How to Green Your Clothing
Of all the pesticides used in the US, 25% of them are applied to cotton. Some of these chemicals can harm you. A lot of synthetic material available on the market, like polyester, is petroleum based and it takes almost a third of a pound of fertilizers and pesticides to grow enough cotton for one t-shirt!
Aside from the obvious side-effects of the use of chemicals in the clothing industry, there’s also the ethical aspect to fashion. Most fashion statements are transient – they’re fleeting follies that come and go, leaving a litany of "can’t wears" in the average wardrobe. Suddenly the standard advice to "buy classic" makes a lot of sense – if you’re buying clothes that will last and won’t go out of fashion then you’ve got what today is called "eco-savvy".
Buying clothing as a conscious consumer is not just about the type of material used in the production. It’s about how the crops used to make the clothing were grown and whether the production was ethical or Fair Trade. It’s about shopping smart and asking questions to reduce the load going into landfill and the waste generated in the production of clothing.
Be fussy.Some would call this being discerning. Buy something only if you absolutelyloveit. In this way, you cut down on spontaneous shopping and shopping for the sake of it. Finally, ask yourself whether or not youreallyneed to buy the garment that you’ve randomly plucked off the rack on your way to the food section? Are you buying because you can, or because you really need another t-shirt?
- Plan to keep your clothing for a while, and wear what you have. Buying less guarantees you use fewer resources.
Buy organic and hemp.Cotton, despite the years of marketing as a clean and natural fabric, uses no less than a third of a pound of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in the production of one t-shirt. Organic cotton and other fashion alternatives are now available. Try the local variety stores first. Read the labels. Organic clothing can range from is 5% organic to 100%. Look for local designers and look for hemp, organic cotton and other eco-choices.
Buy vintage.The new term for used clothing is pretty trendy right now, particularly in places like the UK, Australia, US etc. where charity shops are a wonderful source of cheap, recycled clothing. Whilst such stores are not big in some countries, there is the odd charity shop worth a visit. Alternatively, get together with a group of friends and each bring 5 garments for a big "swap" session. And look for consignment stores too. These often have great designer bargains that let clothes have a new lease of life for a fraction of the original cost.
Look after it.Once you’ve bought a quality organic item, look after it. Wash it carefully—turn it inside out when it’s drying in the hot sun, use the lowest temperature when washing, and use biodegradable detergents. Sun-dry your garments and try not to dry-clean. If you do have things to dry clean, look around for a dry cleaner in your area who uses newer, green methods. If you’re really concerned about going green and want to go the extra mile, wash your clothes in a pedal-powered washing spin dryer machine!
Buy Fair Trade.Any clothing that bears the label "Fair Trade" is produced ethically, using ecologically sound and sustainable practices. And everyone involved gets a fair wage. Fair Trade doesn’t just apply to bananas and coffee; it plays a very important part in the clothing and textile industry. Although there isn’t a lot of fair trade clothing available yet in some countries, there is often jewelry and locally produced accessories made by local communities that is worth the investment, so look out for these. In the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, more and more ethically produced clothing is now available. For those living in countries with Fair Trade labelling in operation, prefer this type of clothing where you can.
- Fur advocates claim that wearing fur is an environmentally-friendly choice for very cold climates. They provide excellent warmth, last many years, are biodegradable and come from renewable resources. They also argue that trappers help control overpopulation of species such as beavers.
- However, this is an often used, incorrect claim. Fur, leather and suede are some of the most chemically treated materials. Most have substantially high levels of preservatives, including but not limited to, neurotoxic and carcinogenic chemicals such as formaldehyde and mercury.
- To add, the production of fur has far greater environmental demands, as the raising of an animal requires more energy than the processing of agricultural plants.
Video: Eco-Friendly Ways to Wash Your Clothes Without a Machine : Green Living Tips
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