Written by Chloe Kugelmas
In our world today, fast fashion has made detrimental impacts that have affected our world globally, whether that be our physical earth, or to the people living on it. It’s easy for this to occur, considering how affordable and efficient fast fashion companies have presented themselves. This causes people to feel the need to buy more because they’re spending less, without truly thinking of the effect it has on our planet. The domino effect of unsustainable fashion has led to immense water usage, chemical hazards, plastic, air, and water pollution, and has given our environment less of a chance to thrive. I took the time to search through the internet, finding companies and brands who work towards a better environment for everyone, while still creating trendy and nice products, and companies whose main focus is to be sustainable.
The biggest issue when people look to sustainable fashion brands and leave fast fashion behind is arguing the prices are too high. Here’s what most sustainable fashion companies want you to know: the whole point is to buy less items that are for longer use, therefore spending a bit more on a product that’s considered timeless and can be used for a long time as opposed to buying five of that same product you know you’ll barely use. People are still hesitant a lot of the time, but it’s definitely something to get used to in order to help the environment. It’s unrealistic for sustainable companies to ask people to solely buy from sustainable fashion companies, especially if prices are high, but they do their best to make pieces they know people will love and use for a long time, so not only are the products made better for the environment, less is bought and the carbon footprint can be reduced.
The first company to explore today is Boyish. Boyish is a sustainable company, specifically women's jeans, with a deep commitment to leaving little impact on our environment and the earth. The company uses ethical and sustainable practices when it comes to developing and making its products, and all their jeans are produced with sustainable fabrics through environmental-friendly and cruelty-free processes. The brand is also unique because they take men’s fabrics and fits tailored for a women’s body when they create all their collections, making their designs fresh, creative, and femenine. As a company, they work to be sustainable by working with ethical factors and using less harmful chemicals during the dyeing process, as well as using one-third of the amount of water usually needed for jeans. This is a crucial part because to make just one pair of jeans, typically 1,800 gallons of water is needed. Boyish ensures they reduce the hazardous impacts of synthetic dyeing by choosing to use plant based dyes, which not only reduce the toxins you put on your skin, but also come in many different colors to choose from. They also work to recycle water to keep harsh chemicals out of fresh-water streams. Boyish also hunts for vintage rolls of fabric that never made the cut, making clothes from deadstock fabrics. This then saves around 10,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions each year. Another huge move on their part is minimizing plastic fibers, leading to an extension on the lifespan of their jeans. They choose to replace traditional plastic fibers with fibers like Refibra, which is biodegradable, non-toxic, as well as antimicrobial. They also design their products to be recycled at the end of their lifespan, recycle any fabrics leftover that they can. They strive to make sure all their works earn living wages, and pay them over the minimum wage to make it fair. And with all that I’ve mentioned, there are still more ways that Boyish is more sustainable, like being cruelty-free, using certain specific fabrics better for the environment, and making sure washing of the jeans and shipping of the jeans reduce as much pollution as possible. They work extremely hard to make our environment safe, and while they do have many products on the pricier side, ranging from $100 to $300, the point is so you spend more on one or two good quality pairs, rather than six or seven cheap and unsustainable pairs that you won’t wear much. If you aren’t up to spending the money on clothes like this, you could start by getting one pair of jeans from a brand like Boyish, instead of a few pairs from a fast fashion chain, like H&M or Zara. This reduces not only the amount of clothes you buy that are unnecessary, but helps to reduce the carbon footprint.
The next company to look at is Reformation. Reformation is yet another sustainable company looking to sell trendy but safe products, opened since 2009. They started out selling vintage clothing, but quickly began making their own products, focusing on sustainability. In October of 2013, the company opened America’s first sustainable factory in downtown LA, and a couple years later they introduced RefScale, made to track their environmental footprint. They make jeans using water-saving denim, and restore 40 millions gallons of fresh water to rivers and wetlands throughout the U.S. that are considered dewatered. This goes hand and hand with their earth-friendly shoes that use chrome-free leather and jute, which on average can save 52% carbon dioxide emissions from being produced. Reformation is very serious about reducing their carbon footprint even more than they already have, saying they commit to reaching climate positivity by 2025. They choose to invest in solutions that remove more greenhouse gasses than they have emitted, and have climate action throughout their supply chain. Like I mentioned before, Reformation has invented something called RefScale, which tracks their environmental footprint by adding up the pounds of carbon dioxide emitted with the gallons of water they use, and the pounds of waste they generate. They also calculate how their products help to reduce these impacts, compared with other clothing products bought in the US. They are always looking for ways to save as much as possible, whether it be waste, or money being put into making products, or usage of water and chemicals. Reformation is also energy efficient, sourcing electricity offsets from 100% wind power supplies, using LED lighting, and use Energy Star-rated appliances in their offices. On top of energy efficiency, they recycle around 75% of their garbage, but plan to do even better and reach over 85%. Even with all listed, there is still plenty more Reformation does to be sustainable, including areas like packaging, local manufacturing, and supplies. While their prices, like Boyish, can be pretty pricey, ranging from in the 100s to 300s, it’s only because of how much goes into their clothing in order for them to come out sustainable. It’s not expected of one to buy multiple outfits for over $100 each, but if you’re deciding to become more efficient and sustainable, try splurging on a top or two from Reformation, instead of grabbing a bunch of low priced ones from Forever 21.
