How to Shop Sustainably No Matter Your Budget
You don't have to spend a lot of money to be a conscious shopper.
Over the past few years, there's been a big push toward sustainability in the fashion world. To sum things up, the amount of water consumption and waste created by this industry is alarming, and brands end up leaving a huge carbon footprint. Unfortunately, some companies see this buzz word and treat it as a trend. They hike up prices and drop "eco-friendly" lines in an attempt to capitalize off of the conversation — all while maintaining business practices and supply chain procedures that are actually far from ethical, or sustainable.
Without enforceable, industry-wide regulations to measure and monitor sustainability practices of brands, deceptive marketing runs rampant. And, for shoppers, that means it can be difficult to figure out which one are doing it right and therefore derserve your hard-earned money, and which ones are simply trying to cash in.
But, not to worry. We've weeded out those sort-of, kind-of, eco-friendly lines and found some labels that are truly dedicated to cutting down on pollution. No matter your budget, you can feel confident about shopping from these brands that are constantly evolving and making a full-time effort to be as sustainable as possible.
We've heard it a million times: fast fashion...isn't the greatest for the environment. But, H&M has made a point to find the balance, allowing customers to recycle old clothing at stores in exchange for a discount, and and also sell items through its Concious collection. The pieces are made of better materials like organic cotton or recycled polyester, and H&M says its goal is to use 100% recycled or other sustainably sourced materials by 2030.
Not only do Warp + Weft's jeans range from size 00 to 24, they're made using an eco-friendly mill. Normally, it takes 1,500 gallons of water to make one pair of jeans (!!!), but Warp + Weft only uses 10 and then recycles 98% of that water. A new technology also allows the company to skip the bleaching process, which can harm the environment.
Shirt dresses, robe jackets, button-downs, culottes — one trip to this Canadian brand's website, and you'll be tempted to add a lot to your cart. Kotn makes a point to focus on traceability when it comes to its clothes. You can easily find that its organic cotton is made in Egypt and that it works directly with local farmers for materials, in an effort to support smaller businesses.
Summersalt's philosophy is all about taking care of its customers and the planet. The brand specializes in creating eco-friendly swimsuits made with raw materials as well as recyclable shipping bags.
Here's where you'll find shoe soles made out of sugarcane from Southern Brazil. But the sneakers aren't the only item that's eco-friendly. The box that the shoes are shipped in is also the shoe box, cutting down the use of cardboard by 40 percent.
Activewear made from water bottles? This brand does just that — on top of having 100% recycled and recyclable packaging and also selling a Microfiber Filter for your washing machine, preventing pieces of plastic (which are sneakily in synthetic fabric) from entering the water stream.
From luxurious scarves to stylish joggers, everything underneath the Bleusalt label is 100 percent made in the USA. The fibers of the brand's soft, cozy items are made from beech trees, which propagate by themselves without any planting, and the fabric is also vegan and cruelty-free.
Athleta has been very vocal and transparent about its efforts to do business responsibly. Not only is sustainability part of the company's core values, but you can literally track Athleta's progress to its lofty 2020 goals of minimizing waste, increasing water-saving techniques, utilizing more sustainable fabrics, and empowering women through P.A.C.E. and Fair Trade.
Preserving energy and water while also keeping it free of toxic chemicals is important to Boyish. While its jeans, dresses, and jackets come in eye-catching colors like bright yellow and baby pink, it uses natural plant-based dyes, decreasing the toxins we put on our skin. Plus, its cotton is either organic or recycled, and the brand often uses deadstock fabric (vintage options that were never used) to create its clothing.
You know who's a fan of Naked Cashmere? Celebrities like Gigi Hadid and Camilla Morrone. However, the selling point for us is its Cashmere Reborn collection, which is Global Recycle Standard certified and made from 100% recycled cashmere — for under $250!
Its motto says it all: "Intentionally designed. Ethically made. Fair priced." Not only did the footwear brand recently promise to go carbon neutral, it makes a point to pay its workers fair-trade wages, provide them with health care, and ensure they are working in a healthy environment.
Everlane is a fan of keeping it real when it comes to the company's environmental impact — not just talking about the good, but also highlighting shortcomings. The brand took a huge stand with it committed to completely removing new plastics from its supply chain by the year 2021.
All of Alternative Apparel's super soft — and non-flimsy! — clothing is courtesy of organic cotton and recycled materials, and some items are even made from wood. The brand also has a pledge to replace all virgin polyester with 100% recycled polyester when it comes to future fabrics.
Not only is Reformation known for recycling fabrics and rating each one of its product's sustainability, the brand also has a neutral carbon footprint. Reformation also encourages all of its customers to switch over their electric bills (a major source of greenhouse gasses) to Arcadia Power, which supports clean wind and solar energy, in exchange for $100 Reformation gift cards.
Limited quantities of each piece equals less waste for this California-based company, which even uses compostable protective bags when shipping their products. Plus, for every T-shirt bought, Amour Vert plants a tree in collaboration with American Forests.
Here's a brand that's continuously working to provide sustainable fashions, from the fabrics used to create its pretty dresses to the packaging it's shipped in. Doên also creates small bags with any leftover fabric and gives them to customers.
Cuyana knows that, in the past, people have treated their wardrobes as disposable, and its pushing for its customers to invest in "fewer, better things." It only makes what it thinks it can sell, and, one cool thing is that it aims to minimize its carbon footprint by manufacturing pieces close to where it sources materials. Cuyana's goal is to have its products' main materials (90% of the composition) be 100% sustainably made by 2022.
Eileen Fisher has been a trailblazer in the sustainability world, and has been tracking the transportation it uses since 2007 while launching its first "green" collection in 2009. The clothes are made from organic, recycled, or hemp fibers, dyed with safe chemicals, and water usage is closely monitored. Eileen herself even received the Positive Change Award at 2019's CFDA Awards, recognizing the way she's helped change and shape the industry's standards, making us more eco-aware.
We're shining a spotlight on sustainability in fashion to help spread the word: Reusing, re-purposing, and re-styling is never a bad look.