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the b. report

| Posted by Robin Barrett Wilson

How to Shop Sustainable while Remaining Stylish

Have you heard? Green is the new black!

As we continue to shift towards sustainability and green becomes “trendy”, you’ll start to see big, fast-fashion brands hopping on the bandwagon. At robin b., we’re all for industry heavyweights adopting eco-friendly practices – this is, after all, a team effort – but too many of their claims are more marketing than problem-solving.

Every quarter, we hear of a shopping mall brand launching a “conscious collection” or an “eco label.” And, every quarter, countless customers rush out to snatch up these seemingly-sustainable garments. The thing is though, these pieces are far from ethical.

So how do you shop sustainable when we live in such a fast-fashion world? Follow these 5 simple steps and you’ll be on your way to a greener wardrobe:

Organic Cotton Shirt

This organic cotton top is chic and sustainable.

Choose Eco Friendly Fabric

You read labels at the grocery store to understand how healthy your food choices are, so why not do the same when it comes to your clothing? A great first step towards sustainable shopping is reading those tags and opting for eco friendly fabrics. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Modal: Pieces made from modal feel luxurious and soft (it was originally marketed as an artificial silk!), but are also sustainable. Using fibers from beech trees, you can feel good purchasing this eco fabric.
  • Tencel: A new all-natural fiber, tencel is made from wood pulp. It’s completely biodegradable and production needs just a fraction of the water that non eco friendly fabrics require.
  • Organic Cotton: Free of chemical pesticides, this organic fabric feels softer and cleaner than the kind that comes from big-box stores.

 

Look Beyond the Label

You know how most low-fat foods are secretly packed with sugar? Or how those zero calorie sweeteners work behind-the-scenes to spike your blood sugar? Your nutrition label won’t tell you everything and you can’t count on that clothing tag to tell the whole truth, either.

Sure, a “conscious collection” is made from organic cotton (+10 points), but the label reads that it’s still 30% polyester (-3 points). Dig a little deeper and you’ll learn that 25% of the brand’s clothing is made in Bangladesh, with the lowest minimum wage in the world (-10 points). And the other 75%? Those 850,000 factory workers are still not being paid a fair living wage (-10 points). Now, look around the racks, eyes up beyond the tiny sustainable section, and realize that less than 15% of the garments are made with that organic cotton (-20 points). So how conscious is this brand really?

Before you buy from a collection that claims to be mindful, do your research first (heck, research us!). Take a look at where the clothing is made and the manufacturing process. Understand what truly goes into that discounted top because the actual price will likely be a lot greater than you think.

Fair Trade Jacket by Indigenous This Indigenous Zip Coat is fair trade and fabulous!

Focus on Fair Trade

We believe that the employees who are making our clothing should be able to afford that basic necessity themselves! Look for brands, like Indigenous, that pay their workers a fair, living wage or support artisan cooperatives within communities. Check out their certifications – bonus points if they’re a part of the World Fair Trade Organization or the Social Venture Network!

USA-made Jeans

Parker Smith is fashion-forward and made in the USA.

Buy USA-Made (Canada, too!)

Not only does it feel good to support an American company but, in buying Canada- or USA-made, you’re ensuring that every piece is fair trade. With strict minimum wages and workplace safety programs, employees are protected, have rights, and will never be exploited. Bonus: choosing American-made also means that your clothing doesn’t have to travel far, reducing its carbon footprint!

 A basic but stylish black jacket will last you a lifetime!

Think Long-Term

Before you bring home those velvet sweatpants or faux-fur pumps, stop and think “Will this be a lasting piece in my wardrobe?” We all love adding trendy pieces to our closets but, too often, those coveted items get dumped once the next issue of InStyle hits the stands. With over 10.5 million tons of clothing ending up in landfill every year, thinking long-term is just as important for the planet as it is for your wallet.
 
If you’re on a mission to create a more socially responsible closet, stop by our Rhode Island boutique or shop our ethical designs online. Keep on top our blogs on sustainable style by signing up for our newsletter and following along on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest!

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Developed in part with the help of Venture Focused Consulting