Cruelty-Free Fashion: NRDC’s Clean by Design

During my years in college I explored the majestic cities and country side of America’s East Coast, spending most of my days traveling from Boston to New York.  Little by little I strayed away from my psychology studies and into the art of fashion. I didn’t fall in love with fashion while in New York but earlier on as a child through cinema and books. The construction and inspiration designers transcend to others is what first captured my attention.  So many sectors of our society have been influenced by fashion, but how much do we know about the development process and the aesthetics of the work itself?  Sure, I loved watching Audrey Hepburn feature costumes and designs by Edith Head and Hubert de Givenchy inFunny Face and yes, Jean-Paul Gaultier’s designs for The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover completely changed my visual perspective on clothes, but how does one take the alluring grace of fashion and unveil its naturality?


Photo Courtesy of

When I eliminate the creative minds of designers, their innovations for each collection, runway models, and the history of fashion all I think about is global impact. Cruelty lives within the industry and neglect is not the solution. I love fashion but I also love my home, the nature that surrounds me, and respect creatures of all species. I believe that while most of us live for peace and improvement, some of us are less aware than others which is why we rely on support from friends, family, even strangers. It’s up to us to educate ourselves with the facts. It’s for our host, the planet, and the lives of those we love. Our present knowledge is crucial for our future – the more informed we are the better we live.


Photo Courtesy of Chris Burkard Photography

The apparel industry is a global enterprise, impacting the world with four major areas – raw materials, manufacturing, transportation, and consumer care. Every year the fur trade industry skins more than 50 million animals for fashion, most of which are alive during the process. The victims of fur trade production are foxes, rabbits, minks, squirrels, badgers, wallabies, possums, raccoons, beavers, lynxes, coyotes, seals, otters, bears, chinchillas, martens, bobcats, even dogs and cats! In Cangnan China the river is severely polluted, filled with hazardous chemicals and heavy metals from textile factories dumping untreated wastewater. The river can often contaminate valuable waterways which are often used for farming, drinking, and food. This toxic river can harm wildlife, poorly affect human health and the environment- creating a global crisis.





The NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) has created “Clean by Design an innovative program to use the buying power of multinational corporations as a lever to reduce the environmental impacts of their suppliers abroad. Clean by Design focuses on improving process efficiency to reduce waste and emissions and improve the environment.” Clean by Design will encourage retailers and brands to consider environmental criteria, not just quality and cost.


Since their program development in 2009, over 100 factories were introduced to the NRDC 10 Best Clean and Environmentally Safe Practices. From 2010-2011, 33 of the 100 have documented improvements and continue to grow. The program plans to expand their outreach in the next few years by implementing innovative coaching and training. Great brands such as Stella McCartney and Diane Von Furstenberg have taken part in the program with sustainable fashion. Slowly, companies like Levi Strauss & Co., H&M, Nike, Adidas, and GAP have joined the initiative.

Continue below to find out some of my favorite eco-friendly designers and retailers!


Photos Courtesy of Stella McCartney


Photos Courtesy of DVF & NY Magazine


Favorite Eco-Friendly Clothing Retailers


Conscious Commerce

Stella McCartney


H&M Conscious Sustainable


Favorite Eco-Friendly Lifestyle Retailers 



Fair Trade Decor

Author: Jess

Share This Post On

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>