Written By Katherine Dixon
What is ethical fashion?
Fully organic garments have been gaining more traction in the fashion industry lately, which is a good thing. Celebrities and fashion brands participating in the green carpet challenge have brought a lot of attention to the issue.
For instance, Emma Watson has reached over 2.9 million people with information on organic, sustainable clothing on Instagram, where she has an entire page dedicated to her conscious clothing practices. In an interview with Coveteur, she said, “I don’t think it should be niche that the companies we wear clothes from are caring about who works for them or are being conscientious about the environment. [Eco brands are] just doing things I think these companies should be doing anyway.” When people like Emma Watson discuss the types of clothes they wear, it can be seen as frivolous, but she uses the opportunity to draw attention to an important issue while showing off brands that are doing the right thing.
What makes organic materials different from the clothing in your closet?
Of course, buying organic clothing is more than just an ethical fashion issue; it is an environmental issue that affects people from where the materials are grown to those who wear the products. For instance, cotton production requires a lot of water; when chemicals are used to treat the cotton, the residual water can contaminate and pollute rivers and other water sources. These chemicals can also remain in the cotton through production, causing some types of allergic reactions to the people that wear them. Other synthetic fabrics, such as nylon and polyester, pollute the environment and are not biodegradable. The good news is that there are organic alternatives for everything from yoga pants to mascara. Plus, a lot of eco-friendly brands are also working to become cruelty free.
Why should I buy them and where?
When there are so many consequences to not buying organic materials and benefits from purchasing them, why wouldn’t people buy them? Many people believe that organic garments are out of their price range, but there are plenty of articles out there showcasing affordable brands. As long as the consumer is willing to do a little digging, there are organic options for all price ranges. Though it is not feasible to buy 100% organic all the time, we can also reduce our waste by buying secondhand and donating or recycling our used clothes.
What else can I do to help?
Of course, there is more to sustainable clothing than high organic textile standards. “The True Cost”, a documentary released in 2015, highlighted the ways people could be hurt by irresponsible companies not practicing fair labor standards in producing their fashion brands. Meanwhile, there are plenty of fashion and makeup companies that consumers could support who are dedicated to fair labor and women’s empowerment. Using organic materials is just the beginning of holding the fashion industry accountable. There are also many other issues that need to be addressed, such as their labor practices. But organizations, such as Eco-Age, are helping by monitoring every aspect of a company’s supply chain to ensure fair, sustainable practices and high standards and quality are upheld from start to finish in the production process. However, it is ultimately the role of the consumer to research and buy from companies who practice sustainability. Otherwise, companies will not change their practices.
Also published on Medium.