Do you really care about sustainability? I know you might be taken aback by this provocative question because, of course, you do. But, hear me out.

I was listening to a podcast the other day, The Jane Hamill Podcast, and she was talking about this very topic. Jane is a former clothing designer and boutique owner. She now teaches entrepreneurs how to market and sell products. I like her no-nonsense, often humourous style and she has a wealth of knowledge about the fashion industry.

It’s nice to have

According to Jane, Vogue Business says, “While most shoppers are in favour of sustainable production, few have integrated it into their buying habits”.

It’s a value add, a nice to have. It’s not the reason people buy. And on average, customers are willing to spend just 10% more to get a sustainable, eco-friendly product. Let me clarify, we’re talking about clothing for adults. Baby clothes, skin care products, and food are a different story.

Let’s be honest

I think if we’re completely honest, we buy clothes because of the way they look and feel on our bodies. We look in the mirror and ask ourselves, Do I look good? Does it fit me well? Does it hide my tummy? Will my friends like it? Does the colour suit me?

If the answer is yes to all of these, then it’s a win. And, if it happens to be sustainable and eco-friendly, then that’s a bonus. It’s not the sole driver, or even the main driver, of our purchase.

Environmentally conscious

One business owner puts it this way. If on a particular day, we have a need to be environmentally conscious, we’ll recycle, give something away, repurpose an item and save it from the landfill. We’re probably not going out shopping.

And when you think about, if you’re really into sustainability, you’re not purchasing new clothes. You’re shopping vintage, second hand, or simply making do with what you have.

Because, let’s face it, manufacturing clothing, manufacturing anything, is not environmentally friendly. There are better, more environmentally-friendly methods out there. But, at the end of the day, it’s not the best thing for our planet.

We still need clothing

So, am I shooting myself in the foot here. Well, maybe. But, we still need new clothing, at least some of the time. Sometimes, we’ve outgrown things, or they wear out, or we have a new need. And, it does bring us joy. It gives us a little boost especially after a dreary winter, or a long period of being stuck at home.

During this pandemic, we’ve become more aware of our purchasing habits and that’s a good thing. We’re supporting local businesses, looking for Canadian-made. We care about where our clothes are made and who we’re buying from. I hope that continues. But, what I’m saying and Jane is saying, sustainability is not the number one thing.


As you know, my clothes have always been made out of bamboo, a good sustainable fibre. Bamboo trees re-generate in 55 days, require little irrigation, no pesticides, and are biodegradable. But I’m careful not to say my clothes are eco-friendly because the bamboo fibres still have to go through a manufacturing process to be made into a fabric that’s made into clothes.

OKANNA hang tag, Rayon naturally from bamboo hang tag, and the benefits of bamboo trees and rayon from bamboo on the 3rd hang tag

Are my clothes ethically-made? That I can attest to. They are made in small women-owned production facilities right here in Ontario.

My number one thing is soft, comfortable, and stylish clothes that fit women over 40. Sustainable bamboo is a solid value-add. Check out my Carolyn reversible dress, with pockets, to see what I mean.

Carolyn Dress

Now, I’d love to hear what you think. Do you really care about sustainability?

Until next time,

~ Colleen

Colleen Kanna, Photo by Anna Epp Photography

I’m a recovering Chartered Accountant and Breast Cancer Champion turned Fashion Designer. My COKANNA Canadian-made bamboo clothing is all about comfort and style. Giving back to the community is important to me so I support Rethink Breast Cancer‘s metastatic breast cancer education, support, and advocacy work.