Over the past few years, fashion consumers have become increasingly aware of the damaging effects of the fast fashion industry. Harming both people and the planet, the fast fashion industry is the world's second biggest polluter, fuelled by workers paid unfair wages in often unsafe working conditions. 

So, if you're looking to make some positive changes to the way you shop in 2020, here's Godiva's guide on how you can make small changes and shop sustainably this year.

1. Buy responsibly - buy ethically

Our clothes go on a long journey before they hit the shelves. But the sad reality is that majority of the people that make our clothes live in poverty and are unable to afford life's basic necessities. 

Fast fashion not only negatively impacts people, it's harmful to the planet too. The industry emits 1.2 billions tons of CO2 each year. What's more, as 60% of our clothing is made from synthetic materials, the fast fashion industry is a huge contributor to plastic pollution.

Fast fashion retailers churn out new styles week after week, resulting in a throw away attitude that sees 85% of our old clothes ending up in landfill. 

So how can you do your part to help? By shopping sustainably. That means shopping from brands that use sustainable and environmentally friendly materials, who pay workers fair wages under fair conditions. 

Some of our favourite ethical brands include:

  • Armed Angelsall their clothing is made under the strict guidelines of the Global Organic Textile Standard, they only ever use renewable and recycled materials and 90% of their collection is vegan.
  • Komodo: they use premium quality organic, natural and eco fibres and have even broken new grounds using innovative fabrics such as green PU coating and recycled PET from plastic bottles. Their clothing is vegan, cruelty free and the brand is GOTS certified and a member of the Soil Association. Komodo is also a member of 1% for the Planet, through which they donate to the Sumatran Orangutan Society who are restoring natural rainforests and eco systems.
  • Palava: all their dresses, skirts, tops and coats are made in a family-run factory in London and their knitwear is made from organic cotton grown and crafted by experts in Turkey. They only create small runs of their designs, cutting waste and meaning deadstock isn't a thing. They've also recently become plastic free.
  • Pepaloves: ensures all their manufacturers meet strict standards relating to the environment and the rights of workers involved in the production chain. They're committed to animal rights and never use any materials with animal origin.
  • Rowan Joy: Rowan's designs are handmade right here in Edinburgh, where she creates limited edition and one of a kind pieces. 
  • Emperor's Old Clothes: one of a kind, handmade dungarees, skirts and two pieces created in Brighton by an all female team paid a living wage. All their pieces are made using vintage fabrics or end of roll remnants which would otherwise end up in landfill. 
  • Mollie Brown: every piece is designed and handmade by Scottish designer Claire Hart in her Liverpool studio. 
  • Mademoiselle YéYé: ethical brand creating vintage inspired clothing in Stuttgart, Germany. All their pieces are vegan and PETA approved. 
  • Greenbomb: every garment is vegan, made by workers paid a fair wage under fair conditions. They are GOTS certified, meeting the strict conditions  imposed by the Global Organic Textile Standard, including banning pesticides and toxic chemicals in the production of their garments.

2. Buy Second Hand & Vintage

There are so many reasons to buy second hand and vintage

Cool prints and floral patterns - vintage is clothing with a past and a history just waiting for you to come along and rehome it. Plus, it’s unique. That’s always a bonus.

The great thing about buying vintage is that it doesn’t have the same damaging and harmful effects as buying new. Considering that the fast fashion industry generates 100 billion garments every year and is the second most polluting industry in the world, that's got to be a good thing. 

Buying vintage cuts out the production process, a process that takes a huge 2,720  litres of water to manufacture just one t-shirt. 

The lifespan of fast fashion items is often as little as 4 weeks. Compare that to vintage items which have a life span of years and it’s a no brainer.

Although the vintage clothing industry does inevitably leave some carbon footprint, transportation being the main culprit, the sale of vintage doesn’t require any additional materials, meaning the use of resources is comparatively small.

Vintage is a great alternative to buying new at a relatively low price. This means that vintage not only looks great, it’s great for the planet too.

3. Use and reuse - invest in reusable products

A great way to reduce waste, cut down on plastic usage and save yourself a bit of money is to invest in reusable products. From reusable shopping bags to plastic free water bottles - reusable products help to reduce plastic, waste and demand of throw away products.

Did you know that every 60 seconds, a massive 1 million single-use plastic bottles are bought globally? By simply using a reusable water battle we can help save an average of 156 plastic bottles - every individual's actions can go a long way!

Here at Godiva we love Soul Water Bottles which come in a range of fab designs. All Soul Bottles are ethically made, carbon neutral, 100% vegan and plastic free. What's more, for every Soul Bottle sold, $1 is donated to WASH projects (water sanitation hygiene.)

And why not invest in a reusable shopping bag that will pass the test of time? After all, the average plastic bag is discarded just 12 minutes after use, many heading to landfill. 

Investing in a shopping bag you love will make it easy to cut down on plastic bag usage. We particularly love this organic cotton Edinburgh Castle Shopper made in the UK by ethical brand Palava. 

4. Loved Clothes Last - wear what's already in your wardrobe

How better cut down on waste and become more sustainable than by wearing and enjoying the clothes you already own? 

According to WRAP, it's estimated that a massive £140 million worth of used clothes, or 350,000 tonnes, are sent to landfill in every single year in the UK alone. In fact, the average consumer throws away £70 worth of clothes every year. This is partly down to the throw away culture that fast fashion promotes.  

Consider digging out old pieces, restyling them and falling in love with the clothes you already own all over again. This reduces production costs, cuts down on waste and saves you money.