A-Z Glossary of Sustainability

As per our name, our goal is to ‘strip back’ the sometimes confusing wording surrounding sustainable fashion.

We’re firm believers in the idea that consumers can make more considered, personalised choices when equipped with the tools and knowledge to do so. That’s why we’re bringing you a A-Z Glossary of all the buzzwords, key terms and commonly used phrases that often referred to with sustainable fashion.


Seen a term or acronym you’re not sure on and would like us to add to the Glossary? Email us at hello@strippedstore.com.

Animal Welfare

Referring to the treatment of animals within the fashion supply chain. Fur, feathers and exotic leathers might come straight to mind – this is because many are now banned due to the severe mistreatment and suffering of the animals involved, not to mention certain animals being harvested just for their skin. However, many commonly used natural fibres, such as wool, silk and cashmere can also include the mistreatment of animals.

That’s why it’s always a good idea to see if the item you’re purchasing has any certifications. For example, mulesing-free for wool (check the definition in this glossary), Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) who independently assess the welfare of the sheep, and Responsible Alpaca Standard (RAS) for alpaca wool.

B-Corp

B Corp, or B Corporation, is a certification of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. This private certification involves the company in question undergoing rigorous vetting to prove they meet the highest standards of environmental and social responsibility. Certified B Corps are for-profit businesses united by one vision: to use business as a force for good.

Biodiversity

Biodiversity is the biological variety and variability of living species on earth. This includes the diversity of genes, species and ecosystems. According to a 2019 UN report, one million of the planet’s species are at risk of extinction. In addition, the rate of loss of biodiversity at present is estimated to be 1,000x more than the natural rate.

The fashion industry has a heavy impact on biodiversity due to many of the raw materials coming from farms, agriculture and forests. Preserving the ecosystem is essential in our battle against the climate crisis, which is why many sustainable brands are actively supporting biodiversity through the materials chosen.

Carbon offsetting

This is when a business calculates how much carbon has been emitted due to their processes and selecting a way to counteract this by the same amount. Carbon emissions can include everything from the supply chain to running an office and air miles for deliveries, whilst offsetting may come in the forestry and conservation, renewable energy or community projects. 

Circularity/Closed Loop System 

Circular fashion, or a closed loop fashion system, is defined as a regenerative system, one in which clothing is circulated for as long as their maximum value is retained. After this, the garment is then safely returned to the biosphere. Circularity has to be considered throughout the entire production chain, through the design, sourcing, production and end-of-life options.

Degrowth

Degrowth is a planned reduction in energy and resources, in order to bring the economy back in line with the natural world. According to degrowth.info, it is “an idea that critiques the global capitalist system which pursues growth at all costs, causing human exploitation and environmental destruction.”

Eco-friendly

A word that can be easily thrown around and subject to greenwashing. Simply seeing this word does not equate to good social and environmental practices, so Stripped’s advice would be to always check out the information provided behind the garment in question. That being said, eco-friendly means something that has not caused or contributes harm to the environment.

Fairtrade

This certification “aims to ensure a set of standards are met in the production and supply of products.” Something we see regularly on food items, but this can also apply to the farming of natural materials for clothing, including cotton. Fairtrade supports cotton farmers who are disadvantaged by global trade, by enabling them to sell their goods at a decent price for a fairer economy.

FSC

Something you may see regularly on packaging, the Forest Stewardship Council is the world’s most trusted sustainable forest management solution. Their mission is to “promote environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable management of the world’s forests.” You’ll recognise it as ‘tick tree’ logo.  

GOTs Certified 

The Global Organic Textile Standard is the leading standard for organic textiles globally. This standard covers the entire production process of organic fibres, from textile processing and manufacturing up to licensing and labelling. GOTS certified cotton, for example, is grown without pesticides from seeds that have not been genetically modified, and produces a lot less water than the creation of traditional cotton.

Heritage Crafts

A traditional set of skills that have been developed and passed down through generations or cultures. Keeping these alive in certain cultures is of high importance to ensure financial independence for the craftspeople, and keeping them in employment. 

