The Buyer’s Guide to the Best Sustainable Brands

buyer's guide to sustainable brands

Jul 16, 2021

The Buyer’s Guide to the Best Sustainable Brands

Fashion’s carbon footprint is giant. More than 2.1 billion tonnes of carbon enter the atmosphere each year due to the fashion industry. 

Material creation, processing, and impact of production have a significant effect on our planet. Did you know you can make more environmentally friendly choices when it comes to the brands you support?

Greenwashing is rife these days, with big brands like H&M claiming to have environmentally-friendly ranges. The truth is, these brands are still churning out more pieces and creating more waste than ever before. 

Enter sustainable brands. There’s a vast global movement for more fair fashion and ethical consumption. Want to know which brands you can support without having to compromise your morals?

Check out our guide of brands who do good with your dollars. 

What Is Ethical Consumption? 

Consuming ethically means you only support brands that are transparent and produce their products ethically. 

When you purchase ethically made products, you vote with your dollar. You show brands that if they produce their products sustainably, you’ll buy them. You challenge the status quo and the traditional mass-produced way of consumption. 

If you boycott unethical brands, you show them you reject their principles and lack of values.

What Does Unethical Production Mean?

Cotton field

Products that are produced unethically put profits before people and the planet. 

Unethical brands will often use child labour or not pay living wages to the people producing their goods. 

If something is not made ethically, it often destroys the environment where it is sourced. Companies that make unethical products often cause high levels of pollution. 

For example, cotton is often produced in an unethical way. The amount of pesticides needed for cotton crops is very high. It also requires a lot of water to grow. 

Cotton is grown in regions of the world that suffer from drought, such as India. Using water to produce crops instead of providing drinking water to local communities is unethical. 

How Can I Consume More Sustainably?

There are plenty of ways you can consume more consciously.

1. Think Twice Before You Buy

Think about whether or not you need it. Are you buying something new because you NEED it or because you want it? Or could you use what you already have? 

2. Borrow and Swap 

Borrow items from friends and family. They may own what you’re looking for. Swapping things is another excellent way to get the feeling of owning something new without the environmental impact.

3. Try Upcycling

Upcycled items are trending these days; put some love into something you already have. Do some work on regenerating it; you’ll be surprised what you can create with some inspiration from Pinterest. 

4. Thrift

Thrift store shopping to be more sustainable

You can find thrift and buy from charity shops. It’s much better to purchase things that already exist than create demand for the production of new things.

Did you know a truckload of clothes is burned or sent to landfills every minute? 

5. Get Making

Try making things yourself too. It’s a great way to get creative as well as reduce your carbon footprint! You’ll impress your friends with clothes and gifts you’ve made yourself.

6. Educate

Teach your kids how to be more ethical consumers. It’s more wallet-friendly too. Win-win!

If you find you really need to buy something new, you can buy from a brand that responsibly creates its products. Here’s some inspiration. 

Best Sustainable Brand for Women’s Fashion

Sustainable brands for women's fashion

Tentree

Tentree is a shining beacon for ethical practices, making it the perfect place to start.

The Canadian brand plants ten trees for every item purchased. They use recycled, circular and organic fabrics and are conscious of reducing fabric and water waste in production. 

Thinking Mu

Thinking Mu is a Spanish brand that puts sustainability at the forefront of everything it does. 

Gone are the days of sustainable fashion looking a bit odd or being made of awkward materials. This brand is stylish AND sustainable. 

The clothes are made from materials like linen, organic hemp and organic cotton. All clothes are coloured with eco-friendly dyes, and the company limits the wastage of water in production. 

Best Sustainable Brands for Men’s Fashion 

Kotn

An excellent option for sustainable menswear is the Canadian brand Kotn. They are a certified B Corp, which means the impact of their products is kept to a minimum.

Kotn also works with the communities that farm their cotton in the Nile Delta to provide them with education and community-building resources. How great is that!

Harvest & Mill

Harvest & Mill is a US brand that wants to change the fashion status quo. Produced in the USA, their labour policies are ethical, and they advocate worker’s rights. 

The products are made from organic and sustainable cotton, minimize fabric waste and use low-impact dyes. 

If you are looking for basics that have a low carbon footprint, check out this brand. 

Best Sustainable Sportswear for Women 

Girlfriend Collective

Imagine wearing plastic bottles; how chic would that be? Ok, we aren’t suggesting sticking a bunch of plastic bottles all over your body and going out for a run! 

We’re suggesting you try the soft, stretchy fabric Girlfriend Collective uses to make their sportswear. 

This brand has a super high sustainability rating. They reduce waste, make fabrics from ethical materials and pay their people a fair wage. Oh, and did we mention, their stuff looks great, AND is size-inclusive. 

Best Sustainable Sportswear for Men

Sustainable men's sportswear

Patagonia

If you want sportswear that will last a lifetime, Patagonia is a go-to brand.

They’re the pioneers of ethical outdoor gear, and their stuff is exceptionally high quality. In addition, many of their products are made from recycled materials. 

All the design aspects have been thoroughly thought through; you never knew you needed so many pockets! When you buy from Patagonia, you have a lifetime guarantee, they will replace or repair items that break. 

Overall this is a highly ethical company, their trademark is their sustainable principles. They also donate a percentage of their profits to combat climate change. 

Patagonia isn’t just for men—they have many female and unisex designs too. 

Best Sustainable Outwear Brand

Norden

If you want to keep it local (and of course, you trust Canadians to know what we need from a winter jacket!), then check out Norden.

