How to Green your Wardrobe
How to Green your Wardrobe
1.Â Shop with a plan
you bring an article of clothing into your life, itâ€'s kind of like
adopting a dog or cat. That cute little number has to have a place in
your wardrobe, and youâ€'re agreeing to provide for and give it the
longest possible life with you. Abandoning the impulse buy may sound
boring, but how exciting is a closet full of stuff that doesnâ€'t work?
In the long run, knowing what you're looking for before you shop will
save time and eliminate clutter. You'll get more use out of a piece
that looks and feels great: What colors work for you? What fits work
the best? How will the piece get along with everything else in the
closet? If the answer to "Will I still want to wear this
rhinestone-studded bustier in two years?" or â€œCan I eventually find a
way to use it in a craft project?â€ is no, skip it.
2. Love your duds
you've chosen, take good care of it. When you get home, change out of
work gear and into your famous dressing gown or leisure suit. Donâ€'t
cook or check the tire pressure in clothes you want to wear in public.
Learn how to sew a button back on, or how to coax a nimble friend into
doing it for you. Get the name of a local tailor or seamstress for
major repairs or alterations.
3. Don't go dry
industry has improved much since 1992, there is still a high likelihood
that your trusty corner cleaner uses perc (tetrachloroethylene), a
known carcinogen. See if there is a local green cleaner employing "wet
cleaning" or liquid CO2 techniques. Many articles whose tags ask for
the dry clean treatment can actually be hand washed, especially silk,
wool and linen.
4. Buy vintage or used
clothes for all types of reasons, and you know that adage about trash
and treasure. From Oscar-worthy vintage dresses to Freecycled denim,
you can likely find the piece youâ€'re looking for second hand. Youâ€'ll be
giving a cast-off garment a second life, and possibly supporting
charitable work in the process.
5. Wash well
wreaks the most havoc of all. It requires lots of water and energy, so
only do it when you absolutely need to and have a full laundry load.
Turn articles inside out and use the lowest temp possible. If you know
you glowed all over a piece, make a thin salt paste and soak the
affected fabric for a half hour before washing. Choose phosphate-free
and biodegradable detergents and line dry as much as possible. Treat
stains quickly with nontoxic removers. If youâ€'re buying a new washing
machine, look for one with an Energy Star label.
6. Wear organic
cotton is marketed as clean, fresh, and natural, conventional varieties
are anything but. It takes a third of a pound of chemical fertilizers
and pesticides to produce the cotton for one T-shirt! That means lots
of direct, unhealthy exposure for farmers and nearby wildlife, and
heaps of unnecessary pollution. Ick. Luckily, organic cotton is
becoming easier and easier to find. As mega-stores get into the game,
however, itâ€'s important to stay vigilant about what organic means, so
you know youâ€'re really getting clean clothes. Also know that though the
cotton may have been organic to start with, your T may be full of
processing chemicals and metal-laden dyes. See below for more info on
labeling and certification.
7. Find a re-purpose
re-purposed garment used to be another or many other articles.
Designers all over the globe have taken on this transformative
challenge in recent years, with very wearable results. This means a
one-of-a-kind look for you, a new life for old fabric, and a livelihood
for maverick re-users.
8. Approach new fabrics with skeptical enthusiasm
doubt youâ€'ve heard the hype around bamboo, soy, or even corn fabric.
The idea of finding alternatives to petrochemical-based and
conventionally grown options makes us all perk up and we see why many
eco-conscious designers are excited about them. Bamboo, for instance,
sounds great: itâ€'s a fast-growing plant, not reliant on chemicals, and
beautifully drapes the human form. Trouble is, bamboo plantations can
displace native forests, and the harvesting and fiber processing are
often polluting and unregulated. As with soy, corn, and Tencel (which
comes from trees), the processing from plant to fabric is energy and
resource intensive. For now, approach these as alternatives to poly,
nylon, acrylic or conventional silk and await more info. As always,
shop with a plan: donâ€'t fill multiple shopping bags just because the
labels say â€œeco.â€ Read more about fabric choices below.
9. Choose clothes that work for you
hard to feel beautiful in your raw silk dress when itâ€'s likely that
childrenâ€'s scalded hands were part of the production chain.
Conventional clothing might not say it, but clothing made under
fair-wage and labor practices will usually advertise it. SweatShop
Watch and Behind The Label are good sources of info. See more resources
10. Donâ€'t throw it all away
Finally, a stain, a
tear, or changing fashion threaten to separate you from your favorite
dress shirt. Donâ€'t just abandon your old friend to the waste-stream! If
the condition is perfectly good, you can always donate or Freecycle it
(see below for donation resources).