Sustainable Fashion Glossary

 

Each and every sustainability-related word you have always wanted to know.

Here to help when searching on Renoon. Plus a great way to show off on your next dinner date!
How dare you not know the difference between biodegradable and compostable?!

Image Credit: Bea Fremderman

🍃 Biodegradable

Biodegradability refers to the ability of the substances and organic materials to degrade into simpler substances through an enzymatic activity of microorganism. All materials can TECHNICALLY biodegrade in a certain period of time! Attention: biodegradable is not the same as compostable. Read the definition of compostable further down. 

Don’t you want to know if biodegrade clothes are sustainable over time?

☠️ Bluesign®

The bluesign® certification system provides a safer and more sustainable environment for people to work and everyone to live in. Powered by a holistic approach, bluesign® traces each textile’s path along the manufacturing process, making improvements at every stage from factory floor to finished product. As a solution provider and knowledge broker, bluesign® acts as an independent verifier to secure trust and transparency.

👗 Capsule Wardrobe

You can call it a “mini wardrobe” made up of high quality, versatile clothes that never go out of style. 

The idea behind a capsule wardrobe is to select 30-40 well-fitting items you will wear all season (including accessories). It’s not about how many items are in your closet, but rather being thoughtful about how they all work together cohesively.

This is how to build a capsule wardrobe in 5 steps

🌳 Carbon-neutral

Just by existing, we emit greenhouse gases. Among them, CO2 is the most well known. Going carbon neutral actually means balancing out what was emitted to make it equal to 0. So, how can CO2 be balanced out?
In fashion and other industries, as well as for individuals, carbon neutrality can be achieved through reducing emissions or offsetting them. 

First came leggings, then the crop tops, now carbon neutrality is becoming the new fashion must-have. What do scientists, environmentalists and brands have to say? Is going carbon neutral going to solve our problems? Finding a balance through carbon neutrality is the spark we need to move the needle in the right direction? Continue reading:

Why are your fashion brands turning carbon neutral?

🐑 Cashmere

Ahh … cashmere, considered as one of the rarest and most luxurious fibers in the world. This material is said to be three times as warm as wool and is known to be long-lasting. Cashmere doesn’t come from sheep, rather from goats. When the temperatures rise, goats naturally shed their coats. That’s when producers comb out the fine hair, sort it by hand, send it to facilities to be cleaned, refined, baled and shipped to Europe, where it is sold to manufacturers. 

However, also cashmere like wool can incur into unethical practices for the wellbeing of the animal. That’s why it is important to check standards on consciously made cashmere.

Image Credit: Veja

🌈 Certification B Corp 

The B Corporation certification is a popular standard that ensures a company takes responsibility for its supply chain workers. Certified B corporations must adhere to stringent environmental and social standards. Certified B corps such as Veja are completely transparent with regards to where their shoes were manufactured and by whom. They even go as far as sharing the origin of their raw materials.  This radical transparency coupled with the B Corp certification ensures the final product is truly sustainable. Is the B Corporation Certification the way of the future? Probably.

Which sustainable certifications you should go for?

Compliance Certifications

Oh dear! What a term: compliance certifications. And here are two more that will drive you crazy: SA8000, ISO14001. Sounds like names Elon Musk would give to his new baby. SA8000 is an auditable certification standard that measures social performance in eight areas important to social accountability in workplaces, anchored by a management system element that drives continuous improvement in all areas of the Standard.

ISO14001 Environmental Management System (EMS) is the standard that sets out the requirements for the environmental management systems (EMS) of any organization. It is part of the ISO 14000 family of standards developed by ISO/TC 207. The standard can be used for certification, for self-declaration or simply as guidance to establish, implement, and improve an environmental management system.

Ok, now what can you still remember?

Don’t worry we’ll never bother you with those ever again – we can check them for you.

🍂 Compostable

Composting your natural-fibre clothing works in a similar way as putting vegetable scraps and spoiled food into the compost. Compostable products are biodegradable, but with an added benefit: they decompose and become food for new plants. The composting process recycles 4 of life’s building blocks – carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen – back into the soil to support new growth. The fibre becomes food for microbes, bacteria, fungi, moulds, worms, beetles, snails, mites, cockroaches, and other critters, which are all part of the process.