Living Wage

A living wage is a recognised human right. In basic terms, it entails a decent remuneration for labour, allowing workers to meet their basic human needs and support anyone dependant on them. Despite this being a human right, most of the roughly 80 million employees of the global garment industry are denied a fair wage. The majority of these people are women who get no compensation for forced overtime, and have little job security or trade union rights. We recommend the brilliant fashionchecker.org before making a purchase at a big brand to see if they pay the living wage. All brands on Stripped ensure living wage or more. 

Microfibres

These are the extremely small fibres that are released from synthetic fabrics when washing your clothes. Thinner than a human hair, millions are released every time a synthetic piece of clothing is washed. Due to their tiny size, they end up filtering from the washing machine to the wastewater and eventually back to the ocean. These incredibly dangerous for marine life and to ourselves, through the food and water chain. Purchasing natural fibres or not regularly washing synthetic garments is the best solution to counteract these.

Mulesing Free

Following on from Animal Welfare, mulesing free is a type of merino wool that ensures the non-mistreatment of sheep. Merino is a type of sheep, typically bred for its wrinkly skin - meaning more wool per sheep. However this unnatural overload of wool causes the sheep to collapse and potentially die of heat exhaustion. The wrinkles also collect urine and moisture, meaning flies can lay eggs, hatching maggots and eat the sheep alive. 

To avoid this, farmers do something called “mulesing”, in which the sheep are forced onto their backs, with restained legs between metal bars to carve areas of skin away in an attempt to create a smoother skin to avoid “flystrike” This mutilation has been proven to be ineffective. Always check merino wool to see if it is mulesing free.

Net-zero

Refers to achieving an equal balance between greenhouse gas emissions produced and removed from the atmosphere. In the UK, the target for reaching net-zero is currently 2050. Many climate activists and leaders in the field believe this should be much earlier to avoid the ongoing effects of a climate crisis.

Oeko Tex 100

This certification for textiles ensures that no substances harmful to human health are present in the finished material. It stands as one of the world's best-known labels for textiles tested for harmful substances, and allows for consumer confidence. Tests are conducted by independent Oeko Tex Partner institutes. Substances tested are both regulated and non-regulated going beyond international requirements.

Regenerative

In a similar vein to biodiversity, the process of regeneration is the rehabilitation of an ecosystem to improve natural resources. This includes using processes that can restore or renew sources of energy and materials, rather than destroying or depleting them. As an example, smart agriculture which uses a minimal amount of water thanks to tech sensors is a form of regenerative agriculture.

Slow Fashion

You guessed it; the opposite to fast fashion. Championing slower production methods and promoting with it a reduction in consumption. This might be a made-to-order brand that only produces goods when they’re ordered to avoid any waste, or producing by hand in small batches to limit emissions.

Shop some of our slow fashion and jewellery brands:

Include: AK threads, little collective, Claire hibon.

Tencel™ 

A form of branded lyocell - a form of “regenerated cellulose” fibers. Manufacturers dissolve wood pulp in a chemical solvent, which is then pushed through an extruder to form the fibers. Science part over - Tencel uses far less toxic chemicals than other fabrics, uses wood from sustainably-harvested forests, and all the chemicals used are recycled to avoid waste. Plus, it’s extremely soft!

Upcycle

Get your creative juices flowing - upcycle is the repurposing of materials or products in a way that creates something new in the process. A great way of giving products made from materials which cannot be recycled a new lease of life.

Water scarcity

Hotter summers and less predictable rainfall as a result of climate change means for an increased risk of drought and possible water shortages. According to the UK water partnership, by 2040 over half of our summers are expected to be hotter than all previous heatwaves, meaning an increased likelihood of significantly depleting river levels. To use less water, check out what materials your clothing is made from - for example, traditional cotton can use significantly more water than GOTS organic cotton.

Zero-hour contract

An arrangement between worker and employer, where the employer has no obligation to agree a minimum of necessary working hours, and the worker is not obliged to accept the hours offered. Whilst this model can work well for some businesses, they are known in the fashion industry of being a way of making employees work for low pay, with insecure work and last-minute schedules. This can lead to a form of modern slavery where employees are subject to exploitation.