Sustainable products are on the rise. As we as consumers grow more aware, our demand for more responsible products has never been greater.
This, of course, results in retailers, manufacturers, and other businesses meeting the demand by creating more eco-friendly products.
Eco-friendly fabrics are essential in our new way of life. The fashion industry is one of the biggest polluters on the planet. It is responsible for 10% of all our carbon emissions worldwide and the second-largest consumer of water after the animal agriculture industry.
Unfortunately, the rise in demand for eco-friendly products has also led to unscrupulous practices. Genuinely open businesses that care more about the environment and animal rights are sometimes lost in the sea of unethical companies “greenwashing” their consumers.
What Is Greenwashing?
First coined in 1986 by Jay Westerveld, it refers to the practice of businesses marketing themselves as an environmentally friendly and sustainable company to deceive their customers into spending more. It has been proven that consumers spend more when they think they are buying from ethical brands.
Westerveld published a trademark essay on how hotels placed a card to portray water and energy-saving efforts yet fell short in every single other aspect of environmental conservation.
Following closely, Chevron made headlines by putting out a series of expensive television and print ads pitching their dedication to the environment. At the same time, they were violating the Clean Air act and spilling toxic water into precious ecosystems.
In addition, a chemical company named DuPont put out a series of TV advertisements that portrayed them as animal lovers. They were named the largest polluter of the year. Eeeks.
Vegan, Cruelty-Free, Eco-Friendly, Sustainable?
All these terms might sound the same to the mass consumer, but they aren’t. They might have overlapping meanings, but are entirely independent qualities. So what exactly do they mean?
Vegan - No animal products are used. Not just in the finished product, but in the entire manufacturing process. Commonly forgotten materials include adhesives, gelatin, and fabrics. It unfortunately does not mean that animals were not harmed in the manufacturing or testing process. It should though.
Cruelty-Free - This does not mean they contain no animal ingredients. It means that no animals were hurt in the testing or manufacturing process.
Eco-friendly / Sustainable - These phrases mean the same thing. They are thrown around so loosely that we are almost skeptical. Most companies pitching these qualities think that just by donating a bunch of profits or using sustainable materials like bamboo and hemp means they can claim their products are eco-friendly.
To us, this is not it. These terms mean that a company is trying its utmost to reduce its carbon footprint, consumption of our resources, and to help us, as humanity, succeed in every way. Even at the cost of their bottom line. Of course, unless you are a registered and authenticated non-profit, you have to stay above the red line.
Know the difference, and be more demanding on companies. The more demanding consumers are, the more companies are likely to comply with our wishes.
So What’s With The Wacky Socks?
We went from plain back and white socks to crazy prints. Most people simply attribute wacky socks to eccentric personalities. Yet, it can show enjoyment and communicate our passions.
For example, these planet-printed socks for men might indicate an astronomer in training. Or these women’s socks might say that we are a supporter of all things magical. Who doesn’t like rainbows and unicorns?
What Are Eco-Friendly Socks
Basically, it means the fabric is produced with as little environmental impact as possible. They would need to be vegan and cruelty-free too, which means they contain no animal products and no animals were harmed in the manufacturing process.
The fashion industry is one of the most significant polluters on our planet. It is responsible for a large amount of carbon emissions, and its water consumption is the second-largest after the animal agricultural industry.
And still, after all this consumption, most of our fabric production ends up in landfills. Considering this, eco-friendly fabrics biodegrade. This means that over a short period, they cease to exist and go back to nourishing the earth.
Types of eco-friendly fabrics include:
Tencel - Harvested from the wood pulp of trees, Tencel is made mainly from eucalyptus trees. Eucalyptus trees are fast-growing and hardy, lowering or even eliminating the need for pesticides.
Hemp - This durable plant requires no pesticides. Hemp comes from the stalk of the hemp plant, producing incredibly strong fibers.
Hemp plants are also deep-rooting. Their roots can grow 12 inches a month. Long roots ventilate the soil and allow nutrients to penetrate. Hemp plants increase the soil quality so much that they can flourish in the same area for over 20 years without depleting soil quality.
Bamboo - Bamboo plants aren’t technically a plant, they are considered a grass. They grow so unbelievably fast that harvesting them will actually increase their biomass in the following year.
In addition, they contain a natural chemical called “bamboo kun”, the compound that makes bamboo antimicrobial and antibacterial.
Organic Cotton - Cotton itself is a natural product. However, it costs us a fortune in resources to produce. The cotton industry is one terrible water consumer. It takes 2,700 liters of water to make a single t-shirt and 7,200 liters of water to make a pair of jeans. To make things worse, cotton farming is prevalent in developing countries that are vulnerable to water shortages.
In addition to that, cotton plants require a massive amount of pesticides and chemicals. It is one of the most chemically intensive crops in the world. The voiding of chemicals from manufacturing facilities into the surrounding environment has been the cause of 20,000 deaths and cancers in developing countries with little to no protection from contamination.
Organic cotton, on the other hand, consumes way less resources. The plants are also grown without the use of insecticides and chemicals. This protects the local population from contamination and is better for the soil, keeping it fertile.