Quick quiz. The petroleum industry is the largest polluter in the world. Do you know who’s second? Would you be shocked to learn that it’s the clothing industry? You probably are, right? If this is as disheartening for you as it was me then you should know these 11 ethical clothing brands who are doing who cares about the environment and are changing the way clothing is made. With these companies, you can feel good about where your money is going.
Why Is Clothing Manufacturing So Bad For The Environment?
There’s a lot that goes into making your clothes. Let’s take cotton, for example, takes enormous amounts of water and chemical fertilizer to produce. From there, in many cases, its made into your favorite shirt by someone who is working in terrible conditions for terrible pay. Plus factories use chemical dyes in the manufacturing process. And since over half of the world’s clothes are made in developing countries without strict environmental regulations, those chemicals are dumped into rivers and oceans killing marine life and harming ecosystems and drinking water.
But that’s not everything. Those clothes need to be transported to you. So that means using oil for tankers, airplanes, and trucks.
It’s not hard to see how the environmental impact of a t-shirt far outweighs the economic impact on your bank account.
Luckily, there are companies out there who don’t just look at the bottom line. There are companies who believe that you can make a good product in a sustainable, earth-friendly, and people-friendly way.
What Is Ethical Clothing And Why It’s Important
Ethical clothing is clothing produced in a manner that is not exploitative. There is a concern for the animal or land where the raw materials are grown. The people who then take these raw materials and make them into something you wear are treated with respect, work in good working conditions and are paid fair wages for their time. Chemicals that are hazardous to the environment and the workers are not used.
Patagonia might be the king of ethical clothing brands is an understatement. They make it clear about who they are. Their mission statement is very simple and stunningly powerful. “We’re in business to save our home planet”.
They do this in a bunch of ways. First, by donating a percentage of sales to grassroots organizations to help them fight for causes they believe in.
They sued the U.S Government to protect Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monuments. It’s easy to prove that Patagonia stands up for what they believe.
It’s not just that though. They offer repairs for their garments. They work full time to fix close to 40,000 garments a year. Thus keeping them out of the landfill.
Patagonia also participates in Fair Trade Certification which simply means that they pay a premium on each garment that’s produced. A portion of that premium goes directly to the workers who made these products. The workers then decide how to use the money.
You can sleep easy knowing that your purchase is going to change lives and make the world a better place. Oh yeah, you’re also getting a fantastic, long-lasting piece of clothing too.
United By Blue
United By Blue is an outdoor clothing brand whose mission is to remove 1 pound of trash from the world’s oceans and waterways for every item they sell.
And they sell a lot. Good for them and good for the earth.
According to UBB, they removed over 250 tons of trash in 2018 alone. That’s insane. They did this by working with over 2,500 volunteers in 23 states and the Netherlands.
Their latest collection is called the United By Blue Bison Down Puffer Collection.
For this collection, UBB works with bison ranchers to use their bison down and blend it with recycled polyester to make tough and stylish jackets and vests.
To find great clothes and support an amazing cause check out United By Blue.
Everlane doesn’t believe in fashion trends they believe in making clothes that people will want to wear from one year to the next.
They also believe in scouring the world looking for the most ethical factories to make the clothes. They do this by auditing the factories to see which ones perform best when it comes to issues like workers wages, working environment and hours.
Everlane also thinks it’s important to provide “radical transparency” to the clothing they make. They provide this transparency by showing you a cost breakdown of the clothes they make.
Buying from Everlane means that you’re supporting a company that believes you can still make a great piece of clothing at a great price while respecting the people who made it.
Levi Strauss made his first pair of blue jeans in 1873. 146 years ago they were called waist overalls. Today they are an icon of Americana.
Levi’s are so ingrained into us that it’s hard to imagine never owning a pair.
146 years leaves plenty of time to build and improve on what you are.
Levi’s still makes jeans but now they do it with an eye on the future too.
You might not consider Levi Strauss an ethical clothing brand but they are.
Levi’s Water<Less Collection reduces and recycles the water that is used in denim finishing.
So far they’ve reduced water need by 3 billion liters and have recycled 2 billion liters of water. They hope to make 80% of their product line with Water<Less technology by2020.
They don’t just stop there. Through The Better Cotton Initiative, Levi’s works with cotton farmers to help them reduce their water use as well as chemical inputs they are using to grow cotton.
This leads to healthier soils, a more productive cotton yield, and lower expenses for the farmer.
Levi’s believes in taking care of the people who make Levi’s. They developed The Worker Well-Being Initiative.
This initiative allows Levi’s to work closely with factory workers where their goods are produced.
They find out what’s important to these workers, such as healthcare and education opportunities.
This isn’t all. To learn more about Levi’s other good works check out Levi.com.
