If you’re thinking, “when will this bloody woman stop talking about sustainable fashion and all that shite?” Then the answer is NEVER.
The week just gone has been Fashion Revolution Week, during which was the anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse (which happened on 24th April 2013). The week aims to encourage people to question where their clothes come from by asking brands to be more transparent about their supply chain, using the hashtag #whomademyclothes.
As part of Fashion Revolution Week, there were a number of events in good ol’ Brighton held by Revival Collective, including loooooads of talks that I really wanted to go to, such as “why fashion is a feminist issue” and “can fast fashion ever be sustainable”. Unfortunately I had a busy week and so missed both of these talks (which I am very sad about).
I did, however, make it to the “How to be a Fashion Revolutionary” workshop, which taught me bloody loads and I felt I just HAD to share all my new knowledge with everyone. The workshop was run by the revival collective gals, with a couple of guest speakers: journalist Sarah George, and founder of Sustainable Hustle, Ele Ward. Together they talked about how we can save the planet through the way we shop for clothes.
Hermione from Revival Collective introduced the workshop, discussing why the fashion industry is polluting the planet so badly, and why we need to take action, referencing my favourite documentary (which I have mentioned before): Stacey Dooley’s ‘Fashion’s Dirty Secrets’. She, as well as Sarah and Ele, discussed the huge environmental costs fast fashion is having, as well as the scary human costs. They all mentioned loads of ways to avoid fast fashion and good brands to look out for.
The following are a list of tips I found most useful:
Wash your clothes at 30°. This temperature is high enough to get rid of bacteria, without damaging your clothes. I am notorious for washing my clothes on the highest temperature possible, and ruining my clothes. But if you wash your clothes at 30° with fabric softener, they last 4x longer! Mental. Washing at a lower heat also means that the microfibers in your clothes won’t wash away, into the oceans (they are are too tiny for sewage systems to filter out) where they can absorb chemicals and then get into the stomachs of fish. This can then make its way up the food chain and cause us damage too.
Sarah George suggested that we shouldn’t be sucked into buying everything, and we can avoid this in a number of ways. Firstly, we should define our style: people are constantly buying outfits that they don’t love, just for the sake of it. Or they’ll buy things that don’t fit “just in case” …Or they’ll grab items that won’t match anything else they own. The #30wears tag helps with this: think next time you go to buy something, think ‘will I get 30 wears out of it?’ If not, forget it!
I bang on about Depop, but I bloody love it (Depop blog post still incoming…) Ele Ward said that we should, “invest in Katie down the road selling her Zara dress” as opposed to giving our money to the brands (such as Zara) selling the same dress, who will put that money back into unsustainable sources. I don’t know if this is so much a tip as much as it’s me reminding everyone of how much I love Depop…
TUTORIALS- there are tutorials all over the web on everything; how to sew on a button; how to check if that shirt you’re about to buy is high quality… Tutorials on how to tailor your charity shop buys to look like they were perfectly made for you. I think this tip is the one that I am most excited to try out! It also links to the ‘The buyerarchy of needs’ that was mentioned during the workshop:
The biggest section of the diagram, of course, being ‘use what you have’.. this includes fixing those trousers, or altering old things you have to make them new again!
With this, I’ve also discovered my favourite new tag #thriftflip where people find items in charity shops and sew them into something completely new. I’m obsessed and I need to try this out ASAP.
I’ve also discovered loads of different ways to find out which companies are most ethical and sustainable including the following:
- Good On You is an app that gives brands ethical ratings for when you desperately need a black shirt, or a pair of jeans, or you really like that dress in H&M- but need to know how ethical the high-street shops really are…
- Ethical Consumer similarly tells you the best, most responsible products… From a pair of trainers to a can of baked beans…
- Common Objective Awards– Common Objective gives awards to fashion brands that, “maximise benefits to people, and minimise impact on the environment.”
- What’s your legacy is an online platform that shows customers amazing fashion products, but all of these products come from sustainable brands.
More brands/people to look out for
Ele Ward said that the way you look at fashion shouldn’t be drab and depressing, it shouldn’t be like “ohhh I can’t buy nice clothing anymore”, it should be exciting. She talked about that first independent shopping trip when you’re a kid, going into town with your pocket money, excited to find new clothes… and it should be the same now: an exciting adventure to find new sustainable brands you love and new exciting clothing. As Ele Ward’s insta tagline says; “FOREVER wanting more than hemp trousers.”
