The fashion industry is second only to big oil when it comes to environmental waste and pollutants, according to industry insiders. Each step of the garment industry’s procession leaves a large carbon footprint that is decimating the environment. From cotton fields and petroleum plants to textile buildings and all the way to store racks, the clothing industry makes a wake in the waters of the environment that is upsetting the balance of nature. Even the EPA considers numerous textile facilities to be hazardous waste generators.
Polyester, which most garments are at least partially constructed with, is made with petroleum. Polyester and similar man-made fabrics such as rayon are some of the most energy-consumptive products that civilization produces. Cotton, which most people would consider an eco-friendly material since it’s made from a naturally occurring plant, accounts for a quarter of all the world’s pesticide use on its crops.
What does Eco-Friendly Actually Mean?
In this article, eco-friendly means taking the environment into consideration when manufacturing. That might mean using natural or sustainable materials that don’t obliterate natural resources. Eco-friendly can mean having a production facility, assembly line or manufacturing process that doesn’t harm the environment, or blight the land where it exists. Eco-friendly can also mean renewing and replenishing used, limited resources so they don’t run out.
The Power of Your Consumer Dollar
Every dollar you spend has more value than the daily currency rate. When you spend, you are essentially voting for that item that you are purchasing. The supply and demand chain is controlled by you; the consumer. One of the most effortless ways to change the world is by “voting” with your dollar every time you shop. When you purchase more from eco-friendly brands, you give voice to your opinion that the health of the Earth is important to you as a consumer. You give money and power to companies that care about the environment and its people. Make your voice heard by shopping from the following eco-friendly brands, and others like them.
Now, the eco-friendly clothing brands you want to start wearing.
You might not know, but for over 20 years Patagonia has been making fleece apparel largely from recycled plastic soda bottles. They purchase the plastic bottles, melt them down, and make fibers that they weave into fabric. Patagonia was a leader in this concept, and since 1993, they estimate that they’ve prevented about 86 million plastic bottles from our landfills. The resulting apparel is both fashionable and functional. Patagonia fleece jackets are among the warmest and softest fleece apparel in the world, and it is one of the most popular brands not only in New Englander, where it was founded, but around the world.
Eileen Fisher began her apparel company with a goal toward building a brand that would work with the Earth, not against it. Her line of fashion incorporates sustainable and organic materials and natural dyes. From women’s clothing in petite and plus sizes, shoes and accessories, there is everything a woman would need to look her best. Though her modest Eileen Fisher brand and company has evolved into a large empire with factories and partnerships around the globe, the brand still stays true to its roots as much as possible.
This artisan brand is small in comparison to larger, globally recognized brands, but its goals are just as praiseworthy. Amarras brand of belts are made by hand in Colombia by local men and women who needed work. Started by a humanitarian named Alvaro Sanint, Amarras brand not only provides work and steady income to local citizens, the company profits go toward supporting a charity for single mothers and their children. The belts are stamped out of local leather, and the workers use naturally-dyed heavy thread to sew designs along the length of the belts. Not only that, but you won’t find a factory or smoke stack in sight. The entire work area is flooded with natural light in a clean facility with access to fresh air. The child-friendly, relaxed working environment is one we should all envy.
The rise of awareness about the state of the Earth has empowered individuals and companies both large and small to create options for those who champion the environment. These eco-friendly brands are proof that change for the better can be accomplished.