Whether its the water used in leather processing, or the working conditions of the people who make our clothes, the apparel industry has environmental and social impacts. But there are things we can do to make it better. Here are some tips for greening your wardrobe:
- Buy resale or consignment. Visit your local resale shop to find unique fashions without breaking the bank. Places like Goodwill, Salvation Army and Buffalo Exchange have unique items at low prices, and keep clothing out of landfills.
- Check the label. Avoid clothing that requires dry cleaning. Natural fibers are often easier to care for at home. They can be washed in cool water and hung out to dry, reducing chemical use and energy, too.
- Try fabric blends. Fabrics that are a blend of cotton and synthetic fibers can usually be laundered at home.
- Dress down. Fancier outfits seem to require more dry cleaning than casual wear. Encourage your office to implement a "casual day" on Fridays.
- Recycle. Don't toss your old togs in the trash. Donate them to a resale shop or a charity drop-off box, or throw a yard sale. Even your old tennis shoes can be recycled at many Nike Stores to be recycled into new products.
- Wash Sparingly. Levi Strauss' CEO Chip Bergh and designer Tommy Hilfiger have both advised their customers to refrain from washing jeans...like, at all. Even if the no-wash treatment isn't for you, chances are your clothes could handle several wearings before washing. You'll save water, and the life of your clothes.
Dressing Right For Mother Nature
You can dress like you really care for the earth - by buying clothing made from fibers produced with few or no pesticides.
- Organic cotton clothing includes t-shirts, blouses, stockings, and sweaters. Some organic cottons require little or no dyeing because they grow in pale colors, such as green, brown and white.
- Fabric made from fast-growing, low-impact hemp is being used in gloves, jackets, shoes and sandals, among many other fashion mainstays and accessories.
- Energy-saving recycled polyester is being made into pullovers, jackets, vests, and footwear.