No Plastic Clothing
What is your clothing made out of?
Nylon. Fleece. Acrylic. Polyester. Spandex. = Plastic
Why is this a problem?
Yoga pants anyone?
Though the idea of wearing yoga pants made out of plastic bottles sounds cool and eco-friendly, tiny pieces of those bottles still end up in the oceans because the pants are made out of these micro-fibers. One solution is to not wash your clothes, and maybe air them out? But this doesn't feel like a long term solution, especially if you like spending time with other people.
What are some natural options?
Cotton. Hemp. Wool. Linen. Silk. Cashmere. Leather.
The EPA estimates 13.1 million tons of clothing/textiles end up in our landfills every year. The cheaper clothing and the more "fashionable" we are, the faster we get at buying and then discarding clothing.
“The clothing industry is the second-largest polluter in the world, second only to the oil industry,” - Eileen Fisher
If you have Facebook, here's a video about how quickly we go through clothing.
An important thing to remember is that it's not just the throwing away of clothing/textiles that causes waste but it's how the product is made initially. According to USDA ERS, 94% of the cotton grown in the U.S. is Genetically Modified - aka has been genetically modified to withstand high levels of pesticide use (HT - herbicide tolerant). (By the way pesticides are made with petroleum products.) It's important to know how the material was grown and processed - or for leather how the animal was raised, killed (at least for me it is) and the leather was processed before supporting the manifacturer's practices buy spending your money on their products.
So not only is it important to shop consciously but it's also important to not go nuts when buying clothing. On that note let's talk about the Capsule Closet.
Here's the gist: You have a set number of pieces of clothing, including shoes and coats. The number we do is 37. For each season, you have only 37 pieces of clothing in your closet, not including your underwear, loungewear, super fancy wear or workout clothes. Every time you buy something new, and you add to your closet, you take something out.
Here's the blog of a woman named Caroline who does this for a living - and then she writes about what she packs when she goes on trips and what new item she purchases for whichever season. I personally like her style but she doesn't seem to purchase clothing that's specifically ethically produced or plastic free. Rather she seems to buy what she thinks is beautiful and will last her a while. Here's her site, if you'd like to see what your closet could look like. I like how she organizes her clothing, it's helped me save time getting ready in the mornings.
Also when you only have 37 pieces of clothing - which I know seems like very little but it's actually a lot (we have the max number of 37 but Alex and I are at around 32), you can spend more money on ethically sourced/made, "clean" clothes because you don't need quite so many pairs of pants or shoes. You want to go for durable, ethical and natural - I personally also like to go for comfortable.
Quality, Ethical Shopping
* I was a vegan during my teenage years and didn't want to wear leather or wool, so I wore synthetic stuff and lots of hemp. I personally, at this point in my life, do not believe that dressing vegan is truly environmentally friendly (synthetics instead of wool, fake leather instead of real, etc) so my suggestions below contain some animal products.
Underwear & Socks + others - Organic Cotton - PACT
Under layers + others - Wool - Ice Breaker
Organic Pants and T-shirts - Patagonia*
General Organic Clothing - Indigenous
Wool Running and Lounging Shoes - Allbirds
Shoes with Recycled Rubber Soles and Plant-based Uppers - Indosole
Fair-trade Handmade Clutches and Shoes - The Root Collective**
Shoes and Accessories - Nisolo**
*Please note that these stores may (I know Patagonia definitely does) use synthetic fibers also. Make sure you double check the "fabric" before you purchase anything. If the name of the material doesn't sound familiar to you, google it, find out what it's made of and HOW. Something might be made out of natural fibers but the process it goes through can be toxic.
**Not sure how "clean" the leather being used here is. I am still looking for responsibly made and nice looking leather shoes, where the tanning process isn't grossly toxic, and the shoes look wearable. I will update this post when I find more resources. Please feel free to share some in the comments section if you have a store or two that you like.
*Check the metal hangers before purchasing - Some are thinner than others and some contain little plastic bits at the very top. We use the wooden ones at home.
Up next: No Plastic Kitchen