Sustainable Shopping – Who, What, Wear

  • Ilaria Freccia ’22

Fashion generates nearly 92 million tons or more than 4% of the world’s waste every year. Fortunately, there are many great solutions to this problem. With an increasing conscience for environmental sustainability, brands like Zara, Reformation, Cuyana, Veja, Patagonia, Stella McCartney, and Levis are working to make a difference.

Reformation is a hugely sustainable brand. On every product page, they show the amount of waste produced, the pounds of carbon dioxide emitted and the gallons of water used for that product. Then they calculate how their products help reduce these impacts in comparison to most US bought clothes. This helps buyers make conscious and informed decisions to positively impact the Earth. In order to be more energy-efficient, Reformation uses 100% wind power supplied energy and LED lighting and sustainable appliances in their offices.

Currently, they recycle, compost, or donate about 75% of all waste. However, they aim for a minimum of 85% in the next year and 100% soon after. In order to fully increase their sustainability, they calculate the carbon footprint of their web server and your screen’s energy demand while on the Reformation website in order to offset that. The Reformation stores are 100% sustainable and recycled and offset any store builds or carbon footprints. All materials used in and purchased from Reformation are safe and non-toxic, made with sustainable materials, and ethically produced. The facilities in which they produce their clothes only use safe input chemicals, monitor the air and water emissions and ensure worker safety so that dyed fabric is safe for the producer and the environment.

If you need any more convincing to shop at Reformation, the staff have a paid day off per month to volunteer and the company collaborates with organizations such as TreePeople and the ACLU. Although not fully sustainable yet, Zara’s join life collection uses eco-friendly processes and sustainable raw materials, such as ecologically grown cotton, synthetic rayon TM or recycled polyester in the clothes. They have also set up an online clothes collection and recycling systems and work with several textile companies to protect ancient or protected forests in the production process for rayon and viscose.

By 2020, they aim to have zero discharge of hazardous chemicals and 100% in-store clothes collection. By 2023, they aim for all of their clothes to be 100% sustainable with zero waste and the company to provide 100% eco-friendly packaging and be 100% fee for single-use plastics. By 2025, their goal is for all the clothing in Zara (or Zara owned stores) to be made of 100% sustainable materials (cotton, linen, polyester) and lower their renewable energy consumption by 80%. W

ith more than 2000 stores around the world and with the brand owning seven other brands (Pull&Bear, Bershka, H&M, Massimo Dutti, Oysho, Stradivarius, Uterqüe) this could make a huge impact in fashion caused waste. We all know and love Levis as the classic American denim brand. But did you know that they are also making a hugely positive environmental impact? Their production of denim reduces 96% of the water normally needs and so far that has saved over 3 billion liters and recycled 2 billion liters of water. Also, their Better Cotton initiative trains farmers to use less water, pesticides, insecticides, and synthetic fertilizer when growing cotton plants. Using new agricultural techniques, farmers can reduce their inputs and increase their yields, leading to higher profits and less of an environmental impact. By 2020, they aim to have 100% of their cotton come from sustainable sources.

Lastly, they have set up a program where recycled jeans can be used as insulation for buildings, not only is this cheaper, but it is much much better for our planet. So, next time you go shopping check out one of these sites and get your shopping and community service done!

Photo from Sourcing Journal

By Axel de Vernou

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