Ethical clothing and footwear

What does ethical (or vegan) clothing mean?

For clothing to be considered ethical, it must not contain any ingredients of animal origin. The basis of the vegan wardrobe is things made from plant materials and artificial materials obtained by chemical means. Those who also care about the environment should prefer plant-based alternatives.

There are currently no special designations for whether a particular piece of clothing is ethical. Only a careful study of the composition indicated on the product label can help here. If after that there are doubts, contact the seller, or even better, directly to the manufacturer of the product you are interested in.

Shoes are marked with special pictograms indicating the material from which they are made. It can be leather, coated leather, textiles or other materials. The designation will correspond to the material, the content of which exceeds 80% of the total volume of the product. Other components are not reported anywhere. Therefore, it is impossible to immediately determine whether the composition is completely free of animal products, focusing only on the label from the manufacturer. Here, first of all, it is worth mentioning the glue. It usually consists of animal products and is used in large quantities in the manufacture of shoes. Vegan shoes don’t necessarily mean leatherette: there are options ranging from cotton and faux fur to cork.

Materials of animal origin in clothing

It is not a by-product of the meat industry (as many people think). 40% of slaughters worldwide are exclusively for leather.

Animals that go for fur are kept in appalling conditions and are often still alive when they are skinned.

Animals suffer and get injured not only when shearing. To prevent infection from blowflies, the so-called mulesing is carried out. This means that layers of skin are cut off from the back of the body (without anesthesia).

It is made from the undercoat of cashmere goats. Cashmere is an expensive material with high quality requirements. Animals whose fur does not meet these requirements are usually killed. This fate befell 50-80% of newborn cashmere goats.

Angora is the down of angora rabbits. 90% of the material comes from China, where there are no animal rights laws. The procedure for obtaining fluff is carried out with a sharp knife, which leads to injuries to rabbits when trying to escape. At the end of the process, the animals are in a state of shock, and after three months everything starts anew.

Feathers of ducks and geese are mainly used.

The silkworm weaves a cocoon of silk fibers. To make this fiber suitable for industrial use, live silkworms are boiled in boiling water. Behind one single silk blouse is the life of 2500 insects.

The sources of this material are the hooves and horns of animals, the beaks of birds.

Mother-of-pearl is obtained from mollusk shells. Pay attention to the buttons on the clothes – they are often made of horn or mother-of-pearl.

Other materials

Textile paint may contain cochineal carmine, animal charcoal, or animal binders.

In addition, many shoe and bag adhesives contain animal ingredients. For example, glutinous glue is made from the bones or skin of animals. Today, however, manufacturers are resorting to synthetic glue, as it is insoluble in water.

The materials described above are not required to be labeled on the product. The most rational (but not always possible) solution is to ask the question about the composition directly to the manufacturer.

Ethical Alternatives

The most common plant fiber. The cotton fiber is harvested and processed into threads, which are then used to make fabric. Bio cotton (organic) is grown without the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

Cannabis sprouts are able to protect themselves, so no agricultural poisons are used in their cultivation. Hemp fabric repels dirt, is more durable than cotton, and retains heat better. It is suitable for allergy sufferers and completely biodegradable.

Flax fibers need very small amounts of chemical fertilizers. Linen fabric is cool to the touch and very durable. It has no lint and does not absorb odors as quickly as all the others. Completely biodegradable and recyclable.

A by-product of the production of soy products. Visually indistinguishable from natural silk, while being as warm and pleasant to the body as cashmere. Soy silk is durable in use. Biodegradable material.

It is obtained from natural cellulose (bamboo, eucalyptus or beech wood). Viscose is a pleasure to wear. Biodegradable material.

Cellulose fiber. To obtain lyocell, other methods are used than for the production of viscose – more environmentally friendly. You can often find lyocell under the TENCEL brand. Biodegradable material, recyclable.

Consists of polyacrylonitrile fibers, its properties resemble wool: it retains heat well, is pleasant to the body, does not wrinkle. It is recommended to wash things made of acrylic at a temperature not exceeding 40C. Most often, a mixture of cotton and acrylic can be found in the composition of garments.

In the production of clothing, PET (polyethylene terephthalate) is mainly used. Its fibers are highly durable and practically do not absorb moisture, which is especially important for sportswear.

It is a mixture of several textile materials, coated with PVC and polyurethane. The use of artificial leather allows manufacturers to guarantee consistent product quality. It is cheaper than the real one and at the same time almost indistinguishable from it.

The result of a labor-intensive manufacturing process: polyacrylic threads are attached to a base consisting mainly of cotton and polyester. By changing the color and length of individual hairs, artificial fur is obtained, visually almost identical to natural.

Acrylic and polyester are considered ethical materials very conditionally: with each wash, microplastic particles end up in wastewater, and then into the oceans, where they pose a danger to its inhabitants and the environment. Therefore, it is better to give preference to natural alternatives.

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