8 Ethical And Sustainable Brands You Can Feel Good Buying From

It’s been about a month since I’ve started my Sustainability & Style Initiative and it has really been eye opening. I have found myself in countless shopping situations where I’ve felt the incredible urge to buy something completely unnecessary and absolutely unsustainable and unethical. The difference is I have, for the most part, not given in to that urge. I have only purchased three items this year so far, which even if I continue at this pace (which I will work hard to lower), I will buy 36 items this year, which is 50 items less than the average American purchases in a year. The problem? None of the three things I purchased, which you can read about here, were sustainable. So I put together a list of 8 sustainable and ethical brands you can feel good about purchasing from.

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1. American Apparel 

American Apparel has a vertical integration system, which sounds confusing but actually is quite simple. All factories that produce American Apparel clothing are owned by American Apparel, making the company responsible for everything that happens in the factory. All American Apparel factories are located in Los Angeles and are positioned in a circle, cutting transportation almost entirely from the production process. And remember those scunci’s you used to buy from American Apparel? And the braided belts displayed next them in the store? That is one of the things American Apparel does to be a zero waste company. They also use leftover scraps as rags if they cannot be repurposed and sold, and everything left over after that is recycled. Read more about American Apparel’s vertical integration system and their other sustainability efforts HERE, and don’t forget my favorite thing about American Apparel, its LA factory store, which you can read all about HERE. Shop American Apparel goodies below.

 

ASOS is one of my favorite brands. They have a section on their website called the ASOS Eco Edit which features fair trade, sustainably-made and ethically sourced clothing and accessories. In new pieces of clothing organic cotton is used, and old textiles are old jewelry are up-cycled and resold. While I love that they have a separate part of their website selling sustainable and ethical clothes and accessories, the brand also has a general corporate responsibility statement, ensuring “fashion with integrity” from the specific ASOS pieces they sell. They ethically trade, source sustainably and place a high importance on animal welfare. The problem is they also sell clothes from other brands like BooHoo which are not as sustainable as ASOS is. Therefore it’s safest to stick to the ASOS Eco Edit (which you can shop below) or buy specific ASOS brand items.

IX Style is an ethical brand in more ways than one. Buy purchasing a pair of shoes you help provide clean drinking water to children and communities through water filtration systems, rain collection units and wells in Guatemala. This way children can go to school instead of spending time getting water for their communities from water sources miles away. IX Shoes also empowers the artisans who make the shoes, and pay a premium price to ensure each purchase is ethical. Also, a tree is planted for every pair of shoes that is purchased. That’s pretty cool, if you ask me. While the shoes are a bit expensive for a jobless college kid like me, they are entirely hand crafted and take upwards of three hours to make. Thinking of all the thought and ethical practices that go into one pair of shoes makes up for it. If the price is still a little steep, use the promo code McSherry30 at checkout from THIS LINK and get your shoes for 30% off. You can’t beat that. As always, you can read more about the sustainable and ethical practices of IX Shoes HERE.

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I found out about this brand through Instagram. Mainline Basics is a company that sells basic tee shirts, long sleeve shirts and tank tops. Every item is completely manufactured in the United States in order to ensure greater oversight and control of the supply chain. 100% organic cotton is grown in Texas (and every bale of cotton can be traced back to the field and farmer that grew it), and the tops are designed, cut and sewn in San Francisco. THIS page on their website goes even more in depth about the different sustainable practices they follow, including the use of sustainable shipping and print materials. Here are some of their products.
Patagnoia is one of the brands I talked about in the big writing paper that sparked my conscious consumerism kick and fueled my cognitive dissonance. The brand is well known for its sustainability initiatives and corporate responsibility department. Patagonia evaluates itself in terms of sustainability in four areas: sourcing, quality, social effects, environmental effects. If one of these areas is not up to the standard set by the brand, the brand will not source their clothing from that location. They are now focusing on using organic cotton in their products. THIS page of their website explains all of their initiatives. Shop Patagonia below.

6. prAna 
I own two items from prAna and didn’t even realize that until recently. My first item is a long sleeve shirt with a screen printed pop-art-esque Earth. I bought this on one of my days off in the ever granola Burlington, Vermont. The other you can read about HERE. I can honestly say that these two items are very high quality, and to know the brand is ethical and is sustainable makes them even better. PrAna uses materials like organic cotton, recycled wool, hemp, recycled polyester and repurposed down for their clothing and accessories (all of which rank highly on the materials sustainability index b.t.w.). Their are six comprehensive links on their sustainability page that discuss everything from their fair trade practices, to their involvement with the fair labor association, their responsible forest initiative, and traceability. And their mission is “to inspire healthy, active, and free-spirited living”. Who couldn’t love that? Shop some prAna items below.

Reformation has been on my radar for a few years now, but it wasn’t until this past fall that I learned about its intense sustainable practices. What I find impressive about this brand is, like fast fashion brands, the turnaround from a sketch to the racks is short. It takes less than a month for a design to be in the stores, yet it is done entirely sustainably. So it is possible for other fast fashion empires to do the same, yet they don’t. That’s a problem.
Reformation uses three types of materials for their clothing: new sustainable fabrics, repurposed vintage clothing, and excess fabric that fashion houses over-ordered. That in and of itself is impressive, but there’s more. They monitor their waste, water and energy footprints; the used water from washing the textiles is used to irrigate the company garden; their stores and LA headquarters source electricity from 100% renewable power suppliers; their only exception to having 100% recycled packaging and office supplies is their garment bags, which still are made from 30% recycled materials and are always reused; they are well on their way to becoming a zero waste company, and currently recycle 75% of their waste. The list goes on and on. You can read more HERE and shop some Reformation pieces below.

As a designer brand with runway shows and $800+ shoes I did not expect Stella McCartney to have any sustainable focus; I thought it would be much more about trend setting. I was pleasantly surprised. There is a comprehensive sustainability tab under the “Stella’s World” tab on the brand’s website. There is even a subsection solely for recent news about sustainability in the fashion industry. There is a full outline of the brand’s sustainability commitment, which is to be responsible, honest and forward thinking. My favorite part of the sustainability portion of the website is yearly summary tab. Each year the brand updates its sustainability practices and initiatives. It’s very impressive. There is also a detailed timeline of the brand, whose sustainability practices started in 2001. And it’s not just sustainability promises and transparency that Stella McCartney promotes, the brand is vegetarian, it promotes meat free Mondays and focus on reusable and vegetarian materials for their clothing. Shop some Stella McCartney goodies below.

These are just 8 sustainable and ethical brands that I have researched, and I know that there are many others out there. Do you have any favorite sustainable or ethical brands that were not included in this list? Or do you have any sustainable shopping habits? Let me know below – I would love to hear!
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