How to Green Your Wardrobe

Yesterday I wrote about ethical clothing, and how big of an impact our clothes have on the world around us.

But what I didn’t touch on was how we can make our current clothes more sustainable.

The amount of clothes we go through here in America is astonishing. According the Planet Green, the average American will throw out 68 lbs. of clothes each year.

Shocking right? All of us can do something to lessen our impact on the environment. And starting with our wardrobe is an easy way to make a big difference.

Here are some ideas:

1. Don’t Dry Clean

Things have gotten better in the dry cleaning industry, and there are even green dry cleaners out there (there’s one not two blocks from where I sit right now, writing this!). But, they still use chemicals. And many of these chemicals, like perc, are a known carcinogen.

You can green your wardrobe by not dry cleaning your clothes. Avoid buying them, and use Woolite at home instead.

2. Extend Your Wear Time

I don’t wash my jeans after one wear. I usually will go about 4-5 days before tossing them into the wash. And you know what? You can’t tell.

The average American family does about 400 loads of laundry per year. That’s a lot of water, and a lot of detergent going out into the environment. You can green your wardrobe simply by washing fewer loads and wearing your clothes just a bit longer.

3. Don’t Dry Your Clothes

Washing and drying your clothes puts the most wear and tear on them compared to anything else you do (unless, of course, you work on an oil rig).

About 5% of your energy bill goes to power your dryer. But you when you add that to the 87.5 million dryers in use here in the US, you can see that we’re using a whole lot of energy to dry our clothes.

You can reduce your carbon footprint, lower your energy bill, and extend the life of your clothes simply by line drying your clothes.

4. Buy Quality

Clothing that’s made using fair trade practices will almost always say so. If you’re buying clothes that are cheap, then they’re probably made in sweatshops or factories where the workers are paid bare minimum wages.

I know that many people are on a budget. But you can often find quality used clothes in consignment shops. Whenever you can, buy clothing that is fair trade or high quality. It will last longer, and you’ll get a bigger bang for your buck.

5. Have a Swap With Friends and Neighbors

If you have a group of friends who are roughly the same size as you, why not have a swap meet? This is a great way to get “new-old” clothes and freshen up your wardrobe.

6. Donate!

Have business clothing that you no longer want? Consider donating it to Dress For Success. This worthy organization provides business clothing to disadvantaged women all over the world. These women, who are often victims of poverty and/or abuse, use your professional clothing to go out and get a job.

Dress for Success is located in over 80 countries worldwide. You can visit their site here.

Last Word…

Many people don’t think about their clothing being “green”. But we can all make a huge difference simply by making different choices in how we shop for, clean, and dispose of our clothes.

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8 Responses to “How to Green Your Wardrobe”

  1. great, great tips! You might also be interested in thredUP kids. It’s a new place for parents to exchange kids clothing online. We let you “up-cycle” clothes that no longer fit your kids, for items that will – it’s all done online from the comfort of home (think: Netflix for kids clothes!) Kids are expensive and they grow FAST – we want to help :-)

    Invite-only launch going on now:

  2. @Karen, thanks so much for giving me a heads up about your store. It sounds amazing, and such a great idea! Are you on Twitter? I’d love to Follow if you are!

  3. Great tips! It is finally spring here and I can excited to break out the clothesline!

  4. Fabulous information! Love the “swap” idea. Great way to get friends together AND extend the life of your clothing. Your products are beautiful, always great to see another sustainable, fair-trade accessories retailer. Keep up the good work!

  5. Kate, thanks so much for taking the time to write in!

  6. Tara, I feel the same way! It’s going to be 60 today and 70 tomorrow where I’m at. I can put my clothesline up too! I’ve been drying on a rack in my basement, but it’s just not the same as sunny, dried-outside clothes. :)

  7. [...] went into a few ideas a couple of weeks ago, in “How to Green Your Wardrobe“. But, there are some laundry-specific ways we can lesson our impact on the environment, and [...]

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