Sustainability is the New Black
Living green has made its way into the fashion world, a place dominated by disposable clothes and quick turning seasons to meet the demands of customers wanting to keep up on the latest trends of high-end fashion but at average-people prices. The cost of mass production and the demand for low prices has had a considerable impact on the environment and people. The latest trend, and hopefully lasting, is the cry for slow fashion in an attempt to undo the economic and ecological damage that fast fashion has done.
Whether you call it slow fashion, fair trade, sustainable or shopping vintage, there are affordable options that allow the concerned consumer to shop consciously.
Buy High-End, Second Hand
There are different forms of sustainable buying, enough choices so almost everyone can find some degree of shopping that fits their lifestyle and they can feel good about. I have one friend who only buys high-quality clothes from second-hand shops. She is comfortable knowing she’s not part of the demand for the latest fashion from cheap clothing made in less than desirable conditions and she’s buying classic looking clothing that will last a really long time. PoshMark makes it possible to shop friend’s closets of items they want to find new homes for, and you can make some cash on the side by selling off your own unwanted items.
Buy into ‘Slow Fashion’
The fancy folks who start trendy names for things have coined the term “Slow Fashion”. The idea of buying classic, high-quality clothing is now “Slow Fashion” because it’s the opposite of “fast fashion” (aka disposable clothes). Our grandmothers would find this hilarious since they used to call buying practical items that would last forever just “shopping” and now we have to call it “slow fashion”, but it is what it is and if giving it a name makes people think it’s cool and trendy, then so be it. Wearing “green” is the new black and our grandmothers are smiling because they thought our disposable clothes were ridiculous and a waste of money anyway.
Organic & Fair Trade
Organic and Fair Trade Clothing is another option that suits a lot of us concerned with the environmental and social impact our clothes create. There are more and more clothing companies popping up every day that claim to make their clothing with respect to the planet, keeping water usage at a minimum and in employing safe and fair manufacturing processes that keep workers safe. While I love the idea of buying clothes made from organic materials, I’m still surprised at the cost. This shouldn’t surprise me given we see the same issue with organic fruits and veggie prices versus chemically sprayed non-organic produce at the grocery store. It’s the same principle and once the demand goes up for more clothing of this kind, we should see prices decrease a bit. That said, we don’t want to see the same problems we’ve seen in Fast Fashion, where the drive for the latest and greatest at the lowest possible prices lead to questionable manufacturing and employment practices in the first place. Pact: Comfy Clothing made with Organic Cotton has a great price point and well made comfy clothes. At this point, I’m buying organic and fair trade when I can and as I slowly replace the cheaply made clothing I already own and am only purchasing items I can wear for a long time. Have a little one? My kids are past onesie ages, but my favorite baby gifts from here on out are organic cotton onesies and PJs (Burt's Bees Baby® | Baby and Newborn Clothes and Bedding) because new moms only want the best for their little ones and hopefully want their little one to enjoy the planet for quite some time. They love getting organic food and juice for Baby, so it’s a fantastic time to do a wee bit of educating on the same application to clothing and linens.
Vote with Your Dollar
My absolute favorite way of shopping when it comes to sustainability and ethics is to try to only buy from places that support causes I am passionate about. This is as personal and individual as picking out any clothing you love. If you love elephants, there are places that help save elephants. If you love rescue dogs, there are plenty of shops that donate to rescue organizations and furry friend causes. For me, since I am married to a veteran and come from a long line of military-folk, I enjoy supporting businesses that give back to our men and women in the military. Sword & Plough encompasses nearly everything I’m passionate about by repurposing excess military materials into amazing high-quality bags, purses, wallets, and jewelry. They are a B Corp, meaning they care about the environment, and they give back to several Veteran-supporting organizations. They employ veterans and use veteran owned vendors, and it was all the idea of a female veteran and her sister.
Wherever you are in your quest to live green and shop ethically, there is something for everyone. Look around, start with something important to you and look for clothing and accessory businesses that support that cause. Look for B Corp businesses and look for things that will last. Most importantly, buy things that make you happy and will make you happy for a long time. If you start there, you can’t go wrong.
Jen Flickinger is a full time working mom of 3 busy kids. Married to a USMC and Army National Guard Veteran, Jen was drawn to the mission of Sword & Plough to bridge the civilian and military divide while promoting awesome looking products.