They make stylish, sustainable outwear for men and women and guess what—it’s made from plastic bottles!

The brand has the vegan seal of approval and is a certified B Corp. That means they meet high standards for their environmental and social actions. 

Best Sustainable Brands for Underwear

Sustainable underwear brands

There are dozens of sustainable underwear brands popping up online. Direct to consumer brands are particularly popular as we make a move to online shopping. 

Here are a few of the best:

Free Label

Want to support a local business when buying your undies and basics? Then try Free Label. They make their products in Toronto and Vancouver and are environment and human rights-focused. 

Hara the Label

A female-founded women’s underwear brand that strives to provide education about the fashion industry’s impact. Hara the Label creates super soft, comfortable, beautiful pieces using fabric made from bamboo.

They use natural dyes to create pop colours synonymous with the label. This brand puts people and the planet at the forefront of everything they do. 

Boody 

Boody is another underwear brand made from bamboo, you’ll never want to take off. The fabrics are the softest thing you’ll ever wear.

They make underwear, activewear and loungewear for men and women. Their ethical principles include reducing waste and sourcing the most sustainable suppliers for their raw materials. 

Just Wears

Just Wears is a male underwear brand that is revolutionizing the men’s underwear market, sustainability is at the forefront.

From the raw materials to their eco-friendly packaging, everything is done with the environment in mind. 

The underwear is made from the pulp of Austrian beech trees. The forests are managed in an environmentally friendly way, with regular re-forestation. 

Best Sustainable Footwear

Vivo Barefoot
Image sourced from Vivo Barefoot

Vivo Barefoot

Looking for an ethical footwear brand that looks good and doesn’t negatively impact the environment? Look no further than Vivo Barefoot

A shoe brand that’s vegan and made from recycled materials, its mission is to revolutionize the footwear industry. 

Once your shoes are worn out, you can send them back and they will turn them into a new pair! This brand uses innovative technology to bring the dream of a circular economy one step closer to fruition.

Best Sustainable Personal Hygiene Brands

If you want to make your hygiene routine more sustainable, then the first step: skip the plastic.

Bottles of shampoo and shower gel should be a thing of the past, not to mention all the nasty chemicals in regular hair and body products. 

Try solid toiletries if you want to have the most significant impact on the planet. Brands such as Ethique are built on sustainable principles. They want to save plastic, water and CO2 emissions. 

Imagine taking a shower knowing you’re positively impacting the environment! 

Sustainable Deodorant 

You may not have thought about the ethics of the stuff you put under your arms every day. But guess what? The stuff you buy in the store isn’t great for your skin or the environment. 

If you want to try an ethical, sustainable brand that works, then give Wild deodorant a go.

The deodorant has reusable packaging that you refill with compostable pods. Reduce your waste and smell amazing without any nasty chemicals clogging your pores. 

Sustainable Cosmetics

Natural cosmetics

Cosmetics are a tricky one. They often contain animal derivatives, are tested on animals and have excessive plastic packaging. Not great if you are trying to consume more ethically. 

Give up your traditional face creams and lipsticks in favour of eco brands.

Beauty Products

Saint Cosmetics is an eco-friendly, clean beauty brand. It says it in the name, doesn’t it!

This Canadian brand uses plant-based rather than chemical-based ingredients to create long-lasting, exciting lipstick and blush colours. 

Skincare

In Canada, you need nourishing moisturizer in winter. But unfortunately, many of the creams you traditionally use have detrimental effects on the environment. 

Pivot is a Canadian-owned, plant-based skincare brand that creates nourishing face and body oils.

Support local brands who know what we need when it comes to winter skincare! 

Best Ethical Cleaning Products 

Have you thought about your household cleaning products? They can get an eco overhaul too.  

From dish soap to laundry detergent, many conventional products are full of environmental and skin-damaging chemicals. 

Try an eco-friendly brand like Ecover if you want to replace the nasty detergents in your home. You can find products from this brand at Well.ca.

Reusable Everyday Items

Eco friendly every day products

To protect our oceans, we need to quit our single-use plastic habit. One of the best ways to do this is having reusable alternatives on hand. 

From water bottles to coffee cups to reusable tote bags and face masks, being more environmentally conscious starts with a few simple changes. 

Check out Made For The People for some great alternatives to single-use items such as straws and plastic bags. 

Coffee Cups

Thousands of coffee cups are tossed into landfills every day. Want to do your bit when buying your morning coffee? Then take your own cup! 

There are dozens of brands that sell reusable cups. Take a look at Keep Cup or R Cup

Bonus: Many coffee shops actually offer a small discount if you bring your own reusable cup!

Water Bottles

If you want to cut down on your plastic wherever you are in the world, buy a reusable water bottle. Preferably one with a filter so you can safely drink the water. 

Check out Lifestraw for bottles you can fill up anywhere and drink from straight away. 

Start Living More Sustainably 

We can all make small changes that add up to make a big difference. If you want to live more sustainably, live by the mantra reduce, reuse, and recycle. 

When you buy new things, buy ethically from sustainable brands. These brands are making a conscious effort to make the world a better place. From the materials they use to their policies about labour, when you support sustainable brands you can be sure your dollar is being put to good use. 

When you want to recycle your empty beverage containers, don’t forget to give East Hills Bottle Depot a visit. We’ll welcome you with open arms and a warm coffee—brownie points if you bring in your reusable coffee cup of course ;). 

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