Industrial composting is what happens when large amounts of commercial waste is processed.

So what’s the difference between biodegradable and compostable? While all compostable materials are biodegradable, not all biodegradable materials are compostable: they need extra care in the after life as they might not release the nutritious elements that have the added benefit + might also take more time if not in the correct environment.

✂️ Craftsmanship

Craftsmanship is the quality that comes from creating with passion, care, and attention to detail. It is a quality that is honed, refined, and practiced over the course of a career. No wonder why fashion becomes like an exclusive art.

👖 Deadstock

Deadstock is a term to describe clothing that was never sold to a customer, usually because it has gone out of style. Ever wonder what happens to sale items that never sell? It becomes dead stock: it’s sort of dead because what can we do with t-shirts and bags nobody wants to buy?

Oh, maybe use them to create new clothing? That’s what some brands do on Renoon.

Image Credit: Reformation

🧥 Deadstock Fabrics 

Deadstock refers to a textile that has remained unused or unsold. Out of fashion? Produced too much? These are all possible reasons that turn textiles into deadstock fabric – basically stuff that would become waste if we didn’t find another use. Some brands get really creative with deadstock and produce great collections. High five to them!

🌍 Earth Day

Every year on April 22, we celebrate Earth Day. Earth day is a day to celebrate how far we have come in addressing sustainability, but also a day to reflect on areas and industries in which change is imperative. Climate change is a reality. In May 2020, we have already hit 9 out of the 30 “points of no return” identified by scientists as potentially catastrophic tipping points.

Earth Day is over. What now?

🐠 ECONYL® 

ECONYL® is made by taking synthetic waste such as consumer plastic, deadstock and abandoned fishing nets, and regenerating it into a new material that is equal in quality to virgin nylon. ECONYL® is a more sustainable alternative that is ideal for swimwear and activewear. 

Normal (virgin) nylon is a material made from petroleum.
ECONYL® is not.

Read more about ECONYL®

👣 End of life

End of life in clothing is a term linked to circular economy as the brand should provide more information on “how to dispose the garment” after it has been used.

Imagine a world where business, society and environment can sit together at a table without screaming at each other. That’s not something that happens that often today. A circular economy approach could do the trick: instead of taking something and throwing it away, we could make it into something new. 

 A term that will make you definitely stand out on your next dinner date: “Cradle to Cradle”. Don’t know what that is? Easy. It’s doing it like nature teaches us to: when a tree or animal dies or creates waste, that waste breaks down and becomes nutrients for another process.

🤝 Fair Trade Clothing

You might want to go for certifications that ensure workers receive fair wages and safe working conditions. The Fairtrade Mark is used as a signifier for products that meet internationally agreed social, environmental, and economic Fairtrade Standards in the last few years. Profits made from products that qualify for the Fairtrade Mark go towards supporting farmers and workers, and improving lives and communities.

Which sustainable certifications you should go for?

Image credit from left to right: Fashion Revolution; The Public Eye Awards

👠 Fashion Revolution Week

The Fashion Revolution is a global movement that was created one year after the Rana Plaza tragedy, where more than a thousand garment workers lost their lives due to a preventable factory collapse. The goal is to improve traceability and transparency in the fashion industry. Since 2017, the movement #Whomademyclothes has trended on social media. Every year, to commemorate the incident in Bangladesh, Fashion Revolution Week encourages millions of people to come together to campaign for systemic change in the fashion industry.

Don’t you want to know who made your clothes?

Fast Fashion

Fast Fashion is a bit like Fast Food. It’s the way in which brands and businesses design, produce and bring new collections to market in a very short timeframe, sometimes less than 2 weeks. The result? You have a t-shirt that costs less than the salad you just ate. Cheap, quick and sometimes “dirty”. No, really. You (or anyone really) can refresh your wardrobe easily with almost single-use pieces that will pile up on your shelves.