So here are some of the exciting new brands, people and products I have discovered from the workshop:
Mud jeans: These jeans are a little bit spenny, but they are made to last. During the workshop, it was mentioned that jeans were originally invented as work wear, so they should really be made to last… unlike my poor Topshop jeans that would regularly rip and need replacing 😦 But anyway, Mud Jeans are all about sustainability so they’re a good one to check out. Their mission statement reads; ‘If you love jeans as much as this planet you’re at a good place here. We aim to change the fashion industry, starting with the most popular piece of clothing: a pair of jeans.’
Guppy friend washing bag: One way of stopping those microfibers I mentioned earlier from making their way into the oceans, is to use one of these washing bags. You put your washing in the bag every time you stick your laundry in the machine, take the wet clothes out after washing and bam- all done- nice and easy and happy fishies.
I just love this account with super cute tips & ways to upcycle old clothes. Big follow there.
@sustainablehustle: Ele Ward who spoke at the workshop is a self-proclaimed ex-fast fashion addict and set up Sustainable Hustle to show the world that sustainable fashion isn’t shit- you can still be stylish! She’s worth a follow because she’s just so cool.
People Tree is another sustainable fashion brand I’m gonna be using from now on for all my essentials: black long sleeved tee, pair of leggings… the usual stuff that you’d usually nip to New Look for… Except People Tree is sustainable and care about the people who make their clothes. Win-win.
Ethletic is another fashion website perfect for sustainable swaps. This one is for shoes, with their website stating that: “Ethletic sneakers don’t just feel good – they make others feel good.” They’re fair trade, sustainable and vegan. All that good shit.
And finally, the Fashion Revolution Transparency Index! I couldn’t not mention this handy guide from my favs; Fashion Revolution… Their yearly transparency index “reviews and ranks 200 of the biggest global fashion and apparel brands and retailers according to how much information they disclose about their suppliers, supply chain policies and practices, and social and environmental impact.” Fashion revolution state that, “Lack of transparency costs lives. It is impossible for companies to make sure human rights are respected, working conditions are adequate and the environment is safeguarded without knowing where their products are made.” So it’s important to give this one a read and find out where your favourite high street shops rank.
What else should we be doing??
Well there’s the obvious things like buying from sustainable brands, not chucking our old clothes in landfill, avoiding fast fashion brands… The classic things mentioned here (and in my other posts). During the workshop, a few other ideas were mentioned…
We should be writing letters to MP to demand change. Fashion Revolution even have a template to send to your policymakers.
We should be asking clothing companies #whomademyclothes …Brands need to be more transparent about their supply chain and the more we demand, the more likely we are to bring about change.
We also need to be aware of ‘greenwashing’. This is where clothes companies essentially trick customers into thinking they are being more sustainable or caring towards the planet than they actually are… For example H&M’s ‘conscious range’… while you’re looking at their sustainable or ‘conscious’ range, you’ll pick up a few items from the rest of the (unsustainable) store… that kind of thing. It’s more of a marketing technique than a change in policy. It also raises the question, is the rest of the shop not conscious or sustainable? As Revival Collective note, “One of the biggest issues with these lines is that they claim to be doing ‘damage control’ – dealing with the consequences of fast fashion – while still perpetuating and pushing the root cause.”
Revival Collective have written a great post about it here if you’re interested in finding out more.
So that’s it… Let me know if you find these sustainability posts useful or interesting in one way or another or if you’d like me to talk about something in more detail… And let me know what tips you’d like to try out (if any) and which brands you’ll be checking out!
Thank you for reading!
Such an informative post! I also thought that washing clothes at a higher temperature meant that it was cleaning the clothes better but I’ll give 30 degrees a try! I hate having to replace clothing items quickly because of how messed up they get in the washing machine.
Yeah me too! This is like the main reason I’ve chucked clothes in the past, which I probably could have avoided!
Oh wow thank you for all these tips !!!!! So much information I never knew !!!
Love Natalie xx
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I absolutely love this post! So informative and I’ve learned so much! I’ve always washed my clothes at 30C (maybe cause I’m a cheapo, lol), but the thought of those micro fibres going out into the ocean does my head in! I’m definitely going to check out where to buy those Guppy washing bags–what a great idea!
I do remember that Rana Plaza Factory fire and know that there are many, many other places just like that–or worse in the world! You’re right, we’ve got to step up and do more.
Thanks so much for sharing this very important post!
Ahh thank you for reading and commenting! Yeah we really do have to do more!x