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Three steps that should, at best, be taken before making a purchase decision.

Every week, Make it last’s sustainability expert Anna Brismar of Green Strategy answers questions about fashion and sustainability. Read more about what sustainable fashion really is, or at least how we define it with the help of Anna, here.

How do you best learn about the sustainability performance of a piece of clothing before actually buying it?

The following three steps should, at best, be taken before making a purchase decision:

Read the washing label inside the fashion item. This label normally contains information about the item’s material composition, i.e. its material or fiber types and their relative percentage. If the item consists mainly of recycled material (for example recycled cotton, – wool, – polyester or – nylon), organic fibers (for example organic cotton, – linen, – silk, – hemp or – wool), and/or new cellulosic materials (e.g. Tencel® or Monocel®) the fashion item passes the first test! Otherwise, a similar fashion item should be sought that is made mostly from recycled, organic or other more sustainable materials. At best, the item should be made to 100 per cent of recycled, certified organic or new sustainable materials.

Look for an environmental label: Several large fashion companies in Sweden have developed their own environmental labels, for example H&M’s ”H&M CONSCIOUS”, Åhléns’ ”Bra Val” and Lindex’ “SUSTAINABLE CHOICE”. Such labels are often used instead of standardized eco-labels, because of the high cost of certification and the strict criteria involved. (Better Cotton is another environmental label, which indicates that the cotton has been cultivated under more sustainable social and environmental conditions as compared to conventional cotton farming. Yet, certified organic cotton is an even better choice!)

Read the company homepage to learn more about their sustainability agenda and progress. The company may have taken several steps in the right direction but has not yet communicated its progress and actions through different tags and labels. A genuine sustainability ambition may sometimes feel worth promoting, especially in the case of smaller fashion brands.

Also, sustainability is a broad field, spanning both environmental and social/ethical aspects, as well as the whole lifecycle of the product, from fiber to final fashion item and even its end use. On the company homepage, sustainability issues are often addressed in different sections, so it is good to read all sections for a better picture!


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