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Sustainability 21 April 2022

Monde’s Guide to Shopping Sustainably

Celebrate Earth Day 2022 by learning about the different elements that can make your clothing and beauty products less impactful on out planet.

Shopping consciously should no longer be difficult, unsexy or without an abundance of choice. Thanks to brands challenging the status-quo and prioritising our planet over the bottom line, we’re able to shop goods that embrace different elements of sustainability. Whether it be a piece of clothing crafted from partly recycled materials or a product requiring less plastic to produce, below are 5 ways to shop more consciously.

Words By Brittany Lyons

Organic Cotton

The faming of cotton has always (and will probably always) required not only large amounts of water, but toxic pesticides to grow.

Organic cotton production and farming seeks to support farmers and producers to grow cotton without the use of synthetic chemicals and seeds that are genetically modified.

The reason why synthetic chemicals are so problematic within the cotton farming industry is that the toxicity is passed on through the soil, is often responsible for contaminating waterways and often has disastrous knock-on social effects for the communities who live in the surrounding areas.

Grace of brands doing the right thing and prioritising the wellbeing of those handling and living nearby the cotton plantations, organic, pesticide-free cotton has become a phenomenon within the textile-dependant industry.

Labels like The Pangaia, Ganni and Ninety Percent all offer their range of cotton basics made from the organic cotton alternative. Similarly, homewares labels such as In Bed create their luxurious bedding and towels with only organic cotton yarns. Even brands notorious for all the negative implications associated with operating as a fast-fashion label are beginning to adopt an organic cotton offering as part of their move to a more sustainable future.

Living in a world with less pesticides and agricultural devastation is absolutely one that has positive social and environmental impact, so for that, we give a thumbs up to items produced with organic cotton!

Ganni Ruffled Checked Organic Cotton-blend Seersucker Blouse, $237.99, Net-A-Porter

Recycled Polyester

If you’re not yet aware, materials such as polyester, lycra, acrylic and other un-natural fibres are all created from petroleum. Yep, the clothes we wear, the bathers we swim in, the tents we take camping, the substance used to weave and knit the fabric has evolved from a fossil fuel.
Fossil fuel harvesting, refinement, burning, use and waste is the number one carbon emitter on our planet (the second being the activities associated with the global fashion industry) and so avoiding the reliance and production of anything to do with it is absolutely a step in the right direction for the wellbeing of our planet.

Due to polyester being such a heavily used fibre throughout fashion and beyond, it’s really important that industries and brands are beginning to look for this resource in unconventional ways. Cue recycled polyester!

By harvesting polyester from products at the end of their conventional life cycle and repurposing them to create something new, we are closing the loop, eliminating waste that will take millennia to decompose, as well as reducing the need for more petroleum-reliant polyester to be produced!

As consumers and habitants on earth, we’re so lucky that many brands are adopting the use of recycled polyester within their ongoing product development. A label who has always been a pioneer within the recycled polyester space is Girlfriend Collective, you can shop activewear, outerwear and underwear all produced from 100% recycled poly- how amazing is that?!

Girlfriend Collective + NET SUSTAIN Compressive Stretch Recycled Tennis Skirt, $86.41, Net-A-Porter

Recycled Cotton

Whilst the production of organic cotton is better when speaking about the contamination of the environment where it’s grown, the legitimacy of exactly how much better it is a contentious issue as producing cotton remains very water intensive. A proven and effective alternative to the production of both normal and organic cotton is recycled cotton.

Through the process of gathering old cotton garments, breaking them down into fibres and respinning them, we can truly create a closed loop system which avoids landfill waste and lowers the demand for new cotton to be grown and processed.

This recycled material is the product of true ingenuity from those who are trying to create a purpose for otherwise waste. In order to create a new material that is strong enough to sustain a new life, recycled cotton must be mixed with other fibres (whether that be cotton or not) to ensure the integrity of the garment is sustained.

Brands such as Country Road, Everlane and Agolde have all adopted some sort of recycled cotton strategy into their repertoires. You can shop apparel, denim and other goodies which are created with a percentage of cotton that was once something else!

Lengthening the product lifecycle of one garment and breathing new life into another is a true way of brands proving their commitment to sustainability, as well as an easy way for shoppers to consume consciously!

RAEY Recycled-yarn Cotton-blend Tank Top, $101, Matches Fashion

Beauty Refills

While fossil fuels lead as our number one world-wide industry polluter, the fashion industry as second, the international cosmetic and beauty industry is responsible for an astonishing amount of post-consumer plastic waste. Plastic (not unlike polyester) is created from petroleum (yes, BAD), it doesn’t break down, it pollutes our oceans, it pollutes our land and in its microscopic form, its polluting our bodies. For the first time ever, a recent study found microplastics in the lungs of living humans, which indicates that not only are they found within our seas and soil, but plastic is in the air that we breathe.

In 2019, Forbes reported in the article New Ways The Beauty Industry Is Testing Sustainable Practices that in excess of 120 billion units of packaging are produced globally every year by the beauty industry, contributing to a loss of 18 million acres of forest annually.

To try and diminish the amount of plastic packaging necessary for your cult beauty favourites, cosmetic brands have been pushing the boundaries of the status quo when it comes to how they bring their products to market.

One of our favourite ways to shop beauty is via the refillable method. High end brands such as Charlotte Tilbury, Ouai Haircare, and Kora Organics all offer their icon-tier products with refillable top ups requiring less plastic.

The refillable beauty scene, whilst not especially revolutionary, is helping to produce less waste, fewer carbon emissions and pass on the savings of less packaging to the consumer, and we’re here for it.

You can shop more options in our refillable beauty edit here.

Peggy Sue Gwen Beauty Oil Refill, $54, The Iconic

Pre-Owned Clothing

An alternative to materials that are less invasive on our planet, ones that are created with partially recycled materials and ones that seek to use less plastic in their packaging, one of the best ways to shop consciously is by shopping pre-owned or vintage goods.

The amount of recourses, energy and freight it takes to bring a new product into this world and to its final consumer is exhaustive, especially when you think about how many goods already exist in our world. With billions of products created every week around our world, it’s difficult to grapple with the amount of overconsumption we’ve fallen into as a society.

The benefits in shopping pre-owned and vintage fashion pieces are infinite! You’re able to invest in something that you’ll probably never see anyone else wearing, buy into an era of something that was made with better quality in the past (i.e. a vintage Chanel from an time known for better craftsmanship), shop something with a unique history and typically shop at a fraction of the price compared to something new.

Luxury retailer Farfetch has, for quite some time, offered a large selection of pre-owned clothing and accessories which you could consider as collectors’ items, for sale. At the other end of the luxury spectrum, you can shop pre-loved, vintage and upcycled clothing at Etsy. For retailer giant The Iconic, they have recently introduced a program alongside Airrobe which promotes circular fashion and the resell of goods after the consumer is done with them.

Bottega Veneta 2000s Intrecciato Hobo Bag, $3,050, Farfetch