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Keep These Sustainable Brands In Mind When Shopping During Earth Month (& Every Month After)

While preparing to write about the mutable, ever-evolving and increasingly pressing topic of “sustainability” in time for Earth Month, we had deep thoughts. Here in the Shopping department, our jobs are to find, test, and buy the best stuff so that our readers can make informed purchase decisions and find the things they want and need. But we also know that over-consumption is bad for the planet. Does that mean... no more shopping?!

We spiraled a little until we stumbled across Econyl, a manufacturer of recycled nylon used by the likes of Mara Hoffman and Girlfriend Collective. “Our appetite to create new products and buy new products is infinite. The planet’s resources aren’t,” they explain on their website. “But it’s okay because we can have both: new products and a better environment.” They’re of course talking about the ability to turn ocean and landfill waste into new material, but it spoke to us. As lovers and avid consumers of fashion, we’re not going to stop buying clothes altogether. Actually, as the ones wielding the dollars, we should keep shopping (if possible right now); patronizing eco-conscious, socially responsible designs and investing in high-quality pieces that will last.

Another challenge lies in the complexity of defining a “sustainable” brand. Is about using only organic natural fibers, renewable ones like lyocell and modal, or recycled ones, like Everlane’s ReNew fabric or the aforementioned Econyl? Is it the Fair Trade or B-Corp certified company paying its employees fairly and re-investing in the surrounding community? Given that there's no truly perfect sustainable brand out there, what matters to us is that the fashion company is on the journey, recognizing the need to lessen its environmental impact and taking real steps to make that happen. And, happily, a lot of designers and retailers are on that path.

Bearing all of this in mind, we did what we do best: we looked for the cutest stuff. All of the brands in our round-up are sustainable or socially responsible in some way, in addition to making products that are attractive and functional that we think deserve some space in your closet. Some you might recognize; some are new — there’s an intentional mix of makers you probably already know and should continue to support, and others who are still emerging. So, if you have the means, go ahead and dive in! And if you choose to celebrate Earth Day by not shopping, bookmark this story for tomorrow.

This piece has been updated from its original version.

We’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. 


We first discovered Pact while scouring the internet for the highest-rated thongs. (Just a day in the life here at R29.) We were thrilled to learn about their 100% organic cotton underthings and Fair Trade manufacturing certification — all of which result in a breathable, next-to-skin kind of feel.

PACT Thong 6-Pack, $, available at PACT


Operating out of another part of the world is Paris-based footwear company Nomasei. The brand was founded by Paule Tenaillon and Marine Braquet, who met while working at Chloé. In addition to mastering the je-ne-sais-quoi quality that makes French fashion so damn good, the duo works exclusively with suppliers and factories that are certified in sustainable sourcing and practices. Considering the fact that Nomasei aims to be carbon neutral within the next six months, this is one purchase that'll definitely look as good as it feels.

Nomasei Hotel de la Plage Mule, $, available at Nomasei

Farm Rio

Possible one of the most vibrant environmentally friendly brands around is Farm Rio. In addition to creating a bounty of bright prints and flowy frocks, the Brazilian company is committed to giving back to the environment and to helping recover endangered forest ecosystems. For each purchase made on Farm Rio's website, in their stores, and at other authorized retailers carrying the brand, they donate one tree to be planted in the Amazon rainforest.

Farm Rio Floral Sparkle Mixed Print Dress, $, available at Farm Rio

Lo & Sons

If you don't know about this sustainable bag company, now's a great time to check out what their family-run business is all about. The bags are built to travel light without compromising functionality and style, and the company is part of a movement that believes businesses can actually lead the way in reversing environmental damage and creating innovative solutions. Lo & Sons uses Recycled Poly, a technical fabric made from plastic bottles, and cotton that’s organically grown without the use of toxic fertilizers and pesticides.

catalina The Catalina Deluxe, $, available at Lo & Sons


This celeb-adored sneaker brand was already a top contender for best sustainable brand right now, and their latest environmentally friendly endeavor is its biggest one yet: Allbirds recently announced its new Carbon Footprint initiative, a calculation that measures the carbon output of each of its products. It's the first fashion brand to label every product made, with a Life Cycle Assessment tool that measures each product's environmental impact from materials to development, manufacturing, and end of life. The hope is that by having this kind of standardization for accountability for carbon, shoppers can better understand the impact their purchases have on the planet.

Allbirds Women's Wool Runners, $, available at Allbirds

Edge of Ember

The charming jewelry brand, launched in 2014, has evolved into an all-female operation based out of a busy little London studio. We appreciate the company's ethical and sustainable approach to everything from the design process to packaging, but we love the good luck that comes with their numerical and zodiac collections even more.

