When buying clothes, many consumers are faced with more decisions than ever. Sustainability is one of the biggest difficulties causing confusion.
Here are some explanations of the terms used when talking about Ethics and Sustainability.
Do workers have adequate breaks, and are they earning a living wage? Ethical practises focus on fashion and it's social and environmental impacts.
Are animals hurt or harmed through the process of making the garment? When you see "Cruelty Free" on clothing, it means that no animal products are used. Although with beauty, this can mean that the product wasn't tested on animals, but could still include animal products.
To be certain of animal free products, look for the Vegan sign.
Organic Cotton is a leading example, being derived from living matter which is free from chemicals, fertilisers and pesticides. While Organic cotton is of better quality, it involves a lot more water and irrigation than conventional cotton. Pesticides are usually used on conventional cotton, which causes more damage to local resources and the environment.
You can also get Organic Hemp, bamboo, and silk, as well as more materials.
It seems to be a word that's used everywhere at the moment. But what does it really mean?
Sustainable fashion focuses on the impact of clothing on the environment. How is the product made, what from, and where does it end up? It concentrates on how different fibres, materials and production methods impact our environment. It is also seeking to create a system that lessens the human impact on the environment, by asking - Can it be maintained at a certain level without being harmful to the planet?
You've heard of Fast Fashion? Well this is the opposite. Slow Fashion concentrates on producing quality garments that are durable, and made to last. Creating garments that last longer means they don't need to be replaced as often. This however, usually means a longer lead time for production.
Companies that engage in greenwashing, typically exaggerate their claims to consumers. Meaning the environmental benefits of some products are often misleading. This can mean that when a company is gesturing towards sustainability without following through in all of their procedures, they might promote a single activity as if it's all they do.
Depending on the temperature and exposure to UV light, living things such as bacteria and fungi, can break the item down. The often means products that end up in landfill, will never biodegrade entirely.
A degradable item doesn't use living organisms to break it down. Degradable bags are neither biodegradable, or compostable. This means that chemical additives are needed to break it down faster than a normal plastic bag.
You'd think that this means you can throw the item in the composting bin at home, but that isn't always the case!
Certain items only biodegrade under correct conditions, such as compostable bags.
Some items can be composted at home, but always check the label carefully, as some items are only suitable for industrial composting.