5 Brands That Prove Sustainability Can Be Stylish

24-year-old sustainability expert Erin Schrode doesn’t sacrifice her style while working to save and protect the environment. If you don’t know who Erin is yet, circle back to yesterday’s article about her favorite makeup brands.

We already looked inside her makeup bag, and today she’s taking us on a tour of her eco-friendly wardrobe. Lucky for Erin, she says she’s been about the same size since she was about 14, which means she has collected garments from sustainable clothing brands over the years, little by little, that she still owns. But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t shop for anything new.

Erin describes her style as simple. “I wear a lot of black and like classic, nicely tailored hemlines,” Erin says. “I don’t like weird-looking stuff. A lot of eco-clothes are fringe; I just want normal that happen to be ‘green,’ that fit well, that look nice, that feel soft.”

Sustainable clothing can mean a lot of things. It could mean the articles of clothing are made from organic materials. Or vegan. Or recycled. It could mean that it is made locally to ensure that little pollution was emitted from transporting the finished product, and guarantee that fair labor and business practices were used.

Here are 5 of Erin’s favorite sustainable clothing brands:

1. For basic staples in her closet such as tanks and T-shirts, Erin turns to Groceries Apparel. The brand’s “manifesto” sums up its mission perfectly, and the goal for other eco-retailers.

We measure success by the good-paying jobs we create and the amount of green textiles we order. We exist to create a demand for fashion using only localized manufacturing and recycled/organic textiles. We manufacture garments in our own California factory, trace our fabrics to the farm and follow the human being across the supply chain to make sure that everyone is treated fairly. Our operations improve the lives of our entire supply chain, our customers and the environment. We are confident that our model and values are the future of apparel manufacturing and we would rather go out of business than compromise.

2. If you need a great pair of leggings, Erin says to look no further than the brand PrAna. “Their leggings are amazing. They aren’t see-through and they’re made of organic cotton.”

3. “When you want to get fancy and luxe, I have these Stella McCartney boots that are absolutely incredible,” Erin says. “Her products are all vegan. I’m vegan. I walk the talk.”

4. Threads 4 Thought has all of your wardrobe essentials, including accessories, activewear, graphic tees, dresses, basics and more. The polyester the brand uses is made from recycled bottles and the cotton they use is organic. Their mantra and model reflects that of Groceries Apparel.

5. Eileen Fisher uses a lot of organic cotton and sustainable fibers. “It’s always nice to see a store or brand that you know and that exists that does [those practices].” The brand promises to use ethical business practices, support women through social initiatives and work toward sustaining the environment.

Erin’s main components of being sustainable come in a hierarchy (these go for anything, not just with clothing). Before anything else, she says to reduce your consumption. This goes for clothing too. Just because a brand is organic, eco-friendly or vegan doesn’t mean you should have more clothes than you know what to do with.

The second tier on the ladder is reuse. “I say the greatest product is the one that already exists,” Erin says. She told me that most of her clothes are second-hand from vintage stores. Sure, this might not mean they’re made with eco-textiles, but it means that they’re already produced. “Buy what already exists! There are finite resources on the planet. A product you’re buying at a second-hand means no new raw materials, no new dyes, no new products, no new transportation; it is there!”

The “last resort” of sustainable practices is to recycle. Do NOT throw away your old clothing so that it is sent to a landfill. Find a way to properly dispose of it, if donating it to a second-hand store isn’t an option.

Being sustainable requires being mindful. A little bit of effort on everyone’s part can go a long way.

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