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What to Ask your Fabric Supplier on Sustainability and Ethics

As a designer-entrepreneur, sustainability and ethical fashion design starts with you… and if you’re reading this blog post, you’re well on your way to creating Earth-friendly apparel! From how your fabrics are made to where you’ve sourced them, every detail counts. Sew, where do you begin?! A good place to start is talking to your fabric supplier – they will have the answers you are looking for about whether your product will be sustainably produced.

However, in order to get the answers, you’re looking for, you’ll need to know exactly which questions to ask. Here is a guide of 6 important questions you should always as your fabric supplier to ensure that the impact on the environment aligns with your values and business ethics:

1. What types of fibers are used?

Knowing whether the fibers used are synthetic or natural will tell you a lot about the fabric’s carbon footprint. While some synthetic fibers can be made from sustainable materials like recycled bottles, others are damaging to produce. Additionally, natural fibers may be more environmentally-friendly, depending on how their materials are harvested.

2. How are the crops used to make this sustainable? How are the animals used to make this treated?

Every designer-entrepreneur has different values when it comes to sustainability, but whether your fabric is plant- or animal-based, there are sustainable ways of using the materials. For instance, crops can use waste-water recycling and crop rotation techniques to reduce environmental impact, and wild animals can be selectively hunted and treated humanely.

3. Is the fabric recycled and/or recyclable?

“Fast fashion” has created a crisis where clothes are worn only a few times tossed in the garbage. If the fabric is made from recycled materials, and/or can be recycled itself, they can be saved from a dreadful and untimely death in the (*shudder*) landfill.

4. How is the fabric dyed/finished?

Some dye practices can be incredibly harmful to the environment, and especially to our water resources. Knowing how and with what chemicals or natural dyes the fabrics are produced can greatly impact its carbon footprint. What amount of care is required for the fabric? If the finished product made from the fabric will require frequent washing, ironing, or other care, its impact on the earth grows rapidly. Consider higher quality denim that can be thrown in the freezer instead of washed, and steer clear of fleece that will pollute the oceans with harmful chemicals when washed!

5. How is the production of the fabric sustainable?

This is the final question you should ask, and it’s an important one. Asking this will help you wrap up by getting any final details about sustainable fabric production from your fabric supplier because it gives them the opportunity to identify anything that may not have been covered in the previous five questions.

It is impossible for one person to fix our Earth’s environmental issues, but by working together to create a normalized culture of sustainable values in the fashion industry, we can collaborate on making a difference we can truly be proud of.

What is important to you in sustainability when it comes to your business? How do you maintain your efforts in reducing your carbon footprint?

P.S. Looking for affordable fabrics and care to help the planet? We are launching a marketplace that connects designers with garment factories that have excess fabric. Purchasing these fabrics will prevent them from going to landfill. Want to learn more? Subscribe to our newsletter and be the first to get your hands on these fabrics. Sign Up Here!

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