The price of acquiring clothes has drastically dropped, especially in this century. Production has taken a different turn leading to the creation of cheaper fabrics. However, low prices come at a cost that the earth and human resources are paying for. Polyester is a leading fabric in sales, yet its production produces a lot of wasted heat energy and dangerous chemicals.
With the environment crying out to human beings for help, fashion needs to do a lot since it contributes to at least 20% of total global waste. However, the question trickles down to the consumer; what can we do to help?
It’s easy to come across messages about going eco-friendly when it comes to home waste and fuel, but I do not hear much being said about sustainable clothing. If I am going to come on board to help keep mother nature alive, we have to do the research and learn more about sustainable shopping. For a fabric to be eco-friendly, its production has to be done ethically.
This means that chemicals used to blend the fabric should be safe for human beings and the environment, plus the people working in the factories should get adequate pay. While more fashion houses and textile factories are yet to hop on the bus to sustainable fashion, we as the consumers can impact the shift by only choosing to buy clothes that have been produced ethically.
Just because a fabric is naturally produced or grown, such as cotton, does not make it eco-friendly. Mostly, growing cotton encourages the use of harmful fertilizers, and its processing also demands a substantial amount of energy. Luckily, better options are easily produced, and I can still recycle to avoid too much waste. Such materials include:
- Bamboo, which grows naturally, requiring very little to no pesticides. Its fabrics are soft and comfortable on the skin as well. However, its processing is yet to get more sustainable, but its growth is environmentally ahead of most materials on the list.
- Linen is the most recommended eco-friendly fabric. Its growth demands very little water and treatment, the production uses little energy, and one can easily recycle it into paper.
- Hemp has been a controversial plant for a long time, but it is finally relatively legal to plant in most US states. Since it does not need much water or fertilizer, growing it is quite easy. We can also collect several fabrics from the plant, such as denim, jersey, twill, canvas, and fleece.
- Organic wool is another option when farmers decide to keep off toxic pesticides. This restricts the use of harmful chemicals, thus making its fabric eco-friendly.
- Lyocell, commonly known as Tencel, comes from wood pulp. The eucalyptus wood does not need chemicals or too much water to grow. Producing clothing material from its wood is quite sustainable. Its fabric is also wrinkle-free, a plus for us who don’t like extra work when caring for clothes.
After highlighting a list of recommended fibers, I am guessing the next question on your mind would be, where do I find eco-friendly clothes?
First, note that new sustainable clothing is, as of now, more expensive compared to its unsustainable counterparts. Since producers acquire quality chemicals that are relatively pricier and pay their workers more, the production cost increases, thus pushing the consumer prices higher. However, I find the best place to exercise sustainable clothing shopping to be in thrift stores.
Although I will not always find eco-friendly fabric, I will help reuse other fabrics, which reduces waste. The lower price is always a plus. Besides thrift stores, the popular brand Stella McCartney is one of the few that opts to go eco-friendly. Although they have pricier clothes, I can still find something I like to buy within my budget.
Online shopping is another way that has helped bring sustainable clothing closer to the consumer. For instance, when we google ‘where to buy sustainable socks‘ we receive a few options. However, make sure that the site comes highly recommended by other users.
We have a long way to go to actualize a sustainable fashion world. However, such a journey has to begin somewhere, and I have committed to contribute by shopping sustainably. I hope you find the grace to do the same.