Towards the end of 2016, ethical fashion and the movement around sustainability started to take root all around the world. Words such as ‘ethical’ and ‘sustainable’ that started as buzzwords have since taken root in the fashion world.

The fashion industry has had quite an impact on the environment over the last decade or so. Several brands have been in the spotlight for being major contributors to the waste, pollution, and human rights abuses that go on in manufacturing plants.

Recently, designers and manufacturers all over the world have woken up to a world where people expect them to be held accountable. More people than ever believe that brands need to care about the planet, animals, and, most importantly, people.

Whether you’re just curious about the idea or want to be part of the solution, it can be difficult to know which brands are taking real steps towards creating a solution. Here, we list steps you can take to ensure you can single the best ones out.

How are ethical brands judged?

There are several different ways of producing ethical fashion. According to the Ethical Fashion Forum, they fall into social, commercial and environmental categories. Specifically, issues that ethical brands try to address include:

  • Minimizing the amount of water used in production
  • Developing eco-friendly fabrics and avoiding the use of pesticides and other toxic chemicals.
  • Protecting animal rights
  • Proper waste management 
  • Creating fair working conditions for workers.
  • Promoting recycling and addressing the efficient use of energy.

How to find clothes and jewelry brands that help people

Look for brands that use eco-friendly materials

Some of the biggest fashion brands in the world use fiber that can be a highly-dangerous polluting agent. In particular, brands that source materials such as viscose (rayon) from China are known to play a major role in contributing to the pollution problem.

Viscose is a plant-based material made from wood pulp and cellulose. It is often touted as an eco-friendly material, and many experts agree with it. But its production process is often riddled with dangerous chemicals that harm people, animals, and entire ecosystems if released into the environment.

Avoid companies that use this material. Reports have stated that affected communities are unable to access water because it’s contaminated, and they are often unable to swim or fish as a result of the same.

Use Eco-friendly brand directories

Eco-friendly brand directories are websites that collect information on brands that are known to produce and sell ethically made jewelry, clothes and other pieces of fashion. How do you know to trust these directories?

They are normally built from the ground up with months to years worth of research. Companies that Bare included on the list are those that are transparent with their supply chains, carry out projects that reflect corporate social responsibility and have a known history of carrying out projects that serve the communities they are based in.

Consult with local non-profits

Despite the label, most non-profits do turn a profit. However, that money is channeled back to the business to create projects that benefit the communities they support.

Environmental non-profits usually have records of companies that take responsibility for social or environmental missions. A lot of non-profits have more detailed records and may be able to tell you which brands don’t take responsibility.

The biggest advantage of relying on them for information is that they are required by law to be transparent about everything – how much money was raised and from where. They should also be clear on the causes they support, so it’s easier for consumers to decide whether their values align.