Published on November 14th, 2011 | by Sonya Kanelstrand3
How to Wear Green Clothes
The Internet is an abundant source of generous tips on how to “green” your clothes. Most of the advice is to wear organic, wash your clothes and mend them when possible. That approach genuinely surprises me because judging from my own and my friends’ experience, that is what you normally do, right? I don’t usually throw away a sock because it has a hole on the heel. Do you? It is plain common sense to mend whatever you can and take good care of your clothes, however rich/poor you are. But alas, the Western civilization is getting more and more consumerist, despite of the green and sustainable movement.
While I was preparing for this post I was thinking of describing the most common ideas, but then I thought I would be offending you, the Green Living Ideas readers because you are supposed to be green or aspiring to be green. At least you have the tiniest streak of curiosity as to what you could do to live a fuller, environmentally-conscious life if you are on this website, so there wouldn’t be much point in me telling you to wear organic, right?
Instead of following main-stream modern yuppie advice I would suggest that you turn to your inner self and to your roots. Think what your grandma used to do. Of course in a fast-paced life you cannot weave your fabrics but there are many more little steps you could take to make sure your body, your wallet and your earth feel well.
Don’t trust commercials
Always have critical thinking as to what you buy (and this doesn’t only refer to clothes of course). Make it a habit to read the labels and avoid synthetic fabrics as much as possible. Not only does washing them add up to the oceans pollution but they are bad for you – they create static electricity, they don’t air well. Look for natural fabrics that require little laundry and low temperatures. There’s nothing better than them – for you and for the environment.
Do I really need it?
Before you buy a new piece of clothing ask yourself: Do I really need it? Do not base your choice of clothing only on fashion trends. Be sure that they look good on you before you buy them. If you have any doubts, it is simple – leave them at the store because you risk wearing them just a few times and leaving them permanently in the darkest corner of your wardrobe.
Take good care of your clothes
Change your work clothes when you get back home and have a distinct purpose for them – define which are for home and leisure and which are for work and going out. Don’t cook or wash the car in clothes you want to wear in public. Wash your clothes on low temperature. Choose phosphate-free and biodegradable detergents and line dry as much as possible. Treat stains with nontoxic removers.
Forget about dry cleaning
Take interest in the labels of the clothes before you buy them for yet another reason – dry cleaning. If you can avoid it, better do! You will save a lot of money, worries and exposure to toxins if you buy “regular” clothes that don’t need chemicals to be cleaned. Many dry cleaners still use tetrachloroethylene, a known carcinogen. See if there is a local green cleaner employing “wet cleaning” or liquid CO2 techniques. Also, many clothes whose tags say they should be dry cleaned can actually be hand washed at lower temperatures, especially silk, wool and linen.
Don’t throw away clothes easily, find a way to repurpose them. You can choose to donate some of your wearable clothes that you for some reason don’t like. Also, there are tons of creative DIYs for repurposing old clothes. You can make new clothes, floor rugs, coasters, bags, baskets, and basically anything you set your mind to. If nothing else is appropriate, you can always turn an old Tshirt into a duster, or a rag.
Greening your clothes is not a complex process and does not require any extra-effort. Most of the times becoming and successfully remaining green is just about common sense.
So, tell us, what other methods have you employed for being environmentally friendly and green as far as your clothes are concerned?
[Photo via Shutterstock]