say you’re a treehugger in disguise – you wouldn’t be caught dead in
Birkenstocks and tie dye, but you genuinely care about the
environment and want to be a part of the solution. Is being a green
fashionista a complete oxymoron?
Not at all, as long as you’re willing to change the
way you shop.
Rule number one: shop less. You may not
want to hear this, but consumerism is not and will never be as
eco-friendly as using what you already have. Be creative with
Rule number two: shop smarter. Make sure
that what you do buy is more eco-friendly, and in keeping with
rule number one, choose timeless, versatile pieces that will
outlast this season’s trends. Eco-friendly clothing is meant to
be worn many times, and has the durable construction and quality
materials to last you for years, unlike last year’s Old Navy
Green clothing does tend to cost more. Producing
clothing responsibly is just more expensive than its
pesticide-and-sweatshop alternative. But you’ll get guiltless
glamour and fund sustainable practices with your dollars. And if you
abide by rule number one (shop less!) you may not actually end up
spending more by going green.
That said, getting started in green fashion can be
tricky. Here’s a beginner’s guide to the three major categories:
organic, sustainable, and vintage.
Clothing that is labeled organic is made from all
natural materials such as cotton, hemp, wool, and silk that were not
radiated, genetically modified, or treated with pesticides and
insecticides. In order to earn this label, the clothing must also be
processed, cleaned, dyed, and finished in as environmentally
conscious a way as possible.
Why it makes a difference: Organic clothing
that has been grown and produced according to these principles has a
significantly lower ecological impact than conventional clothing.
For example, cotton is highly susceptible to disease and
infestation, so conventionally grown cotton leaches large amounts of
pesticides and insecticides into the soil and water, which are
deadly to local ecosystems and harmful to human workers and even end
Unfortunately, the organic clothing industry is far
from standardized. A USDA or OTA (Organic Trade Association)
certification is your best guarantee that something is genuinely and
comprehensively organic. Many other certification organizations
exist, but as a rule of thumb, if it’s suspiciously inexpensive, it
probably isn’t low impact.
'Sustainable’ is an even less regulated term than
‘organic’ and can mean any of several things. Sustainable clothing
tends to focus either on the reuse or recycle of materials or on the
long term renewability of the crop and production process. Recycled
clothing uses the fabric of old clothing to create new pieces.
Renewable crops include bamboo and hemp, which grow quickly and well
When accompanied by a Food Alliance certification, something labeled
as sustainable has been produced under fair working conditions,
without hormones or GM crops, with fewer pesticides, and with
special attention towards protecting soil, water, and local
ecosystems for the long term. Fair trade products have more of a
socially conscious bent but are often also environmentally friendly.
Why it makes a difference: Forward-thinking
sustainable clothing is produced at a lower ecological and social
impact and keeps a much-needed eye out for the 7th generation. Look
for a Food Alliance or Fair Trade certification.
Ah, what a lovely euphemism for used clothing. Used
clothing skips the extra step involved in recycled clothing and is
your one truly budget-friendly eco alternative. No matter how
greenly sourced, new clothing has more of an environmental impact
than used. Luckily, vintage clothing is always fashionable,
especially dressed up or combined in interesting ways, and there’s
no shortage of styles to choose from. Dig through thrift store racks
for real bargains, or go to a ‘vintage’ boutique for cleaner,
pre-sorted, and more expensive vintage clothing.
Why it makes a difference: Buying vintage
clothing consumes no new resources and keeps clothing out of
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Beauty Care Specialists