There are many ways to minimise your ecological footprint. You can eat more vegetables instead of meat and dairy, choose railways over flights more often, or insulate your house so the heat is not being lost when you use your heating system (bio-powered, ideally!). We all know it is not easy to get even halfway to carbon-neutrality / zero-waste / cruelty-free ideals when it comes to fashion, but there are several brands and designers behind them that try to help us get there. Meet them and learn how do they minimise our ecological footprint with their products.
Images source: Save The Duck | Instagram
Originally from Italy, PETA-awarded Save The Duck is now global outdoor brand with a slogan “A New Generation of Earth Friendly Jackets”. As the brand name suggest, they do not use down (goose or duck) inside their products. Instead, they warm their jackets with Plumtech®, technology exclusively used in Save The Duck jackets and created at their laboratories.
Video source: Save The Duck | YouTube
Zero-waste freaks will get excited when they learn that Plumtech® fibre is partially made from recycled PET bottles. It is also breathable and waterproof, with a great heat-retention capabilities. Customer reviews say it all:
I loved the Save the Duck jackets so much that I bought 3 of them this winter. We had the coldest winter ever in New England and I can’t believe how warm, light and comfortable these coats are. They are also super stylish, perfectly form fitting and not bulky as most down jackets are. The best buy I made this winter!
So what is wrong with down when it comes to environmental cost behind it? Down is – despite the technological innovations – still widely used in most of winter jackets you can find on the market as an insulator. Mountain Warehouse, for instance, tells “down creates thousands of tiny air pockets which trap warm air and retain heat, thus helping to keep the wearer very warm in cold winter weather”. I am not going to discuss whether down is better insulator than synthetic ones, others do it better, but instead, I will focus on environmental costs that comes with it.
Down is coming from living animals, geese or ducks. No, it is very often not “collected” after they are slaughtered. People for the Ethical Treatment of the Animals (PETA), has displayed a footage from their investigation in 2016, showing Chinese suppliers who officially claim to follow so called Responsible Down Standard (RDS), breaking the standards at their geese farms in reality. Following RDS, birds should have been first slaughtered and then plucked. Instead, birds are live plucked, or we should say it more accurately: ripped out of their down, while still alive.
Even if the RDS was followed, geese and ducks are being kept at industrial farms. With the global demand for down we have today, it would be impossible to source the down from family-owned small scale farms, as creators of RDS (Textile Exchange) suggest at the dedicated website. It is also hard to believe their statement that “down is the by-product of a renewable resource”. I prefer to say that geese and ducks are first and foremost animals, not a “renewable resource” and down is definitely not a by-product, but a natural insulator being taken from animals in a cruel way without their consent.
Going back to Save The Duck. Starting with their non-usage of down and upcycling PET for Plumtech® production, they also reach for recycled fibres for several of their external materials. You can learn more about the materials and their properties here. Above all of that I love their designs so much! Not only they keep their jackets very minimalistic, but also add intelligent pocket system and make their jackets season-adaptable. You can add or remove additional layers whenever you want.
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Check their Instagram for more female, male and kids designs! Video source: Save The Duck | Instagram
Image source: Instagram
Patagonia’s steps towards circularity and sustainability should appeal to those who still prefer animal down over synthetic one. This brand is experimenting with more sustainable and Earth-friendly technologies and materials since 1990s being a pioneer in this regard. In 2016 they have introduced 100% Recycled Down to some of their products. Instead of taking down from living animals, they have partnered with recycling suppliers to source down from cushions or bedding. This way they protect geese and duck down from going to landfill or being incinerated, where its value is being ultimately lost. Recycling also helps to reduce the energy consumption required when using raw materials.
There are other reasons why Patagonia is positively contributing towards circularity and sustainability. That’s one of the fewest brands that generously grant and passionately educate local communities and environmental activists with their financial aids. With Patagonia Action Works not only they financially support organisations fighting climate change, water pollution or species extinction, but also help individuals find organisation nearby, therefore strengthening local groups and making them more efficient through a dedicated website.
Worth mentioning, that since 1985 Patagonia has given almost 90 million $ to their grantees. It’s pretty uplifting and very empowering to know that part of our money spent on Patagonia’s products will add to environmental groups activism.
Last, but not least, Patagonia has opened their own second hand shop, Worn Wear, where you can buy their products that were given back to Patagonia’s stores by previous users, or as they like to put it “story wearers”. Swapping clothes or buying at second hand shops is a well known practice for minimising our ecological footprint and Patagonia is promoting this idea as well.
Saeed Ur Rehman’s (former World Bank consultant at Agricultural and Rural Development Department) response to the question asked about the sustainability factor related to buying second hand clothes at researchgate.net
Image source: NAE Vegan Shoes | Facebook
NAE (No Animal Exploitation) is a Portuguese shoe brand making their footwear from pineapple skin, cork – the portuguese treasure, recycled PET bottles or used airbags and tires. They are thus an upcycling brand, meaning during recycling process, materials and products are reused in a way as to create a product of higher quality or value than the original. By doing so, they help to close the loop, meaning rescuing materials from being otherwise discarded.
They also inform about a CO2 free manufacturing system (there is no further explanation on that matter I could find on their website, but I will ask them about the details). Their manufacturing sites are located in Portugal, so they reduce the carbon footprint by not outsourcing production to Asian countries. You know, every product does not have to be transported over thousands of km before landing on your feet.
Summing up, you need to remember there are other ways to reduce your ecological and carbon footprint when it comes to fashion.
1. Above all, try to buy less and better quality products. They will last longer.
2. Secondly, choose locally-made products. Shop in physical stores. It will be hell of a reduction of carbon emission as products will not have to travel to you from remote warehouse.
3. Try to purchase second hand clothing. As mentioned above, studies show that it also help to reduce CO2 emissions and extend the life cycle of a product.
There are definitely more winter clothing and shoe brands that strives to deliver the best quality hand in hand with low environmental impact. Are you in love with other brands as such? If so, please share them with me, so I can write more useful articles to inform environment-centered people!