Finding ethical clothing isn’t always easy. Let’s be honest, we all want to support ethical clothing, but sometimes it feels hard to follow through. I promise it really isn’t, with so many more local companies making the switch, it’s easier than ever to shop ethically. Switching to ethical fashion has so many benefits like better quality clothing and even safer labor practices around the world. To find out more about how Treasure Box Kids creates their own clothes, you can read more at, Ethically Manufactured Kids Clothes- The TBK Way
What is Ethical Clothing?
There are so many new phrases when you jump into buying ethical fashion. Slow and fast fashion are thrown around a lot, but what are they exactly? Fast fashion is the push to crank out mass produced items quickly and cheaply. They cut corners, not just in the quality of the clothes but also in their questionable labor practices. Slow fashion, is the opposite. It’s the choice to buy quality clothing that lasts longer from companies that actually care about the people making the clothes. When we buy fast fashion clothing, we contribute to waste in a big way. Our clothing doesn’t last as long so we throw them away instead of passing them down to someone else because the quality, to begin with, wasn’t great and wouldn’t last as a hand me down.
Why does Ethical Clothing Matter?
The fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world. Let that sink in for a moment. It’s only second to fossil fuels. How did it get this way? Globalization increased demand and to keep up they increased production, without caring about the environmental impact. Mass produced clothing can be harsh on nature, the chemicals used get dumped into bodies of water creating pollution. Depending on the country the clothes are produced in, companies have very few restrictions put on where they dump their waste.
As if the environmental impact fast fashion has wasn’t bad enough, we need to bring up their child labor practices. Children are in a very vulnerable position, they have no unions, no voice to fight for their rights and protect them. According to UNICEF, 168 million children ages 5-17 are employed worldwide. The kids are so far down the supply chain they’re no longer visible, making it harder for companies outsourcing labor to say with total certainty they don’t employ children. Subcontractors employ children to cut costs, convincing kids and their families that they will have great opportunities, like getting an education or being paid well for a low-risk job. The reality is far worse, they get paid very little for work that’s extremely high risk, working with heavy machinery and dangerous chemicals.
Switching to Ethical Clothing
We get it. Buying mass produced clothing not ethical fashion is so ingrained in our way of life that it feels impossible to step away from it. Kids especially outgrow their clothes quickly so why should it matter if you continue to buy mass-produced clothing for them? When you make that switch to ethical clothing, you are buying something that is high quality, that will last more than a couple of washes and can be passed down. It reduces waste, saves money in the long run and the best part – you’re not helping to exploit children around the world. Making the move to buy ethical clothing can help the environment and still keep you looking fashionable.
Didn’t know upcycled fashion existed, you’re about to get a wake-up call. Face it, we all love to shop new clothes. But rarely do we think about where our new clothes, shoes, and accessories come from or how they are made. Not many of us contemplate How Fast Fashion Affects The World before we decide to buy those skinny jeans to match that blouse we just bought at Macy’s. After reading this blog, my goal is for each and every reader to shop conscientiously and before you swipe, think upcycled fashion.
Many garment workers die making clothes for fast fashion brands. Credit: SolidarityCenter.org/ The Crimson Connection
Without Upcycled Fashion, The Fashion Industry Might Just Kill You
We all know that the cars we drive, the fertilizers we use, and the energy we use to keep our homes cool during the summer can harm our environment. But I’m sure you weren’t aware that our shopping habits have the same impact! The clothing industry is the second largest polluter in the world, right after oil (insert shocked emoji here).
Young workers at a garment factory in Dhaka give jeans a “distressed” look by spraying them with potassium permanganate, a toxic substance that can damage the human nervous system. Only one of the young men is wearing a protective mask. Credit: CBS/ Justin Redman
The fashion industry involves multiple supply chains of production, raw material, textile manufacture, clothing construction, shipping, use and then the disposal of the clothing. The carbon footprint of the fashion industry is massive. And I’m sure we all remember the Bangladesh Garment Factory Disaster in 2013, that left over 1000 people dead. By being aware, we can take a stand to upcycle our clothing and not support Brand Names that source their apparel from high-risk garment factories.
When We Utilize Upcycled Fashion, We Are Keeping Our Air Clean
While most of the clothing from our favorite stores includes cotton, it can take over 5,000 gallons of water to manufacture a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. The pesticides used on the cotton farms, the toxic dyes used and the waste created can all result in negatively impacting our environment. And can stay on your clothes and your children’s clothes for up to 5 washes.
