Nov 17 5 min read
How to Be a More Sustainable Shopper
In America, clothing is constantly being thrown away at the expense of the environment. In the past 20 years, the amount of clothing thrown away has doubled from 7 million to 14 million tons. By 2030, globally, we are expected to discard more than 134 million tonnes of textiles a year. The fashion industry is responsible for 10% of all greenhouse gas emissions, with textile production alone is estimated to release 1.2 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere every year. If the thought of a mountain of clothes sitting in a landfill makes you sick, too, continue reading to see how sustainable shopping can better your consciousness and the earth as well.
Shop From Trustworthy Companies
Some companies are known for being honest about their environmental impacts, and if companies aren’t open about it in this day and age, it’s probably a red flag. Trustworthy companies know that their consumers are counting on them to be more environmentally friendly. Some ways companies do this are: using recycled material, offsetting carbon emissions, ensuring their products are toxin-free, and cutting down on plastic packaging. If companies are trying to build trust, they should track and report their water usage, energy costs, and overall carbon footprint.
Keep It Simple
The saying “less is more” reigns true in this scenario. Not only do fewer options mean less stress when picking out an outfit, but it also means less production from clothing companies. You may think that you are just one person and can’t make a huge difference, but together, you can change the supply and demand of the company. Keeping your wardrobe simple doesn’t mean ugly or boring, as you can always dress them up with jewelry or sustainably made accessories.
Shop Fair Trade Clothing
Fairtrade clothing meets higher ethical standards than other companies do. Fairtrade clothing companies typically hold themselves to higher fair labor standards than other companies. This means a liveable wage is being made off of the clothing you buy, and that’s something to be proud about. Fairtrade also means that the companies care about their consumer’s wants and needs while providing a safe environment for their employees.
Yes, we know this sounds counterintuitive as the UPS truck that pulls up to your house isn’t exactly “eco-friendly.” Although, brick and mortar stores get their inventory shipped to the store location in the same boxes and fuel-burning truck that your package comes in. This means your online shopping habit is just cutting out the middleman. Just continue recycling those boxes, and don’t feel so guilty about your online purchases. Shopping online also gives you the time and resources to search the brand you are purchasing from. More time on your hands equals more time to see if the company aligns with your goals to be a more sustainable shopper. There should indeed be a section about sustainability measures they take to reduce their impact on the environment in the about section.
Repurpose Your Clothes
Before tossing those old items, there are plenty of ways to repurpose them. Think animal shelters, hosting a clothing swap, thrift stores, art projects, cleaning rags, the list goes on. Whatever you do, don’t throw those clothes away, as throwing them away contributes to the harmful effects of toxins in landfills on the earth. Shopping at thrift stores has also been a trend, which means you can discover more gently used clothing (at a fraction of the price) more than ever before.
Don’t Shop Fast Fashion.
While you probably already know this, fast fashion is a huge no-no. Although, what exactly are the effects of fast fashion? Fast fashion is the use of non-renewable and cheap materials. This often results in clothes tearing earlier or only being of use one time, which results in the quick turnover of your clothing and a one-way ticket to the dumpster. These items are often made with added chemicals that cause skin irritation. For your overall health, say no to fast fashion. Instead, invest in your clothing. Purchase higher quality items for the sake of your body and the planet.
Avoid Certain Fabrics
Certain fabrics are filled with chemicals and dyes that leak into waterways and destroy the planet. If there is a reason the clothes are lower cost, it is most likely because they were made with these toxic fabrics. Not to go without saying, just because an item is expensive does not mean it is automatically good for the environment. Staying informed and doing your own research is critical in this situation. Some fabrics to avoid are polyester, acrylic, non-organic cotton, rayon, and nylon. Some better alternatives for materials are natural cotton and linen. Although, it does take about 713 gallons of water to make one cotton t-shirt (yes, just one). So, regardless of what you purchase, always do your research and do it in moderation.
Overall, it takes baby steps to become more sustainable every day. There is no end-all solution for the clothing industry’s impact on the environment, and we will have to work together as a globe for things to improve. You also may assume that smaller companies are more capable of sustainability, but in reality, large companies have the most resources and pressure to implement sustainable choices. Keep these tips in mind next time you need some retail therapy; after all, your closet space will thank you too! To view more about how companies are impacting the world, SCORD is at your service.