Updated: Feb 19, 2020
By James Spelman
As we are hustling into March, we are getting more and more ready for spring. Warmer weather, sunnier days and, most importantly, less layers of clothing. And in preparation for spring and summer, we are beginning to buy some new threads to hold us over until our winter blues are gone. While buying new clothes is good for the economy and your spirits, is it necessarily good for the earth? Most likely, the answer might be, “no.”
It often surprises consumers that the fashion industry is the second dirtiest industry in the world, only being surpassed by the oil industry. Instead of the expression, “pain is beauty,” it’s more like, “pollution is stylish.” This doesn’t have to be the case though. Many established brands have caught on to the push toward sustainable fashion while numerous new brands are forming with sustainability at their core. While this is great news for the stylish environmentalist, these garments usually cost a considerable amount more than the t-shirt you can pick up at the mall. So what is a person to do? Here are a few tips:
1. Look at what the product is made of.
The easiest thing you can do while you’re shopping is to find out what a garment is made of. You’ll want to steer-clear of garments made with synthetic materials such as polyester. And for all the cotton-lovers out there, a lot of cotton is grown with pesticides and toxic fertilizers.
Textiles like linen and hemp are good alternatives to cotton, while recycled PET is a good replacement for polyester garments.
2. Do your research before leaving the house.
Thanks to the internet, it’s incredibly easy to find lists of clothing brands and retailers that produce earth-friendly fashions. Try searching, “sustainable clothing,” or, “earth-friendly fashion.” You’d be surprised at how many brands you’ll find. It comes down to finding the right balance of your style and budget.
H&M is a good one for college students because their clothes are stylish and affordable. And sustainability and ethical practices are woven into the company. There’s even a category of ‘conscious’ items that are like the pinnacle of earth-friendly garments. H&M also just added that this collection will now use something called BIONIC, which is a polyester made from recycled plastics from the oceans. How cool!
3. Second-hand shop.
For those of us who are on really tight budgets or that really take recycling to the next level, buying clothes second-hand is a great option. Not only is this a trend at the moment, but it’s a good way to update your wardrobe on a budget while still being true to the earth.
Stores like Goodwill and the Salvation Army usually have good finds, as will most of your local thrift stores. And if you don’t have the time to go and sort through all those racks yourself, consider checking out Tagpop.com.
Tagpop is an online store that goes out and finds vintage clothes and resells them for a cheap price. The best part of the whole operation is that what you’re getting is a mystery! You pick the item type and size, they pick something out and send it your way. What’s fashion without a little risk, anyway?