A Primer in Sustainable Fashion

As we become more aware of the serious environmental impact of our clothes choosing sustainable fashion is an act of contrition and optimism.
Sustainable fashion includes cutting CO2 emissions, addressing overproduction, reducing pollution and waste, supporting biodiversity, and ensuring that garment workers are paid a fair wage and have safe working conditions. Verdalina avoids fast fashion brands, and we only carry lines that share our desire to slow things down and act more ethically— all our designers are transparent about their sourcing, manufacturing, and labor practices while never sacrificing style ;-)
Today, Earth Day, we’re illuminating ways you can kick fast fashion to the curb, and go beyond simply shopping for items labeled “sustainable.” 

1. Buy less and buy better
Once you know 100 billion garments are being produced globally every year, before making a purchase ask yourself these 3 clarifying questions: “What are you buying, from whom, and why? Is this a need- or want-based purchase? Will you enjoy wearing it multiple times?”

2. Invest in sustainable fashion brands
Buying better can also mean supporting designers who are promoting sustainable practices. Do your homework (see “greenwashing” below), and know your brand’s business practices. You can also count on us to do the same!

3. Shop secondhand and vintage
Consider including pre-loved items in your wardrobe. Not only will you extend the life of these garments, and reduce the environmental impact of your wardrobe, but you can also find uncommon pieces that add individuality to your style. 

4. Avoid greenwashing

Greenwashing in fashion is when brands use vague, misleading, or false claims to suggest they’re more eco-friendly than they are. Look beyond buzzwords such as “sustainable”, “eco-friendly”, “conscious” and “responsible” to see if brands have detailed policies to back up their claims.


5. Know your materials
Understanding the impact of raw materials is crucial when wanting to make more sustainable purchases. A good rule of thumb is to avoid virgin synthetics, such as polyester or spandex which is derived from fossil fuels and takes years to break down. Also, not all natural materials are made the same: organic cotton, for example, uses significantly less water than conventional cotton and doesn’t use harmful pesticides.

6. Ask who made your clothes
Being a responsible consumer means the people who make our clothes must be paid a fair wage and have safe working conditions. Seek out brands who openly disclose information about their factories and their policies around wages and working conditions. Again, you can also count on us to do the same ;-)

7. Support brands that have a positive impact

Eco-minded brands, such as Saipua, Mii Collection, and Rachel Comey, go beyond reducing the impact of clothing/accessory design, and consider how they can have a positive impact on the environment in other, non-fashion ways.

8. Take care of your clothes
Extending the life of your clothes is key when it comes to lowering the environmental footprint of your garments, and ensuring they don’t end up clogging landfill sites after just one or two wears. Ensure your clothes last as long as possible by not overwashing them (which will also lower your CO2 emissions and water consumption), hang dry when possible and…

9. Mend clothes when worn out
Normalize repairing your clothes instead of throwing them out. Top Stitch Mending in Richmond is our go-to and they also offer virtual classes teaching you how to sew and mend! Lisa Hutchenson is a charming and excellent teacher, especially for the newbie.

10. Ensure your clothes have a second life
When cleaning out your closet, look to re-selling your clothes, organizing a clothes swap, and/or donating to organizations that are looking for used clothing— all ways to help stop your clothes from ending up in landfills. Learn more here. For worn-out pieces that can no longer be repaired or reused, look for recycling opportunities.


PS. “Vegan fashion” isn’t necessarily better for Mother Earth. While animal-derived materials, such as leather and wool, come with environmental and ethical concerns, vegan alternatives– which are often made from synthetics such as PVC– can also be harmful to our planet. Even plant-based alternatives usually contain a degree of synthetics (although we’re optimistic that this will improve over time).