Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Five Steps To An Ethical You

It's all well and good for bloggers like me to wibble on about sustainable this and ethical that and highlight a new manufacturing process that somewhere, ten years down the line might be the way towards the light. But that doesn't help you now, does it? If you want to take an ethical approach to your fashion, then you need some practical and affordable steps to guide you.
Friends, I'm here to help. Here are a few ideas that'll give you a hand.
First up, do a bit of research. Ethical fashion is a complex beast, filled with misinformation, assumptions and outright lies. Things change as well, of course, so it's worth keeping up to date with the latest news. I'd recommend the Guardian's sustainable business pages, and sites like Ecouterre. Twitter can also be an enormous help: follow key names like Livia Firth, Orsola de Castro, Carry Somers and Fashion Revolution.
Of course, I'm not going to give away all my sources...
Next up, I know it'll be expensive to replace a wardrobe full of clothes. My advice: don't. Start with the small things. Affordable accessories made from upcycled or recycled materials are a great way to get started, and you'll usually be helping small businesses or ethnic communities running their own start-ups. There are great pieces out there made from things like recycled paper fused into a kind of resin, or fabric cast-offs. Have a nose around. There's plenty to choose from.
Then, start looking at the materials that make up your clothing. Clothes made primarily from synthetics like rayon or nylon are heavy burdens on the environment, using tons of chemicals and energy to produce. They're also non biodegrable, staying in landfill for decades. If you can, stay natural, or explore more esoteric materials like hemp or even nettle. One proviso: Tencel is an engineered fabric made from tree cellolose. As I mentioned last week, it's a highly sustainable fabric and well worth looking into, especially if you're in the market for basics or sportswear. It might sound synthetic–it's nothing of the sort.
A great way to get sustainable is to dress with an eye to the future. A classic silhouette doesn't age, and remains impervious to trends. A piece bought now that still looks classy five or ten years down the line is a properly sustainable investment, and something that can team with other items you already own give you a ton more options. There's a reason that the little black dress is still popular, you know...
Lastly, take a long, hard look at your wardrobe. See if you can team items in different ways. Maybe adapt or reaccessorise a piece to give it a fresh new look. If there's something you really can't stand any more, donate or recycle it. If you have M&S gear that needs to go, you can shwop it, donating in-store or at your local Oxfam for money-off vouchers on a new treat. There are plenty of options out there that don't involve tearfully binning half your wardrobe.
Above all, have fun! Ethical fashion is an exciting, forward-facing area of the industry, full of innovation and invention. At the same time, it keys into classically frugal approaches that your grandma would recognise and approve of. Shopping and thinking ethically will save you money and have you looking good while giving the environment a hand. Why would you not want to give that a try?

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