Our tips- When buying textiles, look for seals that guarantee environmental and social standards. – Buy cotton textiles in organic quality ("organic cotton"). – Buy clothing from secondhand or trade clothes. – Rent clothes for one-off occasions such as weddings, parties and celebratory events. – Wear your clothes as long as possible. – Have your clothes repaired by tailors or shoemakers if they are worn out or defective. – Pass on unused clothing or dispose of it properly. Question fashion trends. Be critical of fast fashion. If necessary, discuss this with your children.
Clothes make the man, and German consumers are the frontrunners when it comes to buying new clothes. In this country, an average of 26 kilograms of textiles are purchased each year, of which 12 to 15 kilograms are clothing. By way of comparison, the global average is 8 kilograms per year. The production of textiles has ecological and social implications. Pesticides used in the cultivation of cotton, chemicals used in further processing, and CO2 generated by the use of energy all have a negative impact on the environment. In addition, in some production countries work is done under unsocial working conditions (many overtime hours, low wages, no union organization). With our tips, you can help to counteract the abuses and reduce the burden on the environment – without sacrificing fashion-conscious clothing.
Look for seals: Those who look for recommended and independent seals when buying clothing help to ensure that higher wages are paid and the environment is less polluted. Unfortunately, the seal market for clothing is (still) very confusing. A first and relatively simple step is therefore to look for organic quality in cotton textiles. Organic cotton clothing comes in a fashionable variety. In (almost) all price categories. They are now available not only from specialist suppliers, but also from large textile retailers. Mostly they are marked and advertised with in-house labels. The laundry list should state "made from x% organically grown cotton". Furthermore, you should buy clothes that are labeled with a recommendable seal. The information portal Siegelklarheit evaluates the seals for their credibility, environmental friendliness as well as social compatibility. Particularly recommendable, with a relatively high market availability, are for example the GOTS seal (Global Organic Textile Standard) as well as "bluesign® PRODUCT" for outdoor clothing. Other seals explained in more detail in the portal Siegelklarheit and classified as very good are:
Use secondhand and clothing exchange: Look for secondhand stores in your area or visit flea markets. This saves the environment, as less clothing has to be produced. For children's clothing, clothing bazaars with secondhand goods have long been established. A large range, often supported by voluntary initiatives, with very reasonable prices speak for themselves until well beyond kindergarten age. In many thrift stores, you can offer your own clothes for sale. It is also worthwhile to resell clothing that is in good condition via online portals. If you prefer direct interaction with people, you can organize a clothing swap party in your circle of friends and acquaintances. In many cities, these are regularly initiated by local organizations or private individuals. Up-to-date information can usually be found on the Internet.
Renting instead of buying: You need special clothes for a special day? This goes quickly into the money. Block the closet unused afterwards. If then nevertheless a second occasion arises, not rarely a third problem comes: The "expensive piece" does not fit possibly any longer. For one-off occasions such as weddings, (themed) parties or other important events with family or friends, it can be worth renting clothing items or. borrow. This can work among acquaintances. In the meantime, however, several online portals also offer wedding outfits, party fashion and many other items of clothing for rent, for example.
Slow Fashion and Appreciation: Clothes are more than just a cover around the body. It not only "makes people", but also creates feelings of life and "stores" personal experiences. Slow fashion is therefore not only a good strategy for going through everyday life with less stress and more relaxation, but also a good strategy for not making one's own identity the plaything of constantly changing fashion trends. This is where general life advice (keyword "simplify your life") and environmental protection go hand in hand: because the most environmentally friendly thing to do is undoubtedly to "upcycle" garments, repair minor defects or "upcycle" the discarded textiles into new garments. After all, we do not have to follow every fashion trend. How to become a "fast fashion victim.
An important prerequisite for this is: buy clothes that are well made (quality before quantity). "buy less, buy better"). Cheap goods that lose their shape the first time you try them on, or where the seams come loose, are not worth even supposedly small amounts of money, but have caused high human and environmental costs elsewhere in the world. Treat your favorite pieces well and don't shy away from repairs or alterations: Upcycling puts you right on trend; even minor rips or holes are now considered a trendy "distressed look". You can find helpful instructions on the net. In social media under the term "upcycling". By shortening, re-sewing and sewing on, you can transform clothes yourself. Larger repairs/ alterations are usually carried out by tailor shops at a fair price. Thus you support also small-business structures in the neighborhood.
