The recent flurry of negative press around fast fashion shows that shoppers are starting to turn away from unsustainable clothing, finally realising the threat it poses to the planet.
But with quickly and cheaply made clothes all around us, just how do you begin to navigate a more ethical route? Well, we’ve found the 4 apps that’ll set you on the right path:
Buycott lets you know when a brand’s actions are against your beliefs. The app presents you with a list of causes (or ‘campaigns’) and asks you to join the campaigns that you care about, rating how strongly you feel about each one on a sliding scale.
When you see a product you want to investigate (and this works on everything from fashion to fruit), just scan the product’s barcode with your phone, and Buycott will tell you if there’s a clash with any of your ideals — as well as any other controversies the brand might be involved in. Scanning a Primark product, for example, brings up a range of issues connected to the company, from ‘boycott child labour’ to ‘tell Associated British Foods to stop tax dodging in Zambia.’
How often would you estimate 50 trailers’ worth of clothes are sent to UK landfills? Incredibly, it’s every day. But the reGAIN team have a brilliant idea to tackle this — by rewarding you for recycling not just with a warm and fuzzy feeling, but with real discounts on fashion and food.
All you have to do is pop at least 10 unwanted items into a box and bring it to your closest drop-off point to get access to the in-app discount coupons. And that’s it — you can get shopping with a clear conscience, knowing that your old clothing will either be donated or recycled.
After the tragic collapse of the Rana Plaza textile factory in Bangladesh in 2013 — which killed over 1000 people — the developers of Good on You kept finding themselves in conversations with people who wanted to shop more ethically, but just didn’t know where to begin.
This inspired them to create Good on You, an app for ‘fashion without harm.’ Using data from organisations like Greenpeace and Carbon Trust, the app gives 2000+ brands an ethical score on a 1-5 scale, taking into account factors like workers’ labour conditions and use of animal products.
And if you discover that your favourite brands are a little less than perfect? Well, Good on You will recommend similar brands with better ethical scores, even offering deals on the highest-rated stores — which incentivises shoppers and brands towards more ethical behaviour.
These apps all offer a brilliant answer to the question of how to shop more ethically — but none discourage the buying of new clothes, which is a different problem entirely.
Borrowing clothes, not buying them, is one solution. Why? Because by borrowing, you don’t just take some of the pressure off the world’s landfills, but you also help to put the brakes on the mass-manufacturing systems that produce too many clothes in the first place.
There are lots of platforms, like Rent the Runway, for renting high-end and designer clothing. But if you’re looking for any other kind of clothes — from wedding attire to vintage pieces to streetwear to costumes — there’s Fat Llama, the app for renting (almost) anything from people nearby, at an accessible cost. So next time you’re purging your closet of unworn clothing, set aside some to rent out on Fat Llama — and you could earn some money off them through the circular economy.
Note: Guest post by Sarah Young