MOA’s Guide to Sustainable Fashion

MOA’s Guide to Sustainable Fashion

In step with your spring wardrobe refresh, a slew of retailers at Mall of America is shifting focus to lasting pieces with lower environmental impact. (Pack your reusable bags!)

Style by Nature

From sustainable raw materials and responsibly sourced down to timelessly simple designs, retailers are emphasizing earth-friendly products and processes now more than ever. The long list of eco-conscious outfitters is dotted with the expected outdoor gear suppliers (Columbia, Fjallraven, North Faceand more) and luxury lines that prioritize responsible materials (Free People’s Care FP, Athlete’s Down to Earth Edit, Madewell’s Eco Collection), alongside daily wear retailers that are putting their fashions where their passions are: Aerie, Banana Republic, Express, H&M, Urban Outfitters, Nordstromand more.

Read on for a few stand-out faves that go the extra mile.

Known for their extensive denim selection, Madewell’s Eco Collection uses 65 percent less chemicals and 75 less water than conventional pants production. How? Shrimp. A base of organic cotton is dyed using—drumroll—shrimp shells. Chitosan, a substance naturally found in the exoskeletons of shrimp (that outer peel you always throw away), makes a dyeing agent called Kitotex, which replaces harmful chemicals and substances typically used in the dyeing process, plus it saves water and is fully biodegradable. The factory that produces Madewell’s Eco Collection is a zero-discharge facility, recycling 98 percent of the water it uses and evaporating the remaining two percent and turning its manufacturing waste into bricks for affordable housing.

Canada Goose lives by the mantra “keep the planet cold and the people on it warm.” Their ultra-warm and durable puffers adhere to the responsible down standard, which mandates animal welfare, prohibits live plucking and force feeding, and stipulates that all RSD down is a byproduct of the poultry industry. CG’s Cyprus and Crofton collections feature recycled nylon outer shells—and they’re just getting started.

Sometimes simpler is better—and Fjallraven agrees. Their entire inventory is sustainably made and utility focused. It starts with simple designs (we’re talking no unnecessary frills), which aid recyclability, efficiency, and longevity of the piece. The timeless designs opt for recycled materials over raw, whenever available, and aim to use only one or two materials in each product for easier recycling down the road. And don’t think simplicity compromises durability: Areas that are exposed to extra wear are created to be easily repairable.

Longtime anchor of the upcycling scene, Urban Outfitters’ Urban Renewal program was created in 1983. The UO team repurposes vintage pieces, reselling them in their original form or remaking them into entirely new, one-of-a-kind pieces using rediscovered fabric remnants, handcrafted dyeing techniques, and paint splatter treatments.

Second Act

Minding our impact as we purchase new clothes is important, but many of the Mall’s retailers have programs to sustainably scooch old items out of rotation.

Jeans get new purpose as housing insulation, pet beds, and more, thanks to Blue Jeans Go Green, which partners with many of our fave denim suppliers: Madewell, Levi’s, Anthropologie, Evereveand Aerie. Simply bring in old jeans and, typically, get a coupon or reward toward your next spree. Not quite done loving your latest pair? Levi’s is a big advocate of denim’s durability and supplies DIY videos to repair and repurpose your old jeans.

Beyond old rivets, many of our fave places to purchase new also invite us to clothes the loop. DSW partners with Soles4Souls, routing donations of new and pre-loved shoes to developing nations to provide footwear and create jobs by equipping small business owners to sell those shoes to their community. Soma donates our old bras to support (literally!) women experiencing homelessness, poverty, or distress. H&M and Aldo reward clothing donations with a coupon for your next shopping trip and make sure those textiles don’t end up in landfills through Give Back Box and other avenues of recycling.

Luxury brands like Canada Goose, Madewell, Lululemonand Kate Spade will take your pre-loved items back and refurb them for resale on their second-hand platforms or donate them for recycling. Based on the swelling demand for earth-friendly options in the fashion world, stores are hopping on the recycling and buy-back bandwagon; and chances are, your fave retailer has an upcycling or recycling program (or a partnership with ThreadUp).

When your beauty bag is running on empty, Mac and Lush say bring ’em in! Sing “Back in Mac” as you bring in your empty little black pots to be recycled into new Mac packaging or turned into energy. At Lush, one clean empty gets you a dollar off your purchase or five empties earn you a free face mask.

Conscious Beauty

Cleaning up ingredients in makeup and care products is a natural step in creating a better beauty routine, a goal fostered by biggies Sephora’s Clean and Planet Positive brands and Ulta’s Conscious umbrella, as well as Kiehl’s, The Body Shop, Aveda, Macand Lavish Shea Butter. In an industry of use and dispose, these brands also take a step up the sustainability staircase with responsible, eco-conscious packaging.

Two brands with Mall of America locales are paving the way for less waste in our wash routines: L’Occitane’s Clean Charter line (sound like a real Frenchie and pronounce it Lox-ee-tahn) maintains ultra-high standards of natural-origin ingredients in leave-on products and requires readily biodegradable ingredients for rinse-off products to minimize environmental impact.

You recognize the pungent Lush storefront for its self-care products that look like tasty treats, but these “naked” products serve a purpose. Striving toward zero waste, about 65 percent of its products are packaging-free, and many reduce water content by offering a solid alternative to traditional products, which cuts down on water content. Any packaging used is entirely post-consumer plastic, coming from curbside recycling programs and can be recycled again. Lush also shaved 10 percent off their clear plastic bottles, saving 13,500 pounds of plastic.

Clean Container

As the largest indoor shopping mall in the country, Mall of America is a colossal canvas to paint green, but she’s up for the challenge. When the Mall was built 31 years ago, the engineers and architects designed the building without a central heating system. (In MN—what?!) With temps swinging wildly from negative twenties in winter to 90-plus in summer, it sounds crazy. But 1.7 square miles of skylights help keep the complex at a constant 72 degrees; it’s called passive solar energy. Over 30,000 plants and trees naturally filter the air, and 100,000 ladybugs are released each year to serve as natural pest control within the Mall’s ecosystem.

Through oil, paper and cardboard, glass, and food waste recycling, more than 60 percent of the Mall’s waste is diverted from landfills. And unclaimed lost-and-found items are donated to local nonprofits.

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