Choosing eco-friendly options is becoming more and more important as time goes on. As society grows more aware of the surrounding environment, people are being more conscious about their habits.
Many are shifting away from traditional materials and products that are harmful to the environment and choosing greener alternatives. Even some large corporations are requiring their suppliers to use greener materials for their products to meet their standards.
When it comes to fashion, there are several key areas of concern when looking for environmentally friendly options. These include choosing fabrics, washing practices, and avoiding excessive consumption.
This article will discuss some easy ways to make eco-friendly fashion choices. All of these choices are cost-effective and simple to implement into your wardrobe.
Learn about fabric composition
When choosing clothing, look at the label to see what materials it is made of. If the clothing is advertised as eco-friendly, then check if the labels confirm this assertion.
There are many different types of fabrics, some more sustainable than others. Some of the most common fabric types include cotton, wool, polyester, and linen. Each has its own pros and cons when it comes to sustainability.
Cotton is a popular fabric choice due to its affordability and wide range of patterns and prints that can be produced. Unfortunately, it requires a lot of water and chemicals to produce.
Wool is a protein fiber that comes from animals such as sheep. It is a warm material that holds shape well, making it good for winter clothing designs. Unfortunately, it requires killing the animal to obtain it which may be off-putting to some consumers.
Polyester is a synthetic fiber that has come under fire for being non-sustainable. It is one of the cheapest materials and most easily produced, which makes it a popular choice among fashion designers.
Linen is a natural fiber similar to cotton but more flaxen in color. It is more affordable and environmentally friendly than cotton but less soft.
Polyester is a common fabric that many clothing items are made out of. It is inexpensive and durable, which is why many fashion designers use it.
However, it is not considered a sustainable fabric as it is not biodegradable. Polyester takes hundreds of years to break down in the environment!
If you are looking to buy new clothes, do not feel obligated to buy polyester as well. Choose fabrics such as linen or cotton instead!
Clothing stores like Zara are known for selling plastic-like soft clothes, and most of them are labeled as linen but are actually polyester.
Choose silk or hemp
Many fashionistas agree that one of the best natural fabrics is silk. It is very soft and luxurious, and it has been used in clothing and decoration for centuries.
However, many insects must be harvested to produce silk, which is a downside of this material. Many insects are also killed during the collecting and processing process.
Most silk comes from China, where regulations on animal welfare and environmental protection are relatively low. Therefore, many companies use less–expensive synthetic fibers to strengthen silk or import it from other countries to cut costs.
If you are looking for a pure silk gown or dress, check for tags that indicate it is 100% pure cotton ginned (processed) silk. Some may be imported from other countries but should be okay if ethically sourced.
Hemp has become more popular as a natural fabric due to its durability and sustainability. Depending on the percentage of hemp in the fabric, it can be more or less visible depending on the color.
Invest in vintage clothing
As mentioned before, recycling and reusing is a key element of eco-friendly fashion. Rather than constantly buying new clothes, invest in quality vintage clothing you love that last.
You can either shop at local thrift stores or sites like eBay or Posh Mark where you can buy and sell used clothing. The best part about buying vintage is that you will always find something unique!
Thrifting is a great way to find organic or natural fabrics as well as vintage pieces. If you find a piece you love and it is not organic, check out ways to wash it to make it more sustainable.
Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut way to tell if textile materials are organic or not, but looking up the ingredients is a good start. Also, look for signs of chemical burns or discoloration on the fabric which would indicate harmful chemicals.
Choose environmentally friendly brands
As mentioned before, one of the best ways to start making eco–friendly fashion choices is to start with brands.
By researching which brands produce their products most sustainably and choosing which products you buy based on brand, you are already making an eco-friendly choice.
Many brands have websites where they post their sustainability policies and how they strive to be environmentally friendly. Reading these can help you make more informed purchases.
Some brands even offer fully sustainable products, like WRAP certified wool which comes from sheep that are responsibly raised. Other brands may not yet offer all sustainable materials, but are working on it!
By supporting brands that are trying to go green, you are helping encourage them to keep doing so.
Check color combinations
When looking for clothes, check the color combinations used to create the design. If the design is made up of many colors, or includes prominent colors such as red or pink, then the clothing is not likely to be made from recycled materials.
By aware of this, you can also check if the fabric looks like it is a composite of two or more materials. If so, then it is probably not made from sustainable fabrics.
When examining your favorite piece of clothing, check if it is one solid color or if it has a pattern. If it is patterned, then check if it is loose and open so that it allows for ventilation. These are signs of environmentally-friendly fashion.
Checking the labels on your clothing is also important when determining whether or not your clothes are sustainable. Look for either eco-label certification symbols or words such as “eco-friendly” or “vegan” on the label.
Learn how to sew
As we’ve mentioned before, learning how to sew is a great way to make eco-friendly fashion choices. You can learn basic stitches like the seam, zip, and stitch for hand sewing or mechanical machines like the overlocker or serger for industrial sewing machines.
There are many resources available to teach you how to sew, from YouTube videos to classes at local stores and schools. Investing in your sewing knowledge will reward you with forever-useful skills!
Sewing your own clothes also brings up the issue of wasting cloth. By buying cheaper cloths and testing your creativity, you can save money while reducing your textile waste.
General tips: Look for materials that are organic or renewable when available. If not, try to find ones that are as close to these qualities as possible.
Buy used clothing
Rather than buying new clothing every time a trend changes or you need a new shirt or pair of pants, consider buying used clothing.
Used clothing can be a great way to save money, and it helps reduce waste by avoiding the constant stream of new clothing every season. It also enables you to choose your own style without spending a lot of money, since cheap new clothes exist in abundance.
Used clothing can be found online through re-sellers like ThredUp and Buffalo Exchange, at local thrift stores, or even given to you by friends and family. The option is out there if you look for it!
Making eco-friendly fashion choices goes beyond just buying used clothing, however. There are some tricky issues to look into when deciding what clothes to buy, so let’s dive into those next.