There are many steps you can take to make your clothing consumption more sustainable. For example, focus on reducing the amount of clothes in your closet. Consider if you need new clothes. Will you only wear it while it’s trendy? Make sure to buy long-lasting, high quality pieces that do not need to be regularly replaced. Classic staple pieces last a long time, especially neutrals. Jewelry and small accessories can help you keep up with trends. Or consider shopping at a second-hand store for your fashion forward pieces. You can also reduce your carbon footprint if you purchase local, more natural (from hemp or bamboo, for example), or even handmade clothes!
Your clothes can be reused in a variety of ways. You can swap with friends at a party or at the end of the year at Swap for Good. Don’t discard old clothes unless they are beyond repair. Instead of sending them to a landfill, donate them to a clothing drive or shelter; some places like thrift shops will even pay for your gently used clothing such as Pluto’s Closet, Crossroads, or Black & Brown.
Your old-to-you clothes can be reused by other people, and they can also be recycled into other things. A t-shirt can become a tank top or scarf, or even a bag. Once they are worn out or have been recycled many times, you can use them as rags for cleaning instead of paper towels. Our Pinterest board or this eco-fashion blog has tons of fantastic ideas on how to recycle your clothes into the neatest things!
Remember to respect the environment and other people by reflecting about the life cycle of clothing and by supporting companies who create eco-friendly* apparel and have responsible ethics towards their workers and the natural environment: Consider who could use it again and recycle it for a new life. What is it made of? Where is it from? What kind of factory they were produced in? How far they were shipped to get to you? How much water, fiber or energy it took to make it? Sometimes it is difficult to discern the origins of your clothing but it is important to take a stand against unsustainable clothing companies. After all, you have a say of what’s important with your purchasing power!
*Eco-friendly clothing refers to goods that inflict minimal or no harm to the environment. This might mean clothing made of fibers such as organic cotton and hemp, clothing that has been dyed with vegetables, or fabrics that use less water. Part of sustainable clothing is buying ethical clothing that is made has fair trade registration or do not use animal by-products.
By Lynsey-Cumberford-Palmer '14, Sustainability Intern