When it comes to buying fashion items, many of us are influenced by brand, style and the price tag. Yet paying more attention to the environmental impact of the fashion choices we make should also feature highly.
The fashion industry contributes significantly to global pollution. To make clothes alone, at least 8,000 chemicals are used, many of which are toxic. Animals are often slaughtered to produce fashion items, and children in third world countries may have been roped in to stitch clothing in dire working conditions, for a pitiful income.
Making simple changes to your wardrobe can help do your bit for the environment, and with an increasing green generation of fashion conscious consumers, it can have a positive impact globally. Here’s what you can do.
Choose organic clothing
Organic clothing is made from fabrics that have less of an environmental impact than other materials, and they’re produced without the use of pesticides or other harmful chemicals. Organic cotton is the most popular eco-friendly choice but look for fabrics such as Tencel, cupro or sasawashi, which enjoy organic status.
Seek out fair trade fashion
When you choose fair trade fashion, you can feel confident that workers have been paid fairly for their labour and aren’t exposed to unethical working conditions. With the fashion industry being notorious for unlawful trade practices, such as child labour, this is one sector where choosing fair trade is vitally important.
Choose animal-free items
That fur coat or crocodile skin designer bag may be the latest must-have fashion accessory, but before you flex the credit card, spare a thought for the animals that have been killed to produce those items. Many animals will have been subjected to cruel slaughtering for the sake of fashion, often causing population numbers to plummet. Stick to fake or faux options, or only buy the real thing if it’s vintage or second hand.
Donate and reuse
In the UK alone, it’s estimated that more than £25 million worth of clothes is chucked in the landfill annually. Do your bit to reduce this massive environmental burden by sending your clothes to charity shops or selling them online instead, and buy second-hand clothes yourself. Choosing pre-loved clothes doesn’t mean having to compromise on style, especially if you opt for ultra-trendy vintage or retro items.
Get clothes or shoes repaired if they’re worn, and for any items that are past their best, repurpose them into household rags for cleaning, instead of throwing them away.
Be brand conscious
Get to know which fashion brands are ethical before you buy. Avoid fast fashion items. They may be cheap, but this increases the likelihood they’ve been made in a sweatshop using shoddy fabrics. Shop local for your fashion, as it’s easier to trace the origin of items, and fewer air miles will have gone into the production process.
Wash with care
Choose organic or green products when washing clothes and set to a low-temperature wash. Dry clothes naturally outside instead of using an energy hungry dryer.