As we strive to take care of our planet, it’s essential that we reduce our consumption and waste of goods like clothing, shoes, and household items. Unfortunately, the fast fashion industry has a large carbon footprint — it’s responsible for up to 1.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide being released each year. While reducing this number as an individual seems daunting, there are small changes you can make to how you consume clothing and goods that will add up to make a difference.
Here are a few ways to reduce your carbon footprint by making more eco-friendly fashion decisions.
Take Care of Your Clothes and Shoes
When was the last time you sought out a tailor to mend a hole in your button-down shirt or a cobbler to resole your skate shoes? Part of reducing waste involves making the most out of the things you have. Instead of throwing clothing away at the first sign of wear and tear, try to fix your issues. Often, it is easier than you think. If the damage is beyond repair and you can’t resell or donate the item, you can recycle the materials in a textile recycling bin.
Before heading into your favorite clothing shop, consider stopping by a vintage or consignment boutique first. Not only are vintage stores a great place to score incredible deals on designer and high-end clothing, but it’s also a much more sustainable way of shopping than buying brand new. You are essentially recycling clothing by buying secondhand and often you can find pieces that look and feel new. When you have worn your clothes many times, you can either keep them or resell them to continue the circular fashion movement.
Use the Rule of 30
Instead of buying into the latest trends that are only going to be in fashion for a few months, stop and ask yourself how many times you are going to wear a garment before throwing it out. If the answer is less than thirty, move on. Minimize your wardrobe to staple pieces that you can wear again and again. You’ll end up with a closet of clothing you really love, rather than tons of clothing that you don’t care about.
Do Your Research on the Company
Before making a purchase, take some time to learn the backstory of the company and read about the practices that went into the making of a garment or shoe. Often, this information will be listed on the packaging of sustainable goods, but if it is not, then a quick Google search can provide the results you need. If you don’t see a lot of transparency on a brand’s website when it comes to their practices, materials, and carbon emissions, then it is likely that they are not eco-friendly. You can also check the app, Good On You, which gives brands a rating based on sustainability.
Check the Materials
When you are looking to purchase a new garment, take a look at the care tag to see what the composition of the material is. While not always the case, natural fibers like cotton and wool are generally more eco-friendly than synthetic materials like polyester and nylon. The best fabrics are made from organic cotton and bio-based materials like bamboo, cork, and hemp. Also, make sure to look for fabrics that can be recycled.
Reduce Washing and Drying
We often wash our clothing much more frequently than is actually necessary. Wearing a shirt or skirt for an hour generally does not warrant throwing it in the washing machine, unless something has spilled on it. Not only does washing your clothing in the washing machine use a ton of water, but it also can be damaging over time to your garment. In 2015, a report by Levi’s found that washing jeans after ten wears “instead of every two wears reduces energy use, climate change impact, and water intake by up to 80%.”
When it comes to drying, perhaps it’s time to give line drying a try. It’s much better for your clothing doesn’t use up any energy, and is free. Air drying is better for almost everything except for towels, which dry stiff on the line.