This post was in partnership with Tonlé meaning I received free product. For more information on sponsored content check out my Affiliate Links page.
I love fashion, but as a conservationist, being a fashionista is not always compatible with clean water and healthier forests. Recently, I’ve embarked on a journey to purchase sustainable, ethical fashion after realizing how bad fashion can be for the environment. I’ve been seeking out companies that reduce waste, minimize damage to their local environment, pay people fair wages, and use sustainable practices. Today I am excited to tell you about Tonlé!
Tonlé is a zero-waste, ethical fashion brand. Zero waste means they start with the fashion “garbage” or large piles of scrap material. Many designers discard materials after cutting for patterns. The often cut inefficiently because they are trying to get things out fast, or styles change so fast, they end up throwing away large amounts of fabric that are still useable. These scraps are perfectly good to make new clothes! Not only does this cut down on landfill waste, but it reduces CO2 emissions by preventing any agriculture, fabric production, and dying that is needed to produce clothes in the first place. Fabrics also require a lot of water consumption, pesticides, and even harmful chemicals. Tonlé’s design team looks through discarded piles to see if there are pieces leftover that can be made into new garments.They even work with small scraps of fabric and will hand sew pieces back into yarn, which are woven into new pieces. You can see the impact your purchase has on the environment when you choose a garment to put in your cart. Each Tonlé item comes with its own set of eco-savy statistics.
Packaging is something a lot of people don’t really notice, but it can make a big deal in presentation and branding (e.g. Tiffany boxes!). I, however, look at packaging’s impact on the environment. Nothing annoys me more than when I buy clothes online and they are layered in plastic packages. When I shop at stores, I always decline tissue paper. Tonlé’s packaging was noticeably friendly for the planet. It was super small with only the bare necessities, but still super cute! It was so small, I actually was worried my dress wouldn’t fit. All of their products are shipped in bags made of 100% recycled materials, and their tags are made from recycled cardboard.
I asked Tonlé to help me out with my #biodiversefashionchallenge, so they sent me their navy fern T-shirt dress. This dress features Tonlé’s screen printing design, which is one of their signature looks and brings some fun colors and prints into their line. The designs are often created by hand and use non-toxic water-based inks and natural dyes. I absolutely love this dress! When I read T-shirt dress, I was concerned it would be a thinner material (like a lot of T-shirts), but the material is thick and the dress is well-made. Tonlé’s clothes are meant to wear looser, so if you like a tighter fit (like me), then make sure to go a size down. This dress is comfortable, stylish, and versatile. In addition to wearing it throughout the summer, I plan on adding leggings and boots in the fall to extend its use.
In addition to being sustainable, Tonlé’s clothes and accessories are handmade and signed by their Cambodian makers. You can see who made your garment and compare it to the workers featured on their website.
Stephanie Schuttler is a wildlife biologist with 17 years of experience in mammal ecology and conservation, education, and outreach. Read her inspirational story, “My Unexpected Journey Into Science” to find out how she went from the daughter of a jeweler to a Ph.D. in wildlife biology. Feel free to contact Stephanie here.