3 Sustainable Ways to Keep the Chill Away
Autumn is fast approaching and with it comes the beautiful turning leaves, pumpkin flavored everything, and that perfect crisp air. It’s time to break out your sweaters, jackets, and all the rest of your fall gear, but if you find your wardrobe is missing a few things, why not use this as a chance to shop sustainably? Supporting eco-friendly brands is important to help turn our society away from fast fashion driven disposability culture and into a culture that actually works with the planet. So here is our eco-friendly shopping guide to keep the fall chill away, enjoy!
The Classic: Denim Jackets
First up, we have an absolute classic, the denim jacket. Denim jackets are one of the most versatile wardrobe options out there, working well with a maxi dress, with a hoodie, with athleisure leggings and top, with semi-casual workwear, and with all sorts of other styles. But unfortunately, denim is a notoriously unsustainable product, with a single pair of blue jeans needing 2000 gallons of water to make between growing water intensive cotton and the chemical laden repeated washing needed to dye it. The impact goes far beyond the water usage too, so it’s clear that making a sustainable version of denim is needed.
Of course, the easiest and most effective way to shop for a sustainable denim jacket it to wear a hand-me-down or shop second hand. But if you do still need to grab a new jacket, you do have plenty of options. First up look for organic cotton and non-toxic dyes, with a brand like Prana. Probably the biggest benefit of organic cotton to the environment is the lack of pesticides, herbicides, and other toxic pest control options. Removing these from farming saves tens of thousands of lives each year, prevents the deaths of millions of birds, and saves thousands of gallons of water. Another invention in sustainable denim is Levi’s water saving dyeing system, which can save up to 96% of the water used in traditional denim finishing. Finally, check out Upcycling brands like Re/Done to get the best of reusability with the freshness of buying new. And of course we love all things upcycling.
The Edgy: Leather Jackets
Second up we have leather jackets, another versatile standard. Always stylish, adding a leather jacket just about any outfit makes it both more fashionable and more badass. Unfortunately, the leather industry is heavily unsustainable, for a large number of reasons. As any vegan can tell you, basically everything in the animal industry is terrible for the environment being a very inefficient use of land. Leather making is often loaded with toxic chemicals in the tanning process, and in general wastes a large amount of the material during the production.
So what’s the solution? It’s complicated. Some people advocate for vegan leathers, both as an argument against animal cruelty and as the more sustianable option. Others argue that handcrafted, fair-trade, and non-toxic leather is ultimately better for the environment. Both sides of the debate make good points. So potential sustainable options include vegan brands like James&Co who use Pinatex’s pineapple leather (but still with a petroleum coating), vegetable tanned artisan leather like Production Mode Chicago, and Wolf and Lamb’s refurbished vintage leather jackets. At the end of the day, no matter which is the most sustainable, any of these options are going to be way more sustainable than shopping at a fast fashion outlet.
The Cozy: Sweaters
Finally we have the warm-and-fuzzy standard of fall and winter. Whether it’s a classy cardigan or the kitsch holiday look, a good sweater is always amazing. That being said, even if wool is more sustainable than other fabrics, wool still has issues with sustainability. Two animal cruelty concerns with wool are mulesing and shearing issues. Mulesing is the horrible practice of removing large flaps of skin to prevent flystrike, and while shearing generally isn’t an issue, on large-scale productions, unskilled shearers who have to make heavy quotas resort to beatings, cause cuts, and sometimes kill the sheep. Large scale farms can also destroy the local environment, especially with cashmere production causing desertification.
The solution? We recommend alpaca wool, such as Peruvian Connection. The thing about alpaca wool is that you can only get soft, quality wool from the alpacas if they are treated nicely, as stress will mess with their wool. Most alpaca wool is still made in small herd groups in Peru, the wool needs to be less treated than sheep wool, and they don’t wreck the mountains they live on. Other wool sweater options include fair trade merino wool from Kowtow or try out some reused with Eileen Fisher's recycled wool cashmere sweaters.
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