The benefits of eco-fashion

Feb 11, 2010 at 11:34 p.m. ET

It started with recycling, organic food and cosmetics. Who would have thought green would come to fashion? With the world becoming more and more eco-conscious, even the industry of glamour and style has decided it's time to turn fashion into eco-fashion.

Woman wearing organic clothes

Brand names like Greenabelle, Beyond Skin, Ciel, Edun, People Tree or Stella McCartney pride themselves on producing clothes that are beautiful and sexy while at the same time environmentally friendly.

Filthy fashion

We might not think about it often but the world of fashion is responsible for a huge amount of chemical waste. Sustainable fashion wants to shy away from this un-eco-friendly image -- it uses organic materials such as cotton, silk, hemp, tinsel and wool or more exotically: bamboo or soya. Green producers avoid using harmful pesticides in plant growth and chemicals in bleaching while at the same time make sure that the wages and the conditions of their working force are fair.

The dawn of eco-fashion

Eco-fashion is already here. The year 2009 was deemed the Year of Natural Fibers by The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Overseas, especially in New York and London, sustainable fashion is thriving. Celebrities like Keira Knightley, Gwyneth Paltrow, Hilary Duff, Madonna and George Clooney have all been seen wearing green. In Asia eco-designers are meeting on the catwalk to promote sustainable clothing at the Eco-chic event. After the success of the recent shows in Hong Kong and Shanghai, the organizers are planning to bring the event to Sydney.

Is it expensive?

While eco-fashion might all be glamorous and good, what does it mean to be an average spender? Can I afford the environmentally friendly brands? Do I want to invest in bamboo-heeled shoes or a sea cell dress? Well, maybe it does not need to be that difficult. There are small ways in which each of us can try to be a bit more green about the way we dress. Below are a few tips to be considered.

Next time you go shopping, ask yourself: do I really need another piece? Maybe with one or two unusual accessories the clothes you have at home are going to look spectacular again.

Is it durable?

Ok, let's say you really need to buy something. Which material are you going to choose? Are you going to get something you know will fall apart after a few washes or will you invest in something that will last longer? If you cannot afford to buy all your clothes made from organic materials, maybe you can invest in one organic item over a few months?

If you never do, try visiting a second-hand shop. You might be surprised to find something very stylish and in good-condition. You do not need to buy anything which looks obviously old and worn-out, but maybe one or two items you will find might just give you that unique look.

Do-it-yourself eco-fashion

Thinking of a new hobby? Why don't you take up knitting? It is actually quite an international craze with hipsters at the moment. You can use all kinds of recycled materials in your knit works. No one is going to have a piece like that on them!

Socially responsible

Before going into a clothes store, think twice. Do you know if that company treats their workers fairly? Look at the labels, which country were the clothes made in? Is there anything interesting you have read in the press about this particular brand? And if you are serious about the cause, maybe write a letter to your favorite clothes shop asking, what they do to make sure their clothes are produced in a socially responsible way.

However cliché it might sound, attitude change always starts somewhere. Green fashion sends a message – fashion does not need to be harmful. We might not be able to afford a $100 T-shirt made of organic cotton but maybe we can use the $20 one we have at home more often. If we can alter our ways just a little bit, we might be doing a small step toward the world becoming a greener place. With or without the bamboo heels.

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