Being ethical or sustainable does not always mean sacrificing your aesthetic standards; there are many sustainable fabrics available that can be used in place of the traditional ones. These days, most top-notch fashion designers have a sustainable fashion project or two under their belt, so they should be able to help you pick the right fabrics and factories. Having said that, there is a lot you can do to ensure that your business remains Earth-positive without spending a fortune.
Use Certified Services or Products
Only place orders with factories that adhere to strict Ethical manufacturing standards and have ethical certifications like WRAP, Fair Wear, Fair Trade, Organic Soil Association, Oeko Tex 100, and so on. There are multiple certificates for different purposes. For example, The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) emphasizes on the origin of raw materials and fibers; Fair Trade, on the other hand, focuses on workers’ rights and ethics. By dealing with certified factories, you stand to make better decisions without having to invest money and time to get materials tested. This is quite useful while choosing fabrics.
Use Organic Cotton
Even though cotton is considered to be a natural fiber, it is mostly referred to as the world’s dirtiest crop since it requires a lot of water and fertilizers to grow. Cotton is used as a raw material to make numerous products such as jeans and t-shirts; however, the amount of water used to make one cotton jeans and one cotton t-shirt is similar to the amount of water that is consumed by one person in three years. Alternatively, you may opt to purchase low-water fabrics that consume considerably less water. You should also consider other alternatives such as modal and bamboo; both of these materials have lovely properties.
Use Recycled Nylon/Polyester or avoid synthetic fibres alltogether
Plastics take a lot of time to decompose. What most people fail to understand is that some fabrics, such as polyester, are made of plastic. The good news, however, is that more companies are producing recycled polyester fabrics. Recycled polyester fabrics can be used extensively, from sportswear and swimwear to cozy sweaters and stretch t-shirts. So if you want to use polyester as a raw material, it is better to look for one that has been recycled.
Many of the eco-friendly fabrics are not as expensive as you might think. The best part is that companies offering eco-friendly fabrics often have small MOQs.
Reduce the amount of packaging you use
Using less packaging material is not only good for the environment, but it also means better margins. Consider how your company can recycle the packaging material used. Try to avoid wrapping individual items in polybags. I understand that this can be challenging if you’re storing your items in a fulfillment centre, so discuss it with them first before sending them your unpackaged stock. Communicate with your customers if you are afraid they might not like your packaging design as a result of the changes. As long as the garment reaches the intended destination is good condition, most clients will not worry about the packaging design; in fact, they might be happier if you inform them of your desire to limit waste and protect the environment.
Confirm the source of fibres with animal origins
We all know of barbaric abuse that animals are subjected to in the fur industry. What is even more worrying is that a lot of clothing products are made out of animal parts. If you are using fabric made out of fake fur, it is important to check the source keenly. Even in the west, where people are generally animal-friendly, sheep often undergo a mutation process; it is, therefore, always important to confirm that the wool you are using has been derived ethically. If you are unable to clarify with certainty such information, it is best to use other fibers.