Did you know that the fashion industry is one of the major contributors to pollution, landfill waste and water consumption? That’s crazy, considering that we wear clothes every single day. However, in an effort to live a more sustainable lifestyle, there are a few simple ways to avoid contributing to the negative environmental effects of the fashion industry:
Look at the Tags
Cotton, polyester, nylon- oh my! You’ve probably heard of these common materials, but do you know where they come from? Here’s a quick breakdown of what the most sustainable and unsustainable materials are:
It’s best to purchase clothes made from all natural materials such as: cotton, hemp, cashmere, wool, silk and linen. These materials are manufactured organically, without the use of plastic or harsh chemicals. Typically, clothes labelled as 100% organic also use plant-based dyes to color. In addition, these materials tend to be more durable and breathable to wear. Now who doesn’t want that?!
Clothing made from rayon, nylon, polyester, acrylic and spandex are synthetic fibres, which are manufactured using petroleum and are a form of plastic. These materials are not only harmful to manufacture, but they also release small fibres of plastic into our water system every time they are washed. Clothing made from these materials also cannot be recycled in any way, so if they do end up in the landfill, they won’t decay!
Large manufactures will use a combination of synthetic materials and dyes made from harsh chemicals to decrease the cost of production. The chemicals used in the dyes are toxic to workers, the land and the water systems due to the runoff. The best way to avoid these dyes is by purchasing clothing that is not dyed, shop locally or from brands that support Fair Trade.
Recently, shopping second-hand has become a popular trend with consumers as one solution to becoming more eco-conscious in fashion. Second-hand shops are fantastic for shopping, selling and donating clothing and home good items that need a new home. Plus, buying second-hand is gentler on the wallet and promotes more individual style, as consignment stores can’t be selective with styles.
Second-hand shops are sustainably focused as they promote recycling clothing, rather than buying new. Thus, the need for manufacturers to create new clothing is minimized and also encourages consumers to donate, rather than throwing those no longer wanted goods in the landfills.
Due to the increasing desire for consumers to shop second-hand, more and more local businesses like Handpicked Consignment Boutique and the Buffalo Exchange are popping up around the Twin Cities. You can also shop consignment online through ThredUp and Poshmark to find new pieces for your wardrobe.
But what if you can’t sell your used clothing at any of these stores? Get creative and upcycle them into a reusable solution, research textile collection services, or donate to a local animal shelter or charity! The goal is avoid having clothing end up in the landfills.
Only Buy What You Need
Lastly, remember to think minimally. Ultimately, purchasing less clothing and materialistic items are better for the environment because it reduces waste in the long-run. Before shopping, evaluate what you already have in your closet and only shop for specific items in mind. Try to purchase clothing that is multipurpose and can be paired in multiple ways, rather than for “fast fashion”. Simplifying your wardrobe will save you time and energy every day while also remaining more sustainable!
Being fashionably sustainable requires being mindful of what you buy and how much you have. Take some time to evaluate what you currently have in your closet before you head out for another shopping spree. These simple steps can help lead to reducing the negative effects of the fashion industry in the long run! Plus, you never know what you will find at a second-hand store!