A Lifecycle Approach to Sustainable Shopping
Written by Ella Power
The global climate crisis is ever-growing, and the fashion industry plays a leading role. It is becoming increasingly apparent that traditional approaches towards sustainable production are limited in scope and effect. Instead, we must look towards assessing the lifecycle of a product in its entirety, measuring a company’s total environmental impact from raw materials to manufacturing methods, distribution to consumer use and eventually disposal of the product. We refer to this as the life-cycle approach, an approach that allows us to reflect on how sustainable each stage of a product’s making really is. An in-depth analysis and accountability for all stages of a supply chain is a thorough way to assess a product’s impact on the environment.
At Webtogs, we want to highlight brands and products which showcase transparent and sustainable reporting, adhering to high standards of ethical management of their supply chain. Considering a product’s lifecycle can further help promote ethical pay for workers and support fair labour practices, which are a huge human rights concern in the textile industry. We want to continue to influence and work with brands that create products that commit to an ethically responsible life cycle. This will support sustainable development, ecosystem health and increase transparency regarding the poor treatment of workers across the whole supply chain. There are global certifications that demonstrate a brand’s commitment to responsible sourcing, some of which we will explore below.
We’ve all heard of the term ‘Fairtrade’, but what exactly does it mean? Fairtrade is a certification that seeks to set global standards in the production and supply of a wide variety of products. In terms of workers and farmers, Fairtrade means more ethical rights, safer working conditions, and fairer pay. For you, as a consumer, it gives a framework for high-quality, ethically produced products. With both the product, worker, and consumer in mind, we can see how Fairtrade helps to promote sustainability at all points of a supply chain and reflects how everyday shopping decisions can have a wider environmental impact.
You can buy Fairtrade for a range of products from chocolate to coffee, to fruit and vegetables, and more, but what does it mean for our clothing? Fairtrade has been working alongside cotton farmers for over a decade to help navigate daily challenges such as rising costs of production, climate change, and fluctuating market prices. The Fairtrade Textile Standard works with manufacturers to improve wages, educate workers on their rights and helps brands to commit to a fairer world of trade. Look out for the Fairtrade symbol which indicates products that adhere to these ethical standards.
One Percent for the Planet is a global network of businesses, non-profit organisations, and individuals who aim to tackle some of the planet’s most urgent environmental concerns. The organisation was founded in 2002 by Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, and Craig Mathews, founder of Blue Ribbon Flies, who vowed to give 1% of their sales back to the environment to fund collective action against the climate crisis. Their model is simple yet effective and provides an easy way for businesses to make a high-impact contribution to six core issues: climate, land, water, food, wildlife, and pollution. One Percent for the Planet has raised millions through its network and has brought global awareness to the responsibility we all must recognise to protect our planet. Some of the brands we stock, including Patagonia and Klean Kanteen, are certified with 1% and represent the direction we want to move towards as a company. By supporting brands as such we can all help contribute towards the collective fight against climate change.
Here at Webtogs, we are committed to a future where the Lifecycle of our products is thoroughly assessed and ethical, working with brands and stockists to adhere to strict global guidelines which lead the way. This not only includes clear information, but stocking products that are durable and of the highest quality to weather a lifetime of wear. For example, Osprey offers their Osprey All Mighty Guarantee which is the cornerstone of their sustainable platform that promises you products for adventure, not landfill. Osprey is committed to repairing any product that has experienced damage or defect, helping reduce the number of discarded clothing and equipment. As well as this we continually work with brands to commit to the Responsible Down Standard (RDS), Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) and Leather Working Group which help regulate ethical farming practices. Through a consideration of a product’s lifecycle and an understanding of the supply chain, we hope you can make a more informed decision with every purchase.
Whether with Webtogs or with another retailer, we encourage you to look out for certifications wherever you decide to purchase your gear. Look out for the bluesign® standard, Ethical Trading Initiative – ETI, Cradle to Cradle, Higg Index and The Microfibre 2030 Commitment.
To make it a little easier, we have put together a collection of sustainable clothing and gear for you to browse just here.