We live in a time when everyone is sustainable, and none of them really are. This new buzzword is kind of old, but it got much more played/marketed lately (well, 10 years, ghem ghem). I say that because, as a consumer, I always want to buy the better option, and sometimes, I end up with a sustainable brand that apparently dropships it from China but labels it as a niche Amsterdam brand. So there’s a great deal of suspicion when I see a new cool sustainable clothing brand. I think you may know the feeling – first, can fashion itself be sustainable or just an oxymoron, second – how the hell should I know if this brand is really sustainable? Those are the questions I will try to answer today by talking with ABOUT, a sustainable brand that produces its garments in the very first Greenpeace-approved factory in Utena, Lithuania.
What is sustainable packaging?
Here’s the thing – we have to stop wrapping everything, but what is said is not always simply done. For example, big retailers accept goods packaged in a certain way, and that’s the rule.
As a typical consumer, I received goods in various ways, from plastic bags to cardboard boxes, textile bags, and metal boxes (yeah, I know). Most people might think that cardboard boxes would be a perfect solution, but apparently, they require a longer amount of energy to be produced than a plastic bag. But to see the bigger picture here – plastic bags take enormous time to degrade, and before that, they pollute the ground and oceans by breaking down into microplastics. So what is the perfect solution here? Well, there’s plenty of solutions, but for the big brands, there are already some options like TIPA compostable packaging that looks like a plastic bag but can be compostable at home. It is made from proprietary blends of fully compostable polymers that are both bio-based and fossil-based.
What are biodegradable or compostable materials?
To clear the air, let’s talk about biodegradable because it is not the same thing as compostable. Bear with me. Biodegradable represents the process where certain compositions can biodegrade under different conditions, and it’s not specified at what time it should happen. For example, wood is a biodegradable material (it can take thousands of years to biodegrade). Compostable TIPA packaging takes 180 days to degrade under compost conditions, while plastic takes 400 years.
How should I spot a fake sustainable brand?
You should always Google everything about the brand. It shouldn’t be very difficult as transparent brands usually have no problem listing their certificates, sources, and factories. Always inspect factory pictures and maybe make sure it’s a real place (let’s take a walk on Google Maps?). Inspect product page; credible brands will list all the information about fabrics they are using and any relevant information on sustainability. Most brands will also answer your emails regarding any questions you might have.
What questions should I ask?
You should always ask yourself, do you really need another item in your closet? But besides that, see how you can do better. For example, ABOUT brand is focusing on sustainable underwear options (probably if you are into sustainability, you still buy these things new), and they focus on how their items can biodegrade and be compostable. So, if you’re buying something new, make sure it’s environmentally friendly, and if you’re buying another pair of jeans – maybe scroll some second-hand shops first? Also, circular fashion model companies might be the better choice.
What is the future of sustainable fashion?
ABOUT CEO Giedre Vilke states that “The future of fashion is circular! However, it’s a long way to make it happen. We need infrastructure, and we need education and investments from businesses. Therefore, here at ABOUT, we focus on something that could be executed right away and bring a positive impact now. Because our main category is underwear, it’s hard to believe that it might have a second life. Therefore, we have chosen to strive to make all our products not only biodegradable, but also compostable at home so that everyone can take an active part in contributing to a cleaner Earth. At ABOUT, we see packaging as an essential part of our supply chain and apply the same circularity criteria as to our products.”