Sustainable Alternatives for Fast Fashion Trends
If you are 20 years old now, and you drink on average a liter of water a day, you already drank enough water in your entire life needed for only making one denim pants. It takes an average of 7000 liters of water to produce a pair of jeans. But unfortunately, water is not the only thing needed to make a pair. It takes around 2720 liters of water to make one simple t-shirt. This means that about every two years, water, to the capacity of the Mediterranean Sea, is used for drying our clothes.
The discussion around environmental issues has led to increasing consumer awareness of sustainability. Thus, companies can no longer ignore the importance of sustainable alternatives. Sharing economy, service economy, fair trade, and circular economy are some of the many emerging entrepreneurial business models of today. This article will provide you with tips & tricks on how you can implement some simple differences in your daily shopping behavior as a consumer.
Tip 1: Check the labels
By simply checking the label of your garments, you already get a lot of information about the piece’s materials and production. If a clothing item contains sustainable materials, it is reflected on the label. If you are interested in purchasing more sustainable items, we kindly refer you to the website of Labelinfo. The website promotes a variety of sustainable brands and products. As a consumer, you will get a lot of information about why a certain brand is sustainable and which other products are being produced by the company. This way, you will have easy access to a platform filled with sustainable alternatives.
The Belgian designer Katrien Smets not only communicates on how something is made but also informs the consumers on how they should maintain their items. Once an item is sold, the designer does not have any influence anymore on what will happen with the product. Therefore, Katrien Smets found a creative way to motivate her consumers to expand the life of each garment. In particular, she integrated a funny story in the labels which explains how you can take care of the clothing item. This way, she not only focuses on sustainability by using organic materials but also increases the durability of her products.
Tip 2: Ask enough questions
Dare to ask, not only to others but also to yourself. Do I really need another white t-shirt? How many times will I wear a dress like this? And is it necessary to buy a similar pair of jeans to the one that I already have in my closet?
Sustainability is not only about the materials or production method of a product. It is also about durability. For instance, it is better to invest in a coat of high quality that you can wear for several years in a row, instead of buying a new fast fashion coat every three months. In conclusion, buy less, choose well, and make it last.
Tip 3: Take care and repair
To reduce waste, we can simply make a difference by trying to take better care of our clothing. The next time a button of your sweater gets loose, think about how you can repair the item instead of simply throwing it in the nearest garbage can. In this part, we would like to put the focus on the company Nudie Jeans. This fashion business states that every pair of Nudie Jeans comes with a promise of free repairs. No matter when or where you got the jeans, you can rely on their services. The company finds creative ways to create revenue with a sustainable impact by providing repairing, reselling, and recycling services to its customers. This way, they not only set a major example to other players in the market, but they also influence their customers to think more about the environment and the impact of their behavior.
Tip 4: Swap, share, rent, or resell second hand
Today, there are plenty of opportunities online to give your clothing pieces a second life. Via a variety of platforms, you can easily swap, share, rent, or even sell the items that you would normally throw away. On top of that, you receive something in exchange, whether it is another garment or some extra money to save. Below, we will sum up three great initiatives that you can easily use. The Popswap slogan says it all: “Don’t shop, but swap”. Popswap is an online initiative to keep your closet updated without a big hole in your wallet. You can follow the company via their Instagram page or download their app on your smartphone. The app of Popswap can be compared to Tinder for clothing and accessories. Instead of uploading some nice pictures of yourself, you upload your closet. After that, it is a piece of cake. Swipe right to Like something, swipe left to Pass. If someone likes your closet back, it is a match. Then it is time to swap! Chat and arrange the swap with your match and enjoy your latest addition. https://www.instagram.com/popswap.app
Vinted: Don’t wear it? Sell it! Vinted is an online platform where you can sell your clothes that have more to give. The company wants to show people how great second-hand actually can be. Via their website or smartphone application selling your pieces was never this easy. You simply upload your pieces, provide some important information about the state of the products, and sell it. There are zero selling fees, so what you earn is yours to keep. https://www.vinted.com
HURR: is a company that wants to pave the way towards a more sustainable future for fashion. They focus on rent, re-use, and repurpose to show that it is cool to care. Via their website, people can lend or rent clothing pieces. This way, you do not have to purchase an expensive dress which you are only going to wear for one event. Their main goal is to help women organize their wardrobes and to revolutionize the rental process altogether. Check out their website to find the perfect look for an occasion while at the same time positively contributing to the environment. Can it get any better than that? https://www.hurrcollective.com
Sustainable Supply Chain in the Consumer Sector
It is time, big corporations and organizations pledge to partner with suppliers that respect the social and environmental standards. The next coming years will not only present huge opportunities for consumer companies but also by the year 2025 it is expected that over 1.8 billion people will be joining the global consuming class. It is the year 2020 and consumers are starting to focus not only on the price and quality of the product but also are curious about the sustainable impact of their consumption.
