Thinking back to when I wanted to become more sustainable, I knew that brands were not as transparent as they should be. It dawned on me that in order to make more sustainable choices, I would have to do some research myself.
These days, we cannot assume that everything we read or hear is true. I know you are probably in a similar situation to what I was: you want to ensure the brands you shop with are making an effort to be more sustainable and do not have a history of greenwashing, but you do not know where to start.
The best place to begin is materials. The most common recyclable and renewable materials are linen, hemp, Tencel and silk. This is one of the easiest pieces of research you can carry out, as all you need to do is check the label inside the item or the information on the website before purchasing it. Organic cotton is also on the rise, but although it biodegrades, its production uses a lot of water. Companies are also using recycled plastic bottles to make fabric more frequently. Even though this shows their willingness to be more sustainable, we have to be aware that this causes microparticle pollution; each time we wash clothes made from recycled plastic bottles, we are polluting water that animals live in and the drinking water we consume.
There are credible websites which pride themselves in providing consumers with information on the sustainability of clothing brands. Two not-for-profit websites include Rank a Brand and the Environmental Working Group. The Fashion Transparency Index is also a good website to refer to as it shows fashion brands’ improved dedication to sustainability over the years. It is important to know that some websites are paid to share false information on brands which helps to deceive their customers, such as Sustainable Brands. Accessing websites you can wholeheartedly trust is the way forward.
Researching a brand’s certifications may sound like hard work, but sometimes it is as simple as visiting their website and reading their ‘about us’ section. Fair trade is one of the most well-known certifications. However, there is a big difference between a product being fair trade and a company being Fair Trade Certified. Clothing brands know their consumers are aware of fair trade, which is why some use it as a marketing strategy to appear more sustainable than they actually are. It is key that companies are Fair Trade Certified.
Using these three tips will help you uncover whether a brand is truly sustainable. You will be able to kickstart your journey to making more sustainable choices and changing your fashion habits to align with your morals. Allocating a short amount of time to carrying out research will make a huge difference, and you will be able to avoid shopping with companies who greenwash and deceive their customers.