Help reduce fashion waste by ditching fast fashion in favor of recycled clothing brands.
Fashion is a waste—literally. The average person throws away about 81 pounds of clothing each year, according to thrift retailer Savers. And that’s only in the U.S. But your affinity for all things fashion doesn’t have to come at the expense of the planet. You can easily help to reduce fashion waste by ditching fast fashion companies in favor of recycled clothing brands.
The rise of recycled fashion
Only 12 percent of textiles are actually recycled. Unlike glass or paper, which can be easily separated, clothing is generally composed of a blend of fabrics, both natural and synthetic. Garments may also feature elements like buttons and zippers, making recycling problematic.
“This process makes it impossible for the industry to biodegrade or recycle those fabric blends,” explained Emely Guevara, founder of Los Angeles-based sustainable clothing brand, ERAMÍA. “We don’t have the technology to break down blends of plant and plastic-derived garments, so they end up being added to our growing mass of immense waste.”
Brands like ERAMÍA are working to tackle the global textile waste crisis by incorporating recycled and more sustainable materials—as well as deadstock fabrics, the fashion industry’s unused materials—into their clothing production.
“Not only are we ensuring that our pieces are recyclable and/or biodegradable, we also use zero plastics in our packaging and tagging, which reduces the amount of microplastics being released into the environment,” added Guevara.
Recycled clothing brands to shop
When it comes to lessening your environmental footprint, reducing your consumption of clothes, such as by purchasing second-hand garments, is a more sustainable option. But you can also support fashion brands that are committed to sustainability, including shopping those that offer recycling clothing. Check out these brands that are using recycled fabrics to craft their wares.
1. Stella McCartney
This luxury fashion brand is no stranger to sustainable materials, regularly using the likes of vegan leather, organic cotton, and recycled nylon and polyester to create its pieces. The company’s packaging, which comes from recycled and certified sustainable sources, is also gentle on the planet.
In 2014, Stella McCartney launched Clevercare. The garment labeling system, which is aimed at helping consumers extend the life of their clothing, is based on five pillars of clothing care: washing, temperature, drying, ironing, and dry cleaning. “The less you wash your clothes, the better,” explained McCartney. “Clothes last longer if you wash them less and care for them more. And less washing saves water and energy.”
According to this sustainable clothing brand, “being naked is the #1 most sustainable option. Reformation is #2.” The Los Angeles-based company incorporates deadstock, upcycled fabrics, and recycled materials into its pieces.
According to Reformation, it’s been reusing and recycling clothes since 2015 with the help of its buyback program, RefRecyling. Customers can turn in their old wares, which the brand breaks down into fibers it uses to create new pieces. Shop the Climate Neutral certified company’s assortment of jeans, dresses, bodysuits, and more.
3. Girlfriend Collective
This activewear company’s motto is: “Don’t make waste, wear it.” So it should come as no surprise that the brand uses recycled materials in its collections. Its leggings and bras are made from recycled plastic bottles. It even has a maternity collection made from recycled fishing nets and other ocean waste. And when it’s time to upgrade your leggings, simply turn them into the company’s ReGirlfriend buyback program so that they can be upcycled into new pieces.
Founded at the start of 2022, the woman-owned brand creates recyclable and biodegradable garments made from plant-based fabrics like bamboo, organic cotton, and hemp. The company also has a range of clothes made from recycled materials like polyester. “We know we may not reach perfect sustainability, but we aim to inspire consumers to reduce mass consumption of fast fashion clothing, reuse and upcycle clothing when possible, and support businesses that are taking responsibility for their contribution to global waste,” said Guevara.
The brand aims to launch a buy-back program later this year. Each piece will be eligible for a buyback credit of up to $15, and the clothing will either be resold, upcycled, or recycled.