To create a sustainable product, one cannot overlook the importance of a sustainable supply chain within the organization. The participants of the UN Global Compact marks supply chain as the top challenge to improve on the sustainability performance of a product and the UN Guiding Principles have also mentioned business’ responsibility for human rights in their supply chain. We all know supply chain is the main wheel for today’s global economy, trade, and delivery to customers, however, we also need to admit that environmental impact is great within the supply chain. More than 90% of the natural capital impact (affecting soil, land or air) of the consumer sector occurs in the supply chain. Source: Carnegie Mellon University; CDP; Greenbiz; Mckinsey Analysis
To make a change within the supply chain of a network, one must go back to the source of raw materials. It is time that organizations pledge to procure the materials and services from companies committed to environmental protection. This is achieved by training the suppliers and by giving incentives for implementing sustainability practices.
Many multinationals have started to incorporate environmental responsibility throughout their supply chain network, it is now time for every organization to send their suppliers a strict message about the importance of economic, social and environmental requirements. This message should also be made clear to the procurement professionals and create incentives for them, so they not only look at the economic aspect but also at the sustainable aspect. It is very important to integrate a sustainable mindset throughout the supply chain network! The danger is clear: A supply chain is as strong as its weakest link.
A Sustainable New Year’s Resolution
Looking for a new year’s resolution which at the same time helps towards a better world? Improve your personal earth overshoot day!
What is it? Overshoot day is a day where, we as human-beings consume more than the world’s ecosystem can regenerate in 1 year and it starts counting from the 1st of January. In 2020, the overshoot day was on the 22nd of August, three weeks later than in 2019 as a consequence of the current pandemic crisis. In other words, from the 22nd of August till the 31st of December, the world population consumes more nutrients and raw materials than the world can produce and process the waste produced by human-beings in one year. From 1970, we have time after time over consumed. Although the Covid pandemic has reduced the overshoot day of 2020 by three weeks compared to last year, an extreme event like this is by far not enough to reach an overshoot day on the 31st of December.
Overshoot day is an important concept since it indicates the degree of over-consuming. This shows the human contribution to global warming and leads to big losses in biodiversity. The overshoot day is measured globally by the Global Footprint Network. On their website, you can find the overshoot days per country. Unfortunately, western countries perform very poorly. If the whole world would consume the same as Belgium, the overshoot day would have been on the 5th of April this year. It is even possible to find out your personal overshoot day on this website. Calculate this day together with your family and friends and try to improve it by next year. A perfect new year’s resolution since your own lifestyle will be improved and at the same time, the world will become a slightly better place.
To find out your own overshoot day visit: http://www.footprintcalculator.org/
Also, for more information on the overshoot day per country, please visit the following website: https://www.overshootday.org/newsroom/country-overshoot-days/
Earth School – Your 30-day Challenge to learn more about the Mother Earth
Have you ever wanted to find out more about the nature of the world we live in, how dependent we are on it, and how we can contribute for it to last as long as possible? Then the Earth School, created by TedEd, is the right choice for you. It provides you with 30 quests that will help you understand the nature of earth better and it will illustrate how dependent we are on this planet.
The challenge is divided into six different sections:
- The nature of our stuff
- The nature of society
- The nature of nature
- The nature of change
- The nature of individual action
- The nature of collective action
In each section, you will find five short videos that will give you an introduction to the selected topic. In the second step, you will be given some multiple-choice questions. This will help you to reflect on the video that you have just watched and ignite your critical thinking. Thirdly, if this interests you to gather more information on this topic, you can dive deeper into some further readings or videos.
- What is Biodiversity? (Netflix and WWF)
- What are ecosystems? (KLU science)
- Mysterious origin of life on Earth (Ted-Ed)
- How do we benefit from biodiversity? (California Academy of sciences)
- Why wasps are just as wonderful as bees (BBC Ideas)
If this sparked your interest to discuss this topic with others, you will now be given this opportunity to engage in discussions with other Earth Schoolers! Finally, it’s your turn, to draw your own takeaways from the quest and maybe even change some daily habits, opinions or try out something new.
