Clothing — some people care deeply about it, some couldn’t care less. Whichever camp you fall into, what you wear is another facet of our footprint on the Earth, and your choices make an impact.
The recent rise in popularity of thrifting is a great example of a simple way to lessen your impact, while still remaining stylish and within your budget.
The motto “reduce, reuse, recycle” is applicable to all aspects of life, especially consumer goods like clothing. Pre-owned clothing is generally cheaper, and having more than one owner extends the life of a garment. Plus, it’s a great way to shop the recent vintage trend without breaking the bank.
Owning less clothing, which college students are forced to by space constraints, makes you more resourceful in choosing outfits. This gives you more wear per item of clothing, making it more useful. Ducking into your roommate’s closet (with his or her permission, of course) to borrow a shirt is a great way to extend the wear of clothing as well.
But if the lure of the mall is too much for you, rest assured that there are ways to make your shopping spree a little better for the Earth, even if the same can’t be said for your wallet. Unlike some greenwashing companies we discussed a couple of weeks ago, the clothing industry is held to a standard when it uses the term “organic”. So, if you see that label on your clothing, it’s definitely a good buy. Clothing made from organic materials uses less pesticides and chemicals in creating and processing the fibers, which means less damage on the Earth and less potentially damaging chemicals touching your skin. Look for materials like organic cotton, hemp, bamboo or organic wool.
If it sounds like these kinds of clothes can’t be found anywhere except pricey online boutiques, you’ll be pleased to know that mainstream retailers like the Gap, L.L. Bean, American Apparel, Nike, Levi's and even Wal-Mart have rolled out its own sustainable and organic clothing lines. Making simple, environmentally conscious decisions has never been so easy. Happy shopping!