Just like fast food there is fast fashion, where the price of clothing is so cheap that it is quickly disposed of when the next “must-have” arrives. When out shopping, who really thinks about what goes into making a garment as well as its environmental impact?
What do you do if you love fashion, but are also concerned about the environment? The answer is to green your wardrobe. Ideally you would make do and mend the clothing you already have. Or perhaps you can buy pre-loved items from secondhand shops, flea markets and clothes swaps and give them a new lease of life. The other option is to buy eco-friendly fashion.
Eco-friendly fashion is a growing trend among many designers who are investing in fabrics made from eco-friendly and sustainable sources such as organic cotton and bamboo. Why use eco-friendly fabrics?
Conventionally grown cotton is one of the most heavily sprayed crops in the world, using large amounts of insecticides and pesticides. These toxic chemicals not only contaminate groundwater, soil and air, but cause untold harm to the cotton growers and people who live close to cotton fields. This is why the use of organic cotton is much more environmentally and people friendly. Organic cotton farmers only use organic fertilizers and no chemical pesticides.
Another reason to use organic cotton clothing is that traces of pesticides, formaldehyde and dyes in conventional cotton can be inhaled and absorbed through the skin. This can possibly cause respiratory problems, skin rashes and allergies especially in babies. It’s worth considering buying organic cotton baby clothing if you think your baby has these symptoms.
Bamboo is a new eco-fashion friend because it is one of the world’s most sustainable resources. Bamboo is extremely fast growing, doesn’t need harmful chemicals and requires minimal water consumption. Bamboo is totally biodegradable and can be disposed of in an environmentally friendly way.
Organic cotton clothing can be found in a few shops here in Penang, but bamboo clothing is a fairly new concept in Malaysia and is a little harder to find.
See below for where you can find stylish eco-friendly fashion both new and secondhand.
41 Jalan Besi, Green Lane, 11600, Penang. Website.
Sunlives make organic cotton clothing, socks and underwear for both adults and children. They can also custom make clothing. They do not have a shop in Penang, but you can buy their products via the website. They can also be found at the Penang Funmers Life Market on the first Sunday of the month.
Nukleus is a Penang based company who specialise in inner-wear and basics made from eco-friendly materials such as certified organic cotton, modal and viscose. The organic cotton comes from Morarka Organic in India and is backed by the Morarka Foundation which is a non-profit organisation who improve the lives of Indian farmers through organic agriculture. Nukleus also suport the World Wildlife Fund and its conservation work in Malaysia. Their collections can be found in:
1st Avenue, 182 Jalan Magazine, 10300 Penang.
1C Jalan Sungai Kelian, 11200, Tanjung Bungah, Penang.
IE Organic & Healthy Food Centre
No.11-A , Jalan Pasar, 10350 Pulau Tikus, Penang
1-19 & 3-19 D’Piazza Mall, No 90 Jalan Mahsuri, 11950 Bayan Baru, Penang.
170-05-11/12/13, 5th Floor, Plaza Gurney, Pesiaran Gurney, 10250 Georgetown, Penang.
2F-111, Queensbay Mall, 100 Persiaran Bayan Indah, 11900 Bayan Lepas, Penang.
LG20/21, Gurney Paragon Mall, Persiaran Gurney 10250 Georgetown, Penang.
Lot 170-03-56/57/58, Plaza Gurney, Pesiaran Gurney, 10250 Georgetown, Penang (beside MPH Bookshop).
Nature Colored is a leading baby clothing brand selling natural color organic cotton clothing. Natural color cotton does not use any harmful chemical dyes which can potentially cause health issues in young children.
BLIV By Bamboo Malaysia
Bliv is a Malaysian company based in Kuala Lumpur selling clothing made from bamboo fibres. At the moment the products can only be bought from their secure online store. Bliv have a large range of stylish and colorful clothing for both men and women as well as a collection of home items.
For pre-loved, secondhand clothing and accessories, you can try:
Kawan Charity Shop, 41 Chulia Street, 10200, Penang. Store hours: Monday to Friday 10.30am to 5.30pm. The Kawan charity shop has rails full of ladies clothing including a large selection of dresses, skirts and blouses in all sizes. You can also find accessories such as belts, bags, scarves and costume jewellery. Kawan’s aim is to raise funds to support projects helping homeless people in Penang
Family Thrift Store, 6D/56E Perak Plaza, Jalan Perak, 10150 Penang, Store hours: Monday to Saturday 8.15am to 5.45pm. The Salvation Army runs this rather ramshackle thrift store that is full to the brim with second-hand clothing for women, men and children. They also have affordable household items, furniture and books.