Toxic materials and chemicals are not the only fun in here: labour for fast fashion is usually outsourced to factories that have dangerous working conditions, extremely low wages, and oftentimes child labor. The cherry on top: the fast fashion designs are so “in” because the company has replicated Versace’s fall collection that was in Milan fashion week the month before. Let’s call it “borrowing fashion’s creativity”.

How to break up with Fast Fashion?

🦊 Faux fur

Fake fur is a type of textile fabric fashioned to replicate genuine animal fur. It is typically made from polymeric fibers that are processed, dyed, and cut to match a specific fur texture and color. Faux fur is having a real moment these days. 

With more and more luxury fashion brands ― and even entire cities ― doing away with real fur, it’s time to turn the spotlight on faux fur. As we’ve seen on the runways at Stella McCartney and Givenchy, faux fur is prolific and can be virtually indistinguishable from the real stuff. When it comes to fur, questions of ethics and sustainability arise. And while it’s true that faux fur appears to be a more ethical choice than real fur, in that animals aren’t harmed for its creation, some believe faux fur is much more harmful to the environment than natural fur. If you despise plastic and love the oceans, material innovation is the way to go.

🌱 Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)

The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), a certification recognized by all major markets, guarantees that organic textile products are made in compliance with stringent environmental and social criteria throughout the supply chain, from the harvesting of natural fibers to the subsequent manufacturing stages, up to the labelling of the finished product. This certification attests to the sustainable production of garments and textiles made from natural fibers from organic farming. GOTS parameters include technical and environmental quality, as well as toxicity and social protection, which are guaranteed throughout the supply chain by the certification itself.

What is the difference between organic cotton and traditional one?

Global Recycle Standard

Promoted by Textile Exchange, one of the most important non-profit organizations promoting responsible and sustainable development in the textile industry worldwide, the GRS provides tests and parameters for the following areas: product composition and recycled materials content; traceability maintenance throughout the production process; restrictions on the use of chemical agents; compliance with relevant environmental parameters such as supply, discharge of water resources and energy recovery; compliance with social parameters relating to workers’ rights.

So to recap:
Does it verify recycled content? Check.
Responsible social practices? Check.
Environmentally responsible? Check.
Safe to buy? Check.

Image Credit: Kings of Indigo

💰 Greenwashing 

Greenwashing means creating an illusion of sustainability, rather than actually doing it. We’ve all had that friend who brags about being the best at something when all she/he really did was get it right that one time. So, when reading labels with vague claims like ‘’sustainably made’, “green”, “ethical”, “transparent” without any explanation of the reason why, it’s important to be skeptical.

 Mind us, that’s not always the case, but trust is something that needs to be earned. 

To give you also another definition, put your smart hat on and read this: greenwashing is when a company or organization spends more time and money on marketing themselves as environmentally friendly, rather than actually being eco-friendly. 

One more thing to know: the most basic example of greenwashing in fashion would be a t-shirt that claims to be made with sustainable materials, but in reality, it is composed of less than 5% of those sustainable materials it claims.

🐄 Leather Working Group (LWG)

The Leather Working Group (LWG) is a not-for-profit membership organisation created for tanneries (factories that produce leather). Since 2005, they have developed audit protocols (like a fancy checklist) designed to certify leather manufacturers according to their environmental impact and performance capabilities. Products made with LWG leather are considered a more sustainable option, if you don’t mind leather of course.

🍍 Natural Waste Materials

Byproducts. That’s right, we are not misspelling “Buy Products”. Byproducts are leftovers from a production process; things that become waste because we don’t know what to do with them. Well, the good news is that humans can get quite creative. So for example, a byproduct from the pineapple harvesting process are the leaves that nobody needs anymore. They are actually quite huge and are normally burned or discarded. Here comes Piñatex®: the leaves are taken and processed into a leather-looking sustainable material. How about Bananatex and Orange Fiber? Different fruits, same story. Now you can Buy Products made with byproducts.

What is Pinatex?

