Sustainability and “going green” have become huge topics of conversation in recent years, and for good reason. As humans, we have taken a serious toll on the planet that we call home. From the vehicles we drive to the foods we eat, virtually every part of our lives has a harmful impact on the environment. Even the clothing we wear can contribute to pollution, overflowing landfills, and global warming.
The fast fashion industry has made it simple and affordable for us to buy the clothing we need and replace it frequently. Garments are manufactured quickly, sold inexpensively, and designed to be thrown away when they are no longer of use. While convenient, however, fast fashion is hugely detrimental to the environment. In fact, the fashion industry is the world’s second largest polluter. The manufacturing process requires a lot of energy and natural resources, and it often contributes to serious pollution in the areas in which factories are located. And the act of simply throwing clothing away once it is no longer deemed “wearable” adds to the growing problem of overflowing landfills and contributes to soil and water pollution.
The good news?
There are things that you can do to minimize the harmful impact of your wardrobe. Here are several ways to make your closet more green–and they are easier than you may think. Keep reading to discover some eco-friendly clothing tips that will help you build a greener wardrobe.
Streamline Your Wardrobe
Throwing your clothes away won’t help you make your closet more green. It is, however, smart to streamline your wardrobe. Start by dividing all of your clothing into four categories: garments you love and wear frequently, garments you might wear soon, things you’d wear if it fit better and clothes you know you will never wear. Donate the things you’ll never wear to charity (or find unique ways to repurpose your old clothes!) and set the rest aside. Give yourself a week or two to think about whether you want to keep anything from your piles of clothing that you might wear soon and the things you’d wear if they fit better.
Shop with Intention
Once you’ve streamlined your wardrobe, it’s important to avoid refilling your closet with clothes you really don’t need. Shopping with intention and being more mindful when making purchases are crucial components of creating sustainable wardrobes. Before you buy any new clothing, think about why you are buying it and how you plan on wearing it.
If you are thinking about buying a garment, imagine using it in three different outfits using other clothing you already own. If you don’t have anything that would go with the shirt you’re thinking about buying, put it back. It’s much more sustainable to choose pieces that work with your existing wardrobe than to shop for an entire outfit.
Choose Eco-Friendly Brands
More and more companies are jumping on the eco-friendly bandwagon and manufacturing clothing that is more sustainable. Many have abandoned their past practices and embraced ones that are easier on the environment and more ethical. Before you go shopping, spend some time researching brands that are transparent about their manufacturing practices and labor policies. If you choose to buy 100 percent cotton t-shirts from Fruit of the Loom, for example, you can rest assured knowing that you are buying products from a brand that cares about the environment. Econscious and Gildan have also made huge strides toward environmental and social responsibility.
Buy High-Quality Clothing
Whether you are shopping for wardrobe staples–like t-shirts and underwear–or you are in need of something for a special occasion, price shouldn’t be the only thing that you take into consideration. One of the most appealing aspects of the fast fashion industry is that it makes garments extremely affordable. The downside to these cheap garments, though, is that they aren’t always made to last. If you are trying to build a greener wardrobe, it makes sense to purchase clothing made from durable fabrics that will last longer rather than buying cheap, poorly made garments that will fall apart quickly.
Choose garments that are made from quality natural fibers–such as cotton or hemp–when possible, too. Producing fabrics using natural fibers does less harm to the environment, and these fabrics break down faster than synthetic materials in landfills. Shopping for garments that are made from recycled materials is a good option, too, as they require fewer resources, water, and chemicals to manufacture.
Wash Your Clothes with Care
Going green isn’t just about buying the “right” clothing. The way you care for your wardrobe can have a big impact on the environment, too. Wait until you have a full load before washing your clothes and use the coldest water possible. Consider using a biodegradable, non-toxic detergent that’s free from synthetic fragrances, too.
When it comes time to dry your clothes, avoid using your dryer as much as possible. Hanging your garments outside to dry–or even on a clothesline inside your home–is much kinder to the environment.
The Bottom Line
Lowering your environmental impact doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, by following the simple tips listed above to build a wardrobe that is more sustainable, you can significantly lower your carbon footprint. You can also take sustainability a step further by learning how to mend your own clothing and remove stains. In doing so, you will gain the knowledge of how to keep your clothing in good shape and continue wearing it for a long time before needing to replace it.
When the time does come to get rid of your old clothes, don’t throw it in the trash. Consider upcycling it or, at the very least, donating it to charity instead. When it comes to going green, even the smallest steps can have a huge impact.