Organic Fashion

Organic fashion Firstly, learn of those environmentally-friendly conscious service providers and manufacturers before you decide to choose any particular product of your choice. Evaluate services and products for environment friendly attributes. 

You'd like you product to be non-toxic, resource and energy efficient, durable, recyclable and repairable. As far as possible, choose products that are made of recyclable materials that can be reused with less wastage. Look out for Energy Star, Energy Efficient, Environmentally suitable and Non-ozone depleting substances in the products of your choice.

Nowadays in fashion, the words "eco-friendly," "organic" and "sustainable" get bandied around a lot. Which is a good thing. Except that sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference between a brand that's actually helping to make the planet a better place--and one that's just riding the eco bandwagon with a less-than-well intentioned "organic" label. "Yes [companies are cashing in on consumers' growing environmental awareness by labelling their clothes "green," without actually changing their production process too much]," Timo  Rissanen, Parsons' Assistant Professor of Fashion Design and Sustainability, told me. "The industry on the whole and marketing in particular have little integrity."

"'Green', 'eco', 'sustainable' and the rest are nice but meaningless, feel-good marketing terms," he added.

Part of the reason why it's so hard to put your finger on what a brand is actually doing to help the planet is because for many of the "eco" terms, there's no one definition. "'Sustainable design' could mean any number of things," Rachel Miller, who teaches sustainable design in the Department of Fashion Design at Pratt Institute, said. "It could be about preserving the environment, it could be about ethics and fair wages, it could be a designer that has an interest in designing with organic materials, or it may be recycling what's already there, using recycled materials to create something new."

And one "feel-good" marketing term does not necessarily imply the whole gamut. For instance, Miller explained to me, a company that uses organic cotton could be manipulating labour laws in less than savoury ways and likewise, items labelled fair trade are not necessarily environmentally friendly.

It's also important to remember that even the best environmentally-friendly products will have a less-than-great impact on the planet. For instance, trucks and in many cases, planes, are still used to transport "eco" goods, and even garments labelled "100% organic" will use a polyester thread. In other words, it's not smart to use Earth Day as a reason to go shopping--even if it is all "eco-friendly."

"Not buying [clothing] is best [for the environment]," Rissanen says. "Buying second-hand is second best." But buying sustainable-designed clothes is certainly third best. Which is nothing to poo-poo: The earth needs all the help it can get.

But just because there is some clever (and not necessarily altruistic) marketing going on, doesn't mean you can't feel good about eco-fashion. And it doesn't mean there aren't brands out there who are legitimately doing their part to help the planet, taking a holistic approach to sustainable design


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