
To be truly sustainable, big brands need to rethink the impact that production has on the natural world. While some manufacturing steps can’t be abandoned entirely, others can be fine-tuned to minimize the harm done to the environment. Low-impact production is a pretty broad concept that starts with sustainable design.
Even at the drawing board, eco-friendliness takes center stage. A sustainable brand looks at the materials it will be using. This could be all-natural materials like organic cotton, or recycled materials sourced from elsewhere. In the world of slow fashion, the focus tends to be on durability, with material that can be readily repaired, dramatically extending the lifespan of a product. If virgin materials are being used, low-impact production means not relying on pesticides and other toxic chemicals.
Logistics and the supply chain also play a role. By choosing to work with local producers, brands can cut their carbon emissions considerably. What’s more, it shows a commitment to ethical manufacturing and supports local communities and struggling economies.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
While low-impact production is a broader approach to sustainability, many brands instead focus on the reduce, reuse, recycle principle. In an age of fast fashion, the amount of material ending up in landfill every year is staggering. While recycling clothes is an option, it’s not as easy as dropping glass or metal into the right recycling bin. Recycling material fibers can be complex, especially if you're dealing with something like a cotton/polyester blend.
Brands that have embraced this philosophy sidestep the issue by using singer-fiber materials. Not only are these garments more environmentally friendly to produce, they’re far easier to recycle. However, focusing on durability is another way brands can improve sustainability. A hard-wearing garment that’s designed to last can be worn many times before needing repair or replacement.
Only a decade ago, a brand that used sustainable materials was considered something of a novelty. Today, the vast majority of brands have either embraced sustainable materials entirely or are making moves in the right direction. Low-impact fabrics were once seen as second best to virgin materials. However, we’ve come a long way over the past few years, with sustainable materials often just as good as durable and visually appealing as their carbon-producing counterparts.
As far as plant-based fibers are concerned, organic cotton scores top marks. Provided organic cotton is sourced from GOTS suppliers, you can be confident that you’re dealing with a garment that uses less water and fewer chemicals to produce. Organic hemp is another popular material. This versatile crop can be grown across the world, copes well in dry conditions, and improves soil quality. There’s also organic linen. Like hemp, it’s a versatile plant that can be grown just around anywhere, even if soil quality leaves a lot to be desired. It’s also naturally resistant to many insect species, negating the need for harmful pesticides.
Many brands claim to engage in social responsibility. However, this umbrella term covers a lot of initiatives. It can include everything from ensuring products are produced ethically to guaranteeing that no animals were harmed during the manufacturing stage. Once a product has been produced, brands need to ensure that packaging and shipping are as eco-friendly as possible. However, it’s not as simple as adopting eco-friendly processes. For a brand to truly be socially responsible, they need to be actively campaigning for environmental causes.
Some brands do this by making social responsibility a core part of their mission statement. Others invest heavily in ethical manufacturing and supporting local cotton farmers or producers. Ultimately, it’s about committing to greener practices and introducing the consumer to the importance of sustainability.
Start Shopping Sustainably Today
Ready to make more sustainable choices? You can make the planet a greener place, just by taking a second or two to reconsider your choices. Instead of following trends and throwing good money at products you don’t need, invest a little more in a premium piece that will serve you well for years to come. Keen to support local communities and help build a tomorrow that’s fairer for everyone? Choose ethical fashion brands, rather than cut-price fast fashion.
If you’re in the market for a new tote, make the right choice and go with a bag that’s going to last. With its robust construction, versatile design, and user-friendly features, the Hulken is an obvious choice. It’ll make schlepping from A to B a breeze, while you can give yourself a little pat on the back for shopping sustainably. What's even better is that it also makes the perfect foldable laundry basket, shopping bag with wheels, rolling travel bag, and wheeled work bag. Check out the full Hulken range today.