The concept of Ocean Friendly Brand
Various forms of plastic, like polyester, acrylic, and nylon, make up about 60% of our clothes. And each time we wash our clothes, hundreds of thousands of tiny microfibers of plastic come off of them and make their way to the sewage system, which is then dumped into the ocean.
You might have heard of popular buzzwords like ‘ethical,’ ‘sustainable,’ ‘fair trade,’ ‘slow fashion’ etc. In the last decade, the rise in ethical fashion brands has truly begun to make an impact on the way fashion brands approach their production and overall business. Consumers have made it clear that they care who makes their clothes, how they are treated, and how their clothing affects our environment and world.
The truth is that consumers, especially millennials, now care about the environment and the ocean more than ever before. Sustainability sells and is a big part of marketing these days. As sustainable has become something of a buzzword, some brands and suppliers are using this term, even though their products are actually bad for the environment – this is called greenwashing. Savvy customers are always on the lookout for people who are greenwashing, hence why it’s especially important to be transparent.
Starting your own sustainable fashion brand can be more than a little daunting at the beginning, specially if you don’t know where to start.
What is a sustainable fashion brand?
- Sustainable fashion isn’t exactly the same as ethical fashion, although a brand can be both. Ethical relates to the health and wellbeing of any animal or people involved in the production process. When it comes to sustainability, you’re talking about how a brand impacts the environment.
- Some of the most sustainable materials are those that last so that they can be replaced less often. Have you heard of the slow fashion movement? usually slow fashion means that the clothes last longer due to their high-quality material. It can also mean that your clothes can be worn in many seasons of the year or that basically, your clothes never grow old from the fashion hype. It’s an evergreen long-lasting style.
- Sustainable fashion should also take into account the use of natural resources like water, energy, and land. The apparel industry already creates 8% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
- It also often makes use of renewable energy sources, like solar and wind power.
- Creating an eco-friendly brand involves looking at the business as a whole – from the way you light your office, the way you send and receive goods and the materials and processes involved in your production. When customers look for truly sustainable fashion, they want the brand behind the product to be sustainable as well.
- Keeping the loop circular, not linear.
Alternatives or choices to make a sustainable fashion Ocean brand
- Use sustainable materials such as organic like yulex, bamboo, hemp, linen, wool, tencel and cotton
- Use upcycled garments such as jeans and old t-shirts to create new pieces.
- Look at ethical suppliers, even better local ethical suppliers. European sustaianble fashion brands for example use Portuguese or Italian suppliers which are specialized in sustainable garments. Examples two thirds and Kampos.
- Get GOTS Certified, ensuring that the textiles you are using are safe for the environment
- Switch to natural dyes. You might be surprised how many common foods and plants make wonderful fabric dyes.
- Build purpose behind your brand. Create a brand of substance. Find your cause or mission for your brand. Let’s be honest, there are tons of sustainable fashion brands out there. Building purpose, a mission, or just the way you make your clothes sustainable will make the difference. Partner up with a non-profit? Give it a little twist.
- Post customer impact. Will there be consequences for every purchase? neutralizing carbon print for example? % of the proceeds for a non-profit? Collect plastic for more upcycled products?
- Look into becoming a Certified B Corporation. Certified B Corps meet the highest standard of verified social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. Get other certifications such as 1% for the planet, Positive luxury, etc that will help you boost your transparency or trust.
It might sound a little bit hippy to consider wearing clothes made from hemp, but as far as fabrics go, hemp is one of the most environmentally friendly materials out there.
It doesn’t need much use of pesticides thanks to its ability to choke out any competing plants, and it around 65% of the nutrients it takes from the soil. The chemicals used to dye the hemp are more of an issue, so if possible try to stick to natural hemp clothing that avoids harmful chemicals.
Made from the sap of a tree, the rubber tree, which is grown on FSC certified plantations in Guatemala. Synthetic rubber represents the most efficient alternative to neoprene and can be harvested in a responsible and sustainable way for the forests.
Yulex, the name of the company that commercialized and the commercial name of this material is a natural neoprene made from the rubber harvested from rubber trees and the material is widely used for sustainable wetsuits. Its properties match synthetic neoprene in terms of tensile strength, tear strength, and elasticity, yet unlike synthetic neoprene it is chlorine-free.
Because this polyisoprene polymer is produced by trees and not in factories, thanks to solar energy rather than electricity, the manufacturing process results in a reduction of nearly 80% of the CO2 emissions, which are harmful to the climate, compared to the Traditional neoprene production.
Another alternative to Neoprene is Limestone, which is less sustainable than the Yulex, but more high performance.
One of the most common fabrics out there, yet possibly one of the most unethical in terms of its production as it requires too much water. Cotton also relies heavily on the use of chemicals, using pesticides and insecticides, more than any other single major crop. Grown in most developing countries, many cotton farmers are heavily exploited, earning very little money per day. Organic cotton, on the other hand, offers a much more sustainable alternative – avoiding the use of pesticides and harmful chemicals. When looking for alternatives, have a look for the Global Organic Textile Standard trademark, to guarantee the cotton you buy is sustainable.
