Sustainability | 20 Apr, 2021

Earth Day Highlight: Girlfriend Collective

by Lee Phillips

To celebrate Earth Day, you may be looking to discover a new brand that you feel good supporting. This can be tricky. It’s not uncommon in the sustainable fashion world for brands to flash trendy buzzwords like “upcycyled,” or “fair trade.” Thankfully, this isn’t something to worry about when getting to know Girlfriend Collective, because they cut no corners when it comes to ethical practices and sustainability.  

The result is a community of people who care about where their clothes come from and how they’re made, just as much as how they look. 

Every year, millions of marine animals – like sea turtles, seals, dolphins, and whales – are harmed by ocean plastic pollution. About 10% of the estimated 14 billion pounds of trash discarded in the ocean annually is made up of abandoned, lost, or discarded fishing gear. Did you know almost all synthetic activewear is made from plastic? First things first, Girlfriend Collective pieces are made from recycled materials, material waste, and even fishing nets and plastic water bottles. Yes, you read that right! So how do you turn old water bottles into clothes? After having their labels removed, the water bottles are crushed, washed, and “polymerized,” which is just a fancy word for spun into yarn. It’s surprisingly soft, but the best part is the tons of plastic saved from the land fill, and that the need for petrolatum is cut out of the process. The next time one of your friends compliments your Girlfriend Collective bra you can tell her that it’s made of 11 plastic water bottles, and that your leggings are made of 25.

How Girlfriend fabrics are turned from fishing nets and water bottle yarn into chic activewear, is another opportunity to gush about the good work they’re doing. Traditionally, the fabric dyeing process is environmentally harmful, with many brands using toxic dyes and chemicals and then dumping wastewater into streams and rivers. This water not only damages the environment but is extremely harmful to people and crops that depend on their water sources to survive. Not Girlfriend Collective. Every single drop of water that is used to dye their fabric gets sent to a wastewater treatment plant literally 100 feet away from the machines.  The water is filtered and tested, and only then is it released into a healthy stream.

And of course, who’s making the clothes matters too. Girlfriend’s factory is located in Hanoi, Vietnam and is SA8000 certified, a social accountability standard and certificate developed by Social Accountability International (SAI) that guarantees fair wages, safe and healthy conditions, and zero forced or child labor. They even go so far to link their certification on their website. Now THAT’s transparency! Girlfriend Collective also provides both free catered lunch (and dinner for those who work the evening shifts) instead of just a lunchroom, and guided exercise breaks. While healthcare is often deducted from wages, Girlfriend Collective provides free health check ups every six months at the factory for every employee, as well as health insurance.

We couldn’t think of any brand we would rather highlight for Earth Day than Girlfriend Collective! Their commitment to ethical and sustainable practices shows up in every single action they take. What more could you ask for? Maybe some sustainable packaging as a cherry on top? Girlfriend Collective packing is 100% recyclable, so make sure to process correctly!  Happy Earth Day!

1