You need to know at the outset, that the answer to this question is unbelievably complex and we are not going to be able to provide a comprehensive one here. What we are trying to do is to raise the awareness of the issues that we as a business and you as a purchaser/wearer of the garments might need to consider.
Research ‘environmentally friendly hoodies’
If you research ‘environmentally friendly hoodies’ you will quickly be led down a rabbit warren of phrases and topics which are all related in some way to the issue but are in many cases completely different subjects. For instance, if you start at ‘environmentally friendly’ you may well reach the topic of ‘labour exploitation’. Obviously, this isn’t the same topic, nor even close.
However, it is reasonable to assume that if you care enough about the planet to try to find out more about the impact of the garments you might buy/wear you are probably also going to have views about the exploitation of labour to manufacture the garments or the ‘carbon footprint’ of the whole process.
We did a small research exercise to see what phrases crop up when starting with a search for environmentally friendly hoodies and then following the links presented. Obviously, there was no time to read all of the pages we linked through to, but we compiled the following list of words/phrases/topics which we came across in a 30-minute blitz surfing the web.
preserving the planet
long term thinking
short term thinking
Issues to consider
The above list of words/phrases/topics is by no means comprehensive but it is wide-reaching. For an individual to pick out the issues to focus on and to buy a hoodie taking all of these issues into consideration is tremendously difficult, if not impossible.
Governments, worldwide inter-governmental organisations, scientists, ethicists, philosophers – none of these groups has nailed an approach that works for now and for the long term. Any approach considered sacrifices one group of people or resources to protect another.
The Saint’s Leavers Hoodie
Just to illustrate how complex the whole topic of buying a hoodie might be if you want to follow an ethical approach we have created the following mock website sales description of the ideal leaver’s hoodie. Please don’t call to order these garments as they don’t yet exist – and probably never will.
The Saint’s Hoodie costs the same as the hoodie your mum and dad wore when they left school 10 years ago. It is made and decorated within 10 miles of the village in which you live. The factory is powered by on-site solar panels and wind turbines (which the local population rate as being very attractive to the eye). The employees, from MD down, all earn the same salary which is tied to the mean salary of the British working population the manufacturer always has a register of 150 local people waiting to join the company when someone reluctantly leaves the job commonly described as “…the most fun and fulfilling job I have ever had”.
It is delivered to you by a well-paid cyclist, earning the same as the MD. The materials used are recycled organic fibres, with no part of the garment made from fossil fuels or rare naturally occurring elements. No animal is hurt in the production of the material. The fibres are grown in local fields which would not otherwise be used for food production. The soil is not damaged or depleted in any way by the growth of the crop. The material produced sheds no fibres to pollute the rivers or seas and it is fully recyclable.
It will last for 10 years (because that is the mandated life span of every garment now) and, because of the amazing fibres it is made from, it washes perfectly in cold water. The Saint’s Hoodie comes in 100 different colours all achieved through the use of natural, organic dyes.
For each garment you buy the manufacturer contributes 25% of the garment cost to the Worldwide fund for levelling up all countries to the same economic status. A further 25% of the garment cost is contributed to the Worldwide fund for climate preservation and rejuvenation.
A reasonable approach to buying hoodies – today
It is impossible to buy a hoodie that has no environmental footprint. So, what can you do today to make a contribution to preserving and/or improving the world in which we live?
The best hoodies available today, at prices that are not generally unaffordable, tick the boxes for
- ‘WRAP’ accreditation promoting ethical policies of manufacturing around the world
- Using Organic and/or recycled materials.
There is no doubt that new materials, manufacturing processes and recycling standards will be developed in the next few years. But it will probably need the young people, who are buying hoodies now and for the next few years, to become the leaders of industry, governments and society to deliver the massive changes needed to make it happen.
We, the Leavers Hoodies Company, decorate and sell garments manufactured by a range of suppliers from a range of materials. We are happy to source garments
- from ethical manufacturers
- made from organic materials
- badged as sustainable
But, and it is a BIG BUT, we are a very small link in a very long chain. The biggest impact we can have may be to help raise awareness of the issues through articles such as this and to respond to the demands of our clients as they become more conscious of the issues and what they can do about them.
Like you, as evidenced by your reading through to the end of this article, we care about the environment. We also care that people are not exploited to produce the garments that we decorate and sell. And we care that our clients have a choice of garments they can buy which meet their ethical needs.