Ethical consumerism has boomed in recent years with the markets for organic, fair-trade, vegetarian, and plant-based alternatives now firmly established as everyday alternatives.
Healthy living and wellness trends are still mainstays with juicing as popular as ever: goodnature.com. Other markets that have gone global include plastic-free, ethically produced, the use of renewable energy, and eco-travel.
Ethical clothing has been relatively slow to catch on: but that could be changing. So what can we do in 2020 to look good and feel right?
It doesn’t take long for capitalism to spot an opportunity and swallow it up like a hungry ghost – even if that is the so-called ethical market.
In 2019, a bunch of brands were launched that looked completely green on the face of it. Colgate’s Charcoal bamboo toothpaste, Vogue Italia with its non-photographed front cover, and Premark’s initiative to use sustainable cotton.
These are commendable first steps that looked more like marketing stunts; especially when you consider some of their rankings on the Ethical Consumer website.
This year consumers are demanding not only authenticity but also full transparency from companies to disclose supply chains and production practices.
We’re all familiar with the queasy sight of whales washed up on beaches with its stomach full of plastic bags, many other animals suffer the same fate: floating anonymously to the ocean floor.
Thankfully the tides may be turning with more of us using less plastic and more companies making better use of it. Ethical fashion brands like Batoko and Aquafil are making clothing with recycled polyester fabrics made from post-consumer plastic waste such as plastic bottles and fishing nets.
Buying products produced in this way means we can directly contribute to a cleaner, safer world. But always check the supply chain.
The fashion industry is notoriously unethical. A report conducted by Oxfam estimates that just 4% or the RRP price on a piece of clothing makes it back to the worker’s pocket – that’s $0.40 for a t-shirt that costs $10.
For this reason and others sustainable clothing brands are now more vocal about their social commitments. They pay a living wage and invest in local communities where factories are located. A promising start.
Other sustainable fashion brands are pursuing niche commitments. FabricForFreedom collaborates with partners to help eradicate poverty and human trafficking, and Rubymoon invests it’s profits in business loans for woman.
Re-use, Re-cycle, Up-cycle
Charity clothes shopping was once shunned in favour of the latest and shiniest off-the-shelf trends; but the combination of ethical consumerism and the uptake of secondhand clothes by online influencers has seen a rise in the popularity of new clothes with a past.
It is by far one of the greenest and most ethical ways to buy clothes, as it not only has a near-zero carbon impact, but it supports local charities and eliminates the need for new production.
Upcycling is also on the rise in 2020 with fashion brands developing rucksacks, jackets, and pants, from old parachutes, and discarded beanbags.