Green… Sustainable… Earth Friendly… Recycled… all buzzwords that have been flying through the air for the last 5-10 years, but have gathered some particular attention with global climate change and dwindling resources. Many people think to live more sustainably or more specifically to wear more sustainably is a difficult task. It usually comes down to the expense, as many ecologically minded fashionistas have focused their price tags on the hot commodity of sustainable products.
What does this word even mean?
Miriam Webster sets the bar in pretty understandable terms:
“Something that is able to be used without being completely used or destroyed; involving methods that do not completely use up or destroy natural resources ; able to last or continue for a long time ”
Our product cycles for clothes, electronics, home furnishings, cars you name it is built on the idea of something called “Product Obsolescence.” This means that all of the things you buy now are meant to go out of style, fall apart or need to be replaced with the newest and best. The concept is more readily referred to as Cradle to Grave cycles. There’s this fantastically informative video about this whole concept, I’ve linked it below. It’s about 20 minutes long but it tells a pretty scary tale about what’s happening with all that stuff we toss in the garbage.
Now that I’ve made you feel bad about yourself, let’s bring it back around. There is an entire field of study about the management of natural resources and people who spend their lives researching ways to utilize this in our interest of consumable goods. The concept is to create things that can live from cradle to cradle. If you like to read click on the photo below and read more about this book, you can purchase it or you can check it out from your local library. It’s chock full of information about how to make products more sustainable and how to change the way we view the consumption of stuff.
So you say to yourself I want to help mother nature! I want to buy more sustainably, but then when you google sustainable fashions you end up running into beautiful things, and the sticker shock nearly sends you into a fainting spell. For example this cute clutch by Stella McCartney a leading designer in vegan and eco friendly fashions sells at Barney’s for a mere $895. So what about those of us who are trying to leave less of a foot print on mother earth but can’t afford this lofty price tag? ≈
Here are some tips and tricks that will keep you looking great and mother nature too!
- Buy second hand. You don’t have to buy everything second hand and if you’re plus sized and ever walked into a goodwill you know this can be a challenging task. But there are some things that will always be available at any second hand or thrift shop such as jewelry, purses, belts, and scarves. If you’re crafty there are countless tutorials online on how to also use old clothing to make new garments. But purchasing a few items second hand reduces the amount of new products being made and with a little cleaning power you can make old wares look new and fashionable. Some websites such as postmark.com have even made a huge appearance allowing women to shop each others gently used fashionable garments. There are websites that do this with handbags and shoes as well. It just take a google search!
- Recycle your clothes. Did you know that Goodwill will not only take your donations they do their best to recycle products that can’t be sold? Goodwill actually recycles up to 90% of the textile waste that is dropped at their facilities. This means when you’re going through your clothes to purge unwanted and mangled garments, make a recycling bag for goodwill. Your ratty old jeans can actually be recycled and made into new fibers for industrial uses and sometimes even new garments! It keeps your old clothes in the product life cycle instead of in a landfill where it can take hundreds of years for them to break down!
- Buy local. Find a local shop that sells locally sourced products, these could be clothes or accessories, a mom and pop second hand or consignment store or even check your local listings for craft shows.If you purchase things that are made closer to home you are reducing the amount of pollution from transportation, you are supporting a local business and you end up with an awesome and unique piece that you can brag about to all of your friends.
- Build a wardrobe of classics. Classic garments are garments that will never go out of style such as pencil skirts, black dress slacks, a comfy cardigan, and mary jane shoes. Find a couple of staple clothing items that can be worn interchangeably with new and old garments. Just because it’s called a classic doesn’t mean you have to look like a stuffy office type either. If you are more casual a nice pair of jeans and some great solid t-shirts also fit into the classics category.
- Look for quality not quantity. Especially when building a wardrobe of classics or staple pieces take the time to find garments that fit you perfectly or have them tailored. If you spend the time and the money on these staple pieces they can last you for years. Nordstroms offers alterations in store on almost all of their garments. While spending $75-$150 on a nice pair of pants seems outrageous think of it as an investment. I nice quality properly fitting pair of pants that are made from sturdy fabrics and fibers may last you 3-5 years. Where a $20 pair of pants may last for 6 months to a year. In a 5 year time span you have to replace your pants 2 times in 5 years you will have spent $200 on 10 pairs of pants that are now taking up time in a landfill.
- Go Crazy accesorize. If you spend good money on quality staple pieces you then have more room to change with the trends. Your black dress slacks will look good whether chunky healed shoes or flats are your preferred style. Pick up a few pieces here and there that are moving with the trends, but still match your style and what’s already in your closet. And Don’t forget there’s always the crazy world of cosmetics!
- Pay attention to labels. If you’re super conscious of mother nature look for sustainable fibers such as bamboo, organic cottons, recycled denim, wool and silk. Some brands have even taken to wearing their re-used resources with pride.
You don’t have to go full on survivalist to be a little kinder to mother nature. Brands such as H&M and Victoria secret are already trailblazing for more sustainable clothing. One of the best ways to reduce your carbon foot print is to increase your knowledge about where your clothes come from and be conscious about where they go when you are finished with them. So this earth day give yourself and mother earth a treat, every small step helps to keep us all living longer and enjoying life!