Fast fashion is one of the world’s number one environmental polluters from the amount of water used in crops and production, pesticides growing crops, petroleum extraction for man made fibres, water pollution from dyes used, poor working conditions and pay of those in the garment industries and unworn or barely worn clothes going straight to landfill.
I’m no angel when it comes to clothes. I shop at Zara, H&M, Oysho, Pull and Bear, Fabletics none of which are known to be the most environmentally friendly businesses. I have a budget for clothes and always try to get the best quality I can. Over the past few years I’ve been buying less clothes. Winters are easier than summers. Normally my summer clothes only last a season, two if I’m lucky. I live in Spain so it gets hot, but I cycle everywhere, I swim (more dip in the sea), I wear a rucksack, clothes and fibres get ruined quickly with sweat, sunscreen, salt water, abrasion from cycling and my rucksack. Summer clothes aren’t meant for cycling or rucksacks however cycling’s my transport and I’m not taking a change of clothes with me. I try to choose carefully clothes I think will last more than a few washes and try to get basic colours or a few colour tops. Summer though I like colour and wear those t-shirts or bottoms out. More expensive doesn’t always mean better quality either.
I noticed last year Zara started basics in organic cotton with this year a much bigger change in Indtiex brands, such as Zara, Pull and Bear, Zara Home and Oysho to name a few. They have a Join Life label which explain how much of the item is either made with organic cotton, recycled polyester, recycled polyamide, recycled cotton or water used. Garments produced under the Join Life label use better processes and more sustainable raw or recycled materials.
All items produced under this label have to ensure suppliers achieved A or B in social audits. All wet process factories such as tanneries, laundries, printing, dying suppliers have to score A or B classifications and pass environmental assessments. In addition products manufactured using raw materials or production techniques have to be of environmental excellence.
The Join Life label is split further into 3 categories according to their website:
Care for Fibre: All products manufactured using sustainable raw materials/textiles such as organic cotton, recycled fibres, TENCEL ™️Lycocell. This includes also the soil, wool, timber used etc.
Care for Water: All items with this label attached have been manufactured in a least one stage of production, with technologies that reduce water consumption.
Care for Planet: All garments with this label during manufacturing process have consumed energy from renewable sources. Inditex also working towards stores being more energy efficient by using less water and electricity, using recycled or reused materials in their eco stores and Headquarters.
More information about Join Life here.
This is an amazing start as each recycled fibre saves water used in production or extracting natural raw materials. After watching a documentary The True Cost which discusses Monstano, I’m hoping some farmers no longer rely on or buy Monstano seeds and pesticides. Instead buying seeds and crops which don’t get them in debt or ill from the pesticides with the only way out they see it suicide. It might be greenwashing, it might not be, it’s a huge step that helps those of us who can’t afford the more expensive organic cotton, slow fashion, eco conscious brands which come with a larger price tag. The brands are listening to what the consumer wants or appealing to the consumer to win them over. That’s not to say store plastic waste isn’t decreasing. I still walk by stores pulling out their waste: cardboard boxes, and the individual item plastic wrapping the consumer doesn’t see unless ordering online. I’ve noticed also or maybe it’s the t-shirts I buy, it’s generally the cheaper organic cotton as noted by the price tag. Laundering after a few washes is the real test if the line is more sustainable. If the items still shrink, misshape, stretch (which some have), fade, fall apart after a few washes then it’s not sustainable. Some t-shirts I purchased are doing okay, others have shrunk or stretched however I can still wear them, (they may become house/lounge clothes). A pair of bed shorts from Oysho however only lasted 3 washes before fading considerably and the elastic waistband stretched 2 sizes or rather the elastic lost nearly all its elasticity.
Indtiex brands online delivery has cut out too the plastic to the consumer. Items arrived in large cardboard envelopes or boxes with items wrapped in tissue paper or just as they are. No more plastic packaging. Again in the warehouse, there might be the plastic waste as items arrive for shipping in the said individual plastic transport protection sleeves. I prefer to shop in store to online as it’s a hassle to return. I still have to go back to the shop for returns! Most clothing I buy online I return anyway. I like to feel fabric, look at the items, the colour, fit. It’s quicker too. No scrolling pages, reviews, erming or arghing, you see it decide, move one. Okay I like shopping.
This coming September I have set myself a challenge: No purchasing of clothes for the whole of September aside from socks which badly need replacing and 1 pair of leggings. I chose September for two reasons. One being clothes money I usually set aside is needed for other things and two, September in Spain is still warm with autumn winter clothes not even on my radar. I can shop my wardrobe transitioning what I have into October. It’ll be a challenge for me clothes window shopping only. By only allowing enough time to grocery shop before the shops shut I should be okay.
This was decision was partly inspired by Patagonian’s What a Pile of Shirt! | Giving Discarded Cotton Scraps a Second Chance, how they reuse, repurpose textile scraps into new fabric. DW Documentary Luxury: Behind the mirror of high-end fashion also was an eye opener, following the supply chain of luxury goods tracing back the source if the product was ‘Made in Italy’, from the animals used, supply tanneries, working conditions, garment factories. Many in the comments said they never again want a leather bag or eat animals.
If other fast fashion companies start to be more mindful of the supply chain from the soil to the bag the consumer goes home with, we might be able to help Earth more with climate change, from over consumption, from the demand for palm oil, rainforests cleared for farmland and plantations before too many species, icecaps, islands, coastlines, forests, rainforests are lost to rising temperatures, rising sea levels, habitat loss, illegal logging etc. Maybe like I said it is green washing, maybe it’s not. If changes are happening, even if it was down to consumer demand, everybody benefits. No bees, no cotton, no cotton, no clothes. Everything is connected.
What’s your take on Inditex’s Join Life label? Do you try to get the most out of your clothes, or new outfits each week? You’re welcome to join me on my September Challenge!