When creating Kaia Mar, we have been researching the sustainable fashion sector a lot. And we’ve seen many "green" and "sustainably made" brands who just capitalize on the sustainability trend. So we thought it would be useful for you to learn how you identify if the brand is sustainable or just greenwashing. Make sure you save this post and send it to your eco-conscious friend so that more people can support truly green brands.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when looking to buy eco-friendly clothes and accessories: 

1. Check the materials. 

The processes involved in creating textiles, especially synthetic ones, are often pretty harsh on the environment, using lots of water, chemicals, and energy. Opt for clothes and accessories that are made of natural materials such as cotton, linen, wool, or hemp over synthetic fabrics. They are grown without using pesticides or other harmful chemicals, making them better for the environment. 

When it comes to textile clothing and accessories, consider choosing vegan, plant-based material. The options include pineapple leaves, apple peels and cactus textile. Also textile made from recycled plastic and much more. These materials  look and feel just like the actual animal-origin leather but have much lower environmental cost. For example, the environmental cost of cactus textile, which we use to produce Kaia Mar handbags, is 300 times less than the environmental cost of bovine textile. 

Unfortunately, not all vegan material is actually good and sustainable. Many of the vegan textile products on the market are made of 100% polyester, a petroleum-based material that is not biodegradable. 

2. Consider the dyes. 

Dyes are not the first thing you think about when buying clothes and accessories. But it is really important to know what dyes brands use since many of them may contain heavy metals and toxic elements. 

Luckily, there are alternatives. Here are 4 types of eco-friendly dyes that are better for you and the environment: 

  • Fiber-reactive dyes. As it comes from the name, these dyes react directly with the fabric making the dye a part of the fabric. Fiber-reactive dyes use less water, salt and heavy metals than normal fabric dyes. Because the color is permanent, clothes can withstand many washes and still retain their original color.
  • Biodegradable dyes and pigments have been found to be an excellent choice for designers who are looking at ways in which they can reduce their carbon footprint. These environmentally friendly products do not require the use of heavy metals,  amines and inorganic salts. Usage of fiber-reactive and biodegradable dyes helps to reduce the consumption of water and environmental pollution.
  • Azo-free dyes are free of nitrogen based compounds that release aromatic amines. These organic compounds contain no heavy metals, so they're much better for the environment than their counterparts - azo dyes.
  • There are many different types of natural dyes that can be used to color fabric. These include  dyes derived from plants, fruit, algae, fungi, marine invertebrates (like starfish and sea urchins) and bacteria. The best thing is they're all biodegradable so you won't have any worries about running into environmental problems with them in the future. 

3. Look for brands that prioritize transparency.

Notice what the brands share about their manufacturing process. Make sure if they clearly speak where and how their products are produced, share the information about labor conditions, and have third-party certifications (Fair Trade, SA 8000,PETA etc). 

Why should you care about that? Well, here is the thing, if a shirt from a big mass-market brand priced $5, it means that it’s manufacturing cost is around 5-10 cents. And for a factory to promise a large amount of item units for the price of 1 -10 cents each, they need cheap and fast labor. This leads to factories hiring kids, abusing women to work 80 hours a week to make sure the factory itself makes a profit. It's a long line of people trying to make money and gain the most profit possible. 

If you chose not to support this violation of human rights and labor laws, don’t hesitate to ask for more information. Brands that are making sustainable and ethical choices will not shy away from any questions you have in regards to where their garments are made, by whom, or what fabrics they use. 

4. Explore small businesses 

You can make a difference in the fashion industry by choosing to support sustainable small businesses. These brands create amazing things, made of vegan and biodegradable materials with minimal water waste and air pollution while still providing you with great quality clothing and accessories! 

Unfortunately, they cannot compete against fast-fashion giants who produce new items every season and spend millions of dollars on ad campaigns. But you know what? Your choice can make a difference. Look for sustainable fashion brands and see if they are truly green or not by following the tips above!

The world needs more people who care about how their clothes and accessories are produced.  Use these tips when making purchasing decisions to be sure you'll get your money's worth while still being good stewards over our beautiful blue marble up there...

February 15, 2022

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