Edge of Ember Lucky Number 3 Necklace, $, available at Edge of Ember

Paper London

British womenswear brand Paper London is dedicated to investing in responsible manufacturing and high-quality, sustainable fabrics that look after its customers and our planet. Known for its timeless, versatile wardrobe staples, Paper's aesthetic is built to outlast the ever-changing trends.

Paper London Artemis Jumper in Punch Drunk Pink, $, available at Paper London


This perfectly appointed, taste-making department store has always worked to do its part in supporting the environment, from highlighting sustainable and conscious brands through its Responsible Shop (think n:Philanthropy, Naadam, Girlfriend Collective, and more), being carbon neutral on all outbound shipments, and using 100% curbside recyclable packaging.

n:PHILANTHROPY Edith Tank, $, available at Verishop


Known for its durable, washable flats (and now its bags, too!), Rothy's quickly made its mark on the sustainable scene by transforming eco-friendly materials into stylish, wear-everywhere products that shoppers are obsessed with. The company is continually striving for zero waste through the use of 3D knitting technology and handcrafted comfort, and they've just introduced the brand's first-ever warm weather styles just in time for Earth Day.

Rothy's Hot Pink Basket Stitch Sandal, $, available at Rothy's


The Nashville-based brand’s super-luxe leather footwear and accessories are masters of elevated simplicity — and transparency. Head to the Nisolo website to read about their factories in Peru and Mexico, where employees are paid above the fair trade minimum wage requirement and have access to education opportunities. They also offset carbon emissions through Ecosphere, and they’ll reward you with store credit for recycling your old shoes. We probably would have added these spot-on block heels to our carts anyway, but the brand’s social mission makes the purchase even more positive.

Nisolo Lucia Block Heel Sandal, $, available at Nisolo

Eileen Fisher

Our mom’s favorite brand is quickly becoming our favorite brand — and not just because of its holistic socially and environmentally conscious mission. Eileen Fisher’s quietly elegant, wear-forever pieces — like these nude stacked heels — are a testament to one of the most sustainable things about the company: that they design timeless wardrobe staples that are meant to stay in the rotation for a long time.

Eileen Fisher Rome Leather Mule Sandal, $, available at Eileen Fisher


If you’re reading this, you may already know the sins of denim production: that it requires — and therefore wastes — a whole lotta water. LA-based jean purveyor Boyish uses 1/3 the typical 1,800 gallons per pair that normal dungaree manufacturing employs. The result? Perfectly laid back pieces that you’ll want to wear all summer long.

Boyish The Billy High Waist Ankle Skinny Jeans, $, available at Nordstrom


For sneakers you can look and feel good in, consider this thoughtful brand out of Rio de Janeiro. Their sneakers are made from natural materials that minimize the harmful impact of production on the planet while maximizing efficiency on water consumption. Plus, your sneakers will make to you in recyclable packaging through a shipping process that's 100% carbon neutral. Plus, Cariuma is planting 10,000 trees in honor of Earth Day as part of its Replant Our Earth Initiative. From April 22 through April 26, for any purchase made on using code the OUREARTH the company will plant an additional 10 trees in the Brazilian Rainforest.

Cariuma White Canvas, $, available at Cariuma

Free People

Free People's selection of Care FP apparel features products that are consciously made to reduce the brand's footprint and support its mission to be a little bit better every day. You can expect to find energy-saving fabrics like ECONYL®, a sustainable, innovative yarn that uses 100% regenerated nylon fiber made of discarded waste collected from landfills and ocean.

FP Movement Econyl High-Rise ECONYL® Leggings, $, available at Free People


Surfer Kelly Slater has been at the helm of this sustainable men’s brand since launching with designer John Moore in 2013, and the pair spun off a much-anticipated collection for women last year. Both collections are made from 100% “benefit fibers” – organic, recycled, and/or regenerated — and selected styles are Fair Trade certified. Jumpsuits are always among the top choices for a solid transitional piece — if you haven’t pulled the trigger on one yet, consider one that’s consciously made.

Outerknown Pali Playsuit, $, available at Outerknown


This Miami-based e-tailer specializes in sustainably-minded indie designers, and our editors flock to the curated site for eco-driven products from Carleen, Mara Hoffman, and Veja. One of our favorite features of the online shop is a navigation feature that allows you to browse brands by their ethical qualities, including “Made in USA”, “Fair Trade”, “Recycled”, and “Vegan”. They even carry the accessible sustainable brand deemed a forever fave among the R29 shopping team: Baggu.

Baggu Standard Baggu, $, available at Antidote+


We probably don’t need to fill you on how environmentally aware your favorite dressmaker is. Every product page on their site features stats on resources saved, and you can go down a serious rabbit hole reading about its tiered ranking system for the impact of its fabrics. They even sell carbon credits for things like flights and (ironically?) weddings. It doesn’t hurt that they basically re-invented the floaty, sexy occasion dress, and continue to deliver spot-on hotness for all of your festive needs.

