Sustainable Living: Clothing

In some areas of life, it is not too hard to live more sustainably. Reducing use of plastic is pretty easy. Earth-safe cleaning products are plentiful on the shelves of even the big grocery store and discount department store chains. Craigslist, Facebook marketplace and neighborhood groups, eBay and local thrift stores and yard sales make finding decent used household furnishings possible. But clothing? That’s a more difficult challenge.
The clothing industry, especially the “Fast Fashion” segment is one of the most polluting and exploitative industries in the world according to the United Nation’s Environment Program. Inexpensive clothing can contain untested chemicals. Most is made from petrochemical fabric that will take centuries to decompose, and in the meantime will shed microplastics every time it is washed. Millions of tons of scarcely worn clothing from the West turns up in landfills and dumps as far away as Africa. Business Insider illustrates the scope of the problem in “How Fast Fashion Hurts the Planet.” And Beth Greer lays out the problem and some ways to respond in her Huffpost article.
How can we approach clothing sustainably? Well, the Guardian suggests that in 20 steps you can stop buying new clothing forever! Short of that, it is important to buy from clothing companies committed to protecting the environment, buying clothes that don’t quickly go out of style, and then wearing them until you can’t mend them anymore. You also need to wear them several times before you wash them. That cuts down on the microfibers that go down the drain during washing. A blog by Summer Edwards gives you the details on sustainable clothing care. And of course, when you finally part with an article of clothing, if it is still wearable, donate it to one of the non-profit resale

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  1. Liz Hecker

    When I was growing up in NE Ohio, there was an annual event in Cleveland called “The Goodwill Fashion Forum” that invited people to participate in a fashion show where all the clothing was purchased at Goodwill and altered to fit individual tastes and modern fashion trends. One year, the 1st prize went to a man who tailored a three-piece suit out of old velvet curtains – take that, Scarlett O’Hara!

    Learning to sew is helpful, too. Since I was a teenager, I’ve been able to take thrift-store finds and turn them into what I want. Thanks, Grandma!

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