The terms any “green girl” should know (Eco-friendly fashion terms for dummies)

Being fairly new to the green theme of fashion I am constantly coming across new phrases and terms used to promote the overall idea of going green in the industry. I decided to breakdown some of the most used terms I’ve been seeing and those I actually use myself. I should mention my descriptions are more or less what these terms mean to me and some relate very closely to each other. I am not sure if any are considered to have exactly one true meaning. Many companies promote themselves as green, sustainable or ethical but their practices are different from others who promote themselves as the same, mainly just because they are each choosing a different way to go green. In any case, here is my breakdown….hopefully it will help lessen any confusion for ya!

Eco-Friendly (derived from ecology) – The way in which you interact with nature and your environment. Making an effort to live in a way that helps protect the environment from pollution and helps conserve our natural resources. Shorter showers, recycling, not using plastic bags, eat less meat, use energy saving light bulbs are a few examples of how you too can be eco-friendly.

Sustainable Fashion – This term describes the impact the production process and consumer consumption has on the environment. It basically speaks to the entire life cycle of the garment. Think what went into making your garment…dyes, pesticides, chemicals? Was it organically grown, were only low impact dyes used? How were the dyes discarded? How about the cutting process (when they cut the pattern out of fabric to sew the garment), was there a lot of fabric waste involved? (woo thats already a lot and we are not done yet) How was your garment constructed? In a factory with slavery and child labor; (sad face) or in a place with good working conditions and fair wages (happy face)? Sustainable practices can also be seen in packing and logistics and also refers to the ownership and treatment of a garment by a consumer- is it reused, recycled or reconstructed in some way? If so, kudos to you! You are on your way to sustainable fashion.

Ethical Fashion – This terms relates to how clothing is made. It kinda encompasses everything from concept to creation speaking to wether clothes were created morally adhering to socially acceptable standards in supply chains, with garment workers, textile manufacturing, animal welfare, and other environmental concerns, just to name a few.

Green – basically the same as eco-friendly. Living a life concerned with making decisions that lead to improving the earth’s environment and ecological welfare.

Greenwashing – liars. The term given to those who lie about being green, eco-friendly, sustainable, fair trade ect. False advertisement and intentional hiding of any non-green practices.

Organic – Something grown without toxic chemicals or genetically modified organisms. Organic cotton is the big one here- it also uses a lot less water during manufacturing.

Fast Fashion – To put it bluntly, death to garment workers and obliteration of our environment. Ya that about sums it up-ha. To put it another way, its the revolving door of fashion. It is the term used to describe cheap clothing that is made, marketed and sold to customers at a very fast pace under few (if any) ethical and environmental production standards, usually as a copy or knock off to other well made designer brands. Since fast fashion clothes are so cheap it encourages consumers to buy more and dispose often.

Slow Fashion – The opposite of fast fashion. The idea of creating fashion pieces of quality, from unique design, fair wages, smart production and less waste. Clothing that lasts.

Upcycle – Using old materials to repurpose into something new without breaking down the old the materials to do it.

Recycle – The collection of materials that would otherwise go to waste for the purpose of breaking them down and converting them into something entirely new.

Upstyle – kinda been making this one up. I am pretty sure this term is usually know for a fancy hair-do. I’m using it now to describe the styling of the same garment into multiple outfits. Like a dress worn as a top or a top worn as a skirt, maybe a scarf as a skirt-top or headband even?…my brain is getting creative!  This is just one of the ways I am trying to fulfill a 2018 goal of appreciating what I already have in my closet and using it more!

Fair Trade – this means that fair wages are paid to those in developing countries in exchange for services, skills and products.

Conscious Shopper (or consumer) – Knowledge is power. Make an effort to be aware of what you are consuming or purchasing. In this case, having an understanding of the positive or negative effects products have on the environment is key. Don’t be fooled by marketing and uncredited labels.

Garment or Clothing waste: pretty self explanatory but an important part to understanding sustainable fashion. This refers to the billions of clothes that are trashed each year sitting in landfills. Most textile waste doesn’t self decompose because of the toxic chemicals used in the production process. Some fibers used in clothing takes hundreds (200-500) of years to decompose…some even a 1000!

That is all I have for now. I hope I didn’t confuse any one further- some of those explanations turned out to be longer than I thought. If there are any more terms you think are important I’d love to know. Just leave a lil comment!

Thanks for reading!


xo Sami

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