What constitutes eco clothing for outdoors.
Most of us head into the outdoors to enjoy the wilderness of it all. The fresher air, the smells of new blooms and sounds that no audio system can reproduce exactly. We call ourselves nature lovers and for the most part, we are a crowd that is aware of the problems facing the natural environment including pollution and development that is increasingly narrowing down the green spaces that once was there.
Consumers however, are starting to wise up and question eco claims and in many instances, have had major brands changing their green tunes like this case of Porsche and its eco claims. The same backlash is happening to the Outdoors industry and the industry has responded with the creation of a group to set standards for its members. Aptly named the Sustainability Working Group( as in working towards sustainability ) the group covers every possible concern that could come out of any eco claims and provides guidance for its members who are cashing in on the Outdoors person and their love for nature.
The Eco Index is an impressive guide for their members and challenges all Outdoors brands and manufacturers to work towards the standards set here so that their products can truly be called eco friendly.
Looking a few of their key points :
-Select raw materials that require less energy and have a low carbon footprint throughout their lifetime.
-Select materials that minimize the amount of fresh water used and wastewater created through their lifetime.
-Select raw materials that contribute to significant positive changes in manufacturing and processing efficiencies.
The most common fibre used in Outdoor type apparel and gear today is polyester. The virgin stuff that’s made from oil and contributes hugely to pollution of air,land and water. To make it even more toxic, performance finishes are often added,whether to yarn or finished fabrics and anything that can repel rain water or food stains and block out wind, cannot be good for the environment. I’ve wondered about this for the longest time and have not been able to confirm what happens, when all this lamination and chemicals is boiled down and recycled into a new yarn that’s commonly known as rePET. Did the chemicals leave the sludge when it was boiled down? And how was the sludge disposed of? You’ll see guidelines in the Eco Index asking manufacturers to dispose of sludge responsibly. How is that done? If you bury it deep enough, it will disappear? Out of sight out of mind sort of thing?
Anyway, onto the next phase, now that the item has been produced and sold, the new considerations become care of the garment. SWG’s guide specifically advises members to “specify low impact care such as cold water wash, line dry and no dry cleaning!” The energy savings mentioned here are tremendous as the washing machine and hot air dryer are two of the biggest energy hogs in your house. More benefits like that amazing sundried smell and feel can be checked out on this laundry site.
Its easy enough if we’re dealing with a recycled polyester hoody or cotton tee shirt but what do you do with a fully lined and padded “eco outdoor” jacket? What’s a nature lover to do?
The true nature lover will reject products like these.Any product that calls for dry cleaning should be avoided at all costs. In our opinion, the nature lover will go back to the days when clothing was made simply and as naturally as you can make it. None of this performance,rain repellent,stain resistant product that leaves such a heavy imprint on the environment.
When the winds blow cold, the nature lover will add on a scarf and another layer of clothing to keep the warmth in. Not add on a synthetic layer of cloth that will wreak havoc on the environment in its manufacture, in its use and in its end fate.