Photo Credit: Ecoterre
Think about how hard it is for you to keep up with the newest trends. When we finally hop onto the current trend, it’s time for a new one. This is called fast fashion. In order for the clothing to reach the retail store from across the globe, loads of clothing travels in containers fueled by dirty fossil fuels. Let’s look at the numbers. Over 20 billion new clothing items are brought to Americans per year and only 2% of those clothes are being domestically manufactured.
Because of Upcycled Fashion, We Have More Money
It’s not uncommon for shoppers to wear an item once or twice before throwing it away for next week’s style. Often due to the poor quality of the clothes causing them to fall apart after several washes. Unfortunately, we’ve all had this happen to us. From the 2015 numbers, The U.S. apparel industry today is a $12 billion business and the average American family spends $1,700 on clothes annually, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. When we add upcycled clothing to our wardrobe, we can get more variety, better quality and throw away less. The biggest reward is that we will spend less. Isn’t that what we all want, to spend less? Well, when we upcycle our clothes, we can save more and travel or spend time with our family. Did you ever think that upcycled fashion could give you more time with your family?
Photo Credit: Heather Christopher Travel
With Upcycled Fashion, We Are More Creative
There are many ways to repurpose every article of clothing in our closet to keep up with the trends. Welcome to your new favorite term: “upcycle”. No, not recycle, UPCYCLE! This means that instead of recycling, you convert old or discarded materials into something useful and often beautiful. Take your drab t-shirts and turn it into a beautiful maxi dress! Hipcycle explained the difference between recycling as such:
“Plain and simple, upcycling makes a positive impact on the environment. When you upcycle clothes, you remove items from the global garbage stream. Upcycling instead of recycling is good too; recycling requires energy or water to break down materials. Upcycling only requires your own creativity and elbow grease.” How do I start to upcycle fashion?” Take some time this weekend, grab a glass of wine, and go through your closet and your family’s closets. Use your creativity, or Pinterest, for some great ideas. There are a lot of DIY (Do It Yourself)Upcycle Fashion tutorials out there on YouTube as well. If you’re not so DIY savvy, check out your local thrift stores, like GoodWill, Plato’s Closet, consignment stores, or download the ThredUp and Letgo apps on your phone, Check out my favorite upcycled fashion projects I found on Pinterest!
Fast Fashion is producing clothing from the most recent fashion runway trends using sweat shops and unethical labors. Since clothing so rapidly becomes unfashionable and “not wearable” people end up with a lot of unwanted clothing. Instead of recycling their unwanted garments, it is not unusual for people to throw them away in the trash instead of recycling. To read about how Treasure Box Kids will manufacturer please read our post All About Treasure Box Kids. On average, about 65 pounds of clothing and textiles a year per person are improperly discarded, and “only an eighth of that goes to charities for reuse. The wasted clothing ends up in landfills where it stays and pollutes the ground and water. Cotton crops and textiles are gulping up 70 million tons of water allowing the continued use of pesticides to thrive.
Fast Fashion-How it effects the worker
The fast trends are designed and manufactured quickly and cheaply by sweat shops to allow the mainstream consumer to buy current clothing styles at a lower price. Shoppers have become accustom to buying stylish products at low rates. Our rapid demands for constant products turns puts workers’ lives at risk. Big Fast fashion chains have been found to out source to factories that employee child laborers under unethical conditions to produce their fast paced clothing needs. An $18 billion industry has sprung up, marked by factories in buildings with poor electrical wiring, an insufficient number of exits, and little firefighting equipment. This recently happened in a developing nation Bangladesh, which suffered two fatal garment factory fires recently. All in an effort to cut production costs so that you can buy cheap.
Fast Fashion-How it effects the consumer
Consumers have been brain washed to think that clothing must be cheap to be worth its purchase. While in reality retailers are able to provide such low prices on clothes due to their little to nothing production costs and inferior construction. Shoppers are buying substandard clothing pieces every few weeks only to be forced to throw them out within a year due to lack of quality.
Fast Fashion-How to combat it
Be Aware- Research the companies in which you shop and where they choose to manufacture their products. The Fast Fashion problem will certainly continue into the future unless an enormous change is made in the minds and attitudes of consumers. Know where your clothing is made and how it is made. Choose to have fewer, quality pieces of clothing rather than a larger assortment low quality clothing. Think to purchase vintage. The fabrics are great and the construction is better. Look to purchase made in the USA garments or garments that are imported but well made under ethical manufacturing guidelines. Together we can all put an end to Fast Fashion.