Conversations in Sustainable Fashion - A Glossary | the UA Chronicles

Whether you are new to the idea of sustainable fashion or have been thriving and diving through thrift and vintage shops for years, the terminology that has sprung from this growing movement can sometimes seem overwhelming. Slow fashion? Upcycling? Biodegradable? Inclusivity? 

Not to fear! The Upcycled Aviary team is here to help! We have created this glossary of sorts to help you navigate our world of sustainable fashion with ease!  Here we go!

Sustainable Fashion

We talk a lot about sustainable fashion here at Upcycled Aviary.  But what exactly is it? In 1987, the United Nations defined sustainability as: 

“development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Sustainable fashion is all about balance. A balance between designing, manufacturing and consuming clothes. It means mitigating the depletion of natural resources and the exploitation of individuals and communities. It is about ensuring that the fashion industry both creates good and avoids harm, whether to the environment, animals or people. Truly sustainable fashion should be inclusive of all three. 

Circular Economy

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation describes circular economy as:

The ability to

 transform every element of our take-make-waste system: how we manage resources, how we make and use products, and what we do with the materials afterwards.”

Upcycled Aviary with its partner Digital Canaries is striving to achieve a circular economy with/for the Canadian Film and Television Industry.  The mission is twofold.  One, redirect enormous amounts of post production materials  away from landfill sites.  Two, create an inspired upcycled line that breathes new life and adds value to the  saved garments.  By working towards a thriving circular economy, we hope to create a clothing brand that benefits people, but also works within the limits of our planet.  

Fast Fashion

According to our friends at Good on You, Fast Fashion can be defined as:

“Cheap, trendy clothing that samples ideas from the catwalk or celebrity culture and turns them into garments in high street stores at breakneck speed to meet consumer demand. The idea is to get the newest styles on the market as fast as possible, so shoppers can snap them up while they are still at the height of their popularity and then, sadly, discard them after a few wears.”

Fast fashion is one of the world’s largest polluters.  Over production and over consumption equals drained natural resources, cheap labour both toxic to the wellbeing of the planet.  

Slow Fashion Movement

Coined by Kate Fletcher, the movement and approach to fashion is all about sustainability.  Slow fashion brands focus on making sure to consider where materials are sourced, how they are made, and transported.  The belief by this movement is that buying better quality garments, less often, and that last longer, is the key to reducing fashion waste.  In supporting the redirecting of garments from landfill and then breathing new life to them, Upcycled Aviary is working towards our own version of the slow fashion movement focused on longevity, creativity and fun! 

Ethical Fashion

Ethical and sustainable fashion are often used interchangeably. For some, ‘ethical fashion’ focuses more on the social impact of the fashion industry and what is “morally right”. Ethical fashion goes beyond your local labour laws and covers a wide range of issues such as living wages, working conditions, animal welfare, and vegan fashion. But ignoring the ethical dimensions of catastrophic environmental challenges like the impact of climate change, or the destruction of freshwater sources on humans and animals wouldn’t really make sense!  Upcycled Aviary hopes to encompass both sustainable and ethical practices with waste mitigation, positive environmental strategies, community mindfulness  and an amazingly diverse team. 


It is what we do here at Upcycled Aviary!  Upcycling mitigates waste from the system, requires less energy, and has a higher impact on our carbon footprint than other  slow fashion trends, such as recycling.  Our goal is to have as close to a zero carbon footprint as possible, while supporting our Canadian Film & Television partners in doing the same. The wardrobes we have redirected to Upcycled Aviary from post production wardrobes not only keeps textiles out of the landfill but also provides us with an extraordinary amount of materials to work with.  With the creative genius of our lead designer and a wee bit of innovation,  we are breathing new life into garments and extending their wearability and use! And that is what we are all about!


