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How to find sustainable and fair fashion

Can sustainable fashion look beautiful?

A few days ago I was invited to a super interesting talk from Mirjam Smend, the initiator of Munich’s sustainable fair “Greenstyle” and Kathrin Bierling. Kathrin launched Modepilot, the first fashion blog ever in Germany in 2007!

North Sails, THINK INC., and the two longtime fashion experts talked about “What makes sustainable fashion sexy?” in Munich’s pop-up gallery of North Sails. It was a fascinating evening with many great, inspiring people. Listening to the talk some thoughts came up in my mind that is also important when dealing with “sustainability”. Why is sustainable clothing sustainable? Can fashion be sustainable at all? And still wearable or even “sexy”?

North Sails – A savior of the oceans (Ad)

I have to admit that I didn’t know North Sails until a year ago. Although I am an absolute water lover and sunbather I’ve been sailing just a few times. Nevertheless, every sailing trip was a great experience, be it professionally for shooting or with friends. North Sails is actually the largest sail manufacturer in the world and hasn’t had much to do with fashion so far. But with plastic and plastic garbage in our oceans. The problem of littering our oceans created a vision in 2018: to design a collection of recycled marine litter. And here I’m back into the game!

The motto of North Sails is: “Go Beyond”! Not only are they donating 1 % of their revenue to the Ocean Family Foundation. They use sustainable materials such as recycled marine garbage and organic cotton. Rather, they are also committed to raising awareness of what’s floating out there in our seas and doing educational work. As on that evening.

Sustainable fashion as a new it-piece requirement?

Often, when we hear “sustainable”, we often think of the term “eco”, which is – quite unjustly – negatively connoted. For some, there is also the picture of the pale jute-bag-covered slipper bearer. But the current movement in the fashion industry keeps fading this image. Gone are the days when sustainability and fashion awareness had no common intersection! And anyway: I love jute bags! 🙂

Fortunately, there are now many ways to buy really sustainable and fair clothes. Be it stationary as in Veganista in Munich, where everything is sustainable, fair, eco-friendly, and vegan. You can read more about this in my vegan top spots in Munich in the current issue of the WELT VEGAN magazine! Online you get help in Germany by e.g. the Avocadostore*. Here you can additionally filter according to criteria such as e.g. “Made in Germany” or vegan.

I have to admit that I hardly ever buy new things. Otherwise, I know that I will wear it years later. I still have a lot of clothes from my days I haven’t been so conscious, which I combine again and again. In fact, right now I just love wearing a dress that I bought 14 years ago and still looks new. You don’t always have to wear the latest stuff and a little gratitude for what you have, cannot hurt either. My rule of thumb is: It is often not important what you wear, but how you wear it. A positive charisma and a smile enchant EVERY outfit – that’s what I’m talking about to 1000% from my own experience. All the better, if I can stand behind the clothes that I wear! Both together is the new “sexy”!

This shirt is made of 50 % recycled plastic and 50 % cotton! Spread the message!
This shirt is made of 50 % recycled plastic and 50 % cotton! Spread the message!

How do I recognize sustainable fashion?

You can recognize sustainable fashion based on a few characteristics. For example, there are some seals that can make it easier for you to search. These include, for example, the “Oeko-Tex (R) Standard 100“, which confirms safe pollutant concentrations of the materials used. Better known is the GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard). It is also one of the strictest cachets for organic clothing. Here at least 90 % of natural fibers have to be used and at least 70 % of them must come from organic farming. In addition, some social working conditions must be respected: no child labor or forced labor, payment of decent wages, and compliance with other working conditions and protection.

Similar to the EU-Bio-Label in the food industry, there is also an equivalent for the clothing industry. The EU-Ecolabel rates a product from manufacture to disposal and is recognized throughout the EU. Also, the “Blue Angel” as the oldest environmental seals in Germany for particularly environmentally friendly products can be used as a guide in your purchase. It guarantees respectful and resource-conserving handling in the production, longevity as well as the observance of industrial safety and sustainable disposal. Other seals are e.g. the organic cotton seal which not only guarantees organic cultivation and thus the avoidance of pesticides and insecticides. Here, too, fair wages and the avoidance of child labor are valued. Still, it is hard to see which companies don’t make use of “greenwashing”.

Here are the 5 cachets as named: Oeco-Tex, GOTS, EU-Ecolabel, Blauer Engel and Organic Cotton Seal
Here are the 5 cachets as named: Oeco-Tex, GOTS, EU-Ecolabel, Blauer Engel/Blue Angel and Organic Cotton Seal

Raising awareness of sustainability

One thing that I personally really care about is to raise awareness about sustainability. There’s a reason why I have a separate category on my blog for that, it’s just a matter of the heart. Unfortunately, there are still moments when I am appalled, what happens in our world, under what conditions humans have to work and animals have to live. Years ago, I remember well when crossing a small river in Cambodia, I did not see any water because plastic garbage and plastic bottles covered the entire surface. When walking through the forest I find too often garbage that is simply left behind. “Someone will throw it away!”

I don’t want to condemn anyone who doesn’t know better. That’s why my mission together with North Sails is: Go Beyond! Let us create awareness for the sustainable, respectful treatment of our environment! The earth does not need us, but we need it.

We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.

Anne-Marie Bonneau, Zero Waste Chef

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*Affiliate-Link to an eco and fair online shop called Avocadostore in Hamburg, Germany. I earn from qualifying purchases.

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