Nowadays people are far more educated on the plight of the environment and the damage that they can cause through consumerism. In the past, most people would make purchases without any thought apart from the cost to their wallets. Nowadays, people are thinking about the cost to the planet too.
Buying online is convenient and easy to do but purchases often come with a price; a high carbon footprint. Buying produce at the local supermarket might mean you are buying vegetables and fruit that has travelled 1000’s of kilometres. Then there is the packaging to think of too.
One other area that consumers are taking a closer interest in is their clothing. Shoppers want fair deals for cotton farmers, the use of dyes and chemicals causes concern, and sustainability is also a factor.
Due to people’s changing lifestyles which can include diet and concern for nature, many people are taking a keen interest in vegan clothing. The question is how do you know you are buying the right product?
Veganism is gaining ground in the UK and the world
In the UK there are around 2 million vegans and across the world, approximately 77 million have given up animal products in every way. This number compared to the world’s population may seem tiny but it is still quite significant. Vegetarianism was sneered at by the general population but it is now so common that many committed meat-eaters are also opting for more vegetarian options for their meals.
Restaurants and supermarkets have for some time seen the importance of providing vegetarian options for their consumers. In the past, some of these meals left something to be desired but things have changed dramatically and businesses are also recognising there is a growing need for vegan options too.
For many, veganism can be a much tougher prospect than just giving up meat and fish, and affects their diets radically at first. It also affects other areas such as clothing and it can be tough to find out if products are truly vegan.
How can you tell if your clothes are vegan?
The most obvious way to check your existing wardrobe or any future purchases is to check the labels. The majority of labels will list the materials involved. For instance, if a t-shirt is 100% cotton and undyed then you should be ok. However, it is often more tricky than this.
Not all labels will reveal the materials used. The exceptions can be when buying clothes abroad on holiday where labeling laws are different, buying from market stalls, vintage clothing, or your own wardrobe where the labels have faded.
There are a number of things you can do to feel reassured that your new purchase is going to be vegan.
Check the detailing
This is something you will definitely need to do with vintage clothing. Pocket detail, fur trims, button materials, feathers, leather labelling and details on jeans, and fur in hoods, scarfs, and hats.
Vintage clothing often has materials made from animals but there are a lot of modern manufacturers who make retro-looking clothes. Using trusted sellers means you can dress with style safe in the knowledge that your new jeans are vegan.
Do your research and shopping online
There are many high street clothing options where the employees will be able to guide you to vegan clothing, but if you want to make extra sure then seek out vegan fashion stores online.
You can use the internet to make sure you are buying vegan clothing. Check with websites such as Get Vegan to get more information on buying animal-free products in general.
Be wary of dyed clothing
Many people love bright colours and it would be a boring world if everyone wore only white or black. However, for a vegan, dyes can be a minefield. Many dyes are made from animals and insects which means that even if your t-shirt is 100% cotton, it won’t be vegan if dyed with cochineal.
Unfortunately, chemicals and dyes are often not listed on labelling so you will need to find suppliers who advertise that they avoid animal-derived dyes.
What are the benefits of vegan clothing?
There are many gains from using vegan clothing. It is better for your body as you will be wearing natural materials more often. Of course, synthetics are also vegan but if you stick to bamboo, cotton, and other naturals such as hemp, then you may find you have less irritation than from other materials.
You will be avoiding fast fashion too. Vegan clothing may be a little more expensive but that could be a good thing. Instead of buying cheap clothing that will be thrown away and end up with the other 350,000 tons of unwanted clothing in UK landfills every year, you will get plenty of life from your new purchase.
You might save money too. Although your purchases may cost more, they will need replacing much less.
You will feel good about your purchases. You know you have made cruelty-free choices and bought sustainable products.
Is vegan clothing always a good choice?
With supermarkets and restaurants joining in with Veganuary in the UK it is easy to assume that everything vegan is perfect.
Sadly, buying vegan clothing isn’t always the best option when it comes to sustainability. Or rather, buying certain vegan clothing can be bad for the environment. The reason being is the materials involved.
When you are trying to discover if your clothing is vegan the first thing you will look at and feel is the material. You may know the difference between fake and real fur, you know your silk from your rayon, but do you know what the best materials are for the planet?
Many retailers are happy to put plastic and synthetic products in the vegan section or put a label on saying cruelty-free but unfortunately, this isn’t the end of the tale. Materials such as PVC and rayon are, of course, vegan, but they cause huge problems to the environment.
Huge numbers of trees are shredded to make rayon which in itself is a disaster for the planet as it leads to deforestation. Then the process to make the fibres is so toxic that it can cause workers to go insane from the fumes as well as suffer heart disease and strokes. The waste is then fed into local rivers in Asia destroying life.
The best vegan materials for clothing
Although there are some bad synthetic products touted as vegan, there are many more that are environmentally healthy. Vegan clothing as a whole can be eco-friendly as long as the right materials are chosen.
Organic cotton and linen, along with Tencel which is made from wood pulp are among the most sustainable materials you can buy. Other fashion garments are being made from seaweed, hemp, and even soybeans.
When you are looking to change your lifestyle and make your home more environmentally friendly you can start by making all your new purchases sustainable, eco-friendly, and vegan.
Vegan clothing can be found by checking the materials, the labelling, the dyes involved, and by asking questions and doing some research. Reputable vegan retailers can be found easily on the net and will give you all the advice you need.