How to create an eco-friendly fashionable wardrobe in 3 easy steps

If you love fashion and nature, then this is the blog to read. 

Photo by Alice Alinari on Unsplash

Many of us are in love with fashion.  We love following the new trends.  We love to be the first one wearing the latest designs.  We love all the compliments from our friends.  What we don’t love is hearing awful stories about the negative effects of this industry.  According to some reports, the fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world.  It is sad to think such beautiful garments can have such an ugly consequence for our planet.

Unfortunately, irresponsible companies have polluted our planet and are causing people and animals to suffer the consequences.  These companies have made a bad name for fast-fashion, although you will find this happens across all fashion categories.  There are many problems in the fashion industry such as pesticide use, toxic dyes, harmful chemicals, and the excessive waste created from disposable fashion.  All of which have a devastating effect on the planet we love.  With this as the case, being an eco-friendly fashionista can be viewed as a challenge.

Creating a wardrobe that is fashionable and doesn’t pollute the Earth doesn’t have to be a struggle.  Every day more brands, like Vois, work hard to create a world where fashion and nature live harmoniously.  Also, many of the larger fast-fashion companies like H&M are noticing the demand and creating conscious collections.  To help you learn what you can do as a consumer I have made this list of 3 easy steps to make your wardrobe eco-friendly.  This list is not all-inclusive but functions as a good starting point for fashionistas who want to green up their wardrobes.

Photo by Ethan Bodnar on Unsplash

Step #1:  Choose Fabrics Wisely

  • Organic cotton: GOTS certified cotton is produced without pesticides.

Cotton fabric is responsible for about 16% of the world’s pesticide use and more chemical pesticides are used on cotton than any other crop.  These pesticides have been shown to be poisonous to humans and wildlife, causing health problems, birth defects and even death.  The pesticides used in farming can leak into groundwater we drink and contaminate our food chain, if it is used for livestock feed and soil compost mix.  Traces of the chemicals can remain in the fabric of your clothing even after washing and can be absorbed into the skin.  Switching to organic cotton over conventional cotton can make a huge impact on the environment and your health.

  • Tencel™: Replace Rayon and Polyester

There are two versions; TENCEL™ Lyocell derived from eucalyptus trees and TENCEL™ Modal derived from beech wood.  Both are made from cellulose fibers derived from sustainable wood sources and harvested from certified and controlled sources. TENCEL™ Lyocell has a good reputation for being environmentally responsible because of the closed loop system that recycles processing water and reuses the solvents applied during the spinning process at a 99% rate.  TENCEL™ fibers are biodegradable and compostable.  The fibers absorb moisture better than synthetics and can be formulated to control body temperature making them perfect for active-wear.

  • Hemp: Natural fabric since 8000 BC

Hemp was one of the first plants to ever be spun and turned into fabric over 10,000 years ago.  It is one of the fastest growing plants and is rapidly renewable.  The plants require no pesticides (or minimum pesticides when grown in large scales), no herbicides, and grow without fertilizer.  Hemp also does not deplete soil nutrients and helps aerate the dirt for other crops.  It blends easy with other fabrics, is stronger than cotton, feels like linen, gets softer with use and retains shape making it a great textile for most garments.

Step #2:  Give Existing Clothes a Second Life

  • The new age of second-hand clothing

You no longer need to dig through endless racks of clothes at the thrift store trying to find treasures.  Second-hand shopping has been made easier and more convenient online with companies like ThredUP, Poshmark, and Depop.  These shopping platforms have become so popular that some Instagram influencers have taken to selling their own clothes here.  You can find influencers that share your style and shop directly from their closets or do an easy search for brands you love.

  • Clothing Swap

You can plan a clothing swap party with your fashionable friends.  This is an easy way to breathe new life into your closet and have fun at the same time.  You can make it as low-key or as fabulous as you want including drinks, appetizers and even decorations.  Invite your friends and each attendee brings clothing to the event.  Usually it is best to invite friends that are similar in sizing, so it is easy to swap, and no one feels left out. Also, set some ground rules before the invite such as how many pieces to bring and how to trade so everyone gets a fair chance at finding what they want.

Photo by Leighann Renee on Unsplash

Step #3:  Recycling

  • Clothes Made from Recycled Fibers

There have been so many technological breakthroughs in the world of apparel including making clothes out of recycled bottles, recycled cotton, and even waste pulled from the Ocean.  Repreve® is a fabric made from recycled materials, including plastic bottles, and is being used by 60+ brands and growing every day.  It is commonly used for activewear, but is also seen in swimwear, denim, outerwear and even accessories.  The fabric brand is very recognizable and includes a tag with a signature bottle logo showing how many plastic bottles were recycled to make the garment.  By recycling materials, they are offsetting the use of new petroleum, emitting fewer greenhouse gases, and conserving energy and water. 

  • Close the Loop

You can recycle your used clothing, but don’t try putting it into the recycling bin.  There are few options for closing the loop and finding new life for your garments.  You can call the American Textile Recycling Service to find the nearest drop-off location.  After you drop it off they take care of it, making sure the clothes are sorted, go where they are needed most, and that nothing is wasted.  They use the clothing for second-hand markets, upholstery and stuffing, wiping rags and donate for disaster relief.

In addition, many brands are starting to initiate closed loop services such as H&M with their recycling partnership with I:CO and Patagonia with recycling, Worn Wear®, and the Return and Repair department. See if your favorite brand has recycling options.

Photo by Mark Kucharski on Unsplash

As you can see this is only the beginning.  With new technology we find additional ways to create eco-friendly clothing every day.  Also, with the support and awareness of consumers like you we can make a difference to create a world where fashion doesn’t have to harm the planet.  The more demand we create for eco-friendly and conscious products the bigger the change in the industry.  I hope you learned a few tips and find it easy to begin making your wardrobe eco-friendly. 

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