How sustainability is finally making waves on the high street

·3-min read
Photo credit: Getty
Photo credit: Getty

We’re more aware than ever of how much our fast fashion addiction impacts the planet. However, we also know that shopping on the high street is normally cheaper, more accessible and more inclusive than its more sustainable counterparts.

Luckily, that doesn’t have to be the case any more.

As we consumers demand more sustainable practices, brands are catching up, which means you can now have a wardrobe that Gwyneth Paltrow would approve of, regardless of your size and bank account.

Photo credit: Getty
Photo credit: Getty

From recycling fabrics, using sustainable fibres, reducing water and waste consumption and improving working conditions, our favourite affordable brands are helping us all reduce our carbon footprints.

The brands

Take ASOS for example, which launched its ‘Responsible Edit’ in 2019. You might not have even noticed, but it also added a ‘Responsible’ search filter to its site, so you can find that perfect dress made from either recycled or sustainable materials.

As well as recycling fabrics and sourcing sustainable fibres, the clothes in this edit are all made using reduced water and waste.

As we’ve come to expect from ASOS – one of our go-to brands for inclusivity – its Responsible Edit covers all fits, including a whopping 804 plus-size options on sale currently.

Primark also just announced its new sustainable loungewear collection, which uses between 15 and 25% recycled cotton.

When shopping in Primark, look out for the ‘Primark Cares’ labels, which show the item is part of its sustainable cotton programme, involving training 160,000 cotton farmers in India, Pakistan and China to use more environmentally friendly farming methods.

Photo credit: LightFieldStudios
Photo credit: LightFieldStudios

Most recently, H&M announced an eco-conscious loyalty rewards scheme. You can earn points to use against your shopping by making small changes like bringing your own bag, opting for climate-smart delivery options, recycling your old clothes through its garment collecting scheme and of course, buying items that are made with sustainable materials.

George at Asda has also made moves in the sustainable arena, using sustainably sourced fabrics and recycled buttons. In a huge shift, George is now selling vintage clothing, so you can do some thrifting while picking up your weekly shop.

After a successful trial in Leeds, and with the rise in popularity of sites like Depop and Vinted, the retailer has partnered with Preloved Vintage Wholesale to sell used clothing in 50 of its stores as part of the George for Good commitment to reduce textile waste.

The initiative

Many of these huge changes across our high street are thanks to the Textiles 2030 initiative, which “aims to engage the majority of UK fashion and textiles organisations in collaborative climate action”.

Its ambitious targets challenge retailers to not only significantly reduce their carbon footprints, but to also switch to a “circularity pathway”.

Photo credit: Getty
Photo credit: Getty

This means that brands need to design clothes to “look good for longer”, as well as being recyclable. They should also trial reuse business models like renting and subscriptions, and set up partnerships that aim to supply and use recycled fibres in new products.

The choice

With all these sustainable steps in the right direction, it’s never been easier to shop with a more conscious mindset. But remember, it’s not all on the big brands. Fast fashion is never going to be a fully sustainable model, so keep that in mind when shopping.

Are you really going to get your wear out of that dress, or is it a TikTok trend that you’ll end up decluttering in six months’ time?

After all, if outfit repeating is good enough for Kate Middleton, it’s good enough for us.

For planet-friendly fashion that won’t cost the earth, shop at george.com

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