How to choose sustainable clothing: from origin to materials, everything you need to know
Sustainability in clothing is an increasingly important topic, as the clothing industry is one of the most polluting in the world.
However, understanding if a piece of clothing is sustainable or polluting is not always easy. In this article, we'll explore several ways to determine the sustainability of an item of clothing, including where it comes from, the materials used, and manufacturing.
Provenance is an important factor to consider when evaluating the sustainability of a garment. The countries where the clothing is produced often have different labor and environmental standards. For example, developed countries tend to have higher standards than developing countries.
For example, the European Union has strict laws on occupational safety and environmental protection, while some developing countries may not have the same laws or may not enforce them. When you buy clothing produced in developed countries, you can be more confident that high labor and environmental standards have been met.
The materials used to produce the clothing are another important factor to consider. Natural fabrics like cotton, linen and wool are generally considered more sustainable than synthetic fabrics like polyester, nylon and acrylic. Natural fabrics are biodegradable, while synthetic fabrics can take hundreds of years to decompose.
In addition, organic fabrics are preferable to conventional ones, as they are not treated with chemical pesticides and fertilizers. These pesticides and fertilizers can pollute water and soil, causing environmental damage.
Manufacturing is another important factor to consider when evaluating the sustainability of a garment. Garments made ethically and with sustainable techniques, such as zero km production and handcrafting, are generally considered more sustainable than those produced industrially and at low cost.
Zero km production means that the fabrics and accessories used to produce the clothing have been purchased and processed within a few kilometers of the factory, thus reducing the environmental impact of transport.
The handwork, on the other hand, guarantees that the garment has been created with care and attention, avoiding the use of polluting machinery and guaranteeing a longer life for the garment itself. Furthermore, the use of sustainable production techniques such as the use of renewable energy sources and the reduction of waste help to reduce the environmental impact of production.
Furthermore, corporate ethics are an important factor to consider when assessing the sustainability of a garment.
Companies that respect workers' rights and use sustainable practices are generally considered more sustainable than those that don't.
For example, companies that pay their employees a fair wage and provide them with a safe and healthy work environment are considered more ethical than those that don't.
Additionally, many companies now offer detailed information about their production and materials, making it easier for consumers to evaluate the sustainability of their products.
Many brands now also offer certifications such as the Organic Cotton, the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) or the Fair Trade Certified, which guarantee that the materials used and the production meet certain environmental and social standards.
Finally, it is important to consider the most polluting nations in the clothing sector.
According to some sources, the top ten most polluting nations in this sector are: China, Bangladesh, India, Vietnam, Pakistan, Indonesia, Turkey, Cambodia, Egypt and Thailand. Buying clothing produced in these countries can help support unethical and polluting practices.
In summary, understanding whether an item of clothing is sustainable or polluting requires an assessment of the origin, the materials used, the production and the ethics of the companies.
Using these criteria, consumers can make more informed and sustainable choices when buying clothing. It is important to support companies that adopt sustainable practices and that respect the rights of workers and the environment.