Before you do anything else you might want to watch UnF*cking the Planet’s episode on Fast Fashion…

Clothing & Fashion



The latest trend in fashion is sustainability. Many of us are looking for more eco-friendly products and changing our buying habits.

The operating model of the fashion industry has for many years been to step up the pace of design and production, with many clothing companies offering new designs every week. As a result of this over production, the industry is the second-biggest consumer of water, generating around 20 percent of the world’s wastewater and releasing half a million tons of synthetic microfibers into the ocean annually. The average consumer buys 60 percent more pieces of clothing than 15 years ago. Each item is only kept for half as long.

According to figures from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), it takes 3,781 liters (998 gallons) of water to make one pair of jeans, from the production of the cotton to the delivery of the final product to the store. Imagine what the impact is on the environment for everything we buy. Plus, less than 1 % of used clothing is recycled into new garments. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimates that every year, around $500,000,000,000 in value is lost due to clothing that is barely worn, not donated, recycled, or ends up in a landfill.

  • Every year the fashion industry uses 93 billion cubic meters of water — enough to meet the consumption needs of five million people.
  • Around 20 percent of wastewater worldwide comes from fabric dyeing and treatment.
  • Of the total fiber input used for clothing, 87 percent is incinerated or disposed of in a landfill.
  • The fashion industry is responsible for 10 percent of annual global carbon emissions, more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. At this pace, the fashion industry’s greenhouse gas emissions will surge more than 50 percent by 2030.
  • If demographic and lifestyle patterns continue as they are now, global consumption of apparel will rise from 62 million metric tons in 2019 to 102 million tons in 10 years.
  • Every year a half a million tons of plastic microfibers are dumped into the ocean, the equivalent of 50 billion plastic bottles. The danger? Microfibers cannot be extracted from the water and they can spread throughout the food chain.

From the UN Alliance for Sustainable Fashion: “By using fashion as a form of activism and empowerment, the UN Alliance for Sustainable Fashion doesn’t perceive sustainability as a limitation to fashion, but rather a trigger for bringing real creativity and passion into the industry,” said H.E. Siim Kiisler, President of the UN Environment Assembly.

“Research shows that fashion presents many opportunities for reducing waste and improving the environment. But the fashion industry cuts across many sectors, and so to capture the full opportunity, the UN and its partners need an integrated approach that goes beyond individual Sustainable Development Goals.”

Fortunately, consumers have been taking notice of these issues and are increasingly looking for more sustainable items, while also shopping at consignment stores. Younger shoppers in particular are concerned about their effect on the environment. According to the Nielsen survey, 53 percent of those ages 21 through 34 said they’d give up a brand-name product in order to buy an environmentally friendly one, compared with 34% of those ages 50 through 64.

As a result of this, companies are changing their production processes, and their philosophy. There is clearly power in the choices we make.

Save The Dugong Beaded Bracelet

Image Courtesy of: Terracycle Global Foundation
This little bracelet makes a big impact. Each one funds the removal of 20 lbs of waste from rivers and canals. The beads are made from 100% recycled material, 100% of which is the TerraCycle…
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Eileen Fisher

Image Courtesy of: Eileen Fisher
In 1997, before most clothing brands had embraced sustainability and responsibility for the planet, Eileen Fisher’s Amy Hall created their Social Consciousness department. Their mission was to raise awareness about three values: Practicing business responsibly…
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Echo Errand Gloves

Image Courtesy of: Echo
Founded in 1923 by Edgar and Theresa Hyman in New York City, Echo has been creating colorful scarves and fashion accessories for almost 100 years. Today, the company is responding to the needs of its…
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Image Courtesy of: NOTHING NEW
Nothing New is making a positive impact on the environment by creating shoes from sustainable materials: their sneakers feature a 100% post-consumer recycled plastic upper, and its other components are created from recycled cotton, fishing…
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Image Courtesy of: PATAGONIA
Since 1985, Patagonia has pledged 1% of sales to the preservation and restoration of the natural environment. They’ve awarded over $89 million in cash and in-kind donations to domestic and international grassroots environmental groups making…
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Image Courtesy of: allbirds
A native of New Zealand, Tim Brown was always well versed in the magical qualities of merino wool. Inherently curious, he began asking himself why such a remarkable, sustainable resource was virtually absent in the…
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Image Courtesy of: Arielle
Texas-born designer Arielle launched her eponymous label in 2018 after a series of design gigs at several major ready-to-wear brands which left her disenchanted with the ethics of the fashion industry. Her brand reflects her personal…
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Image Courtesy of: LEVI'S
Levi’s has always been a leader in sustainability. In 1991, it established “terms of engagement” that laid out the brand’s global code of conduct throughout its supply chain. This meant setting standards for worker’s rights,…
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Patagonia Is Cracking the Code on Endlessly Recyclable Wetsuits

By Todd Woody 05/02/24
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We believe in ethical manufacturing and recycled materials. Because old water bottles and fishing nets look better on you than they do clogging landfills and polluting oceans. We believe health and wellness come in many…
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Dressing for Hot: How a Warming Planet Is Changing What We Wear

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How Fashion Giants Recast Plastic as Good for the Planet

By Hiroko Tabuchi 06/12/22
An explosion in the use of inexpensive, petroleum-based materials has transformed the fashion industry, aided by the successful rebranding of synthetic materials like plastic leather (once less flatteringly referred to as “pleather”) into hip alternatives…
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How Corporate Collaboration Can Slow the Flow of Microplastics into the Environment

By Roya Sabri 03/22/22
At this year’s Consumer Technology Association conference, Samsung — maker of phones, laptops, refrigerators and more — announced a lineup of sustainability initiatives for its home appliances. Among the initiatives was a collaboration with outdoor…
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This Fashion Retailer Is Capping Orders to Promote Sustainable Consumption

By Katherine Martinko 03/18/22
Toward is a new fashion retailer that's taking an unusual approach to promoting sustainability. The company is limiting the number of orders customers can place to twelve per year. Its goal is to encourage shoppers…
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Sustainability Matters: Ugg Debuts Sustainable Ready-to-Wear Capsule for Spring 2022 + More News

By FN Staff 02/17/22
fter introducing sustainable footwear options, starting with the Plant Power sandals, Ugg has launched an eco-friendly apparel collection for spring ’22 called Organic Essentials. The nine-style capsule consists of casual T-shirts, leggings, dresses, tanks and…
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Key Resource

Good On You – Sustainable and Ethical Fashion Brand Ratings

Wear the change you want to see. Download our app to discover ethical brands and see how your favourites measure up.

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