PraNa bills itself as clothing for people who live fully, play long and travel well. They make everything from t-shirts, pants, and sweaters to more technical gear for climbing and yoga.
If they were just a company that made clothing they would still be popular enough. But they are much more. Like the rest of the companies listed here, they believe that they should use their platform and presence to make the world a little better.
bluesign®️ is a movement to keep harmful chemicals out of you’re clothes and out of the environment.
Responsible textile manufacturing is important to them and it should be to you too.
PrAna also only works with Fair Trade Certified factories.
These factories focus on workers well being. PrAna pays a premium on their clothes and that premium goes directly to the worker to use how they wish.
PrAna also uses organic cotton, recycled wool, and responsible down in their products.
If you travel a lot or enjoy yoga or climbing give PrAna a try.
Give A Damn Goods
Give A Damn Goods works to combine shoppers with causes they care about.
So what exactly does that mean?
Say for example you want to support anti-trafficking.
Money from your purchase will go to support victims of human trafficking while also providing education and vocational training for men and women in these communities.
What if you’re interested in upcycled and recycled goods?
How about a Cross Throw Blanket that’s made from 51% recycled cotton and 49% recycled plastic bottles.
In fact, there are 12 recycled bottles in every blanket.
Give A Damn Goods helps to empower people. Even if there is nothing for you, think about giving a gift to someone you know.
Good products and a great story is not something someone gets every day.
Krochet Kids works with women who live in extreme poverty all over the world. They pay these women living wages to help lift them up out of poverty and have a better life.
They also work with these women to provide education and financial tutelage.
One really cool thing about Krochet Kids is that the woman who made your item will also personally sign it.
Thought doesn’t believe in fast fashion. Quite the opposite. In fact, their mantra is “wear me, love me, mend me, pass me on”.
They make high quality, longlasting clothes. And they do it as thoughtfully as they can.
Thought uses only what they call “force of nature fabrics”. To them, that means only using cotton, bamboo, wool, and hemp.
This means that they only by wool from suppliers that can show the wool’s origin to responsible farms. On these farms, the animals are allowed to live as naturally as possible while being provided adequate shelter, food, and water.
When it comes to cotton, bamboo, and hemp they demand that their sources are renewable and recyclable when possible. They also only use factories that meet the legal discharge standards.
You can feel good about buying contemporary, durable goods from Thought.
When the founders of Allbirds got started they couldn’t believe that the shoe industry didn’t use more natural materials. Being New Zealanders, they knew how soft and comfortable wool was. So they started with the premise, why can’t we make super comfortable shoes from this wool.
They found that by using wool they used 60 percent less energy in the manufacturing of the shoes. Plus the shoes maintain their warmth while also being water-resistant.
But the wool isn’t the only environmentally friendly material they use.
For the shoelaces, they use recycled polyester. In fact, there is one used plastic bottle in each pair of shoelaces.
For the insole, they use castor bean oil instead of petroleum products.
And for the sole, they use SweetFoam™.
What makes SweetFoam™ so ethical is that it’s sourced from renewable sugar cane crops.
By combining all these natural resources, Allbirds made what Time Magazine called the worlds most comfortable shoes.
If all this hasn’t sold you on Allbirds desire to make a great product in an eco-friendly way, you should know that the box that you’re shoes come in is made of 90% recycled cardboard.
Still not sold on Allbirds? Try them out and if you don’t like them you can return them and they’ll give those shoes to Soles4Souls.
Soles4Souls then distributes and donates those shoes to people in need all over the world.
Rag & Bone
Rag & Bone work to combine British style with modern design.
They cover your needs with everything from elevated denim to footwear and t-shirts.
But the reason Rag and Bone are on this list is that they participate in Blue Jeans Go Green denim recycling program.
Here’s how it works.
They then take those used garments and turn them into denim insulation.
Obviously, this keeps denim out of landfills. But they also donate this insulation to programs like Habitat for Humanity.
If you’re interested in a stylish pair of jeans, bring a pair of old jeans into Rag & Bone and get a discount on a new item and feel good about where the old stuff is going.
For nearly 25 years Alternative Apparel has been making clothes that are comfortable with a classic look. They do all this while making clothes responsibly.
Alternative Apparel’s ideas of responsibly line up with many of the other companies listed here.
They even use responsible packaging that saves over 2000 trees a year.
Alternative Apparel is also a member of the Fashion Revolution movement.
Simply put Fashion Revolution doesn’t believe that fashion should come at the expense of the environment or exploited factory workers.
You can feel good about buying anything from Alternative Apparel.
Hopefully, this has shown you that you don’t have to settle when it comes to clothing. You can search out to find brands that believe in the same things you do. Living wages. Improving the quality of life. Environmental stewardship and making the world a better place. Your dollar matters. Use it.
Support these ethical clothing brands yourself or give them as a gift to help increase their reach.