The next and final company to be talked about today is HanesBrands. This is an umbrella company, with many companies underneath, all working to be better for our earth. Brands such as Champion, Alternative, Bras N Things, Bonds, Sheridan, and Hanes. The HanesBrands have admitted to holding themselves to the highest ethical standards, true to their goal of making a difference. They feel they need to make a bigger and bolder action to minimize their impact on the planet due to being a global enterprise with dozens of famous brands. HanesBrands has new aggressive 2030 sustainability goals set back in 2020, and as of last year, they can confirm there’s been some really good progress. The term “think global act local” has been a big part of their success in being more sustainable and helping the environment. They make almost 70% of their clothing in facilities that they either run or own, which means they have a huge advantage when it comes to improving their company’s sustainability. Being in control of stuff like this has also enabled them to implement the most forward-looking sustainability policies to get the most positive impact from them. They have a team dedicated to managing their sustainability program, dealing with business strategies, commitments to sustainability, establishing, and tracking the progress they make towards sustainability goals. HanesBrands is also an active member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and Fair Labor Association, which work in different ways to identify and measure corporate environmental and social impacts. They also exchange best-practice insights and improve sustainability performance, as well as promote transparency and accountability. They feel as an enterprise they are very pleased with their progress made over the past 15 years in their environmental impacts. Between the years of 2007 and 2020 (on a per unit basis), HanesBrands have reduced energy use by 31%, scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 50%, and water by 36%. Not only are these reductions better for our environment of course, they also generate real cost savings, as in hundreds of millions of dollars. The enterprise also feels strongly about chemical management and wastewater issues, having programs that ensure their products are made with safe and sustainable substances to protect their customers, their employees, their communities, and of course our shared environment. They choose to maintain a detailed database of all chemicals used across their facilities with regulatory links to verify global compliance. They also have a list of chemicals that are restricted from use and non-regulated chemicals of concern. Because of how popular their brands are, HanesBrands knows how important their impact on our environment is, which is why they work so hard towards being sustainable. Having goals for years such as 2030 and 2050 help to ensure people that they are constantly changing for the better so our environment has a stronger chance of surviving. With that being said, there are multiple brands, as I’ve mentioned before, that HanesBrands has control of, therefore buying from any one of these companies could make a difference. If you aren’t up for spending much, look for the brand that sells the stuff for the least amount and buy from there. Or maybe get one pricier item you know you’ll constantly wear, and one or two of the less pricier items you’ll use maybe not as often. Either way, buying from these brands can make a bigger difference than you think.
These three companies listed off today are just a few of many, many companies and enterprises who know the damage unsustainable fashion has done to our environment and who want to make a change. It’s not always as price friendly as some fast fashion companies are, which is exactly the point. The high prices represent all the work gone into making these products sustainable and worth the money. Most of all, they are meant to be worn repeatedly so you buy less and have less of a carbon footprint. Taking the time to research and look for companies that have the environment and our earth in their best interest is really worth it in the long run. Even if you think just buying a few items from a sustainable company won't make a difference, you’re wrong, because any small purchase you make from a sustainable company is one step closer to a better environment.
HanesBrands Inc. (2022). Ourambition. hbisustains.com. Retrieved August 6, 2022, from https://hbisustains.com/ambition/
LGA Ethics. (2021). Boyish Sustainable Jeans & Clothing. LGA Ethics. Retrieved August 1, 2022, from https://www.boyish.com/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_id=13539653486&utm_content=123836775059&utm_term=boyish&creativeId=528031384784&gclid=Cj0KCQjw54iXBhCXARIsADWpsG_22SHY-TfBM0d7ZUv5ToxZGgKtf80ZuLTm2dnoBBqPq2V9nDrpnHAaAgtqEALw_wcB&_atid=kppmyy9GwDiv8dUbPkSJQtxJ8pjobe
Reformation. (2022). Oh hi, we're reformation - about Us. , we're Reformation - About Us. Retrieved August 2, 2022, from https://www.thereformation.com/sustainability/oh-hi.html