Sustainability has become a buzzword, especially in 2021, when consumers have started reconsidering their spending due to the pandemic. Customers are looking for more sustainable products. Google reports a peak in related searches.
Sustainability has so many aspects, and for every person, it means different things:
What values are mainly reflecting your life ideas? Do you care about the toxic residue in garments? Are you engaged in fair labor costs? Do you feel passionate about animal rights?
The sustainability embraces different aspects of our life and businesses, but all of them are important to make our Planet a better place to live.
Thanks to existing regulations, there are various tools that a consumer can use to validate a product in terms of its sustainability. These include the certificates, independent rating apps and services.
CERTIFICATES MADE EASY
Global Organic Textile Standard, is the leading processing standard for organic textiles. It covers processing from ginning of cotton up to retail. It’s the most holistic certificate that encompasses the health of people, the planet, and human rights.
BE CAREFUL! If a brand mentions GOTS textiles in their communication, that does not mean automatically you are buying a GOTS product. It can be a marketing trick. Some products are made from GOTS textiles but are not processed at GOTS units and might involve child labour, inequality, and poor pay. Always look for fully certified GOTS products and make sure the brand has its own GOTS certificate.
GOTS database is freely available under https://global- standard.org. You could always check a supplier or a brand for their status on their certification.
If animal rights are one of your values, make sure to look for this one. This certificate makes sure that no animals were suffering, exploited, or killed throughout production. This is the standard for cruelty-free fashion.
Vegan fashion is trending, as vegan products are more sustainable than those derived from animals.
If you strongly believe in reducing waste and mindful resource management, this is the certificate to look for! This certificate guarantees the recycling nature of the sources.
Waste is a big topic in the textile industry. There are two types of waste – pre-consumer and post-consumer. Pre-consumer waste includes cutting waste during the processing of the garments. Post-consumer waste is when the garment no longer worn by the customer. The zero-waste concept is eliminating waste both in the process of creating garments and in its afterlife.
Zero-waste in cutting is extremely hard to achieve; it pushes designers to think in a very specific way. Few brands have truly mastered this technique.
Most conscious brands are working towards minimizing waste by repurposing cutting scraps.
A great way of dealing with post-consumer waste is establishing a take-back service. For example, Infantium Victoria accepts back worn garments from any end customers. They then either repair and resell them or organize proper disposal.
Deadstock fabrics are the leftover fabrics of the other fashion houses that overestimated their needs. Very often they end up in landfills.
Reducing waste and conscious manufacturing are essentials for a sustainable future, so deadstock fabrics are very handy in this aspect.
However, pay attention! Not all textiles are intended to be used for skin contact! There might be a high risk of contamination from unknown fabrics. Please inquire origin of deadstock fabrics from the brand! If you cannot get detailed information, stay away!
OTHER USEFUL TIPS
Things to ask could include the transparency of the supply chain, payment of living wage, what certificates they own.
Plastic-free is a very catchy phrase. However, this is extremely hard to prove. We suggest you address not only packaging but also look into the accessories, trimmings of the garments. Are zippers made of plastic? What kind of sewing yarn is used? What about material hangtags?
“Natural materials” is another notorious phrase. Marketers often try to hide the fact that cotton is not organic by adding sensorial words when describing cotton. The cotton could be incredibly soft and natural, but you need to make sure it’s not because of dangerous chemical finishing. In addition, “organic” is not trademark protected, and anyone can claim it.
Made in EU/ Made in Western Europe – these are highly disputable claims unless the brand fully discovers the supply chain. Products labelled made in Europe do not automatically guarantee the safety of workers and the living wage.
Today we hear the word ‘sustainable’ from everywhere. Every brand, manufacturer, service provider uses it to promote its product or service. But are they truly sustainable or companies use this fashion word just to success in the marketing? This depends only on us – consumers. If we will choose and buy only products, that has its sustainable value, it will push companies to be more conscious and of course truly sustainable.