Fashion is currently at a crossroads. While there are amazing innovations happening and new products coming out constantly, it’s clear that all of these developments come at a cost. With an increasing number of reports coming out demonstrating the impact of fast fashion on labor and working conditions, the cost of fashion can’t be ignored anymore.
There is a lot of discussion about the role of misinformation in fashion, that a lot of facts and stats get thrown around but aren’t necessarily explained - or even fully investigated. This makes the industry harder to regulate, but it also makes it difficult to cut through the noise and see when real change is happening within the industry.
But there is change happening, on a grassroots level. Sustainability in the fashion industry is an emerging concept that deserves more attention.
So how do you balance your love for fashion while still being environmentally friendly? Luckily, there are still some ways you can be eco-friendly while still being fashionable.
Recycle and reuse
One of the best ways to be fashionably sustainable? Try to recycle and reuse where you can. But this isn’t necessarily about recycling cans and glass jars (although you should try to do that too, for different reasons) but your clothing and accessories too.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of buying new clothes for each occasion, but do you actually need that new item? The stats and facts show a staggering picture of waste for each country when it comes to unwanted clothing - for example, the UK alone disposes of about 350,000 tonnes of clothing just into landfills, and that doesn’t even include donated clothes...and that’s just one country.
While it’s not an easy problem to fix, there are ways that you can help by how you choose to buy and consume. There are lots of new ways to buy and sell clothing now, such as eBay, Depop, and Poshmark where you can find great secondhand clothing at the fraction of a cost. Eco-friendly and budget-friendly too, the perfect combination
Buy unique (and eco-friendly)
The other component of trying to balance sustainability and fashion? Recognizing when you need to buy something new, and buying from smaller, independent brands. Not only will you be doing your part for the environment, but you’ll also be buying something completely unique and that’s far more eco-friendly.
There are some items like bags that definitely are better new, but it can be hard to find brands that are doing their part for the environment while still creating something high-quality. A recent survey found that 45% of shoppers find it difficult to know which fashion companies are truly committed to sustainability, so it’s clear that while you may know that you want something that’s good for the environment...how can you be sure when you’ve found it?
We understand that challenge, and that’s why we’ve created our products. Our bags are made of bark and leaves and are designed to be functional yet beautiful...and completely unique. No two bags are exactly the same, which adds to its appeal. And by recycling nature’s products and creating the bags through our zero-waste process, we strive to leave the earth better than we found it.
Do your research
And lastly, it’s incredibly important to do your research about the brands you choose to buy. A lot of big retailers have less-than-stellar track records when it comes to ethical working and manufacturing conditions, but it’s not always well-publicized. It’s easy to present a reputation of being green and planet-friendly, but how many are really following through? Luxury brands have been notorious for burning and discarding unused stock, and even large fast-fashion brands like Zara and H&M have been known to have questionable manufacturing processes and labor conditions.
It’s not always easy, but doing your research for each brand ensures that you are making the best decision possible when purchasing a new product. Take time to learn about the brand ethos, where they source from and how products are created. You’ll quickly find that brands that are truly eco-friendly are far more transparent about this information compared to others.
Ultimately, fashion and sustainability don’t have to be mutually exclusive. There are brands out there that are truly committed to the environment, and ensure that each of their products (and how they are made) reflect that.
At Bark and Leaf, we’ve made a commitment towards sustainable fashion and we intend to uphold that. Each of our bags is made under fair-trade conditions and constructed with discarded barks and leaves in a zero-waste process, allowing us to remain eco-friendly without sacrificing quality.