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 (or other performance wear) made out of plastic bottles sounds cool and eco-friendly, with every wash, microfibers from those bottles that ended up in your pants end up in the oceans. One solution is to not wash your clothes, and maybe air them out? Not a long term solution...
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 - it has been genetically modified to withstand high levels of pesticide use (HT - herbicide tolerant). It's important to know how the material was grown and processed - or for leather how the animal was raised and killed (at least for me it is) and how the leather was processed (tanning) before supporting the manifacturer's practices by spending my 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 at home is 35, you pick what works best for you. For each season, you have only 35 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 - 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.
I like going for durable, ethical and natural, which isn't always cheap.
Quality, Ethical Shopping
* I was a vegan during my teenage years and didn't want to wear leather or wool, so I wore synthetic fabrics and lots of hemp. Personally, at this point in my life, I 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 animal products. If you have environmentally friendly, non plastic vegan options, please write in the comments section, I'd love to add them to the list.
Underwear & Socks + others - Organic Cotton - PACT
Dresses, silk shirts etc. - Amour Vert
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**
T-shirts etc made from Hemp and Organic Cotton - TenTree*
Linen and Organic Cotton Clothing and Bedding - Garnet Hill
*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 too toxic, and the shoes look somewhat fashionable. Please feel free to share about the ethical and sustainable stores and companies you like to purchase from.
Some of these companies have beautiful and truly eco-conscious clothing but they're quite expensive. You can sign up for their newsletters to see when they are having sales.
FOR YOGA - I've been wearing Thai Fisherman pants to yoga because they are 100% cotton. Mine were a gift from my husband but here are two online stores that carry them. Rawganique (Organic Hemp, unisex) and Mystery Buddha (Organic Cotton)
Just don't buy plastic hangers any more - here are some metal* and wood option. If these are too expensive (their prices keep changing) and you want to buy plastic because it's cheaper, make sure you buy the really hardy kind that won't break easily so you can use them for many years.
*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.