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These ethical clothing brands make it so much easier to be green. The latest fashion trend isn’t a seasonal color or a must-have style: it’s the concept of sustainable fashion and ethical clothing. The textiles industry is wreaking havoc on the environment between the processes to make clothing and the waste when it gets tossed, so brands and consumers alike have taken a much-needed interest in improving these issues. And while there’s no such thing as “eco-friendly clothing” - i.e. all garments have at least some negative impact on the environment - there are brands working diligently to help make a difference. The Good Housekeeping Institute’s Textiles Lab worked with an environmental consultant and used our fabric expertise to break it down for you, finding top brands that are addressing environmental and social concerns. We’ve selected these picks based on style and sustainable features, but first, here’s what you need to know about sustainable fashion and ethical clothing.What is ethical or sustainable fashion?While "fast fashion" describes clothing that is cheaply made and intended for short-term use, "sustainable" (or "ethical") fashion is the opposite. It takes into account the full lifecycle of the product - from the design, sourcing, and production processes - and looks at everyone and everything being affected by it, from the environment, to the workers and communities where it’s produced, to the consumers who purchase it. It’s a complex issue and there isn’t one brand that’s currently capable of tackling everything, but right now there are five main issues being addressed in the fashion industry:1. Water usage: The demands for fresh water for drinking and agriculture is far surpassing what’s available. Yes, the Earth is covered in water, but most of it is unusable salt water or has been polluted. As a result, some brands are now looking at the supply chains to see how they can cut back on how much water they're using.2. Hazardous chemicals: Dyes and finishes from the production processes are dangerous for the workers, plus they get into the community water sources. These chemicals may not affect the consumers, but they’re a problem for the people who make clothing and those who live in areas where it’s produced. Fashion and outdoor brands are now tasked with coming up with new ways to address dyes and finishes for features like wrinkle-resistance and water-repellency.3. Short lifecycle: Stores are constantly launching new designs and consumers are regularly updating their wardrobes. The biggest goal in sustainable fashion is to buy less and use things longer. To make clothes last, there are platforms for closet-sharing, brands that promote buying used clothing, and simple yet durable styles that you can wear over and over again.4. Waste: On top of having a short lifecycle, there needs to be a way to create less trash by making products useful again once they’ve run their course. One way is to repair garments (i.e. mending holes in jeans and replacing worn soles of shoes) while another opportunity comes from using recycled materials in apparel.5. Agriculture: Natural fibers like cotton are often grown using pesticides and treatments that are harmful to the farmers, workers, and wildlife in the area. There are now more options for organic cotton, linen, and other fibers available, which also use less water than the conventional growing methods. Plus, brands are looking at being organic throughout the production process – not just the growing of the crop, which is only the first step.What are the most sustainable fabrics?The most sustainable fabric is one that’s previously been used; anything new that has been produced – regardless of what material – has a negative impact on the environment. After that comes fabrics made with recycled material. Most commonly you’ll find polyester made from recycled water bottles. Just make sure you’re looking for specific details, like "100% recycled polyester" (some brands might market it as “made with partially recycled materials” when it’s really only a small portion). Lastly, fabrics made with sustainable fibers are better than conventional ones, like organic fibers that use less chemicals and water, or Tencel that’s safer for workers and has less waste.Is sustainable fashion affordable?Yes! Buying something used is more sustainable than anything new, so it’s automatically going to cost you less. This doesn’t mean you have to shop at Goodwill, and it’s actually becoming a trend: The fashion industry calls it “recommerce.” Sites like eBay, thredUP, and Poshmark make it easy to swap out your clothes, and brands like Eileen Fisher and Patagonia are even selling pre-worn garments from their own labels. Just be cautious that you don’t use the cost-savings as an excuse to buy more since that'll take away from it being a sustainable purchase. That being said, if you’re going to buy new sustainable fashion from brands that follow ethical practices and give fair wages, use organic fibers, or create more durable items, you may end up paying more – but these garments are meant to last longer.What brands are ethical?Different brands focus on combating various issues in the fashion industry – some just one, while others are tackling multiple. Read on to learn more about brands we love that are creating the best options for ethical clothing and accessories.