Today we are going to give you 10 tips for you to start or move towards an more Ethical and Sustainable business.
If you have been thinking of creating a sustainable and ethical brand, or at least moving your brand towards that goal, but felt daunted and overwhelmed with information on all the procedures, and processes to be certified as one, or thought that perhaps you would have to spend a huge amount of time doing research and change all of your business strategy, core concept and supply chain then this is for you.
Good news is that even though it may well be the case, depending on how far off you are of having an ethical, sustainable transparent supply chain from product producer, to where you source your materials, there is no need to change all at once and there are few easy steps which I will give you, that can be taken in order for your business to progress towards that goal, as the say goes Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day.
Although ideally every company within the Fashion Industry should aim to only trade Fairtrade and organic certified products there isn’t a label yet who meet all the principles and regulations for all the products to be considered ethical and sustainable and there is no fair-trade label which covers the whole product production process from start to finish because that’s an almost impossible task.
However, that’s becoming more possible as we evolve as human species and acknowledge the need to improve and create new policies, and regulations pushing companies to become transparent and above all environmentally friendly while doing business.
With all that what I am trying to say is that while there are still many things to change in the Fashion Industry as a whole, there are already some initiatives that you can do without the need to stop the “ business as usual “:
1) Give back to your community
• Get local people involved in creating handmade items to be sold through your company and with the profit being reverted to the community, it can be for a local charity, NGO or helping towards the restoration of a local community public facility.
A good Example is innocent smoothie`s Big knit where people from around the world knitted little hats to be added to the innocent smoothies bottles, donating 25 p to Age UK for every bottle sold.
• Buy your material locally from Independent shops.
• Create collaborations with locals, open your business doors and give younger people opportunities to learn how business is made, not only is it a good way for people to get to know what you do, but also you will get to know your market and get valuable feedback and ideas, so really it is a win win.
2) Donate part of your profit to a Charity/ foundation
It can be your favorite foundation , or a charity supporting a cause close to your heart, or a conservation program, such as BFwings with 15% of the proceeds from sales supporting the Guardian Angel butterfly conservation program.
3) Support and bring awareness to a specific environmental or health issue.
You can use the cause as design inspiration and document it in your designs- make a statement.
For example the 2013 bee campaign t-shirt by eco-brand Rapanui, was used to raise awareness of this endangered species due to the use of pesticides in farming.
4) Buy Fairtrade and Sustainable fabrics
Not only will you be contributing to the reduction of harmful chemicals been discharged and rivers contamination worldwide, but you will also be ensuring that people who makes your fabrics are being treated with respect and fairness. Here is a link where you can find out where to get these fabrics.
5) Avoid using Fur and Leather
One of the leather/ Fur – fashion Industry dark sided is the killing and abuse of animals to create leather and fur products such as shoes,coats, bags.
Follow Stella McCartney for example who refuses to use any leather or fur in her range collection or even sourcing wool from farms where animals wellbeing is not taken in to consideration, like in 2015 where she ceased a contract from a Patagonian farm after watching disturbing PETA video footage where sheep were mistreated.
Find links below where you can find some more information on the most and least eco friendly materials for clothing.
6) Use Recycled Fabrics.
Nowadays recycled fabrics can be found among some regular suppliers. Recycled fabrics are left overs of fabrics from previous seasons that are then decomposed and mix together to create a totally new material. You can either recycle any fabrics left over from a previous collection by dying, embroidering it or printing over it, or contact manufacturers who always have surplus of fabrics from previous seasons, by doing that you help in reducing the annual fabric quantity of waste going to landfills.
All you need is a bit of creativity and voila!! Take on Maison Martim Margiela whose artisanal line is famous for its creative reconstruction skills, MMM uses garments from previous collections, period clothing and objects taken from their normal context, deconstructed and then re-appropriated, giving them a new meaning and life, for example the jumper made out of socks or a dress made of hair combs…who would have thought of that….
8) Conscious advertisement
Sustainable fashion´s aim is to create a system which can be supported indefinitely in terms of human impact on the environment and social responsibility.
When the vast majority of Models on catwalk shows and Fashion Magazines only represent a very small part of the women population in terms of appearance and body type that creates a problem, and sends the wrong message especially to young girls who look up to these models as an example of beauty to aim for. There should be a greater diversity on all type of beauties in the world and that goes for body-type, Age, and skin colour.
A good example of it is Dove who in 2014 with their real body campaign inspiring women to feel comfortable with their bodies by using women from different shapes and colors in their ad.
9) Get in to Partnerships
Get together with institutions fair trade artisans , charitys and develop a product together, or get charity organizations to produce some of your products.
A good example of success through partnership are :
Tom Shoes, Bottletop.
10) Care for your product even after being purchased
It all comes down with providing a great costumer service Care by providing customers with an alternative to throwing the item away when done with it, such as a repair service, or discount on the next item of clothing when bringing in the previous one.
You can find some inspirations on H & M “Close the Loop” campaign that incetivated customers to bring unwanted clothes to be reused or recycled, offering them a discount voucher in exchange. Nudie jeans that offers a repair service and discount when customers bring in their old pair of jeans, or Clotho London which business core ethos is based on recycling and reusing.
We hope that this will help you ditching all those excuses that kept you from changing your world in to a happier one.