Some of the hardest products to find in the fair-trade industry are clothing. Well we are here to give you a few tools to finding ethically made clothing! One of the most challenging pieces to this puzzle is that the fashion industry is always changing based on current trends. Thankfully, one of the newest trends is sustainable, ethical clothing options. There are a lot of companies that have jumped on board and are creating stylish pieces that are great for the world and the environment. Whether you enjoy organic cotton, recycled clothing, or all natural dyes these companies will have what you need.
H&M has not only created a sustainable and ethical line of clothing, but part of their business model is dedicated to the production and support of conscious clothing. At H&M their conscious clothing line has a green tag so it is easily recognizable for customers. Currently 15.8% of their cotton comes from sustainable sources; however, their goal is 100% by the year 2020. They offer organic leather that is vegetable-tanned and sourced from Sweden. H&M also reuses and recycles clothing. They have collected over 3,000 tons of garments, and have used the equivalent of 9.5 million plastic bottles of recycled polyester. All of their plastic bags are made from recycled materials as well. They make sustainability fashionable all while keeping their prices reasonable.
H&M currently outsources their production, but they are creating jobs and fair wages for some of the poorest nations. All of their suppliers pay the workers a fair living wage. H&M has also been educating over 800,000 workers in Bangladesh and India about their rights. They are not only creating sustainable clothing, but helping the economy of other countries.
They created a website that helps customers care for their garments while helping the environment. The website is clever and fun with interactive graphics.
Alternative Apparel is a website with clothing dedicated to eco-friendly and sustainable options. All of their cotton is 100% certified organic and grown pesticide free. They use low- impact dyes in all of their Alternative Earth products and most of their other clothing items. Those dyes do not contain any heavy metals or toxic substances so they are good for you and the environment. Two of their unique clothing options are Eco-Heather and Eco-Fleece. Both of them are made from a blend of 100% organic cotton, recycled polyester (made from plastic bottles) and rayon (plant cellulose). They also offer a clothing line that is made in Peru using plant based dyes and alpaca wool.
Alternative Apparel stands to be socially responsible and they care about the world around them. Their textiles and fabric are sourced geographically, so they produce in many different countries. In all of their production facilities they stand for fair wages and benefits, no forced or child labor, health, safety, and environmental protection. You can read about their view on sustainability here.
Gaiam is a yoga and fitness company dedicated to creating fair trade and sustainable items. They pride themselves on their fair trade organic t-shirts, clothing, and home good items. Their items are made and sourced by the Rajlakshmi Cotton Mill in India. This cotton mill is one of the few in the world that sources organic cotton and pays a fair price for it. They help support their workers in India by providing educational classes, a fair living wage, access to healthcare, and improved living conditions. You can check out their fair trade products here.
This well-known fashion designer has made a commitment to offer sustainable products while helping the environment. The company tries to use as much organic cotton as possible, and they are always searching for eco-friendly products. Currently, 34 % of their denim, and 36% of their jersey is made from organic cotton. Their children’s line offers 50% of their knitwear with organic cotton. Stella has also created a carrier bag that is made from corn and is 100% biodegradable.
Stella McCartney initiated the Clean by Design program in 2012. It is used in their Italian mills, and increases the efficiency while decreasing the environmental impact of the mills. In that same year, they also joined the Ethical Trading Initiative. Check out her line!
If you are having trouble locating an item of clothing that is made sustainability and ethically, find your way to this website, Fashioning Change. You will have the opportunity to match your favorite mainstream stores to stores that offer sustainable clothing options. Once you log in, you can find alternatives to some of your favorite shopping venues, such as Anthropology, Banana Republic, and J Crew.
It is pretty awesome that these stores and many others are starting to source their materials sustainably. They are doing their part to help the world and the environment, and that is something we can all get behind.
So the next time you need a new set of kicks, work-out clothes, or a dress for that Saturday night date, find your way to one of these great shops! You can rest assured that your dollar counts!