While this fall semester may feel different from most, I always associate the months of August and September with the back to school season. This time marked by returning to classes always feels like a great time for personal rebranding and shopping for a new wardrobe — or just adding a few key pieces to your closet. This year, however, I made a commitment to learn more about what changes I could make to be more environmentally conscious. So, in order to both fulfill my back to school shopping itch while caring for the environment, I discovered “Good on You” — an app that compiles ethical, and not so ethical, clothing stores and rates them based on each brands’ commitment to protecting people, animals and the planet.
Fast Fashion Fears
In recent years, more people have become aware of the issues surrounding the fast fashion industry. This term has been used to describe the trends of shopping becoming a more frequent occurrence — instead of buying something and wearing it until it falls apart or you outgrow it, our shopping habits now lean toward picking cheaper items that are only worn a few times. Fast fashion is defined as “cheap, trendy clothing, that samples ideas from the catwalk or celebrity culture and turns them into garments in high street stores at breakneck speed to meet consumer demand. The idea is to get the newest styles on the market as fast as possible, so shoppers can snap them up while they are still at the height of their popularity, and then, sadly, discard them after a few wears.”
Given the quick turnaround of changing trends or cheaply made materials, clothes in the fast fashion industry are not made to last. They are meant to be discarded to encourage you to keep shopping for the newest trends and styles, continually forcing you into a cycle of purchasing, wearing and discarding clothes in a relatively short time frame.
Cheap materials, quick production speeds and short lifespans are all hallmarks of fast fashion. This industry tends to underpay workers and cut corners in factories where workers’ safety is continually in jeopardy. And, besides the chemicals and environmentally dangerous dyes and fabrics, the fast fashion industry produces items that are destined for the landfill. This industry is inherently wasteful and polluting.
Even though it may be clear to see that this industry is dangerous and destructive, the return to slow fashion has yet to take hold across the masses.
Conscious Clothing Choices
In order to combat the fast fashion industry, “Good on You” works to provide consumers with the tools to analyze their own shopping habits. This app collects research on different companies and rates them based on whether or not the company is openly and clearly dedicated to protecting their workers, refraining from using animal products and carefully managing their energy use and carbon emissions.
The “Good on You” motto is “Do good. Look good. Feel good.” With these three categories of interest, this app is meant to help consumers choose the most ethical shopping choices.
For users wanting to know more about some of their favorite companies, you can utilize the search bar to quickly learn whether a certain brand is “great” in their commitment to at least two of the three markers and are dedicated to sustainable and ethical production. Or you can find out if a brand is “not good enough” or needs to be avoided because they either do not disclose enough information about their supply chain methods or practice greenwashing — where a brand tries to seem sustainable without actually committing to any sustainable practices.
But, the app does more than just provide research on brands you already know about — if you’re looking for a specific item, you can search for the item and receive recommendations on where to purchase it from a high-rated company. With clean and clear visuals, you can quickly learn about a brand’s commitment to ethical practices, and you can quickly see the price range for the brand’s items.
The app also offers articles and list-articles that divulge some of their most recommended places to look for certain items — including swimwear, jeans, sneakers and more. One of the main series of articles on the app asks, “How ethical is — insert company —?” This series takes individual companies and dives into a summary of their environmental impacts, labor conditions and animal welfare. These articles are a great way to quickly process a lot of information about companies that may seem ethical and sustainable, but underneath the surface, there may be a darker reality hiding.
The app’s suggestions for different brands and their wide range of companies that have been reviewed are impressive. The app also includes a section for “offers” where you can find coupon codes to use for online orders just by using the app. “Goon on You” is designed with the user in mind, and after finding a reputable company that you want to shop from, the app will take you directly to the store or the company’s website. One complaint I have about the app, however, is that it can be difficult to find more affordable options. For many people, the costs associated with sustainable fashion create a barrier that can be hard to breach. But, given the fact that 93% of fast fashion brands do not pay garment workers a living wage, the higher costs of sustainable fashion are understandable.
Patterns in Purchases
Overall, the “Good on You” app is a great way to quickly find and learn about sustainable and ethical clothing options. It can be hard to make the switch, but this app makes it easy to become more informed and involved in the process of fighting the fast fashion industry.