Bamboo is a perfect mix of performance and comfort. In searching for the perfect performance fabric, bamboo was the ultimate natural fiber that started it all. Certified organic bamboo offers unparalleled comfort and performance when blended with quick-dry material. The ultra-fine bamboo yarn used in our fabrics feels ridiculously soft against your skin while delivering natural UV protection, with no added chemicals.
Bamboo fibers make our fabric blends more breathable than cotton, hemp, wool, or synthetic fabrics. It also stands out for being naturally odor-resistant, moisture-wicking, and renewable, grows rapidly with minimal water, and requires no pesticides or fertilizers. The sourcing of bamboo comes mainly from China and is grown on FSC certified regenerative farmland with minimal water and no pesticides or fertilizers. Bamboo can grow up to more than 1 meter per day. When harvesting, only the top part is taken to minimize replanting or soil erosion. After processing, the fiber is broken down into bamboo viscose and is spun into an ultra-fine yarn and blended with other materials to create custom fabrics.
It may crease easily and be a pain to iron, but when it comes to protecting the environment, linen is a good choice for your wardrobe. It’s made from flax plant fibres, which means without the use of dye – linen is fully biodegradable.
Flax can grow in versatile conditions and requires much less water than cotton, and according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, flax uses 13 times less pesticides than potatoes.
A great alternative to cotton with almost identical properties, but this semi-synthetic fiber is made from Eucalyptus trees and is far more sustainable. Unlike cotton,TENCEL is grown without the use of pesticides or insecticides, and it uses around 80% less water. It requires approximately half an acre to grow enough trees for one ton of TENCEL™ fiber, while cotton needs at least five times more land.
Finally, TENCEL has a closed-loop production process, which means 99% of the non-toxic solvent is recycled back into the system, eliminating water waste.
Another natural fibre – wool requires minimal energy to produce compared to synthetic fabrics, and it’s biodegradable, which is of course good news for the planet. But unfortunately, where demand has grown, intensive sheep farming methods are becoming more widespread and are damaging the environment.
To be sure your wool is farmed sustainably, look for standards and certifications that ensure the fair treatment of animals and the respect of the environment, for example Responsible Wool Standard, ZQ Merino Standardand the Soil Association Organic Standards.
Silk has a relatively low carbon foot-print, with little soil and land impact. Mulberry trees are farmed for their leaves, which are fed to the silkworms.
This requires a fair amount of water, but the growing of mulberry trees is considered to reasonably sustainable. Mulberry trees also help to store carbon for the atmosphere, helping to reduce global heating from trapped CO2 emissions.
Nylon is a fabric derived from crude oil. The production of nylon creates nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas that is 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Large amounts of water and energy are used throughout the production process too, contributing heavily towards environmental degradation and global warming.
But not all nylon is bad. Econyl has developed an eco-friendly nylon made from recycled plastics, significantly reducing waste and emissions. Many brands including Stella McCartney, Finisterre, Outerknown and allSister have adopted the use of Econyl.
Sustainable suppliers, logistics and partners
Repreve transforms recycled bottles into fiber. Reprieve’s supplies are used by the world’s leading brands to make athletic and fashion apparel and more. Their process embeds properties like wicking, adaptive warming and cooling, water repellency, and more at the fiber level. For reliable, durable quality.
Yulex takes the challenge of solving environmental problems including the negative effects synthetic materials have on the planet and people. They focus on the responsible development of processes to create better and safer products.
Yulex specializes in all areas of natural rubber production including agriculture, materials science and processing, product prototyping, regulatory issues, and developing transparent supply chains for our customers.
The company pioneered the introduction of FSC-certified natural rubber into the supply chain for consumer brands and since 2017.
Recover is a sustainable apparel company that would not only reduce plastic pollution in our rivers, oceans, landfills, and adventure playgrounds, but would also give people an easy choice to be part of a solution instead of part of a problem. They focus on being as environmentally friendly and socially responsible as possible in all aspects of the business – from design to manufacturing to fulfillment.
Econyl has the ability to create new products and a better environment. Nylon waste, otherwise polluting the Earth, is transformed into ECONYL® regenerated nylon. It’s exactly the same as brand new nylon and can be recycled, recreated and remolded again and again. That means you can create new products and buy new products without having to use new resources.
Global Organic Standard
The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) was developed by leading standard setters to define worldwide recognized requirements for organic textiles. From the harvesting of the raw materials, environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing to labeling, textiles certified to GOTS provide a credible assurance to the consumer.
Responsible wool Standard (RWS)
The Responsible Wool Standard is a voluntary standard that addresses the welfare of sheep and the land they graze on. Their targets are to provide the industry with a tool to recognize the best practices of farmers. Ensure that wool comes from farms that have a progressive approach to managing their land, practice holistic respect for animal welfare of the sheep and respect the Five Freedoms of animal welfare. and Finally, Ensure a strong chain of custody for certified materials as they move through the supply chain.
OEKO-TEX enables consumers and companies to make responsible decisions that protect our planet for future generations. The testing and certification process on which their standards are based guarantees maximum consumer safety. We make sustainability easy.