How Sustainable is Your Wardrobe?

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Just last month, Gucci launched the world’s first leather products made using leather from Rainforest Alliance Certified ranches as part of their efforts to raise consumer consciousness if rainforest conservation and the best practices for cattle production in Brazil. The launch, in collaboration with Livia Firth, creator of The Green Carpet Challenge, proves that the fashion industry can raise the profile of sustainability without making compromise to design and creativity. With this landmark achievement in the fashion industry, it made me turn attention to my own closet and how my purchasing decisions affect the planet. More importantly, how carefully do we as consumers examine the clothes we buy?

According to EarthPledge, a non-profit organization (NPO) committed to promoting sustainable development, “At least 8,000 chemicals are used to turn raw materials into textiles, plus 25% of the world’s pesticides and 10% of insecticides are used to grow non-organic cotton.” Moreover, The fashion industry has a huge impact on the world’s water supply, as producing cotton accounts for 2.6% of the world’s yearly water usage.

Choosing green clothing is just as much a part of the green lifestyle as our food and beauty choices. There are a number of options to start greening our wardrobe, but it is best to educate ourselves on the practices of our favorite clothing companies. Until more of them begin to move toward eco-friendly practices, it is up to us to learn how to be more eco-conscious consumers.

Here are some tips that we hope will influence your wardrobe:

1. Seek to buy clothes made from biodegradable and organic fibers.

These are some other eco-friendly fabrics and options to consider which can help you in your quest to reduce your ecological footprint.

• Organic Cotton, free of pesticides and herbicides

• Bamboo

• Lyocell or Tencel

• Crailar (Hemp or flax)

• Linen (flax)

You can also buy clothes made from recycled products such as eco-fi, a fabric made of recycled plastic bottles.

2. Buy (and sell or donate) used or second-hand clothing. The easiest way to do this is using sites such as Craigslist or eBay, where you can easily type in exactly what you’re looking for. However, if you’re living in a more metropolitan area, I suggest to check out thrift or consignment stores that sell vintage or slightly worn second-hand clothing. If you’re living in New York, there are some really great ones I’d suggest, including Beacon’s Closet, Second Time Around and INA.

3. Repurpose your wardrobe. The greenest thing you can do for your wardrobe is to buy fewer clothes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun updating your current collection. There are plenty of DIY tricks to keep your wardrobe current and on-trend. Get inspiration from The Uniform Project, where New Yorker Sheena Matheiken is using vintage and donated accessories to turn a basic black dress into an entirely new look every day for a year.

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