Building A Vegan Wardrobe
You don’t have to be vegan to be an important contributor to a healthy planet via conscious choices when it comes to filling your wardrobe (and no, you do not have to dress in lettuce either!). The exciting news is that more and more products are produced each year without hurting animals, people or the environment!
Here a few simple tips to help you through the process of finding those non-leather lovely winter boots, or that fabulous non-wool warm wrap. It’s a lot easier than you think!
First easy step: look at the label! Brands are required to list out the materials that are used in their products and in some cases they also use symbols.
Currently there are many substitutes for leather. Most are vegan, but not all are environmentally friendly. The easiest way to identify a leather product is by this symbol:
If the label says either ‘synthetic’, ‘man-made materials’, ‘textile’ or ‘other materials’ then you should be safe in the knowledge that no animal skin has been used.
Also look out for the signs of alternative materials such as textiles and other materials.
Textiles are woven fabrics from materials like cotton and hemp but could include silk and silk-blends so be sure to double check!
This is the safest of alternative materials as Other refers to anything that is man-made and not derived from animals.
Example: Shoe shopping!
Shoe labels are generally placed as stickers to the sole of the shoe. They specify the materials to each part of the shoe. The top row of the label indicates the material of the top side of the shoe, in this case leather. The middle row is the inside of the shoe: you guessed it! Textile, and the third row indicates the material of the sole which in this case is manmade (not derived from animals).
There is no clear symbol to identify furs and labels don’t exactly just say “fur” on them, they can also typically reference the animal it comes from. As per FTC guidelines it is illegal to label a fur with:
- the name of any animal other than the animal that produced the fur, and
- coined or fictitious animal names
If no animal is mentioned, look for the material: cotton, rayon, artificial silk, Tencel®. Products like acrylic and polyester do not come from animals, but are not biodegradable. They also are big pollutants when manufactured. Please consider alternatives before purchasing plastic derivatives.
Wool & Silk:
Be very careful with wool and silk as they are very commonly blended with vegan materials like cotton. It’s very important to read the labels thoroughly with something that might potentially have wool or silk as sometimes the material can be listed last! Like fur, wool can come from various animals so be sure to keep an eye out for any mentions of animals like alpaca, angora, merino, cashmere, llama, and mohair to name a few. Wool also has three distinct labels:
If you have found some favorite new vegan items and expect to purge your bulging closet of non-vegan oldies, please consider donating to the many and varied thrift stores that grace most neighborhoods. With buyers becoming more and more conscious of their own power of choice (and environmentally savvy!), it is common to find gently worn items stacking the racks of local thrifts, slowing the pace of fast fashion by extending the shelf life of loved garment.