Each year, nearly 10 billion kilos of chemical dye is used worldwide to colour our clothes. If that feels unfathomable, consider this: it takes 2,700 litres of water to make a single cotton T-shirt - enough for one person to drink for 900 days. As fast as we’re buying clothes, we’re chucking them, too. Australians are currently disposing of 6,000 kilograms of fashion and textile waste every 10 minutes. But more of us than ever before want to change our ways; studies show that a third of millennials are more likely to buy from socially-responsible companies.
Fortunately, these style-makers are forging new paths to save our plant, inspiring the rest of us to follow. Curious to know if your favourite brand is doing its bit? Download the Good On You app to check.
The Social Entrepreneur
Because she knows it matters who makes our clothes
Profession: CEO of The Social Outfit
Ethical cred: “We create beautiful ethically made garments that stand out in a crowd, to employ and train talented people from refugee and new migrant communities,” Ruddick says of her four-year-old Sydney label. Fabric mostly comes from designer donations to reduce waste and promote upcycling, but the team also produces original, limited edition prints in collaboration with local artists and designers, like Romance Was Born.
The Ocean Warrior
Because she’s using her platform to stand up for the seas
Profession: Marine biologist and model
Eco cred: Wells is one of Australia's most successful body positive models and, with Koru, designed her own range of swimwear made from eco-friendly fabrics - and female friendly sizes. But her most important work happens on social media, where she uses her visibility to bring attention to the way we treat our oceans. “By 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the sea,” she says. “Marine life ingests this plastic, which enters the food chain. We need to do much more to protect our marine environment.” Wells subscribes to the AIR philosophy - avoid, intercept, redesign. She avoids plastics where she can, intercepts them by stopping them reaching our waterways and says she’s redesigned her life to reduce her own overconsumption.
Because she is leading the way for sustainable design in Australian fashion
Profession: designer and founder, KITX
Eco cred: A true leader in local sustainable and ethical fashion space, where Kit Willow walks others follow: she’s been innovating with planet-friendly materials since she launched her brand in 2015. What is she using this season? “Hemp is fast growing, good for the soil, requires very little water and attracts no insects so doesn’t need pesticides. If we all used more hemp than cotton, the world would be a better place. We use organic cotton, and polyester and nylon upcycled from marine litter too.”
The Corporate Gamechanger
Because she knows her customers care about ethics and the environment
Profession: Group Sustainability Manager at Country Road Group
Responsible fashion: King, who oversees the sustainable game plan across the Country Road, Trenery, Witchery, Politix and Mimco brands, has a mission that’s both game-changing and fiercely practical. They’ve committed to ensure that all their cotton supports sustainable farming practices by 2020, and plan “to design every product with at least one sustainability attribute” to the same timescale. What does that mean? “Anything from choosing factories that use less water, to switching to more sustainable fibres or creating work opportunities for artisans in impoverished communities."
They're also encouraging customers to get on board through initiatives like the Country Road Fashion Trade program, a recent partnership with Red Cross that saw the brand become the latest to offer a garment recycling service to divert fashion from landfill. “It’s also about transparency,” she says. “I love Mimco’s ongoing partnership with the Ethical Fashion Initiative, for example, which really comes alive in store and through our online content.”
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