How to be Trendy and Conscious at the same time

Let’s admit it. We love fashion because it makes us gorgeous and confident. We take pleasure in consuming it. But most of the clothes and accessories we wear are manufactured in poor conditions. Fashion is now the second most polluting industry in the world. It is a major consumer of energy and water and it uses chemicals that spread in the wild. In addition,  the manufacturing conditions do not always respect basic human rights.

COP 21 (United Nations Conference on climate change) held in Paris in December 2015. The goal was to significantly reduce the impact of fossil industries on the environment. This led to an agreement signed by the 195 UN member countries. The agreement aims to contain the rise in the average temperature on the planet. So what can the brands and consumers do?

Are we guilty? If yes, what are we guilty for? To love pretty things and glamorous fashion houses? Quite unfair, isn’t it?

I was able to talk to Helene Sarfati-Leduc, a sustainable development consultant to several luxury brands. On the sidelines of COP 21, she organized an event to show that with good practice it is not too late to limit the damage. She reminds us that at every stage of manufacture there is an environmental issue. « The selection of raw materials is a key factor. The finishing is extremely hazardous due to the amounts of water used and polluting dyes. As for clothing, it is the most complex part because the working conditions are often unbearable », she says.

Consumers also have a role to play. Helene Sarfati-Leduc insists: « We must stop people feeling guilty and help them learn about their favourite brands. » She advises us to get information about the environmental policy of the brand or item we like.  It is easily possible to know how the clothes are made.

Here’s the list of her best practices to become an ethical and chic consumer:

  • Buy second hand

  • Rent

  • Exchange with friends

  • Recycle – recycled polyester has less impact than organic cotton

  • Consume as locally as possible

  • Buy quality basics that last over time

  • Go to green dry cleaners

  • Be interested in brands that produce sustainable collections, from the high street like H&M to high-end brands.

Designers such as Stella McCartney have built eco-friendly prestigious companies. And people like Vivienne Westwood, Livia Firth and Pharrell Williams are very involved in the fight for a smarter manufacturing.

Helene Sarfati-Leduc has every reason to be optimistic. « Since the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh collapsed, there is a real awareness. People are more and more active on Social Media », she admits. She ends by saying that we must not radically change our way of life but change in how we consume. Every effort, even small ones, count.

Here’s a selection of websites you can visit if you want to be more active:

Have you personally thought about that issue ? What would be your best practice ?