When you live in the Midwest, you know that quality outerwear is a winter necessity. However, the materials winterwear is made from aren’t always friendly to our environment or bodies. Not only is outerwear a great way to show off your personality and make a fashion statement, but choosing sustainable outerwear is a great way to help the earth. If one of your fashion resolutions for this year is to be more sustainable, here are some things to consider when staying warm all winter.
1. Do you indeed need new outerwear?
There’s a great temptation to purchase new items every season. Shop your closet before you run out to buy a new statement coat. Do you have a red coat? Is there a long trench that still fits you that you haven’t worn in a while? By starting with your closet, you can reduce the impact of a new purchase.
2. Can you purchase what you’re looking for second-hand?
ThreadUp and TheRealReal can be great resources for finding outerwear that matches current trends. You can find great deals on designer brands on these sites but don’t discount a good second-hand store. By purchasing second-hand, you might spend a little more time, but since the garment has already been loved once, you’re not adding to the environmental impact of that item.
3. What makes the coat water-repellant?
Not all water-repellant coats are created equal. While a water-repellant coat is important for downpours and slushy snow, it’s not so great for the environment. Many water-repellant coats are made using PFAS or PFC. As you can guess, these chemicals are not great for our environment – they’re those “forever” chemicals folks talk about. When checking your potential coat’s fiber makeup, ensure it’s made with a Durable Water-repellant that’s PFAS and PFC-free.
4. Natural or recycled materials
Natural materials, such as wool or cotton, are the best choice for your coat regarding sustainability. If you are vegan, you’ll want to look for items made from recycled materials or stick to fibers like bamboo and cotton. You’ll also want to know what the lining and filling are made out of. This is another place where microplastics or fabrics irritating your skin can sneak in. Down is a great natural filler – look for the Responsible Down Standard Certification. It will be harder to avoid plastics here, so if you’d like to avoid down, look for alpaca fiber or Global Recycled Standard certifications.
5. Transparent supply chain
You’ll also want to look for company transparency regarding their supply chain. Many companies will now have FAQs on their websites answering questions about where and how products are made. Be wary of any company that appears to have something to hide – they likely do, and they’re likely not going to be following sustainable practices.
When you’re shopping for outerwear, it’s tempting to save money. If you purchase something at a lower price, look for it second-hand. In addition to being less likely to use sustainable materials and eco-friendly practices in harvesting fibers for the garment, less-expensive outerwear is also much more likely to tear or wear out quickly. Use your resources wisely by researching brands to determine which ones are the best and most durable and to avoid the traps of fast fashion.
7. Company Packaging
Does the company wrap garments in plastic before shipping? How much packaging is involved when you purchase the outerwear garment from the store? Don’t undo the good you’re doing by purchasing an item made from sustainable and eco-friendly materials by supporting a company using non-recyclables for packaging products.
8. What Certifications Does the Company Have?
Finally, check to see if the company you’re considering supporting is a certified B-Corp. Other certifications you’ll want to look for include the BlueSign certification and OEKO-TEX certifications, which check what chemicals and dyes were involved in the production of your outerwear garment. For natural materials, check for the Global Organic Textile Standards certification.
You can reduce your environmental impact by doing footwork to research your potential outerwear garment. The fabric industry is a major contributor to water pollution and carbon emissions. If you want to be more eco-friendly, you don’t have to forgo being fashionable. Many fashion companies are committed to sustainable practices.