Eco-friendly fashions appeal to college student affordability

Katie Ellis, "Rock'n Fashion"
April 10, 2014

Taking care of the environment doesn’t have to stop with the simple act of recycling water bottles and used newspapers, thanks to fashion brands they are making it easier for the fashion obsessed to help the planet.  A number of companies including growing brands and established retailers offer products made from recycled materials and services that help customers donate unwanted items to benefit new green initiatives.  Alex and Ani, H&M, and Patagonia are committed to using fashion as a platform to make the world a better place, one piece at a time.

Alex and Ani was established in 2004 by Carolyn Rafaelian in order to produce quality jewelry including everything from earrings to bangles made entirely in the United States.  This homegrown brand relies on recycled scrap metal, mainly brass, which is obtained by environmentally- friendly means to make their eye-catching products.

Among their best-sellers are their bangles adorned with charms inspired by the beach, flowers, friendship, and professional sports teams.   Every piece produced by Alex and Ani is made in Rhode Island with love and positive energy, one of the company’s mantras.

These bangles simply slide to open and adjust to fit the size of the wearer’s wrist unlike normal bracelets which have tricky clasps, which means they won’t come unhooked and fall off unexpectedly.  The cost of a single bracelet starts at $24, and sets of five sell for nearly $190.

H&M is well-known for their efforts to produce eco-friendly clothing and their commitment to avoiding waste of any kind.  Their Conscious Exclusive Collection, now in its third year of production, consists of pieces made from organic cotton and hemp. The collection has gotten rave reviews and the seal of approval from celebrity spokeswomen Amber Valletta and Vanessa Paradis.

This line features accessories, shoes, and clothing, which range in price from $12.95 to $595.  While the prices may appear steep, the items at the latter end of the price range are gowns that feature heavy embroidery work and intricate lace detailing, more suited for a formal affair.

The brand also offers a more affordable label, the Conscious Collection, that doesn’t lack in design or style, and is better suited for the budget of a college student.  Printed tunics, bright satin pants, and leather sandals are just three standouts from the modern collection that is sure to appeal to women of all ages.  With styles starting at just $12.95 and extending to $100, there’s no doubt that H&M stores will be sold out of these items in no time.

H&M’s Garment Collecting initiative is a service offered at all of their retail locations, which allows customers to donate their unwanted clothing.  Items are then separated into three categories, rewear, reuse, and recycle, and are then given to those in need or turned into new products.

Outdoor clothing brand, Patagonia, is one of the nation’s foremost leaders in environmental activism.  Ever since the foundation of the brand in 1973, helping the environment has been an important part of the brand’s identity, and by 1985 they had committed to donating 10% of their profit to organizations that are making a difference with their eco-friendly programs.

The popular brand has a program in place where customers can return to the Patagonia store where they purchased their clothing from, and if it is in good condition, can be bought back through the Worn Wear program and sold to people looking for deals on the company’s merchandise.  Well-worn clothing can be returned to the store after it has seen its last days, and can be recycled and turned into fabric that will be used to manufacture new goods.

Winner of the “Eco Brand of the Year” award in 2008, they have donated upwards of $55 million to thousands of eco-friendly organizations across the world.

As each of these companies continues to expand their efforts to help the environment, there’s no doubt that more businesses will begin to follow suit.  Shopping has become a truly rewarding experience thanks to these brands that are dedicated to selling items that will make the world a better place.

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