With the weather warming up, everyone’s mind is on the awakening earth, enjoying time in nature and on preserving that joy for our children. Riding bikes to the grocery store; opening the windows to let sunlight and cool breezes into our homes; swapping out fluorescent for LED bulbs; and recycling are all doable ways to reduce environmental impact. Did you know that you can make a difference with your wardrobe as well?
Natural Fiber And Dye Options
Choosing clothing made from 100% organic natural fibers is one option for greening up your closet. Less pesticide and chemical processing, fewer health impacts on factory workers and steady renewability are all key benefits of these fabrics.
Some good options are:
- Wool: Wool is renewable, fire-resistant and doesn’t need chemical inputs. Look for chlorine-free wool from humanely-treated animals. Organic wool is increasingly becoming available; it is produced using sustainable farming practices and without toxic sheep dips. Source.
- Hemp: Hemp is rapidly renewable, requires little or no pesticides, grows without fertilizer, requires minimum attention, doesn’t deplete soil nutrients and is easy to harvest.
- Organic Cotton: More than 25 percent of the world’s pesticides are used in conventional cotton production. Organic cotton is grown without toxic, synthetic chemical inputs. Look for natural dyes or colored cotton to further reduce the amount of chemicals dumped into our ecosystem.
Don’t stop at natural fibers; look for natural dyes as well. So many organic dyes can be found in your local grocery store or farmers market – onion skins (yellow/orange), coffee/tea (brown), roses (pink), artichokes (green), etc (source). No chemicals mean less toxicity and healthier lives.
Another natural dye, which I love lately, is plant-based indigo (blue jean) blue. Shibori, a Japanese tie-dying technique in which fabric is tied, stitched or folded to create different patterns as a result of the dying process, is a popular way to use indigo dyes. Picture a shibori indigo dyed cotton summer dress as a swimsuit cover-up this summer – chic.
Reduce, reuse and recycle – this tried and true mantra applies to clothing as well as reducing waste.
- Reduce your clothing consumption: Build your wardrobe from the foundation up. A strong foundation is filled with basics – classic, fitted, high-quality pieces that will last a lifetime. Next, add in items that you will want to continue wearing even if they go out of “fashion.” Keep your purchases to a minimum. So many people have closets full of clothing they’ve worn once or may even still have tags on them – don’t be one of those people.
- To kick start your wardrobe transformation, try a 30×30 clothing challenge. Pick 30 pieces from your wardrobe; those are the only items you can wear this month. Good Luck!.
- Reuse old clothing for new purposes: Turn an old T-shirt into a quilt or grocery bag. Trim long jeans into cut-offs for the summer.
- Even better, fix it and wear your favorite jacket or top for a few more years. Not down with the sewing machine? Enlist the help of a tailor or chase down the Patagonia #WornWear tour.
- Recycle your used clothes: Denim, wool, cotton and polyester can all be recycled into material for new clothing, insulation, cleaning rags, etc. Re-sell it at garage sales, on craigslist, or at a resale shop, then put that cash toward a “new” gently used staple for your wardrobe. Another way to recycle your used clothing – donate it! Goodwill, Salvation Army, the local Humane Society or homeless shelters are all happy to take used clothing donations.
Eco-Friendly Fashion Choices
The most eco-friendly option is to continue wearing the clothing you already own as long as it is flattering and in good condition. Next, purchase clothes that you can wear for a long time like classic silhouettes or pieces that make you happy enough to wear them even if they aren’t “in” anymore, like items that look good on you, make you feel confident, and are likely to outlast the season. Finally, purchase low impact clothes made from natural or recycled fibers, natural, non-toxic dyes, ethically produced, and locally sourced.
150 Mile Wardrobe video
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