Would you like to find out what some of the most affordable eco friendly clothing brands in US and Canada are? As I said in a previous article on the 11 most ethical and fair trade clothing companies in US and Canada, sometimes it feels nice to wear something sustainable and judge people for not wearing something sustainable. However, in many cases the price for making yourself feel good can be pretty steep. As you will see from the list we’ve compiled, that doesn’t always have to be the case.
As people become more and more concerned about the environment, companies are labeling just about anything as organic, from engine oil (why?) to coffee to toilet paper, so you will pay more and feel good about it. Big clothing companies have sustainability departments and publish reports where they say how good they are to the environment. For example, H&M has a program that allows you to bring back your clothes after wearing them for recycling and offers you a discount in return. So you can buy some David Beckham underwear cheaper and think that you saved some polar bears, and H&M looks good in its sustainability reports. It’s a win-win-win for everybody, including the polar bears, right?
Not really, if you think about it. First of all, let’s not forget that most big clothing companies are promoting trends. These trends change very fast, so these companies change their collections very quickly. H&M provides new styles once every couple of weeks, while Zara can change its collections as often as twice a week. Also, the clothes these companies generally make will require you to buy new stuff every several months, as they will become unwearable. Plus, let’s not forget that even with a recycling policy in place, the recycling probably takes place overseas, so clothes get shipped there on big ships burning lots of diesel and it’s unlikely that the company sticks to the same sustainability policies when it comes to recycling as compared to manufacturing. So, in the end you end up with a lie, like the one that the guys from Toyota are trying to convince you of, that if you are a vegetarian who recycles, Prius is the right car for you, while somewhere in Canada acid rains fall.
Last year, Greenpeace released a progress report on a list of 19 fashion companies that have agreed to eliminate their use of hormone-disrupting industrial chemicals by 2020, as well as 11 other companies that need to step up their eco-friendliness. Among the latter group were several major fashion companies, including LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE(ADR) (OTCMKTS:LVMUY), Gap Inc (NYSE:GPS), and PVH Corp (NYSE:PVH), all of which were deemed ‘Toxic Addicts’. Meanwhile, Nike Inc. (NYSE:NKE) was one of the 19 brands that have committed to the aforementioned eco-friendly goals, but which was deemed to be lagging badly in actually meeting those goals. Those ratings were essentially unchanged from the year before, when LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE(ADR) (OTCMKTS:LVMUY), Gap Inc (NYSE:GPS), and PVH Corp (NYSE:PVH) were deemed ‘Detox Losers’, and Nike Inc. (NYSE:NKE) was considered a ‘Detox Greenwasher’.
I do think that we need more eco-friendliness when it comes to clothing, and I definitely don’t think that a cow or a crocodile should be slaughtered only so you can have an overpriced handbag so that when you go somewhere in public you can say once (casually): “be careful with my bag, it’s Chanel”, and spend the rest of the evening grasping it in your hands, because you are worried that it will either be stolen, or you’ll spill something on it. In fact, I once threatened my mom that I wouldn’t come home for the holidays if she bought fur and kept insisting until she renounced the idea.
So, in the age of technology and given our capability to synthesize materials, using sweatshops and killing stuff to make clothes is just ridiculous. Mother nature has lots of stuff that we can use as fabrics, like cotton, hemp and bamboo. If you insist that what you wear a product that comes from something that was running around before it became clothes, there’s wool and silk. And you can go the extra mile and buy clothes from organic textiles, with cotton that grew without polluting chemicals and wool that came from sheep that signed a consent form.
The key to sustainable clothing is to buy less stuff, wear the clothes you own more often and ditch following the trends, which you’ll never catch up to anyway. So instead of buying five pairs of jeans, buy three pairs made from sustainable materials, but wear them for a couple of years. They may cost more, but in the end you’ll save more money. And, don’t forget the joy of walking around the mall and judging people for not being as eco-friendly as you are. If you become a vegan, you can also walk around the food court and judge some more people enjoying their Big Macs.
Now then, let’s check out 12 affordable eco friendly clothing brands in US and Canada, beginning on the next page.