Several materials and components are used to create a look for the red carpet. Different styles of products require different ‘ingredients’, each one of them having varying impacts on people and planet. This is why, for a Green Carpet Challenge look, you use lower impact choices. Explore sustainable materials and embellishments that could be used.
Silk’s key impacts relate to traceability, chemical pesticide and fertiliser use, irrigation, and land clearing. Eco-Age encourages the use of silk produced using organic agriculture methods for mulberry trees, and which does not cause excessive suffering to silk worms.
Best practice silks include certified organic or recycled silk, Fairtrade silk, and peace (Ahimsa) silk which is created without killing the silk worms.
Eco-Age is generally against mulesing (which takes place in Australia and New Zealand), but believes in the importance of exploring best practice methods to prevent flystrike and maintain good animal health and wellbeing, including mulesing and alternative methods. Eco-Age encourages good land management practices e.g. differed grazing, flock rotation and Holistic Management. Key wool certifications include the Responsible Wool Standard, certified recycled wools, or certified organic wools (eg. GOTS / Soil Association / Organic Content Standards).
Key issues in the leather industry relate to deforestation, animal welfare, hazardous chemicals such as Chromium III in tanning, and excessive use of salt to preserve hides, which leads to waste issues and an increase in pollution through shipping so much extra weight around the world. Hides for leather are predominantly by-products of the food industry, although this term is sometimes contentious.
Eco-Age therefore recommends the use of traceable, zero-deforestation and chrome free leather, although it is difficult to guarantee this unless working from the beginning of the supply chain. Vegetable tanned leather is a good choice, although it comes with its own water and chemical implications. For animal-free leather alternatives, Eco-Age recommends selecting reduced-impact alternatives to materials such as PVC and other oil-based options. The leather substitute space is growing rapidly, and emerging innovations include lab-grown, mycelium-based, and agri by-product-based materials.
Eco-Age does not support the use of feathers for fashion products but is aware of live collecting / harvesting of ‘ripe’ feathers from geese, which should not cause pain or tissue damage to the geese as these feathers are ready for moulting. Any feathers should be considered on a case-by-case basis, and full traceability is required.
Eco-Age recognises that best practice solutions are being developed, and therefore encourages the sourcing of RDS (Responsible Down Standard) down. Note: The RDS standard requires compliance with local legislation on animal welfare, which is problematic for countries such as China and Hungary, a major supplier of down, which has opted out of EU laws on animal welfare. This is a limitation on how the standard is applied internationally. However, Eco-Age prefers the use of alternative low-impact materials such as GRS certified recycled polyester wadding.
Fashion’s use of animal-derived fur has been in decline over the last few decades, largely driven by issues around animal welfare, traceability, and environmental pollution. Faux fur doesn’t necessarily mean it is socially or environmentally better, so fur alternatives should be made with innovative sustainable fibres making an effort to lower environmental impact. Best practice examples of faux fur include Stella McCartney’s ‘fur free fur’ made from 100% modacrylic, as well as faux fur made from fibres including recycled polyester and hemp (particularly suitable for short pile fur alternatives).
Issues related to cotton cultivation include the use of pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals, mono-cropping, excessive water consumption and contamination, child labour in cotton fields, and farmer suicides which are often thought to stem from debt caused by the burden of being caught in a cycle of pesticide and GM seed use.
Eco-Age encourages the use of alternative types of cotton, including regenerative (e.g. Regenerative Organic Certified, or own initiative), organic (certified by GOTS, Soil Association, OE100), recycled (certified by GRS if from post-consumer sources), or Fairtrade organic (certified both Fairtrade and organic).
While naturally more pest-resistant than cotton, bast fibres such as hemp, linen and, ramie can be linked to fertiliser or pesticides. Agricultural chemical intervention can cause air, water, and soil pollution that can lead to a decline in soil health and biodiversity.
Eco-Age suggests mitigating this through styling with certified organic bast fibres that avoid chemical intervention, or certified recycled bast fibres that optimise existing materials and avoid virgin production.
Synthetic fibres such as polyester dominate the textile market and are growing year on year. They are derived from finite fossil fuels such as oil and natural gas, which are extracted and processed into fibres and yarns.
In order to preserve dwindling finite resources such as oil, Eco-Age encourages the use of recycled and regenerated synthetic materials including recycled polyester and recycled nylon, and does not support the use of virgin polyester, nylon, or acrylic.
What is considered ‘best practice’ is always changing. Over the last decade, the industry has learned that polyester from recycled plastic bottles is not the viable alternative we once thought. Eco-Age was proud to promote plastic bottle-derived recycled polyester at GCC’s over the years, however now, Eco-Age prefers, if possible, avoiding recycled polyester from plastic bottles. Bottles have a better chance of existing in a closed-loop bottle recycling system and breaking that cycle to make apparel that will be worn once and not be recycled is not exactly sustainable, it is actually turning something circular back into something linear.
While innovations such as polymerised air pollution develop and scale, best practice would be post-consumer recycled textiles or reclaimed materials such as ocean plastic. Always look for third-party certifications, including Global Recycled Standard (GRS) and Recycled Claim Standard (RCS).
Potential issues linked to man-made cellulosic fibres such as viscose, rayon, lyocell, and bamboo include unsustainable forest management practices, clearing of endangered and ancient forests and use of an invasive and water intensive crop such as bamboo in a non-native area in sourcing the raw materials. Additionally, the viscose production system involves the use of significant amounts of water, energy, heavy metals, and polluting chemicals, producing highly polluting air and water emissions.
Therefore Eco-Age supports the development and use of cellulosic fibres which are sourced from responsibly managed land causing zero deforestation, and that are manufactured in a closed-loop process to continually re-use chemicals and water, such as Lenzing Tencel®. Eco-Age also supports the transition to tree-free or next-gen feedstock, including agri-waste, textile waste, and kelp, which has a decreased dependence on freshwater sources.
Sequins (also known as pailettes) are typically made of polyester film (Mylar) and vinyl (PVC), both are petrochemical derivatives sourced from finite fossil fuels such as oil. They are produced by punching circular shapes out of sheets of plastic sequin film and are then sewn on to clothing through an intricate process which is generally manual. Key impacts relate to wastage, toxicity, biodegradability issues, and fair work concerns with the manual labour linked to sequins. Reduced-impact sequins are currently only produced through research projects including the cellulose-based Bio Iridescent Sequin.
Whilst recycled sequins are beneficial from a raw material perspective, the end-of-life recyclability / biodegradability implications still persist. Therefore, where possible, Eco-Age recommends avoiding oil-based sequins. If sourcing sequins with alternative raw materials such as the Bio Iridescent Sequin, using materials such as reclaimed shells or punched aluminium cans could be explored.
Lace is a delicate fabric, typically woven in an open weblike floral pattern. It is often used as a decorative trim on garments and can be made from a range of natural and synthetic fibres including cotton, silk, linen, polyester, and elastane. Eco-Age recommends selecting vintage lace to reduce waste, avoid virgin raw material production, and celebrate past fashion.
For new lace, Eco-Age prefers certified organic natural fibres, for example GOTS certified organic silk lace. To best align with the biological and technical cycles of the circular economy, it is also recommended that finishing natural fabrics with natural trims and synthetic fabrics with certified recycled synthetic trims, for example, GRS certified polyester lace.
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