Green Issues to Consider When Buying Clothes

Dressing green doesn’t mean limiting your wardrobe to just one color. It does, however, mean taking a careful look at what you buy and why.

The pressure on the textile industry to supply never-ending racks of clothes for the fashion-conscious has resulted in dramatic reductions in prices to the point that clothes are now seen as disposable: Shoppers buy cheaper clothes more frequently and in greater quantities and feel less allegiance to them when fashions change or when the clothes begin to lose their shape or wear out. This pattern of purchasing and discarding has numerous consequences for the world and its people.

When choosing clothes, consider these three major green issues:

  • Impact on workers: It’s not exactly green or sustainable to buy clothes produced by people who earn very low wages, work in poor conditions, receive no benefits, and aren’t allowed union representation. A greener solution is to support companies that treat their workers — whether they’re employed in the United States or overseas — with fairness and respect.

  • Impact on the local economy: Supporting local companies helps to create a thriving local and national economy.

  • Impact on the environment: From commercial cotton grown using unsustainable, intensive farming practices to clothing that contains animal-based products or synthetic materials made from petrochemicals, the where and how of clothing manufacturing can have a significant negative impact on the environment. Check the labels as much as possible, and if you’re unsure, go for the green, natural option, such as organically produced cotton and wool.

It may seem that you don’t have much sway in the massive clothing industry, but, in fact, you do. One of the best ways to influence change is to start with your own shopping habits.

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