🌟 OEKO-TEX®

Is your clothing toxic? Maybe. Want to ensure that toxic chemicals in your clothing are kept in check? Meet OEKO-TEX®. The OEKO-TEX® certification allows you to rest easy knowing that there are no harmful chemicals in the jeans and t-shirts that touch your skin for so long during the day – or night if you are thinking of pyjamas. Now you know how to make responsible decisions that protect your skin & the planet. A similar certification to OEKO-TEX® is Bluesign®.

Which sustainable certifications you should go for?

Image Credit: Neeve

🌿 Organic 

Organic clothing is made with materials such as cotton, linen, hemp or silk that are grown without the use of toxic pesticides. Think about it like agriculture, cotton is grown in the fields and resembles a flower. Traditional cotton is very water intensive to grow and uses pesticides that are toxic for the environment and famers. The organic label ensures that you can avoid all the above. The most common certification is GOTS. Beware of other certifications that sound great, but could be greenwashing.

What is the difference between organic cotton and traditional one?

🐛 Peace Silk

Peace silk is a method of breeding and harvesting silk without violence. The traditional process of silk production involves boiling the intact cocoons of silkworms. Translation: silkworm dies in the process. This violent process is done to prevent silk fibers from breaking. Really, is there no other way? Introducing peace silk, also known as ‘Eri’ or ‘Ahimsa’ silk. 

However, this type of silk can give many problems not only in the process (it takes much longer and it’s more costly than the more commercial and less ethical way). This makes recycled silk and artificial silk more interesting alternatives.

💡 Plastic Waste Materials

It really looks like trash – this could actually be a compliment. We can only imagine the amount of plastic we produce every year, why not recycle it? Most of the recycled plastic used in fashion is made of a material called polyethylene terephthalate, otherwise known as PET. rePET-made clothing is strong, light, flexible and because it is made from waste, Life Cycle Assessment (environmental) studies have deemed it a valid eco-alternative. For those who are curious, there is also a significant difference in the process of making recycled material: whether it is made in a mechanical process (grinding plastic into tiny pallets) or chemical – which is more expensive but allows for better durability of the product. Another example of material made from plastic waste is recycled nylon. Maybe you’ve heard of ECONYL?

♻️ Recycling

Recycling is the process of transforming waste into something new. For example, recycled paper is made from used paper. Recycling is extremely important because it helps to divert waste from landfills.

🛍 Shopping Local

Shopping locally is the act of every day consumers, like you, making the decision to buy from a local business instead of going to a large retailer. Shopping locally is a trendy new way to create a one-of-a-kind neighborhood. When you purchase at locally owned businesses rather than internationally owned, more money is kept in the community because locally-owned businesses often purchase from other local businesses. The concept of local can be relative: a town, region, country or even a continent now that we live in a global world.

💃🏻 Silk

Silk is made by unraveling the cocoons of silkworms and spinning the threads into yarn. Once this yarn is twisted into fibres, it can be woven, dyed and treated to make shiny silk camisoles and pillowcases.

Image Credit: Filippa K

🐌 Slow Fashion 

The slow fashion movement was born in response to the social and environmental backlash surrounding fast fashion. Slow fashion takes an intentional and holistic approach to buying clothing; it involves buying better-quality garments that will last for longer and values fair treatment of people, animals and the planet.

👚 Synthetic Fabrics

Synthetic fibers are made by humans through chemical synthesis, examples are Polyester, Acrylic, Elastane, Polyamide.

This is the category that could hold the majority of the skin-harming fault. Some of these man-made fabrics like rayon, acetate, and nylon are treated with thousands of harmful toxic chemicals during production. You can do better.

🌲 TENCEL™

Ready for some numbers? Cotton, especially when industrially farmed to satisfy global demand, uses up to 20 times more water than TENCEL™. So what is this fiber everyone seems to talk about in sustainability and fashion (if you’ve never heard of it, no worries, we won’t judge, Renoon has got you covered). Tencel fiber originates from a renewable resource: trees. Mainly beech, birch, eucalyptus and spruce, and the pulp is used to make TENCEL™ fiber. 

 Good to know: the fibers are certified as compostable and biodegradable. This is a great example of circularity: TENCEL™ can fully revert back to nature (recyclable) and helps you save water and energy in the creation of your next timeless piece of clothing.

