Cheap, mass-produced, and internationally shipped, clothes use a lot of our natural resources and create greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.
The apparel industry is the second-biggest consumer of water and is responsible for about 10% of global carbon emissions, making more of an impact than all international flights and waterway shipping combined.
Synthetic materials like polyester, nylon and acrylic require an estimated 342 million barrels of oil every year AND take hundreds of years to biodegrade. Plus, it’s believed that 35% of all microplastics in the ocean come from the laundering of these fibers.
We know it’s hard to make the switch to more sustainable fashion brands but that’s why we’re doing the legwork for you. Each with their own innovations, recycling programs, initiatives, and commitments, here’s a few brands that offer higher quality clothes that last longer and feel better. (I swear, it truly FEELS better knowing you’re wearing something that isn’t harming the environment).
Next time you go to buy something new, remember that 85% of clothing ends up in landfills, and be mindful of how you purchase. Consider shopping from one of these brands instead of opting for the cheaper (and more harmful) alternative.
The Girlfriend Collective says they’re like Earth’s number one fan and their practices really do reflect that. Their clothes are made from recycled materials like water bottles, fabric scraps, fishing nets from the sea, and other waste. Plus their packaging is 100% recycled and recyclable. With beautiful colors and high quality material, it will be hard to go back to your Shein clothes.
They even have a sustainability report on each product page that tells you how many water bottles were recycled into the piece, how much energy was saved, and how much CO2 was prevented. Like their super comfy Tommy Dress (it has built-in shorts!) was made from 21 water bottles, prevented 28 pounds of CO2 from being emitted, and it saved 5.10 KWH of energy.
According to their Sustainability FAQ page, even their fabric is dyed with eco-friendly dyes and the wastewater is then carefully cleaned before being released. From fair trade partners to recycling sorting processes, The Girlfriend Collective is super transparent about their practices, production, and working environments. When we say they do it all, they really do.
And the coolest thing is that when you grow out of your items or wear them out, you can recycle them BACK to through the ReGirlfrind program and receive $15 in store credit. That's what we call closing the loop! Follow them on Instagram, Tik Tok, or Facebook for seasonal colors & new collections.
One of the 0.1% of U.S. apparel brands that meet B Corp's high standards of accountability and transparency, Marine Layer is committed to being ethical and sustainable. Made from 45% sustainable materials, Marine Layer is known for creating the softest shirt you’ve ever felt. By 2025, their aim is to get that percentage to 55% and to reach a number of 900,000 total tees diverted from landfills.
According to their site, 89% of clothing ends up in landfills… and yet 95% of it can be recycled! So they started a one of a kind recycling program where you can turn in your old tees for a $5 credit per t-shirt! (I don’t know about you, but that drawer I have sounds like it's worth a lot of money.)
Since 2018, they’ve diverted almost half a million t-shirts from landfills through their Re-Spun program, which upcycles your old tee to give them a second life. You can recycle up to 5 tees every quarter by dropping them off at a store or by getting a prepaid recycle kit through their website.
Between their recyclable packaging, catalogs, and clothing tags, their code of ethics (which every vendor is required to sign), and their community work, it seems like a no brainer. Plus their clothes are actually stylish, so you can feel good in the fabric and feel good knowing they are responsibly and sustainably made. Check them out on Instagram and fall in love with their vibe.
Speaking of recycling your old stuff, Patagonia has a similar goal of diverting apparel from landfills. Their Worn Wear program allows consumers to trade in and buy used Patagonia gear, extending the lifespan of the apparel and keeping it out of landfills. “Buying used, buying less, and buying only what we need” is their motto for the program to encourage people to keep the planet in mind as they shop.
For Patagonia gear that you no longer need, you can trade it in for credit to buy something you actually do need. Maybe you moved south and don’t need that winter coat anymore, but you could definitely use a hiking backpack or boots. Trade it in through wornwear.com or at a Patagonia store. And while you’re on the site, check out all the cool stuff you can buy used at a fraction of the original price.
