Reduce: Buy fewer things, but get better quality. Look for clothes that will last, pieces that are versatile. Rather than spending your money on cheap or trendy looks, use what you already have and add just a few garments or accessories. Ask yourself, “How often will I wear this? What other things does it go with? Does it flatter my shape? Will it last?” This will keep you looking great for years to come. Look for clothes from manufacturers you know are supporting a better Earth. Look for garments made in the USA, or from sweatshop-free manufacturers. Support Fair Trade textiles and textiles made from recycled content. Look for organic fabrics such as organic cotton and hemp. Support sustainable textiles like Tencel ® (Lyocell), and bamboo and spend your money with companies that you believe in. Hey, you might even wind up reducing the clutter in your closet while you’re at it.
Reuse: A tailor can be your best friend. Tired of that old dress? Try having it shortened into a tunic. Are wide-leg-pants not your thing? Have them tapered. Your alterations will cost you, and the planet, less in the long run. Still can’t stand it? Give it away or donate it. Swap with a friend. Cut old clothes into cleaning cloths or save for craft projects. Just don’t let all your unwanted clothing wind up in a landfill. On a larger scale, some garment manufacturers are specializing in re-using “leftover” textiles – scraps, ends and misprints – in the trims and accessories on their new clothes. Support companies that reduce the consumption of new fibers.
Recycle: Or better yet, upcycle! There are very talented designers out there that specialize in “upcycling.” They take old clothes — clothes that have already been manufactured distributed and have used up resources but are now unwanted — and makes them into new and better things. Better yet, try it yourself. If you can sew, you’re only limited by your imagination and talent. Still love those classic designers? Just visit your local consignment or vintage stores. You can get the brands and styles you like, pick up some serious bargains, and still make the world a better place. Shopping at resale stores requires no new resources to be grown, harvested, woven, dyed, etc.
According to the EPA, textiles account for more than 8.2 MILLION tons of waste per year. You can save the planet and save some money too – being eco-friendly doesn’t mean you have to give up your personal style.