Research is critical for choosing which garments to purchase as well as how to care for our clothes. Doing your research before buying an item of clothing is an important way to ensure you are making responsible and sustainable choices. Researching proper care and laundering is a great way to extend the life of your clothing and reduce the amount that you consume.
While second hand clothing is a fantastic sustainable option, with millions of workers worldwide relying on the garment industry as their main source of income, we can also choose to support ethical companies. Doing the research to learn where your clothes are made and how they are made can help us understand the impact they have on both the environment and the people who made them.
There are brands that practice transparency by knowing and sharing important information about their entire supply chain, labour and environmental policies and holding themselves accountable for their practices. Do your research to find and support companies that protect their employee’s right to a safe workplace and pay a living wage. Support eco-conscious companies that implement zero waste policies into their business model, incorporate or use recycled materials, use natural and/or waterless dyes or are in the process of eradicating toxic substances. By purchasing from ethical companies, we can persuade other companies to follow their model and continue to support garment workers at the same time.
Check for certification logos such as “Fair Trade” or “Organic” when buying new clothes.
Do background checks on companies by researching their annual sustainability report, checking the Fashion Transparency Index or download a useful tool like the Good on You app where you can find key information on both large and small brands.
You can also research local, independent companies, brands and retailers that manufacture close to home. INLAND, The One of a Kind Show, and Etsy are all great venues to find makers who produce locally and in small batches. This reduces your climate footprint and the distance your garments travel.
Take a look at Fashion Takes Action members for fantastic local and ethical options.
You can also ask yourself if an item is worth buying. Is it something you need or truly love and is it a quality item? Choose quality over quantity and check user reviews. Will the garment last a long time? Will you wear it more than 30 times?
To extend the life of your garments, learn the proper laundering and care instructions. 70% of the clothes we throw away have avoidable damages such as shrinking, stretching, ripped seams and fading. Hanging clothes to dry can reduce many of these common problems as well as energy consumption and microfibre shredding. You can also research how to repair damaged clothing.