Buy fair — but how? When you buy fairly and ecologically produced clothing you are directly supporting the sustainable improvement of working conditions in the textile and garment industry in developing countries and the preservation of our environment. Do you want to change the choices you make as a consumer? Here’s how:

Buy fair

More and more brands are producing ecologically sound clothing under decent working conditions. You can find out how environmentally friendly clothing can be produced fairly along a transparent supply chain here.

If you want to express responsibility with your clothing, you can buy from companies that have already committed themselves to fair production or buy second-hand and vintage clothes. Recycling and upcycling reduces the amount of waste produced. Quality also plays a role: the longer an item of clothing lasts, the better it is for the environmental balance.

Trusted quality seals

Clothing which has been produced in a socially responsible and environmentally friendly manner is often labelled with a quality seal in Germany. You can find out if clothing labelled with such seals delivers on its promises by checking www.siegelklarheit.de where we have put all commonly-used seals through their paces.

Seals certify not only how clothes are produced but also their quality and sustainability. This shirt (Link), for example, has been certified as meeting the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and fair trade standards. A number of the Partnership’s members already use these and other sustainability seals.

Don’t follow every trend

Every adult in Germany owns on average 95 pieces of clothing (excluding underwear and socks). Every fifth item of clothing goes virtually unworn. We buy more than we need. Trends change quickly and spontaneous buys often end up languishing in the wardrobe. Consider whether you want to follow every trend or rather rely on a smaller number of consciously chosen favourite items.

Taking proper care of textiles often extends their lifespan by years. Simple reparations at a tailor’s or cobbler’s can give some items a new lease of life. One in five respondents stated that they throw out clothes when they break or no longer fit. Shirts and pairs of trousers are mostly simply binned once they go out of style.

Find out how clothes were produced before buying

We don’t know whether most of the clothes in our wardrobes are the product of forced or child labour, whether they were dyed with toxic chemicals or have travelled halfway round the whole world before landing in a shop in Germany. Many labels and brands don’t provide any information about how their clothing was produced even though transparent production chains are vital in ensuring that labour and environmental standards are adhered to. The Partnership for Sustainable Textiles is working towards ensuring that such information is regularly provided.

You can also get involved. Ask before buying how clothes were produced if no serious seal is provided. The more frequently manufacturers are asked about the origin of their clothing, the greater the pressure upon them to provide such information. Once we know how clothing has been produced we can start uncovering abuses.

Avoid bad buys

Some 65 million tons of polyester and cotton were produced in 2014. That figure is expected to grow to around 110 million tons by 2020. The cultivation of cotton and the production of synthetic fibres is a massive burden on the environment. The pesticides and chemicals used often end up in groundwater and can lead to serious health complications amongst field labourers.

At the same time around 60 percent of all online buys and 20 percent of shop buys are on average rated as bad buys! Pausing a moment to think about whether an item of clothing really fits or if we really like the colour, cut and material before buying is already a great step forward and can lead to a drastic reduction in wasted resources.

Paying attention to quality is equally important. How are buttons and zippers finished? Will the item last longer than a single season? If you do end up making the wrong choice, you can either donate such bad buys or sell them on second-hand platforms.