We’ve heard a lot lately about how there’s really no more denying our actions are affecting the environment in a pretty major and terrifying way. And the textile industry (read: fashion) is the third biggest polluter in the world. Changing the way we shop is a small but effective way to reverse the icky side effects of clothing manufacturing around the world, so here are some tips for building (and maintaining) a more sustainable wardrobe!
1. It’s people-friendly. Remember that garment factory that collapsed in April 2013? Well, more than 1,000 people died and more than 2,000 were injured. A lot of brands still outsource to those overseas factories because it’s so much cheaper than domestic manufacturing, despite the human toll. Buying fair trade is always the way to go.
2. It’s animal-friendly. This is probably one of the best arguments out there for going green! Pony hair is not chic, and angora is not luxe. It’s just sad, especially when there are some great alternatives out there!
3. It’s environmentally friendly. In China, they say that if you want to know what colors will be in-season, just look at the rivers.
And that’s just the chemicals and dyes that go into making new clothes, not even the waste caused by the discarded leftovers. Another major environmental effect of fashion is water consumption, especially for cotton. Cotton production requires the most water of any other textile, and accounts for more than 40% of textile use in fashion.
4. It’s budget friendly. I know from enough of my friends that it’s not everyone’s first choice to pick through stuff at a thrift store or consignment shop, but hear me out! I’ve found some pretty great secondhand stuff in my time, a la Christian Louboutin, Chanel, Diane von Furstenburg, and sooo much J. Crew. See? Being eco doesn’t mean being a sartorially challenged hippie. And the most eco-friendly item is the one that already exists!
5. It’s easy. One of my coworkers used to say- if you want people to do something, you have to make is easy for them. And eco-fashion is pretty easy! There’s plenty secondhand beauties to go around, and there are also a TON of ecommerce sites and eco-conscious retailers now (like Zady and Modavanti).
6. It’s better quality. Fast fashion is cheap, and wears like it too. That dress you bought from Forever 21? Better wash it NEVER or watch it disintegrate in the process! But when you’re talking fair trade, the products are made by skilled workers who aren’t rushing to complete x amount of t-shirts in an hour. And of course it feels better that they’re treated and compensated fairly.
7. It’s healthier! No endocrine-disrupting dyes here! No carcinogenic chemicals! Most eco-conscious brands use just straight up vegetable dye.
8. It’s unique. Eco-conscious stuff, especially the jewelry, is usually a great conversation starter. That new faux leather bag? Made of recycled plastic bottles. That new gunmetal necklace? Made of WW2-era bullet casings. Meeting new people is awkward sometimes. Wear something you can talk about!
9. It’s good for the economy. When you buy Made in the USA, you support the greatest country on earth (#Merica). Also, when the item is manufactured here, our labor laws protect the workers who made it. There’s a reason buyers are so keen on brands made here- they’re great quality and they last. Especially denim. ALWAYS buy your denim Made in the USA.