Buying stylish clothes at an affordable price is appealing to most consumers, but it can have negative impacts on our environment. Known as fast fashion, this industry offers low prices on clothing, but it comes at a hidden cost. Thanks to a rise in the human population and the increasing popularity of fashion-related social media content, people often think they need more clothes than they really do. Fashion manufacturers are responsible for five percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
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Buying sustainable clothing and reducing your fashion carbon footprint
Here are a few ways you can purchase sustainable clothing while reducing your carbon footprint:
- Know what to look for in a brand: Find out what types of manufacturing processes are best, what brands offer items made of sustainable materials, and what they’re doing to help the environment. Some brands offer programs where you can return used clothes for a store credit or ensure that they go back into the production cycle rather than in the trash.
- Avoid greenwashing: The term “greenwashing” refers to companies that claim to be eco-friendly but they’re actually not following the proper processes. Brands should be open and honest, offering their sustainability reports to consumers. If a brand uses eco-friendly packaging but their clothing isn’t sustainable, that’s also greenwashing. Even luxury brands can be guilty. For example, several years ago, the designer Burberry burned unused clothing, bags, and cosmetics rather than selling them at a discount or giving it away. Use websites like Environmental Working Group, Rank a Brand, and the Fashion Transparency Index to help you find a legitimate brand that sells sustainable clothing.
- Choose eco-friendly fashion materials: Look for products made with eco-friendly fabrics and other materials. Things like linen, organic cotton, and dyes made of squid ink are just some examples. Hemp is another excellent choice that is gaining popularity in the fashion world. You can also apply this when going to the beach.
- Make smart choices: Reduce your consumption of clothing by wearing what you already have as much as possible before buying something new. Recycle your old clothing if possible so it doesn’t end up in a landfill. Repair ripped or torn clothing by sewing it back together before you throw it out. Resell clothing you no longer want or need so that someone else can enjoy wearing it. Donate clothing to local charities and to people in need.
Eco clothing buying guide and tips:
Keep these clothes buying and eco-fashion tips in mind when shopping for a new wardrobe.
- Capsule Wardrobe: A capsule wardrobe includes versatile, limited items of clothing that you can mix and match to create different looks. This is a great way to reduce your consumption while getting the most use out of the clothes you already have in your closet. Consider Gothic Clothing: Incorporate your love for gothic clothing into your wardrobe to give it a unique and edgy twist that will last forever. Gothic fashion elements, like dark lace, leather, and elaborate accessories, can be seamlessly integrated allowing you to stand out in a crowd. Embrace the versatility of gothic styles and infuse them with your chosen essence to create a one-of-a-kind and long-lasting look.
- Buy durable clothing; Invest in more durable, high-quality clothing that will last. It may cost more upfront, but you’ll get a lot more use and enjoyment out of the items you buy.
- Purchase second-hand clothing: Look for new clothes at thrift stores, vintage clothing stores, and garage sales. It’s a great way to find unique pieces at a low price without buying something new. You can also have a clothing swap party, more ideas here!
- Discover sustainable clothing brands: Seek out eco-friendly, sustainable clothing brands. Some examples include Girlfriend Collective, Goshopia, Patagonia, The Bali Market, and Cotopaxi, just to name a few. There are even ethical, organic bra and underwear options available. Over time, you’ll learn how to spot authentic sustainable brands versus those that are greenwashing.
- Make your own clothes: Learn how to knit and sew so you can make your own clothes. You can even take older pieces and turn them into something unique and new.
- Care for your clothes: Take proper care of the clothing you already have. Learn how to wash and clean different fabrics the right way and how to find some quality, eco-friendly detergents. Try to wash your clothes less often and use the cold cycle, and air dry them on a clothesline or rack whenever possible. Not only will this extend the life of your clothes, but it will reduce your carbon footprint, too.
- Only buy clothes that spark joy: As Marie Kondo says, you should only have items that “spark joy.” Try to avoid impulse purchases and instead, invest your money into pieces that you absolutely love and know you’ll wear for a long time. Looking at the things we buy and realizing that we’re causing more damage than we realize is the first step toward making a positive change. When you learn about the harmful effects of fast fashion and know what to look for, you can start to make smarter purchasing decisions. Consider starting a capsule wardrobe, looking for secondhand clothing, and only buying products from truly sustainable brands, so you can make a difference.
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