The Sustainable Badge

Fair Badge

“S” stands for Sustainable. The fashion industry is one of the top 5 most wasteful and pollutant industries in the world, but thankfully more and more companies are coming up with smarter, more sustainable ways, to make clothing. When sustainable methods such as environmentally-friendly sourcing, waste reduction, and the encouragement of slow(er) fashion make up a large part of what a company does, we award them the big, blue S.

Treating Our Home Better

Here are some of the ways the companies on this site are working to cut down their pollution and improve their treatment of the environment.

Eco-Friendly Sourcing

Studies are finding that the conventional ways that we grow and source materials for our clothing have some major issues that affect people, animals, and the environment. This is because harmful pesticides and insecticides are being used at increasing levels with cotton taking top marks for most insecticides used for a single crop. The awareness of this is growing in the fashion industry as clothing companies are increasingly using 100% organically grown cotton which supports the use of non-damaging environmental sourcing practices (i.e. zero pesticides or insecticides). What difference is this making? Here are just a few of the harmful effects that come from conventional sourcing:
  • Harmful pesticides, like carcinogens and triazine, can get into our water supply and/or remain on food and have been linked to an increased risk of cancer and birth defects in humans.
  • Pesticides have a harmful effect on animals and can cause infections, disease outbreaks, and poisoning.
  • Pesticides can cause soil damage that may last for decades, leaving plots of land unusable or in increasingly bad shape.

Waste Reduction

Every year, 25 billion pounds of textiles are made in the U.S. alone and 85% (21 billion pounds) of that goes into landfills. Globally, the textile industry is the second greatest polluter of water in the world. In China, there’s even a saying that you can tell what the next color in the fashion industry is going to be by the color of the excess dye water that’s been dumped back into the rivers. There’s a growing awareness in the fashion industry that they have a waste problem and steps in the right directions are starting to happen. In particular, several of the companies profiled on this website are pioneering what waste reduction can look like. Here are some of the ways they’re doing this:
  • Using polyester that comes from 100% recycled water bottles.
  • Using excess fabric and materials in future product lines.
  • Repurposing the waste from other garment factories into their own products.
  • Using advanced water solutions and low impact dyes that drastically reduce water waste.
  • Sourcing locally to reduce fuel consumption.
  • Using recyclable and bio-degradable packaging.
Slow Fashion

Slow(er) Fashion

Fast fashion is the strategy of creating styles that fade out fast and that are made poorly in order to generate the consumers need to buy more. Some major outlets are crafting new styles on a weekly basis, a far cry from the strictly four seasons of new fashion from years ago. While it’s normal for things in culture to shift over time, this new faster fashion is contributing to both an increasing view that clothing is dispensable (leading to our high volume waste) and to the unfair labor practices that we’re seeing in some factories (because lower prices demand higher volumes of products in order to turn a profit). Paying a higher price for clothing that’s made better and that takes its cues from styles that have stood the test of time can help slow things back down to a sustainable rate.