greenwashing vs. commitment
There are several very small brands who have committed their practices to work towards sustainability. Being locally made is one way a brand can be eco-friendly, because the carbon emissions from overseas shipping of the materials and garments is greatly reduced. On the other hand, big global brands use sustainability as a title to stage another PR stunt to distract from their very questionable business practices. If these larger brands were truly interested in creating a sustainable product, they would show a commitment storewide. I am skeptical of the larger brands’ so-called sustainable side projects because they take credit away from the brands who have worked hard to make the commitment. Often undercutting the prices by using slave labor, the greenwashing actually makes it more difficult for the smaller brands to assert their sustainable products in the market at a fair price point.
Artisans- real vs. fake
How do you identify signs of real artisan-made details in clothing? Manufacturers have created machines to successfully mimic the effects of embroidery, appliqué, knitting, sequins and other embellishments originally done by hand. What cannot be made by machine is crochet, beadwork, and draping. If something is in the former group, it my be mass produced at a lower price. Generally, the poorer the quality, the shorter the lifespan of the clothing and the sooner it goes into a landfill. If you notice a technique that can only be done by hand, then the clothing is usually better quality, more valuable and the price will be higher.
Local is Better
Mahatma Ghandi’s Swadeshi movement was devised to create a self-reliant local economy.
“According to the principle of swadeshi, whatever is made or produced in the village must be used first and foremost by the members of the village. Goods and services that cannot be generated within the community can be bought from elsewhere.”
One of the results of the movement in India was manual labor being respected, Swadeshi followers could weave their own cloth from a loom that was thought to be obsolete at the time. They set their own prices for the handmade cloth, and no longer needed to rely on Great Britain. Living the Swadeshi lifestyle also means eating locally sourced foods, and in that way it is a life that is in harmony with the natural world. It’s also very noticable that economics and eco-conscious often go hand in hand with this principle.
The Choice is Yours
On Earth Day and Every Day, you can choose better clothing for the earth by selecting clothes with artisan-made details. Steer clear of the PR circus and go for lesser known local brands that have chosen the high road to sustainability. Always buy something that was made nearby first before going to stores which carry imported clothes. Last, make it a priority to buy quality items only to keep our clothing out of the landfills.