Every year we throw away 92 million tonnes of clothing, and in fact it is estimated that in Haarlem we are responsible for a million kilos of that. The fashion industry is also extremely harmful for the environment – they produce 10% of the world’s CO2 and half a million tonnes of micro-plastics. This is why it is important as consumers to make sure that the clothes that we are buying are as ethically produced as possible. In Haarlem there are plenty of options for sourcing sustainable and ethical clothing. You can also buy from thrift stores, up-cycle your clothes and even take part in local clothes-swapping initiatives. In doing so, you are making a small change and helping to save the planet.
It is important that companies are taking responsibility for ethically sourcing clothes, considering both how the materials are produced and the labor involved. More than 150 million children between the ages of 5 and 17, in over 50 different countries, are in child labor, and sadly 50% of them doing hazardous work for fashion supply chains. If we take away the demand for fast fashion by only shopping for ethical clothing, this can help in the long term. There are plenty of independent stores and big name brands offering sustainable and ethical clothing in Haarlem. These include Brandmission (Zijlstraat 85, 2011 TM Haarlem) who stock eco and fairtrade garments and organic cosmetics, and Vanilia (Barteljorisstraat 39/41, 2011 RA Haarlem) who design all their clothing and have it ethically produced by fairly paid workers.
Thrift stores and swapping
Rather than buying new clothing, it is good to look for second-hand garments, or even swap your existing clothes with someone else. Swap Studio started by Roosmarie Raas and Nilofer Christensen is a great initiative that brings people together to swap their clothing – even baby clothing. There are lots of great thrift stores in Haarlem too where you can find everything from vintage dresses to secondhand denim. Thrift Rataplan has two branches, one in Zijlstraat and one in Werfstraat. There is also a Terre des Hommes (Generaal Cronjéstraat 121R, 2021 JE Haarlem) which is run entirely by volunteers. They sell good quality second hand garments and also take clothes for recycling.
Dutch sustainable fashion week
Dutch sustainable fashion week (DSFW) runs every year in Haarlem. This year’s event runs between the 6th and 12th of October. There are hundreds of stores participating and a fashion show so that you can be inspired by sustainable clothing. There is also a repair cafe and workshops so that you can learn how to repair your own clothing and give it a new lease of life. Fashion week events include a number of swap parties and a masterclass about why the ethical and sustainable clothing movement is so important.
Choosing to buy clothing that is produced without harming the environment or exploiting child labor is extremely important. The city of Haarlem is helping to spread this message and leading the way when it comes to sustainable and ethical brands.