Our consumer choices are more important than ever at the moment - what and how we wear, eat and use products is having a massive impact on the environment. Some of these impacts are clear to see and some are less obvious at first but they're all important. Since going vegan it's something I've been thinking about more and more - even though I don't eat animals anymore I still am torn over what I should wear. I now was thinking about my makeup, my cleaning products, my dog treats and toys - it was a wake-up call. Veganism has lead me to question everything that used to come naturally to me so I started reading labels and reading up on the materials and fabrics that made up the products I was using - everything from my shampoo to my jumpers was scrutinised.
I'd already been eschewing products tested on animals for a few years so I knew that my bathroom products and makeup were safe but I still felt that there was more I could do. I started researching online about sustainability and vegan living - you can find more resources to start your own research at the bottom of this article. When you're informed you can't ignore these issues - we can't pretend that animals aren't being treated badly.
One of my most recent dilemmas was whether to still buy wool. Whilst researching whether it was a cruel industry to buy into or not, I would hear so many different opinions; from people who would never wear it to people who would only buy high-quality wool from sustainable brands - but what does their version of sustainable and high quality mean? Looking through different sites I see nice marketing blurb but no real explanation into how these brands monitor the animals welfare - and a quick google search of sheep shearing makes for poor youtube viewing.
So what did all of this make me think? I decided to ditch wool. Now that doesn't mean throwing out all of my old jumpers as I want to get as much wear out of them and that would cause more unnecessary waste, but when I do need a new cosy jumper or warm hat I look to alternative materials; hemp is 100% biodegradable, recyclable and reusable, tencel offers economical use of energy and natural resources as well as being biodegradable and bamboo and flax are good alternatives too. You can find out more about these alternative materials in the resources below.
But where do you find these products? Well, there are so many ethical fashion brands out there and Peta has a great list of vegan approved brands available online or in the resources below which is a great place to start. But that doesn't mean you have to give up your favourite high street brands - just make sure you read the labels. In fact, here I'm wearing trousers from Zara and a Puffa Jacket from Urban Outfitters that didn't hurt any animals in their making!
Some of my favourite cruelty-free brands have to be:
And don't forget that you can be the difference and make big changes to stop animal cruelty. Every year hundreds of lambs die before they're 8 weeks old from exposure or starvation and mature sheep die every year from disease, lack of shelter and neglect. There's something we can all do about this.
Peta - support them by becoming a member and they'll send you newsletters with further reading
Read more here about hemp, tencel, bamboo and flax and why they are good for the environment and the animals.
Find the list of approved vegan brands from PETA here
Peta run The PETA Fashion Awards celebrate the biggest moments, greatest innovations, and standout brands that made 2017 a kinder year for animals and the environment