Read more about Tencel

👀 Traceability

Traceability (also known as transparency) in fashion means that the clothes can be traced back from different stages of the production process. What’s important to know is that traceability is a step in the right direction, it doesn’t necessarily mean sustainable: your cat Luna can be very transparent to you and show you the mess she made in the house. It does not mean she did something good. Bad cat!

One way to achieve traceability is through blockchain. We know you tech people are excited now, so we won’t tell you what blockchain is because you already know…or sort of know. Okay so very quickly: blockchain makes the history of any digital asset unalterable and transparent through the use of decentralization and cryptographic hashing. 

 Other ways are SAOS or OCS, just so you know…aha!

🗑 Trashion 

Put simply, trashion is trash that has been transformed into clothes. 

This process is called ”upcycling”, where waste becomes a new and more valuable resource that can be used as a raw material. And no, it does NOT stink! Why would you think that? It Smells Like Teen Spirit!

Read more on Trashion

Image Credit: Holiday Romance

👕 Upcycling 

Upcycling is a process that gives waste a second chance with an higher value.

Sometimes the waste itself doesn’t even need to be processed and transformed which saves even more energy, it’s called Trashion.

Read more on Trashion

🌻 Vegan Fashion 

Vegan fashion is for people who want to extend their diet to their lifestyle through fashion. Like with food, buying vegan fashion means making sure that no animal content was used. And yes, we know: finding vegan fashion can be quite hard. Even if an item that was made without the use of leather, there can still have some components (like chemical treatments) that make it non-vegan. It is difficult but still doable. For example, you can look for PETA Approved brands, follow vegan fashion bloggers, and buy products that are explicitly labelled as vegan.

Are the sneakers Veja vegan ? 

👜 Vegan leather 

Vegan leather is often made from polyurethane, a polymer that can be made to order for any designer. Since PU (polyurethane) is made out of petroleum, vegan leather can also be made from innovative and sustainable materials such as pineapple leaves, cork, apple peels, other fruit waste, and recycled plastic.

Read more on leather made from Fruit’s waste

🌹 Velvet 

Velvet is a sleek, soft fabric that is commonly used in intimates and upholstery. Historically, this fabric was very expensive to produce, which is why it is often associated with aristocracy. Even though most types of modern velvet are adulterated with cheap synthetic materials, this unique fabric remains one of the sleekest, softest man-made materials ever engineered. So, no cheating: go for the real one or nothing at all.

Image Credit: Reformation

💽 Vintage 

The term “vintage” describes clothing that dates back anywhere from 20 to 100 years ago. Let’s make a bet: there is a 90% chance you can find a vintage item in your parent’s house. A blazer, a pair of jeans or earrings: pieces that take us back to another era and make us feel like listening to the Beatles again. Basically, vintage is when you see something and think to yourself: that’s definitely from the 90s! 

A common misconception is that vintage always means pre-owned. But it doesn’t always – if we’re talking about “vintage style” it could be a new item with a vintage look to it. Authentic vintage is the pre-owned kind – we love it since it is also a sustainable option. 

100 years old or more? That’s an antique.

🧦 Viscose

Viscose is currently the third most commonly used fibers in the world. If you’ve never heard of viscose, you may know it by another name: rayon. It’s a semi-synthetic fibre made from trees—but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s any better for the environment, or for you. In fact, the material has become a hot-button environmental issue recently. As a plant-based fabric, viscose is not inherently toxic or polluting. However, the wood pulp that viscose is made from is manufactured by treating it with chemicals, which is then filtered and spun into a fine thread. This is a highly polluting process and releases many toxic chemicals into the air, waterways, and surrounding production plants.

Read more about materials to avoid if you want to dress sustainably

💦 Water-neutral

It means having any amount of water, even the tiniest drop, and/or compensating for water that cannot be used again. Basically, the concept is very similar to carbon-neutrality. Easy.

Why is water-neutrality the fresh trend you will start hearing about? 

Now that you had a look at the Sustainable Fashion Glossary, shape your own world of Sustainable Fashion by adding your values here:

What do you Love and Value?

START NOW

 

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