We live in a global economy where our purchases not only have an impact locally but also in communities around the world. While we all love fashion, we do need to consider how our behaviours are affecting others and the environment. Today, we consume fashion at a much quicker rate than in previous decades, and the industry has altered its practices to keep up with demand.
While it may be nearly impossible nowadays to purchase clothing that wasn’t made in a “sweatshop,” there are changes you can make with your shopping habits to reduce your impact on the environment. Inspired by one of my favourite books on all things green, “Ecoholic: Your Guide to the Most Environmentally Friendly Information, Products and Services in Canada” by Adria Vasil, here are 5 tips to make your wardrobe more eco-friendly.
Tip #1: Forget regular cotton. Did you know it takes half a pound of chemicals to make a regular, old t-shirt? Did you know cotton soaks up 10% of the world’s pesticides and 25% of its insecticides? That’s a lot of toxins! Luckily for us, fashion producers are increasingly making clothes out of organic cotton, or organic cotton blends. Organic cotton is grown without synthetic chemicals like fertilizers or pesticides. Locally, you can find t-shirts at More Than Half Kitchener.
Tip #2: Read the labels and choose more eco-friendly fabrics. Designers are on the move, creating stylish clothing with more natural fabrics including soy, flax, bamboo and hemp. It’s even becoming easier to find items made of organic wool. These fabrics are much more sustainable than synthetics and polyester.
Tip #3: Think things through. If the price is too good to be true, it probably is. We all love getting a deal, but at what cost to others and the environment? One of the only ways to ensure your clothing wasn’t made under abusive conditions is to buy fair trade. Receiving the fair trade trademark ensures the entire production process – from raw materials to the finished product is good on the planet, free from child labour, is ethical, and supports individuals in the developing world by providing safe working conditions and a living wage. More Than Half in Kitchener is our community’s one-stop shop for fair trade garments.
Tip #4: Go vintage and shop like a true fashionista. Vintage clothing has character, quality, and is truly one-of-a-kind. Vintage is one of the cheapest, and most fashion-forward ways to wear planet-friendly threads. Vintage clothing will also last a lifetime, as higher quality fabrics were often used in their construction. Be sure to check out Patina Vintage and Meow Boutique in Waterloo, White Tiger Vintage in Kitchener, and Auburn Vintage Clothiers in Conestogo for a great selection of vintage finds.
Tip #5: Consign, consign, consign. There are numerous benefits to consigning your quality pieces. First, to consign, you are cleaning your closet, making it easier to see the pieces you love. Second, you make a percentage of the selling price back, which can be used to other ways. Third, you are reducing the number of clothes that simply end up in a landfill. Buying second-hand no longer means missing out on stylish finds. Most consignment stores are selective in the items they sell, which results in better quality for a reasonable price tag. Check out Luster & Oak in Waterloo, Carousel Clothing in Kitchener, and The Patch in Cambridge for your consigning needs.
Overall, the very best way to reduce your impact on the environment is to purchase fewer items. Buy quality pieces that last, and can be mixed and matched for years to come. These are just a few tips to help your closet become a little more eco-friendly, but there are much more. I recommend checking out “Ecoholic: Your Guide to the Most Environmentally Friendly Information, Products and Services in Canada” if you’re interested in becoming a bit greener in your shopping habits.