Pass on clothes that are not worn (anymore): Get a regular (at least once a year) overview of your clothing stock. This will free up space in your closet and help you avoid buying unnecessary new clothes. Give well-preserved clothing that you no longer use to charitable organizations and avoid illegal clothing collections. Many used clothing containers are set up without official permission. About FairWertung e.V. or the municipality you can find trustworthy containers in your area. Fairwertung e.V. is an association of non-profit organizations that advocate transparent clothing collection. The Fairwertung seal guarantees that collections are donated to social, diaconal or charitable causes.
– Online targeted selection: The rapid growth in online trade is increasingly causing traffic problems. Even more so when clothing that is not liked or does not fit is returned. Therefore, be cautious when shopping online. Find out exactly what sizes are available from the respective retailer. This is because some returned clothing and shoes are destroyed as so-called rejects, because in some cases this is cheaper than inspecting the returns and putting them back into the assortment, or because it is necessary for hygienic reasons. – Make it easy on yourself and shop right away at fashion brands that offer only fair and ecological clothing. There are various overview sites for this on the Internet: Get Changed, Utopia. – Wash as often as necessary, but as little as possible. This also keeps textiles alive longer. Please note our tips for washing laundry.
Source: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard)
Source: Global Standard gemeinnutzige GmbH
Source: bluesign technologies AG
Source: FairWertung e umbrella organization.V.
environmental conditions: The production of a conventional garment pollutes the environment in many ways. Growing cotton, whether conventional or organic, requires large amounts of water especially in areas with water shortages. How cotton is grown z. B. responsible for the drying up of the Aral Sea. To produce one kilogram of cotton, approx. 170 bathtubs full of water needed. Pesticides and fertilizers are a particular problem in conventional cotton cultivation. Approximately 14 percent of the global insecticides market. This sector accounts for around 5 percent of the pesticide market. In addition, up to one kilogram of chemicals is used to produce one kilogram of textile. A large part of this subsequently ends up in wastewater. Some of these fabrics are difficult to degrade. Can only be reduced to a limited extent in biological wastewater treatment plants. In countries such as China or India, these substances often end up in the rivers because wastewater treatment is often inadequate or the wastewater is sometimes not treated at all.
The use of chemical fibers such as polyester or elastane causes microplastics due to the abrasion of the chemical fibers when washed. So far, no reliable data is available on how many fibers are released in this way. It is estimated that a total of 80 to 400 tons of microparticles are released by clothing in Germany each year (UBA 2015). In comparison: Tire abrasion in Germany annually causes 60.000 to 110.000 metric tons of plastic microparticles released.
The purchase of textiles and clothing in Germany is responsible for around 135 kg of CO2e per person per year. The amount is roughly equivalent to the emissions of a car ride from Stuttgart to Hamburg.
In addition to environmental impact, the focus is on social standards in textile production. Working conditions and wages in production countries such as Pakistan and Bangladesh are often unacceptable. Mostly it is women who work up to 16 hours a day for wages below 2 euros. The "fast fashion" trend, that is, ever faster cycles of fashion collections, as well as the culture of cheapness in the textile market, contribute to the perpetuation of poor manufacturing conditions in the industry.
Legal status: A broader public awareness about the negative sides of textile production, especially about the poor working conditions in the industry, formed since the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory building in Bangladesh in April 2013. Yet 1.135 people killed, another 2.438 people were injured. On the initiative of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation. Development (BMZ), the Textile Alliance was launched in 2014. More than 100 members have joined this initiative, covering almost 50 % of the German textile retail trade. The so-called multi-stakeholder initiative with representatives from science, business and civil society aims to achieve social, environmental and economic improvements along the entire textile supply chain. All members set individual and predefined goals, which are recorded annually in action plans (known as roadmaps). Progress must be reported annually. In addition, members work in alliance initiatives, broad-based actions by several members of the Textile Alliance that support the alliance's goals. The aim is to improve the framework conditions directly in the production countries, involving suppliers and local actors such as trade unions and non-governmental organizations.
Market Watch: Ecologically produced textiles are considered a niche product. Textiles and apparel bearing the GOTS seal make up just 0.05 percent of the market (Gesellschaft fur Konsumforschung 2016). One reason for the low percentage is that there is a limited choice of clothing that is certified according to eco-standards. In addition, there are a large number of competing labels that set different ecological requirements. It is also difficult to include proprietary labels, such as those of larger clothing chains, in the collection of market data.