We’re well into the New Year now, and if you made any New Year’s Resolutions, we hope they’re going well for you. Don’t worry if you’ve already broken yours – there’s still plenty of time to pick it up and try again. Practice makes perfect, after all! For many of you, your self-promises for 2020 will have involved living a greener, cleaner lifestyle – but how far have you gone with that idea, and what areas of your life have you focused on?
We suspect most of you will have chosen to recycle more conscientiously and avoid brands that are known to be major polluters. You might even have decided to go vegetarian or vegan and reduced the carbon footprint your diet places on the planet. Those are all commendable decisions, but there’s another aspect of our lives that we could all make an effort to become more sustainable with, and that’s fashion.
Every time you buy mass-produced clothes, wash those clothes or dry those clothes, you’re making a small impact on the environment.
Fashion and clothing aren’t the first things that come to mind when you think about going green, but hear us out on this. Every time you buy mass-produced clothes, wash those clothes or dry those clothes, you’re having a small impact on the environment. Releasing pollutants into the world, no matter how small a scale you’re doing it on, is like playing a mobile slots in reverse.
When people put money into a game on an online slots website, most of the time nothing comes out at the other end, and so the player assumes nothing has happened. That money has gone somewhere though – it’s now with the online slots company. Eventually, someone wins one of the games, and some of the money comes back out again.
Pollutants work the same way. Just because we can’t immediately see what they’ve done doesn’t mean they aren’t there – and when they eventually do ‘pay out,’ our planet will be worse off for it.
Here are some green-friendly fashion steps you can take to help us all avoid that fate.
Buy Green Detergent
Your preferred laundry detergent may do an excellent job of cleaning your clothes, but it isn’t quite so kind to waterways. When the chemicals get into waterways, they act as a super-food for bacteria, which feed on them and, in the process, consume the oxygen in the water. Without that oxygen, fish suffocate to death. That can have a devastating effect on localized ecosystems, and in some cases, it already is. Even detergents which advertise themselves as being environmentally friendly can come with risks, so the safest choice you could make is to either buy one which specifically identifies itself as green or make your own.
You don’t have to be a biochemist to come up with your own detergent – it’s mostly just soap! You’ll likely have all the ingredients you need in your kitchen already, and if you don’t, they’ll be available at a local store. There are several recipes you can use for this, so use Google and take your pick.
Be Sparing with the Washing Machine
Be honest with yourself. How often have you switched the washing machine on when it’s half full? How many of you have even switched it on when it’s a quarter full? We get it – sometimes, an outfit or an article of clothing is needed ASAP, and if it isn’t clean, it has to be washed. For just a few items of clothing, though, it would be better for everyone if you took ten minutes and washed them by hand.
Every time you use the washing machine, microfibers break away from your clothes, drain from your machine, and enter the waterways. Like anything else unnatural that enters the waterways, this is potentially deadly to marine life of all kinds. Fish and small water-dwelling creatures end up eating them and poison themselves in the process. Until someone comes up with a better design for washing machines there’s no way around this, but we could at least limit our use to once or twice a week if we thought about it creatively.
Dry Your Clothes Naturally
Mechanical dryers are an incredible labor-saving invention – we just wish they weren’t doing so much damage as they went about their work. Virtually every single mechanical method of drying clothes involves carbon dioxide emissions, and our planet’s atmosphere is already getting all the carbon dioxide it can handle – and some more
If you have sufficient space and privacy, hang your clothes on a line to dry outside. If that’s not an option, consider a clothes rack, or even hang them in the shower to dry off in there. Not only is this better for the environment, but you’ll also find that it makes your favorite clothes last longer. Every time you machine wash and machine dry your clothes, you’re damaging the fabric they’re made from. Wash and dry more naturally, and you may not have to replace the contents of your wardrobe quite so often.
Always Check The Label
We should all be aware of what comes naturally when it comes to the composition of clothes and what’s synthetic. If the label of the garment you’re considering buying says organic cotton, wool, or silk, you’re making a green choice. If there’s a high polyester content, think twice about whether you really want or need it. Polyester clothes should really come with a health warning. They’re usually cheaply-made, mass-produced, and likely to deteriorate quickly.
There’s a reason that a lot of clothes you’ll find in thrift stores are made of natural fabrics – they last longer! Indulge in a little retro style by shopping vintage, or if that’s not your look, ask your preferred store about their sustainable fashion line. If they can’t answer your question or don’t have one, chances are you’re shopping at the wrong store.
Don’t buy disposable outfits, don’t wash after one wear unless there’s a clear need to do so, and don’t turn the washing machine on when it isn’t full.
Our world isn’t disposable. Until we’re able to colonize Mars – which isn’t likely to happen in our lifetimes – we’re stuck with what we’ve got, and we need to do a better job of looking after it. That starts with you, what you eat, what you wear, and how you live. Don’t buy disposable outfits, don’t wash after one wear unless there’s a clear need to do so, and don’t turn the washing machine on when it isn’t full. There’s only so much you can do as an individual, but if enough individuals start doing it, the world will literally be a better place!
What are your favorite tips for making greener fashion choices?
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