Updated: Apr 14, 2019
Using a reusable coffee cup and buying food in bulk are important steps towards reducing waste, but don't underestimate the impact of your shopping habits. The increasing focus on ethical aspects of fashion has boosted our awareness of how damaging our consumer behaviour is, for both environmental and social reasons. However, there's still a huge gap between our consumer values and behaviour. Clothes today are so cheap that the temptation can be irresistible. A study by the Ellen McArthur Foundation found that a truckload of textile is wasted every single second, and the Copenhagen Fashion Summit found that fashion is responsible for 92 million tons of landfill waste each year. These reasons alone should be enough to stop buying fast fashion, and that's not even considering social reasons, water waste, greenhouse gas emissions and microplastics. There is enough clothes on the planet.
What can we do?
First and foremost, you probably have enough clothes. The average person uses about one-third of their wardrobe. But it takes time to change our habits and adopt a minimalistic approach to fashion. Shopping second-hand or from ethical brands will make a big difference, and with the options we have today, making sustainable choices is easier than ever. Here are a few purpose-driven brands to consider:
Elvis and Krasse
Established in 2005, Elvis & Kresse has received a lot of attention for their original and beautifully executed concept: making clothes of old fire-hoses. A visit to the London Fire Brigade led to the birth of the brand, when Kresse Wesling and James Henrit learned about the amount of damaged decommissioned hoses that was thrown to landfill. Considering the quality and durability, the duo turned the problem into a prospering luxury brand based on circular economy principles. The success speaks for itself – no fire-hoses in London has gone to landfill over the last ten years, and over 170 tons has been reclaimed. In addition to luxury leather accessories, the also make homeware such as leather cubes and candlestick holders.
Carcel is a Danish slow fashion brand offering beautiful Scandinavian minimalist knitwear. They go where the finest local materials meet the highest rate of poverty related crime, and engages women in prison, giving them work, new skills, and fair wages. They are currently working with imprisoned women in Peru and Thailand, creating timeless garments in alpaca wool and silk. On the website, you can read about the women who made each piece, and where they are serving their sentence.
Eight Hour Studio
Luxe chill-wear with a conscience - what could be better? London-born, Australia-based Eight Hour Studio sells items comfortable enough for the sofa yet chic enough for brunch. The brand uses 100% GOTS certified cotton with a satin finish, and a thousand-year-old printing technique with contemporary, slow-fashion principles. They are focusing on fair labour standards and a transparent supply-chain. As the website explains: The production unit is not only about commerce – it is about building and supporting local communities.