The term "vintage" is used to describe clothing between 20 and 100 years old that is also clearly representative of the era in which it was produced. It could be said that to be called vintage the piece should strongly reflect styles and trends associated with that era. It is one of the most sustainable fashion options out there, as you are reducing your impact by not buying “new”, and by giving gently worn and loved items a second chance at life outside of a landfill.  Here at Upcycled Aviary, our Vintage Collection is carefully hand selected from the wardrobes of past Canadian Film and Television productions, giving pieces that little extra something special.

Carbon Footprint

According to  The Footprint Network a carbon footprint is: 

“the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions associated with all the activities conducted by a person or company.” 

It includes direct emissions, such as those that result from fossil-fuel combustion in manufacturing, heating, and transportation, as well as emissions required to produce the electricity associated with goods and services consumed. In addition, the carbon footprint concept also often includes the emissions of other greenhouse gases, such as methane, nitrous oxide, or chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Upcycled Aviary is motivated to reduce not only our own carbon footprint to zero but to assist our partners in the Canadian Film & Television industry to visibly do the same.  We hope that by offering continued and effective solutions to the disposal of post production sets, propers and wardrobes, that we can make an impact on cost reduction, material sourcing and disposal of film and television waste.   


Traceability is incredibly important for the team at Upcycled Aviary.  It means we know our supply chains from start to finish. We can trace back each component of packaging, tags and of course our clothing. It is important to us that we are able to disclose information on all aspects of our lines, both Upcycled and Vintage, and by understanding all aspects of the process we can pivot and adapt our decisions in design and as well as where and who we purchase from to ensure we are leading with our best carbonless foot forward.


Upcycled Aviary believes that fashion brands have the responsibility to their customers and to the environment to ensure transparency. As our team learns, grows and pushes forward with the Upcycled Movement we will be sharing information on how, where and by what methods we achieve success.  Success in partnerships, in reduced carbon emissions, in lessening waste and of course keeping textiles and clothes from landfill sites!  If we truly want what is best for people and the planet we know we can’t do it alone, and offering information, terms of reference and a road map to others who are working to achieve the same outcome is the only way forward!  


With the belief that consumer demand for sustainability is the frontier of our transition to a greener, fairer and smarter global economy, it is a growing concern that companies are trying to benefit from this demand for sustainable and ethical clothes.  Companies that market being “environmentally-friendly” because they use LED lighting on their manufacturing floor (to save energy resources)  but still dump chemicals into the river behind the same plant, would be a relevant example.  Don’t be fooled by this kind of marketing.  Again, at Upcycled Aviary  go back to transparency and traceability and encourage our customers to ask questions and research fully before purchasing something just because the label or line says “eco-friendly.”

Green Marketing

There is a fine line between green marketing and greenwashing. Unlike greenwashing, green marketing is when companies sell products or services based on legitimate environmental positives. Green marketing is generally practical, honest and transparent. The Upcycled Aviary team is committed to ensuring that whatever we are selling, our customers are buying because of a deep love of fashion and the planet. Our initiatives, directives and missions are all on point to achieve a zero carbon footprint and assist our partners in the film and television industry to do the same.


At Upcycled Aviary, our shopping bags, shipping packages and tags are all made from biodegradable packaging. As we work endlessly to keep textiles and clothing from the landfill, it wouldn’t make any sense to send simple materials like what we send our clothing to you in, back there. The fact that some plastics take thousands of years to break down and release harmful chemicals into the ground means one more reason to step up the game and by using products from Alluring Beauty Studio from Calgary, Alberta,  we know we can soundly make that promise to our customers. 


We here at Upcycled Aviary understand that in order to be a leader in upcycled and sustainable fashion we must embrace diversity and inclusivity. Sustainability and diversity are after-all, inextricably linked.  Upcycled Aviary is a woman-run initiative.  Our clothing lines are gender fluid, and cater to all sizes. We have partnered with local vendors from the LGBTQIA+ community and strive to support the Indigenous landowners who allow our brick and mortar location on their territory.  As we grow, we will look for even more opportunities to diversify our team, our designers and our locations. It takes a village, we know and we are willing to build one to support sustainable fashion in Canada.


Written by Heather Adele for Upcycled Aviary

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