Sustainable clothing?

I’ve received a mail from someone who wanted to thank me for the inspiration and talked about clothing (thanks Jessie!). It reminded me that I had a blog post which was almost ready about it. Thanks also to FAAM to give me a speed course on eco-clothing during one of my visit.

Source: https://www.epa.gov/facts-and-figures-about-materials-waste-and-recycling/textiles-material-specific-data

First of all, I hate shopping. But every few years, I need to refill my cupboard. And being a mother of 2, I do need to get clothes for my daughters.

Since the ‘80s, textile waste is increasing dramatically. Most goes into the garbage. The picture here above is from the US, but I’m not sure that Europe is doing better.

My main source of clothing for my children is second hand. Usually flea market (I like to see the previous owner) or friends with older/taller children (thanks to them!). I guess it will be more difficult when they will be teenagers… And I must admit that I’m not buying second hand (yet) for myself; but I only buy clothes when I really need something as I don’t like shopping.

It is only recently that friends of mine (thanks!!!) told me about sustainable certification for clothing. I didn’t even know it exists… I did feel stupid; but I’m happy to know it now 😊.

Not being in “the business” nor interested in fashion, I struggled to find easily clear and concise explanation. So, let me try to make it easy for you.

I wanted to give a list of labels, but there are so many, and in each continent they might differ. While reading the description of the label, be critical for the following: which material? Where does it come from? Fairly made? Biological product?

  • The material: you have material who are growing fast (e.g. bamboo, hemp) or require little water (e.g. bamboo, Eucalyptus (=Tencel or Lyocell)), other who have a completely eco-friendly fibre processing (e.g. cotton). You could also go for recycled polyester made entirely from recycled plastic bottles.
  • The origin: it might be eco, bio, fair-trade or whatever word that sounds sustainable, but if it has been made at the other side of the world, at the end, it might not be so environment friendly anymore… Most of the fair-trade labels are design for non-European countries, so per definition it comes from “far”.
  • Is it fair-trade? (are the work conditions acceptable in the fabric?)
  • If it originates from a plant, is it biologically grew?

It is up to you to rank the above according to your priority. For cotton (min 95% cotton), there is a label which kind of include fair-trade and eco-friendly: you can search for the GOTS label. They are very strict and they go to the fields and to the factory to control how the clothes are produced. They look at the environment-friendly techniques (culture, fibre treatment,…) and the workers conditions.

Don’t be too strict with yourself. If you like a bamboo dress, the processing might be less eco-friendly, but the culture might be more eco-friendly than cotton. And if we give more attention to bamboo clothing, companies will soon or later find eco-friendly processing methods, right?

And don’t forget to SORT your clothes and either sell, donate, exchange (with friends for example) or recycle the one you’ll not use anymore. Old jeans can be used to make new ones or to isolate houses, old shoes can be shred to make “soft mats” for open air playground, and old clothes (clean, dry, even if “not wearable anymore”) can be also recycled. Ask around at the town hall, in “zero waste” groups, friends,… I’m sure there is something close to your place. And let your friends now it too!

Some interesting links: