Plenty of consumers and manufacturers are becoming interested in forgoing fast fashion in favor of longer-lasting, more ethical, sustainable clothing. However, not everyone may understand what ethical clothing manufacturing may involve or mean. Here are six best practices for making clothing ethically.

1. Source Ethically

Think carefully about what materials you source for your clothing and equipment, as well as where you source them from. Look for sources and materials that are safe for the environment, such as sustainably-sourced natural fibers. You should also ensure the labor that goes into your sourcing, such as farming, accounts for human rights and job safety. Fashion designers and clothing manufacturers can benefit from similar sourcing practices to other industries and professionals, such as Mary and D Gary Young, whose sources included a lavender farm in Idaho, for example.

2. Work With Ethical Manufacturers

Seek out manufacturers with proven track records of good ethics. Make sure farms, factories and other parts of your production and distribution line all follow the law to the letter, provide safe working conditions and fair compensation and are run by people who are trustworthy. You want to be able to trust that those you work with believe in ethical production and will speak up when they notice an issue. Be aware of tricks such as greenwashing. Ask as many questions as you need to. Verify all claims and certifications.

3. Use Digitization To Your Advantage

Digitization is a hugely important tool for ethics. It makes transparency and speed easier to achieve than ever, allowing businesses of all types to both access and provide resources on more accessible platforms. This ensures anyone who wants or needs to know about an organization’s ethical policies will be able to find information about them. Digitization also helps companies invest more easily and confidently in various programs and tools meant to improve various aspects of society, such as environmental and workplace protections.

4. Consider Your Garments’ Life Cycles

While no garment or other good is meant to last forever, manufacturing clothing in such a way that it can last a long time and either be recycled or allowed to decompose naturally at the end of its life cycle is an excellent way to improve the ethical and sustainable manufacture of the fashion industry. Always consider what will be done with the garments you produce when consumers are done with them. If your clothes are made cheaply, then they won’t last and likely won’t be worth donating or selling. If they’re made with synthetic fibers, then they won’t decompose easily.

5. Educate Yourself And Others

You should learn as much as you can about ethical dilemmas surrounding clothing manufacturing and fashion, as well as ways others are combating those issues. Many of the problems associated with unethical fashion are systemic, which means people are attempting to develop equally systemic solutions. Instead of working on your manufacturing ethics on your own, consider working with others to build on and improve preexisting systemic solutions, such as legislation meant to push back against labor exploitation and environmental damage. You can also work with artisans and small businesses to push for more transparency and financial integrity.

6. Design And Manufacture Sustainability

Not only should you make your clothing out of sustainable materials, but you should also make sure those material choices are factored into the design of each piece. Work with designers who are as dedicated to ethical and sustainable fashion production as you are. Work concepts such as longevity into each design. You should also make sure your clothing is manufactured as sustainably as possible. Ensure there is no environmental damage caused by your material sourcing and try to minimize your manufacturer’s carbon footprint.

Remember, ethics and sustainability are different but related principles. Sustainable clothing specifically encompasses eco-friendly clothing and manufacturing practices while ethical clothing manufacturing refers to correcting issues you see in the fashion industry, which can include a lack of sustainability.