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Movin’ On Up to a Greener Wardrobe

Clothes1.jpgA couple of days ago, I received an email from a friend about a clothing swap. She is getting ready to move and was about to donate her clothes when she got the idea of having a swap with friends. I’ll admit it, I still have some clothes with tags on them that looked cute in the store but somehow never made it out of my closet. Perfect for the swap! This got me thinking about the evils of impulse shopping and consumerism, but before I digress, and since I’m also a culprit, I’ll stop and offer some suggestions on how to make your wardrobe (and mine) more eco-friendly:

  • Think before you buy: Are you really going to wear that micro mini outside your house? Remember, your closet is not a storage unit! If you have limited closet space, like me, you might end up losing clothes in the back of the closet, only to have them resurface at the end of the season. So, buy only what you will realistically wear, and before you do, you might want to check whether the clothes have been manufactured in a sweatshop, just in case!
  • Buy higher quality clothing when possible: I’m not advocating you spend all your money on trendy designer names. However, there are certain basic pieces in a wardrobe that can withstand the changes in fashion from year to year. Buying higher quality pieces means they will last longer and you will save money in the long run, not to mention that they will look better on you!
  • Choose eco-friendly fabrics: More and more affordable choices can be found in regular stores. See Alexandra’s great blog about eco-fashion and organic cotton clothing for more info.
  • Consider vintage or used: Yes, it’s used, but if you’re going for a unique look that won’t be found on everyone else this season, you might want to check out a vintage shop near you. Freewill Fashions in New York is an example of how vintage can be fashionable.
  • Limit your washing: Washing is energy intensive, so only wash when you have a full load, and use the lowest temperature. There are very few items that need to be washed in hot water, so warm and even cold are perfectly acceptable settings. It goes without saying that you should use biodegradable detergents. As for dry cleaning, switch to a green cleaner. Perc (perchloroethylene), the major active ingredient in conventional dry cleaning, is a carcinogen and has been associated with reproductive and nervous system issues. There are a few green cleaning alternatives, including wet cleaning, cleaners that use the Green Earth method/a>, and cleaners that clean with carbon dioxide.
  • Donate your clothes or organize a clothing swap. On average, we each throw away about 68 pounds of clothing and textiles a year. I’m sure there is someone out there who could benefit from items you don’t wear. Check with your friends, look for organized swaps, or donate it to a local charity or on Freecyle.

The great thing about taking these steps is that, not only will it make your wardrobe more eco-friendly, but it will re-acquaint you with the clothes you own. You will look inside your closet and find clothes you could actually wear, instead of reciting the “I have nothing to wear” mantra every time you look in there.