Have you ever considered how much water is used to produce your clothes? Or the number of pesticides sprayed on cotton fields? What about the toxic dyes and chemicals used in the textile industry?
A moment for harsh truth: the fashion industry is the second most polluting industry globally, after oil. The clothing industry is responsible for 10% of global carbon emissions, and if it were a country, it would be the fourth largest polluter in the world. Every year, we buy 80 billion new pieces of clothing and generate a massive amount of waste.
But there’s good news! We can do things as consumers to make more eco-friendly choices and reduce our impact on the planet. One way is to build an eco-friendly wardrobe full of sustainable, ethical, and long-lasting clothing.
Shop Secondhand First
Whether it’s a consignment store, vintage shop, or online marketplace, buying secondhand clothing is a great way to shop sustainably. You’re giving new life to existing clothes instead of supporting the production of new garments.
When shopping secondhand, look for natural fibers like linen, wool, and cotton. These materials are better for the environment than polyester or other synthetic fabrics. Natural fibers biodegrade more readily, so they’re better if you eventually want to compost your clothes.
Choose Natural Fibers
The clothing you buy should be made of natural fibers like linen, cotton, wool, and silk. These materials are biodegradable, so they won’t pollute the environment when they’re disposed of.
Synthetic fibers like polyester, acrylic, and nylon are made from petroleum, a non-renewable resource. They’re also not biodegradable, so they end up in landfills, releasing harmful chemicals into the environment.
Additionally, natural fibers are usually more breathable than synthetic fibers. This means they’re more comfortable to wear in warm weather and won’t contribute to sweat and body odor.
Opt for Organic Materials
When shopping for natural fibers, look for organic materials that are grown without pesticides or other harmful chemicals. Cotton, in particular, is a crop that uses a lot of harmful pesticides. Choosing organic cotton helps reduce the number of toxic substances in the environment.
Organic wool is another excellent option. Sheep are often treated with harsh chemicals to prevent them from getting diseases. These chemicals can end up in the wool, so choose organic wool to ensure you’re not wearing harmful toxins next to your skin.
Look for Sustainable Brands
Sustainable brands operate in a way that doesn’t hurt the environment. This includes using sustainable materials, ethical manufacturing practices, and fair labor standards.
Some sustainable brands to look for are Everlane, Patagonia, and Reformation. These brands are transparent about their manufacturing processes and use sustainable materials like organic cotton and recycled polyester.
Choose Quality Over Quantity
It’s easy to fall into thinking that more is better. But when it comes to clothing, quality is more important than quantity. A few well-made pieces will last longer and look better than a closet full of cheaply made clothes.
Cheap clothes are often made of synthetic materials that pollute the environment and aren’t biodegradable. They’re also usually not very well-made, so they fall apart quickly. This means you have to buy more clothes more often, creating more waste.
It’s better to have a small wardrobe of high-quality clothing than an extensive wardrobe of cheap, fast fashion. When you buy quality pieces, you can wear them for years without having to replace them.
Mend and Upcycle
When your clothes show signs of wear, don’t throw them away! You can extend their life by mending them or upcycling them into new garments.
Mending is a great way to prolong the life of your clothes. If a button falls off, sew it back on. If a seam comes undone, stitch it up. If you have a hole in your jeans, patch it with fabric from an old shirt. There are plenty of ways to mend clothes to be worn for years to come.
Upcycling is another great option for clothes that are past their prime. If you have an old shirt that you don’t wear anymore, cut it up and use it to make a new garment. You can also repurpose old fabric into things like bags, blankets, or even home decor.
Thrift shopping has become increasingly popular in recent years as people become more conscious of the environment. When you thrift shop, you’re buying clothes that someone else has already worn, which keeps them out of the landfill.
Thrifting is also a great way to find high-quality clothing for less. You can often find name-brand clothes and vintage pieces at thrift stores. Before you buy new clothes, check out your local thrift store. You might be surprised at what you find!
Before you buy new clothes, take a moment to consider the environmental impact of your purchase. Choosing sustainable materials, thrifting, and mending your clothes are all great ways to reduce your impact on the planet. By making small changes to the way you shop for clothes, you can make a big difference to the environment.