There is no painless way to say it: the way we are over-consuming fashion is killing the planet. Every year, 300.000 (yep, that is three hundred thousand!) tonnes of textiles are thrown away in the UK alone – and that is actually a decrease compared to how much stuff we sent to landfill just a few years ago.
Why is waste such a big deal? Well, for starters, it’s sky-rocketing carbon dioxide emissions, making clothing one of the top five most environmentally damaging industries. The cycle of producing, briefly using and then discarding fashion is putting enormous strain on the Earth’s resources, as well as the humans making the clothing that we will end up throwing away. Obviously, the answer, as we have already discussed, is to simply consume less. Using what you already have is key to keeping consumption down, as is shopping second-hand to give garments that are already in existence new life.
But what if, for whatever reason, you cannot not shop? What if you actually, legitimately Need New Clothes?
Recycled textiles, baby.
Why recycled textiles are so awesome
Recycled textiles are not the perfect solution to planet problems, as it’s quite resource-intensive. But it’s a pretty good next-best thing: the Ethical Fashion Forum reports that recycling textiles helps reduces the need for landfill space along with reducing the strain on resources. What’s more, recycling results in less pollution and energy savings, as the need to transport fibres from abroad is eliminated.
How garments are recycled, according to the Ethical Fashion Forum:
- Using fabric composed of recycled fibres or products – for example, recycled polyster made from used drinking bottles or fabrics made from recycled yarn
- Recycling textile fabric – (upcycling) for example, using unwanted factory surpluses, offcuts or materials which would otherwise be thrown away
- Recycling or customising clothing- taking second hand clothing and re-fashioning or repairing it so it is given a second life.
And recycling is all the rage on international catwalks – London Fashion Week showed designs made from recycled plastic bottles, while eco-consultancy Eco Age’s Green Carpet project featured A-list stars wearing dresses which incorporated Econyl, a material made from old fishing nets.
Vegan brands have always led the way in experimenting with recycled textiles. We’ve curated an edit of vegan fashion with at least a component of recycled materials.
Made from 88% recycled polyester, this two-tone pleated mini skirt is a tennis-inspired piece that’s perfect for the hot weather.
This unique design was crafted from recycled cement bags (!) by a brand dedicated to Fair Trade and supporting employment opportunities for disadvantaged people in Cambodia, as well as donating to help victims of human trafficking.
This light and breezy jumpsuit is ideal for summer – despite being black. It’s made from 60% recycled polyester and will look effortlessly cool with a pair of trainers or flat sandals.
These pastel-hued trainers feature an amazing material mix of wild rubber, eco-leather, organic cotton and recycled plastic bottles! A truly eco-conscious design from sustainable shoe brand Veja.
One of our favourite brands, Miakoda, teamed up with sustainability company Remember Me Green to create this moon-print backpack made from recycled NYC billboards – yes, that’s actual billboards that have been hanging up around New York City! Most original recycling idea we’ve ever heard.
The Portuguese vegan footwear brand has been at the forefront of the vegan shoe trend for a long time – and now they’re branching out into recycled materials with this line made from recycled airbags!
Working with artisan entrepreneurs to create better practices in the jewellery industry, Soko offers unique pieces in sustainable materials such as this cuff in recycled brass.
If you are on the lookout for truly original accessories, look no further than Lura Zabo, a London designer crafting everything from jewellery to guitar straps, belts and dog collars from recycled tires and bike parts! These bead earrings are made with inner bicycle tubes.
Team an all-black outfit with this patterned purse from renowned ethical fashion label People Tree for a touch of colour.
Matt and Nat is a leader in the sustainability movement for a reason: where other brands struggle to unite ethics with aesthetics, this Canadian brand truly shines. Case in point: this everyday bag, which, just like all Matt and Nat accessories, is lined with a material made from recycled plastic bottles.
Made from an impressive 100% recycled fibres, this silk-free dress from VAUTE is on final sale, so get it before it’s gone!
For more vegan fashion tips, follow Vilda on Pinterest
Header photo by Brooke Cagle via Unsplash