Or if you do still need the gear but it's looking a little sad, they offer tutorials on how to repair and care for your Patagonia gear! If you’re on the west coast, you can look for one of their free repair and workshop events. But if you’re not on the west coast and can’t figure out how to DIY it, send it in for repair or bring it to a Patagonia store and keep that well-loved gear in business!
Besides extending the lifespan of their apparel, Patagonia is well aware of the climate crisis and the apparel industry’s pollution, labor abuse, and wasteful habits. You can do your part by demanding better practices. By knowing how your clothes are made, you can demand recycled, organic, and fair trade—because what we demand as consumers will indicate what the industry must become.
Sure, you know Under Armour. But did you know they are implementing circular design principles into their products? This means that they eliminate waste by innovating and recycling materials.
Their roadmap includes reducing plastic packaging, only using recycled polyester, introducing take-back initiatives, and eliminating spandex in the majority of their products.
They recently announced a new goal that by 2030, 75% of their products will be made from low-shed materials. Fabric and textiles naturally shed fibers as they are produced, worn, and washed, but the fragments that shed are microplastics, which get into the waterways and the air. More immediately, they set a goal for 2023 to implement circular design principles targeting products sold in Fall/Winter 2024 (with 50% of the products adhering to them by 2027).
Among their sustainability goals is 100% traceably sourced cotton, low impact manufacturing, reduced greenhouse gas emissions to reach net zero emissions, biocide-free anti-odor technology, and fluorine-free durable water repellents.
Its clear they’re trying to be transparent and innovative, and we appreciate that from a big company with a loud voice. With the dates stamped, let’s hold them to it.
This last one is a little ironic to include because they actually don’t want to be labeled as sustainable. Pangaia recognizes that every bit of shipping and transportation does have an impact on our planet. Instead, they go for Earth-Positive.
Pangaia’s goal is to inspire tangible, industry-wide change for a more Earth-positive future by reimagining what products are made from and how they’re made. Their innovation lab is exploring materials like hemp, wildflowers, peppermint, and aloe to bring back the balance between humans and nature. With everything from footwear to hoodies to biobased accessories, they use their patented innovative materials like C-Fiber™, FLWRDWN™, PANettle™, and PANhemp™.
Accordion to their 2022 impact report, last year they became B-Cop certified, planted/protected/restored over 1 million trees, introduced 12 innovations in fabric and finishes, and so much more. Our personal favorite, FLWRDWN™, launched in November of 2022 and is made from wildflowers. Plant-based, animal-free and resource-efficient, it's an insulated material that keeps you warm. And even the wildflowers are grown without pesticides or artificial irrigation.
Peruse their innovation hub to see what kind of materials they’re working on and how they’re giving back to the community. And follow them on Instagram, Tik Tok, and even Youtube for more digestible, bite-sized info about their hefty goals.
A common excuse for shopping fast fashion is convenience and price. But when you think about how long those clothes last, how well they fit you, and how often you wear them, are they really that hard to give up?
The most aesthetically pleasing wardrobes aren’t the ones that are overflowing with items that fall apart after a few washes.
The best closets are carefully crafted and every piece gets worn. They’re made with timeless, versatile pieces that you always feel like wearing.
And that’s just thinking about it superficially—when we think about what wardrobes are best for the planet, well, I think you know the answer to that.
Every week on our Instagram page, we shout out a brand that has sustainable practices, so this list of sustainable brands is ever-growing. We practice sustainability in our own way and have so much love for the planet, so we recognize and appreciate other brands who are doing the same. We know it’s not the easy route, but it's the one that’s worth it.
Please note that no one in this article paid us to include them. NONE of our sustainability shout outs are sponsored. We truly just feel the need to amplify Earth-positive practices as we see them. We are, however, open for suggestions! Send us a message or DM us on Instagram if you think your brand or a brand you know fits the criteria of being sustainable. We’ll do our own research of course, but we’re on a mission to spread the love. And what better way to do that than through our own audience.
Happy sustainable shopping!