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Recognizing sustainable fashion - 8 tips and criteria to make it easier to find fair, eco-friendly clothing

How to tell, check and know if fashion is sustainable and eco-friendly?

How can you more easily recognize sustainable fashion? If you want to make buying eco-friendly clothing a little easier, you've come to the right place. On average, German consumers buy around 60 new items of clothing every year₁ - quite a lot, don't you think?

But it is particularly questionable when this mountain of clothing is also environmentally harmful and made by children's hands. Unfortunately, sweaters, shirts, dresses, pants, socks and shirts are often not directly visible whether they were produced fairly and ecologically.

In this article, I would like to give you some valuable tips and criteria that will make it much easier for you to recognize sustainable fashion in the future. Let's go!

Here you can find a short overview in advance:

  1. Pay attention to certifications and seals
  2. Second hand shopping
  3. Research companies behind fashion brands
  4. View material, feel and ask questions
  5. Pay attention to price and origin
  6. Use fashion search engine
  7. Raise awareness of greenwashing characteristics
  8. Store at green stores and fashion brands

1. pay attention to certifications and seals

Fair and environmentally friendly seals to recognize sustainable fashion

Among the most important identifiers of sustainable clothing are definitely meaningful certifications, whose logos adorn the product label or other places of offered sweaters, shirts, pants and other garments.

In my opinion, these are the strictest and most important textile labels:

  • IVN Best: Textile goods with this certification are subject to strict production guidelines and controls throughout the entire manufacturing process - from raw material production to dyeing.
  • GOTS: This abbreviation stands for Global Organic Textile Standard and promises that at least 95 percent of the fibers used come from certified organic agriculture or animal husbandry.
  • OEKO-TEX® MADE IN GREEN: The seal looks at the entire production chain and identifies products that have been created by observing fair working hours, wages and occupational health and safety measures, and without child labor.
  • Fairtrade Cotton: You can recognize fairly grown and traded organic cotton products by this label.
  • PETA-Approved Vegan: The seal of the animal welfare organization equips, among other things, fashion that does without leather, fur, silk, wool or other animal substances.

Furthermore, you should look for textile goods that are energy efficient and resource-saving recycled or upcycled and, as far as possible, from regional sources. Low water and energy consumption, Appreciation for existing materials and short delivery routes are also essential for clothing that is as ecological as possible.

2. second hand shopping

Hardly anything is more sustainable than buying second-hand - this also applies to fashion. Because for second-hand clothing no further, natural resources consumed. So if you long for less hassle when shopping for eco-fair clothes, second-hand stores are, Ebay Classifieds or apps like Kleiderkreisel absolute the best places to go.

3. research companies behind fashion brands

Be sure to take a look at the companies behind a fashion brand you favor. What is their philosophy? Do they stand up for sustainable fashion? Have they joined the initiative Science Based Targets and set clear, measurable targets to minimize its own CO2 emissions? And is the ecological range in your own assortment growing? First inform, then decide is the motto.

4. look at material, feel and ask questions

Touch clothing material and ask seller:inside

A look at the product label, with its seals and the selected textile fabrics already reveals quite a lot. Are the products natural and biodegradable materials? Are harmful Chemicals, synthetics or dyes, as well as processed, animal substances such as Leather been used? Then you should refrain from buying for health, ethical and ecological reasons.

Tip: Why I as Vegan renounce leatherYou can read about this in detail in the linked article.

5. pay attention to price and origin

A sustainable lifestyle can save you money - it's no different when it comes to buying fashion. However, the investment in sustainable and durable clothing only pays off over time. After all, genuine quality from fair and ecological trade is its worth higher price.

Or do you think that a shirt for 4.99 euros was produced fairly and will serve you for a long time? Absolutely not. Sustainable fashion is something you can higher but justified prices, as well as to significantly longer life cycles recognize.

In combination with the lack of Fairtrade labels, the country of origin also provides important information about the origin of the respective garment. If the clothing comes from low-wage countries in South and East Asia, there is a strong tendency that it was produced under inhumane conditions.₂

6. use fashion search engine

If you prefer to store online, you can also check out the environment friendly search engine of your choice or even a special Fashion search engine like use. The latter searches for you a variety of offers in online stores. You can simply enter search terms such as "vegan shoes" or "sustainable sweater" and you will immediately find what you are looking for. However, I advise you to always check again for which reasons the respective item of clothing was declared as "sustainable".

Tip: Do you actually know how to basically store online as sustainably as possible can? In any case, the linked article gives you a lot of helpful advice on this.

7. make aware of characteristics for greenwashing

Many fashion brands like to put themselves in the "green light" unjustifiably. For example, by using targeted marketing campaigns to talk about seemingly sustainable measures that their factories are polluting rivers or that people are falling ill from pesticides and other toxins used in the cultivation of their cotton.

Terms such as "sustainable", "regional" or "controlled" are also relatively unclear and also not protected terms. They can simply be used without objection. Be aware of this. Expressions like "biological" or "ecological" on the other hand, are protected by law and will help you, Greenwashing and actually sustainable fashion apart.

8. shopping at green stores and fashion brands

Sustainable fashion label Wijld
Clothing can also be produced in an environmentally friendly and fair way | Image source:

A guaranteed place to go for clothing that is as environmentally and socially responsible as possible is also the brands and stores that follow a green philosophy without cutting corners and sell their entire Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to sustainability. You can recognize this, for example, by the fact that they are committed to fair working conditions in the supply chain, support social projects or use only certified, organic and animal-free fabrics.

In the course of time you then know the sustainable fashion brandswhose clothes you like very much, which will make it easier for you to find fair and ecologically produced clothes.

Recognizing sustainable fashion, made easy!

Many people are ready to consume more sustainable fashion, but still believe that this project is quite difficult to implement. All it really takes is a few tricks, information and places to go. After this article, you now know them and what to look for when buying fair fashion.

One more thing: Basically, of course, you should only buy the clothes that you really need and that you will really enjoy for a long time. Do not let yourself be guided by emotions, because the pure Consumption does not make happy. Instead, internalize the appreciative views of the so-called Slow Fashion. Because it can be just as exciting to buy a few but well-combined second-hand goods, borrow clothes or repair them.

Do you have any questions, suggestions or do you know of other features that can be used to recognize sustainable fashion? Then I look forward to your comment.

Stay sustainable,

Christoph from CareElite - Plastic-free living

PS.: Be sure to inform yourself in the next post also about the machinations and consequences of the so-called Fast Fashion Industry. You'll get a real boost of motivation to be more conscious with your clothes, I promise!

₁ Norddeutscher Rundfunk: Sustainable fashion - buying clothes consciously (as of 20.06.2022), available at,nachhaltigemode100.html. [03.12.2022].

₂ M. Gassmann: Bangladesh has become the world's seamstress (as of 11.03.2014), available at [03.12.2022].

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* Links with asterisks are so-called affiliate links. If you click on it and buy something, you automatically and actively support my work with, because I get a small share of the sales revenue - and of course the product price does not change. Thank you for your support and best regards, Christoph!

Christoph Schulz

Christoph Schulz

I'm Christoph, an environmental scientist and author - and here at CareElite I'm campaigning against plastic waste in the environment, climate change and all the other major environmental problems of our time. Together with other environmentally conscious bloggers, I want to give you tips & tricks for a naturally healthy, sustainable life as well as your personal development.

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