Start your Earth School journey now and engage in a fun way to learn more about the earth, its sustainable problems and ways to counteract the polluting effects of society! https://ed.ted.com/earth-school
Have a Holly, Jolly, Sustainable Christmas!
The holiday season is upon us, and during these troubling times, it is for many people a period to look forward to. When you think of Christmas, you think of extensive Christmas dinners, presents, stockings, and the beautiful Christmas tree. But although it is truly the most wonderful time of the year, it also involves mass-consumption, with unfortunate unfriendly environmental consequences. But this is no reason for despair since there are multiple ways to celebrate the holidays in a sustainable, eco-friendly manner! Here you can find eight lovely tips to make your celebrations eco-friendlier and more sustainable:
- Rent a tree
Maybe some of you are surprised by this option, but you can definitely rent a Christmas tree to cozy up your house. They are often already decorated, which is one more thing you can scratch off your Christmas to-do list!
- Second-hand Christmas tree and decorations
There is no need to sprint to the first store you see and buy all your decorations there. You have some nice second-hand sites where you can find the most cheerful decorations and even Christmas trees.
- Use a houseplant as your Christmas tree
You can also make an alternative modern Christmas tree of your existing houseplant! You will still be able to rock around your Christmas tree, in a sustainable way!
- Christmas e-cards
Instead of sending paper Christmas cards which will probably be all thrown away after a couple of days, send some merry Christmas e-cards for all your holiday greetings! It is not only cheap, sustainable, and easy, but it also saves a lot of time preparing and sending them.
- Alternative wrapping
Rather than using single use wrapping paper, you can go for some alternative options like your left-over newspapers. Another interesting possibility is using reusable fabric wrapping. Being sustainable is not the only advantage, as they can make your presents look beautiful and radiant! Not to mention really fancy!
- Think about your food
Don’t buy your food that is produced in mass factories but try to buy locally. Additionally, you can implement some delicious meat-free courses in your extensive Christmas menu. Also, remember your leftovers and do not let food go to waste!
- Buy sustainable gifts
Make sure to give your loved ones presents that they can enjoy for a long time. Try to buy gifts that will last and not be thrown away or used just once. Again, buy locally!
- Rethink your outfit
Think twice before buying a completely new outfit you only will wear once, and maybe revisit your wardrobe first. Do you really want a new piece of clothing to make you shine on the holidays? Buy locally or try second-handed clothing platforms such as Vinted and Vestiaire Collective.
Hopefully, these tips will make your holidays brighter and sustainable.
Do you want to shop sustainable fashion, but you don’t know where to start? No worries, COSH! is there to help you out. The company promotes buying from sustainable sources. They have created a platform where consumers and participating retailers can interact. In the past few years, the number of sustainable start-ups has increased tremendously, however, consumers may not be aware of these initiatives. That is why, COSH! has launched a website to help consumers find local retailers and to promote sustainable fashion designers.
‘Google maps’ for sustainable local brands
COSH! provides a map of Belgium with addresses of sustainable fashion shops. When consumers plan a shopping trip to their favorite city, they can access the map for free, enabling them to find those sustainable fashion designers without extensive search. Consumers can discover sustainable fashion designers, plant-based make-up, and eco-lifestyle workshops at the tip of their fingers. The tool is easy to use so consumers can effortlessly find brands that fit their lifestyles. A critical analysis of each retailer is carefully performed by the COSH! Team. Consumers can be 100% sure that the displayed shops have eco-friendly credentials, are fair and are sustainable.
Christmas present: Conscious Shopping gift card
Lacking inspiration for a present for family and friends? Give a COSH! gift card to those that matter to you so they can buy goods with a sustainable impact and support local initiatives. Especially now, in times of Covid-19, is it more important than ever to support eco-friendly and sustainable local producers and shops. The gift card can also be used online, and many local fashion brands provide online shopping options. Online shopping is ideal when social distancing is required due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Activities for a staycation in Antwerp and Bruges
COSH! launched a search tool for the city Antwerp so the conscious consumer can choose between two routes that take them past eco-friendly boutiques and shops of innovative and sustainable Belgium designers. Besides, the tool provides tips and tricks to help make small sustainable lifestyle changes. During the summer, COSH! and the city of Bruges also launched a search tool guiding users in the direction of eco-friendly boutiques and vegan and vegetarian eateries in addition to directing users to beautiful, Instagram worthy tourist spots in Bruges.
Go check out their website: https://cosh.eco/nl or follow them on social media!