The fashion industry has faced criticism in recent years for the amount of clothing that ends up in landfills, poor garment worker conditions, and more. Fortunately, there are a lot of brands out there that make clothing ethically and sustainably. Keep reading to learn a little more about what constitutes ethical fashion—and brands you can buy from without guilt.
What does ethical fashion even mean?
Ethical companies make sure their overall impact is positive for the planet and the people working at the company. A brand is considered ethical when employees are paid fairly, have the right to join labor unions, and are guaranteed safe working conditions. Child labor laws are strictly enforced. Ethical companies use resources wisely and dispose of chemicals in a manner that does not harm the environment. They also strive to use as few (if any) animal products as possible.
Here are our top five favorite ethical fashion brands.
- Patagonia (click here)
Patagonia uses certified organic cotton, and many of its technical, synthetic fabrics are made from recycled materials. Patagonia is part of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and partners with Four Paws to prevent animal cruelty. Their repair and reuse program promotes a cyclical fashion model rather than one that encourages waste.
- Tentree (click here)
Tentree is a Canadian apparel company that plants a tree for every item purchased. While the brand does not claim to be vegan, no animal products are used, all cotton is organic, and all energy sources are renewable.
- Fair Indigo (click here)
Fair Indigo makes long-lasting products and uses low-impact, non-toxic dyes in all of its apparel. All water waste is discharged properly, and the company has a formal statement regarding workers’ rights—including working in countries with a high risk of labor abuse. While most animal products are not used, Fair Indigo does use alpaca and wool that is sheered by local family farms.
- Happy Earth (click here)
Happy Earth uses organic cotton and recycled materials. 1% of every sale Happy Earth makes gets donated to organizations dedicated to supporting environmental missions. Happy Earth is also one of only 323 businesses certified by the World Fair Trade Organization. If you thought Happy Earth couldn’t sound any better, they are also a carbon-neutral company that offsets carbon emissions by planting trees.
- REI (click here)
REI uses recycled fiber and paper products throughout their operations, like flyers, cardboard, shopping bags, hangtags and more. REI continues to work towards a goal of zero-waste (defined by industry as diverting 90% of waste from landfill) across their operations by 2020.
In 2019, REI also invested in the future of the outdoors by giving back almost 70% of their profits!
While buying from ethical brands is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint, there are other ways you can do so as well!
- Buy less: even the greenest products we can buy use resources in production.
- Buy second hand: thrifting is no longer limited to thrift stores—there are plenty of great online vintage shops that will ship right to you.
We only get one planet, so we should all do our part to make sure we’re taking care of the one we’ve got.