11 Sustainable Fashion Questions To Ask When Buying Clothes

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The fashion industry accounts for about 8-10% of global carbon emissions and nearly 20% of wastewater. Fast fashion has spread like a plague that exploits workers and creates waste like never before. You can help by choosing to reject these unethical brands and supporting businesses that are doing right by people and the planet.

Where Was It Made?

Knowing where the garment was made and the materials were sourced is the first step in determining whether it has been ethically produced.

Who Made It?

The majority of garment workers are women and many are working in unsafe conditions for very low pay and are struggling to survive. Supporting brands that have a transparent supply chain and pay their workers a fair wage ensures garment workers are able to support themselves and their families without working unsustainable hours that lead to burnout and injury.

What Material Was Used?

Materials like polyester, acrylic, spandex and lycra are synthetic fabrics that are made from plastic and are destined for landfill once their short life span is lived out. Many garments are not even worn before they end up being dumped in third-world countries to pollute the environment. Look for natural fibres like bamboo, hemp and cotton that are grown in a sustainable way or recycled materials.

Is The Brand Ethical and Sustainable?

Is the brand transparent on their sourcing of materials, the pay of workers, the materials they use and conserving energy and resources with a circular system? Beware of greenwashing and brands that use buzz words like eco and natural without any evidence to back it up.

Resources To Find Ethical & Sustainable Fashion Brands

B-Corporation Certified
Good On You
The Green Hub Online

Will I wear it 30 times?

Fast fashion brands driving trends through marketing and social media have led us to believe we always need to latest trends to be in style. Impulse fashion buys for a one-off “look” mean clothing is often bought and worn only a handful of times before being discarded. Committing to wearing a garment at least 30 times means the energy and resources that have been used are not going to waste.

How long will it last?

If you are committing to wearing something 30 times you want to ensure you buy quality products that will last years.

Is It Easy To Wash & Dry?

Buying clothing that is hard to care for can mean it ends up in the too-hard basket and doesn’t get worn. Taking care of your clothing by separating whites, washing in cold water and avoiding tumble dryers can increase the longevity of your wardrobe.

Can I borrow it or buy it second-hand?

Before buying something new look at borrowing or buying second-hand. There is a rise of rental clothing outlets which rent dresses and outfits which has a much lower price tag and impact than buying new.

Thrift shops and online marketplaces are great places to look for second-hand clothing.

Where To Buy Second-Hand Goods

When will I wear it?

Is this an everyday piece or more of a special occasion moment? Buying staple and timeless pieces that aren’t going to be out of “style” in 2 weeks is key to creating a low-impact and sustainable wardrobe.

What Will I Wear It With?

Does this garment match your existing wardrobe? If you buy something that is left-field of your usual style you may not get as much use out of it. You can still experiment with different styles but it’s good to have a few outfits in mind before you commit to a piece of clothing.

Would I Still Buy It If It Wasn’t On Sale?

Buying sale items means you don’t appreciate the value of the clothing and are more likely to throw it away. If an item is a few dollars chances are the price is being paid further up the supply chain where workers are being exploited.

Thanks For Shopping Sustainably!

Let us know if you have any other questions you ask when buying clothes!

For more sustainable living tips check out my other project – Simply Plastic Free

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