Why Buying Ethically-Made Clothing is Important

Picture of a woman at a factory, making clothes.

Why buying ethically-made clothing is important.

Unlike Fast Fashion, ethical clothing is made by brands who follow fair business practices all along their production chain. From the moment they outsource their textiles and raw materials, to the place where their garments are sold, these brands create fashion in a way which is most considerate of humanity and the environment. They aim to reduce their environmental impact wherever possible, and to establish a system that works without leaving a negative footprint.

The Problem with Fast Fashion 

It is no secret Fast Fashion continues to have negative effects in the world. The man production of cheap clothes goes hand in hand with poor working conditions and low wages for those who make them. Many renowned brands have been hit by a number of controversies about labour right violations. In 2016, Uniqlo was accused by one of its suppliers in China, for expecting its staff to work over time "for low rates of pay, in an environment of bullying and harassment". In 2017, employees of a Turkish factory slipped pleas of help into clothing sold by Zara. The notes said workers had not been paid their wages for three months. This factory, also made clothes for Mango and Next.

It hurts to think about, but the t-shirt or dress you got from the nearest fast fashion retailer was quite possibly made by a child or trafficked laborer in unsafe or even deadly conditions for pennies a day, if that. And they continue to live in these situations because of fast fashion and the insatiable consumerist demand for t-shirts for $8.

"Every time you spend money, you are casting a vote for the kind of world you want - Anna Lappe"

But poor working conditions and low fares are just the tip of the iceberg. The fashion industry produces 10% of all humanity's carbon emissions. The environmental costs of fast fashion are undeniable. From landfills covered with mountains of donated clothes and leftover fabrics; chemicals being discarded into rivers, soils, and air; to the excess of water this industry uses in order to produce clothes. It is the second-largest consumer of the world's water supply, after Agriculture. To put this into perspective, Fast Fashion can take an estimated 20, 000 litres of water to make one pair of jeans and one t-shirt. Those 20, 000 litres of water would take more than 13 years to drink.

 

"Illustration outlining the negative impact areas of the fashion industry"

The apparel industry impacts resources, climate, animal welfare, water supplies, food supplies, air pollution, habitat destruction, and human rights. Source: sustainablefashionacademy.org

 

Why are Ethically Made clothes better?

Quality

Ethically-made clothing is not massed-produced. It's often hand-made and unique, better quality and lasts longer. The quality of the fabrics is higher; usually organic fabrics are used in the manufacturing process, and they always feel so soft and so comfortable, something kids actually tend to appreciate. And when clothes are hand-made and produced in small batches, more thought and care is put into the design and creation process, so quality and style are never compromised, at least not by the brands we house at Pingo ApparelCarlijnQ, Les Petits Vandales & Indikidual are some of our most popular brands because people love their quality, softness and unique style.

 

"Turtledove London shirts make of GOTS certified organic cotton"

Turtledove London sweatshirts made of 100% GOTS certified organic cotton.

Fair Business Practices 

Brands who follow fair business practices, are advocates of providing safe and humane working conditions, health care and fair wages, often above current market rates, for the people who make their clothes. A lot of times, they work with organizations in developing countries that empower women and uphold equal rights, by offering jobs that include training, maternity leave, healthcare and a harassment-free working environment. Also, ethical fashion doesn't support child labour!

Lower Environmental Impact

Creating garments with quality and longevity in mind, helps reduce the negative effects Fashion has on the environment because they last longer. Thus you don't have to replace your clothes as often; and in the case of kids clothes, when you buy high-quality pieces for them, you can always re-sell them. Giving clothes a second, third or fourth life, helps reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills. And just as important, when ethical brands use natural or recycled fabrics to make clothes, less water and energy, and significantly less chemicals, fertilizers and pesticides are used to grow crops, which translates into safer working conditions for the farmers who therefore, have less exposure to toxic chemicals, and there is less pollution that goes into the soil as well. It is also said that "most organic fabrics such as linen, hemp, organic cotton & tencel (made from sustainable wood pulp) are biodegradable." - Woodstrk

 

"Graphic showing ways to build an ethical closet for your wardrobe"

Source: Pinterest

 

As you can see, Fast Fashion's impact on the planet is huge, from environmental costs to human costs. And unfortunately, the brands who make the clothes are not the only responsible ones, we as consumers are part of this cycle. When we buy clothes from brands who neglect the environment and people, we are supporting their unethical business practices; and our cheaply made clothes will only last for a few months, before they are most likely transported to and discarded into a landfill somewhere in a developing country.

I know taking the first steps to making a difference in the world, as an individual, isn't easy and it's definitely overwhelming. It requires determination, discipline, time, and more often than not, more money. But as Vivienne Westwood, a British designer says, we should focus on buying less, choosing well, and make it last!

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