A Guide to Eco Friendly Clothing
Tips to Green your Wardrobe
A generation ago, eco-friendly clothes were hideous (itchy burlap shirts, tie-dyed shirts, and shapeless dresses). But ... today (we) are in luck because eco-fashion is all the rage and green clothes can be found in every shape, size, style, and color. There is also a greater selection of “pre-loved” clothes at thrift stores, on Ebay, and in consignment shops that help you look good while you save money and the planet.
Top 5 ways to green your wardrobe
- Fix It - Need something new to jazz up your wardrobe? Try taking a fresh look at what’s in your closet to see what can be fixed and what can be reconfigured into something great. Learn how to sew a button or patch a hole (or make a hole); or re-tailor worn out duds by turning last year’s pants into shorts or an old dress into a skirt.
- Consider “Preloved” - Most thrift stores are a treasure trove of amazing clothes in every shape, style, and color. “Pre-loved” duds save money and reduce the use of new materials while keeping the old items out of the landfill.
- Seek Out Organics - When you have to buy new, look for clothes labeled 100% organic. Cotton, linen, wool, bamboo, and hemp can all be grown organically and used to produce green clothing.
- Keep It Fair - A $5 t-shirt may seem like a great deal, but you have to remember the environmental and social costs required to make this garment so inexpensive. Look for clothing that has been independently verified as “sweat-free.”
- Give Them A Second Life - Don’t toss your clothes in the trash. If you can’t use it, and none of your friends want it, pass it on to a local charity or thrift store. If it is simply too worn out, cut it up to use as rags around the house.
Why bother? You probably don’t think of pesticides when you think of your clothes, but did you know that 1⁄4 of all the pesticides used throughout the entire world are used in the production of cotton. Not for food crops like soybeans, or rice, or wheat, or potatoes, but for cotton. Conventionally produced clothing is heavily laden with other noxious chemicals too (like formaldehyde) in dyes and finishes. And to keep clothes cheap, many items are produced using child laborforces in deplorable sweatshop conditions.
Eco-friendly clothing tips
Buy To Last - Buy high-quality clothes that are made to last instead of flimsy, cheap garments that will probably fall apart after the first washing. Give hems and seams a tug to check for sturdy stitching; inspect the fabric to make sure it is strong; and test patches and appliqués to make sure they are sewn on well.
Swap It - Update your wardrobe, hang out with your friends, and help save the planet by hosting a clothing swap. Ask everyone to bring a bag of gently worn duds to exchange for another at the party. You can also check out a Swap-O-Rama-Rama event in your area. In addition to clothing swapping, these events also host sewing and fashion workshops so that you can learn to get the most from your wardrobe.
Rebuild Your Clothes - Look for clothing manufacturers, like Patagonia, that collect worn-out clothes and rebuild them into new garments. Under Patagonia’s Common Threads Garment Recycling Program, customers can turn their worn out fleece and t-shirts into next year’s clothing line.
Don’t Get Taken To The Cleaners - It’s a huge hassle and waste of money to take clothes to the dry cleaners, so steer clear of clothes that require such treatment. If you absolutely have to have something dry-cleaned, look for a shop that uses greener methods such as wet-cleaning or liquid CO2 to reduce its toxic load. Learn more about dry cleaning.
Sponsor A Princess - Non-profit organizations like The Princess Project and The Glass Slipper have helped thousands of high school girls feel like Cinderella on prom night by providing free gowns, jewelry, and accessories. Why not pass on your dress when prom season is over?
It Isn’t Fair! - How fair is the clothing produced at your favorite college? Check out United Students Against Sweatshops to protest unfair labor practices used to make university clothing.
Also check out ecolife's guide to eco-friendly clothing fabrics.