Reformation Pratt Skirt Es, $, available at Reformation

Girlfriend Collective

Husband and wife Quang and Ellie Dinh famously launched their eco-conscious activewear brand in 2016 by giving away recycled-polyester leggings to anyone who was willing to cover the cost of shipping. They hooked a whole bunch of customers — including us — with their inclusive sizing, top-notch quality, and oversharing about their recycling facilities in Taiwan and socially-conscious factory in Vietnam.

Girlfriend Collective Valley Compressive High-Rise Legging, $, available at Girlfriend Collective


We challenge you to find a cuter — and more socially responsible — windbreaker moment. Cotopaxi founder Davis Smith grew up in Latin American and named his certified B-Corp after an active volcano in the Andes. 1% percent of profits from the outerwear brand go to their eponymous foundation, which supports companies like the International Rescue Committee and Escuela Nueva, an organization that operates 86 schools in rural Latin America.

Cotopaxi Teca Vista Full-Zip Windbreaker - Unisex, $, available at Cotopaxi

Warp + Weft

This family-owned business specializes in affordable, size-inclusive denim in an array of hues, and happily, they outfit men, women, and kids in jeans that come in mostly under $100. They also operate a partially solar-powered factory equipped with an in-house water treatment plant, enabling them to recycle some of the water used in creating their irresistibly-colored dungarees.

Warp + Weft SXF Utility Straight Cargo Pant, $, available at Warp + Weft


Influenced by the natural world and its most beautiful landscapes, Lacausa offers effortless California chic without sacrificing the hand that feeds it (and all of us). Fabrics are sourced and sewn with trusted partners with the highest standards in mind, and always under ethical conditions.

Lacausa Longsleeve Crewneck, $, available at LACAUSA


As part of its commitment to radical transparency, Everlane recently announced that it'll be moving all of its cotton to organic by the end of 2023. That means no toxic pesticides, healthier soil, cleaner water, and safer workers. To kick off that commitment, the brand is launching a collection of t-shirts made from certified organic cotton that is kinder on the planet. In the meantime, check out Everlane’s ReNew collection, featuring outerwear made from 100% recycled plastic.

Everlane The ReNew Fleece Raglan Sweatshirt (Oat), $, available at Everlane

ELV Denim

One way to shop denim sustainably is find a brand that repurposes. London-based ELV Denim (short for East London Vintage, and a nod to where the dungarees are manufactured) is on the pricey side, but we swoon over the brand’s tonal, re-worked styles. Isn’t the investment worthwhile if this is the only pair of jeans you wear for the rest of the summer?

E.L.V. Denim The Twin Boyfriend Jeans, $, available at Shopbop

Fair Harbor

Named for the Fire Island beach town where the founders spent their summers growing up, this surfer-designed swimwear brand uses yarn spun from plastic bottles to create sporty, on-trend swimwear. (Each suit recycles anywhere from four to 20 bottles.) As if this eco-forward mission wasn’t enough, the suits are designed with movement-friendly, stay-put bottoms and come in some seriously appealing prints and colors.

Fair Harbor The Saltaire Bikini, $, available at Fair Harbor


We’ve lusted over Araks’ luxurious lingerie and sculptural swimwear and luxe sleepwear since we were fashion noobs. The brand has always produced in its hometown in New York City, with an emphasis on supporting women-owned businesses. (While this might not fall under the category of “sustainable," it’s a policy we can certainly get behind.) Currently, 50% of the brand’s swimwear fabrics are made with Econyl, a recycled nylon, and the remainder come from eco-driven suppliers.

Araks Elmar One Piece, $, available at Araks


All eyes are on H&M right now — as one of the biggest clothing retailers in the world, its efforts in sustainability have the potential to be significant. So far, we like what we’re seeing: this season’s Conscious collection was replete with airy separates in a host of environmentally-friendly fabrics, including (but not limited to) recycled polyester, lyocell, and Piñatex, a leather alternative made from pineapple-leaf fibers. We’ve also been reading about its efforts to test out the secondhand market with an & Other Stories-dedicated shop on the Swedish resale site (and H&M investee) Sellpy. Don’t forget: H&M also offers in-store textile recycling at all of their retail locations.

H&M Conscious Lyocell-blend Dress, $, available at H&M

from refinery29
Keep These Sustainable Brands In Mind When Shopping During Earth Month (& Every Month After) Keep These Sustainable Brands In Mind When Shopping During Earth Month (& Every Month After) Reviewed by streakoggi on April 29, 2020 Rating: 5

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