When it comes to practical sustainability, you are bound to be guilty of a few infractions. Perhaps you’ve kept the shower running for longer than necessary as it warms up, or maybe you’ve left the lights on when you’re not home. Whatever the case, it can be easy to neglect simple sustainable habits that could have a positive impact on the environment, habits like shopping alternatives to fast fashion.
According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Chinese textile industry, which produces about half of the clothes Americans buy, creates approximately 300 tons of soot each year. It takes 200 tons of water to produce one ton of the fabric used for our jeans and T-shirts – that’s enough water to fill several swimming pools.
As consumers, it’s our responsibility to be conscious about our everyday purchases, including clothing. We know that going cold turkey on fast fashion brands isn’t easy, but with more alternatives popping up, shoppers no longer have to compromise the quality of clothing, or the living and working conditions of the people making it.
Here are five eco-friendly fashion tips that will help make your wardrobe more sustainable:
1. Education Yourself About Brands
There are several brands in the fashion industry (Levis, Burton, Marimekko) that are taking more initiative to end fast fashion and waste by creating more sustainable clothing. But ultimately, it’s up to the consumer to educate themselves to be able to identify and differentiate sustainable products and brands when shopping.
2. Shop With Reusable Bags
Whether you are shopping at the mall, grocery store, or your local market, plastic bags are way too easily accessible. As a result, billions of bags end up in our landfills each year that can take decades to decompose.
Reusable bags are not only a more eco-friendly alternative to plastic bags, but they are also more sustainable and completely necessary for reducing waste and harm to the environment and wildlife. Plus they are pretty trendy right now.
3. Wash With Care
Eco-friendly laundry detergent, softeners, and dryer sheets do the same job as regular laundry products, but without all of the harmful chemicals that pose a threat to the environment. When shopping, look out for products that are free of optical brighteners, dyes, fragrance, or phosphates.
To save energy, consider drying your clothes on low heat or line drying. And if you need a dry cleaner, look up an eco-friendly, organic cleaner as there’s bound to be one in the area.
4. Buy Vintage or Sustainable Clothing
Macklemore might have made thrift shopping cool again with his song, “Thrift Shop,” but buying secondhand clothing and vintage items benefits the planet, too. Not only are you saving money, but you’re also helping to reduce, reuse, and recycle fashion items.
5. Discard Responsibly
If you’ve grown out of your clothes or you just don’t wear them anymore, don’t throw them away. According to The True Cost, a documentary about fast fashion, the average American tosses 82 pounds of textile waste each year, which adds up to 11 million tons of waste from the U.S. alone.
So, next time you go to discard your clothing items or accessories, bag them in reusable bags and drop them off at a second-hand store like Goodwill or The Salvation Army.