Earth day is almost upon us and at this time it’s important that we remember who we are. Yes, we’re all fashionistas here, but most of us are also conscious of the earth, never letting a can or Starbucks cup go into the garbage. But tending to mother earth isn’t a battle that stops at bottle – there are ways to keep giving back and prevent ecological waste even when it comes to your clothes. Being fashion savvy is great, but being eco-friendly friendly at the same time is like a double whammy – in a good way. Arm yourself with some education, and only spend your green on green.
It’s good for the can, it’s good for the bottle, but it’s also great for that clothing you no longer want. There are a slew of buy-sell-trade stores that will accept your on trend, good condition clothing you just aren’t wearing…you know, the one you bought that never really fit. Every year, about 12 million tons of textile waste is generated in North America alone, but by selling or trading to places like Crossroads or Buffalo, you have helped keep some amount out of landfills. Every little bit counts, and you’d be amazed at what we can do with our efforts combined.
Going along with selling and trading it’s just as important to shop recycled as it is to do it. Close the loop! Every time you opt to buy a recycled jacket or pair of jeans instead of going over to H&M or Zara, you support the recycled clothing business and help them bring in more used merchandise. If no one shopped buy-sell-trade stores, they simply wouldn’t exist. Just like bringing your own bag instead of taking one every time you make a purchase, less new products sold means less potential waste for the future.
Donate or DIY
Not everything you don’t want any more is in the condition to sell or trade, perhaps because it’s not in great condition or maybe it’s just too past season. Donate your goods you can’t sell, and if you’re not ready to part completely, familiarize yourself with a slew of DIY blogs that exist in the interwebs. A few ones I like are P.S. I Made This, I Spy DIY, Stripes and Sequins, More Design Please, and even Refinery29 has some great DIY features. You can even re-work that ratty T-shirt into a shredded masterpiece just by searching “shredded shirt” on YouTube. There are a plethora of resources out there to help you breathe some new life into old duds and keep them from destroying the earth. If all is lost…not all is lost! You can always use an old shirt as a cleaning rag.
There is so much hype about bringing your own bag, but do you know why all the efforts? The less bags you take, the less end up in the landfill. Plastics photodegrade, meaning that the sun breaks them down into small toxic pieces that seep into our soil and water creating deep damage, and it takes hundreds of years for that break down to occur. Some stores have started giving out more earth-friendly bags, like Urban Outfitters, giving each customer a reusable bag. Others, such as Crossroads and Buffalo again, will encourage you to bring your own by making a donation to a non-profit every time you don’t take a bag. Regardless of how you want to do it, know that each reusable bag has the potential to eliminate 1000 plastic bags. If you’re like me and have trouble remembering to bring yours when you go shopping, the key is just to keep them all around you – one in your purse, a few at home, a few at work, and a few in your car. The earth will thank you!
Insofar, we’ve probably discussed methods of green consciousness that you might already know. If so, well you’re obviously both fashion and earth savvy! But have you ever paid attention to the labels on your clothing? We’re not talking that Louis Vuitton Label, but the material your clothing and accessories are made of instead. The production of many synthetic materials is depleting the earth’s resources and at the same time, those products end up being as earth-friendly as that plastic bag when you decide it’s done with its run.
The solution is eco-friendly clothing, made with care and natural materials, so that they can slowly and organically return to the earth when their time has come. These materials include wool, bamboo, organic cotton, hemp, and soy silk.Thanks to many earth-conscious retailers, we’re no longer just talking about uncomfortable sack shirts, either.
Slowly, the world is coming around to the dangers of pesticides and chemicals in food and drink. But while we worry about what goes into our bodies, what about what we put on our bodies? The process is very much the same. Cotton has been called the fabric of our lives, but it happens to be a fabric that requires about a third of a pound of pesticides to create one tee. Organic cotton, which is made without pesticides, herbicides or insecticides, may make up 95 percent of organic fabrics, but it is still just 1 percent of cotton produced in the world. Our bodies deserve better, and so does our environment. Support retailers that are trying to support to organic movement so that it can grow.
Some retailers have built their existence on being socially sound and ecologically friendly, while some are starting to jump on the bandwagon because its another area of the market waiting to be tapped. Personally, I don’t care whether the goal is for actual sustainability or for profit – if a retailer is trying to do something right, they deserve to be supported. Costs are only slightly higher to the customer, but the difference is huge for the environment. A few companies worth supporting are PACT Underwear, TOMS, and Threads for Thought. Watch out for fast fashion retailers that are or will soon be carrying organic cotton such as Gap, Nike, Levi’s, Target and Victoria’s Secret.
I know what you might be feeling right now. You’re just one. But the thing is, you’re not alone. I think we can all agree that we seek a better world for those that come after us, or at least one that is no more damaged than this one. Our efforts pooled together are indeed quite meaningful, though you might not realize what it means when you pay an extra $2 for an organic shirt, or opt not to use a bag. But to put it into some sort of perspective, if you chose not to take a bag from Crossroads last year, know that you were one of 342,901 people. That’s 342,901 less bags in the earth. There’s power in numbers. Be a part of it.
Image via HollyDoll