By Jen Lahey
By day, Malorie Bertrand works as a communications officer for an Ottawa funding organization. But the rest of the time, she’s the engine that drives Ef Magazine, an online eco-fashion magazine that promotes “sustainable fashion for all.” She started the magazine back in university with a few of her peers. The impetus? “I knew that to be truly happy with my career, I should work on something that I love. Well, I love fashion, I love reading about it in magazines, and I’m an environmentalist. So put the three together and you get Ef,” says Bertrand.
Environmentalism and fashion? Do the two really mesh? Bertrand thinks so, and says that the fashion industry is one of the first places environmentalists should look for innovation around sustainability.
“Fashion is a truly innovative industry and the best one to lead the environmental movement in many ways. It is full of creative people who push boundaries and are the first to adopt new ideas and lifestyles. If any industry is going to push for sustainability, it’s fashion.”
So how does a fashionista blend a passion for all things stylish with a sense of environmental responsibility? By refusing to sacrifice on either front, says Bertrand. “I run the magazine because I believe in living life responsibly and taking ownership of ones actions. I enjoy clothing and I want to continue to enjoy it but I want to do so without giving up my values,” Bertrand says, adding that she’s excited about the sustainable fashion trends she’s seeing this summer.
“I’m excited by the significant increase in sustainable fashion in mainstream labels like H&M’s organic cotton line, Club Monaco’s fair trade accessories, and Payless Shoes’s collaboration with Summer Rayne Oakes for vegan shoewear. My favourite trend this summer is fair trade/upcycled accessories such as this handy tote made from old coffee bags, Club Monaco’s fair trade accessories line, and upcycled leather pieces such as this beautiful clutch from Shannon South.”
Here are Bertrand’s two top tips for (literally) wearing your environmental commitment on your sleeve:
Don’t dismiss second hand duds.
“I’m a big fan of second-hand shopping. There really isn’t anything more sustainable than buying second-hand/consignment/vintage because you’re recycling clothing, thereby eliminating waste and not supporting unfair labour. As well, you aren’t creating more demand for unsustainable products.
Take the time to find out how the clothes were made.
“Second-hand is definitely not your only way to shop sustainably. The key is to educate yourself on all that goes into making clothing. If you know all of the processes from cultivating cotton crops for fabric, to dyeing, manufacturing, distribution, packaging, and waste, you can purchase items that have at least reduced the environmental and social impact of one of these aspects. No sustainable brand has reached that eco dream of zero impact, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t trying and that they won’t achieve it. So consider making the effort to buy locally made items to promote the reduction of fuel emissions in distribution or support brands that use vegetable-based dyes to support cleaner manufacturing processes.”