Clothing is a necessity for most of us and also one of the more important aspects of life we should try to make sustainable. Clothes, fabrics and the processes used to create fibers into clothing are one of the most polluting and damaging systems that we have today. The manufacturing of clothing can cause pollution from chemicals and waste during processing and high consumption rates of valuable resources like water. There are sustainable and ethical ways to make clothes, such as using certain kinds of cotton and other fibers that are easier to maintain and require less resources, using less water and harsh chemicals and better working conditions for workers.
Another way that clothes create pollution during its lifecycle that most people aren’t aware of is through washing it. How many times do you wash a favorite t-shirt or pair of jeans? During the washing of the item the fibers that are breaking down will rinse off and run off into the water system while also leaching out the chemicals that may have been used to create said t-shirt. This ends up creating tons of mico-pollutants which can lead to the ocean and other water resources. The detergent used to clean clothing can also be dangerous to the environment. Just like how the fibers get mixed in with water run-off so will the chemicals in the detergent. Not only using sustainable clothing is important but so is using non-toxic, sustainable detergent and soaps. Sustainably made clothing will have less toxic chemicals and synthetics in the fabric, creating less harmful pollution.
When shopping for new clothing it is best to research what brands use sustainable methods and practices before considering purchasing clothes. There are more brands now a day that do use sustainable methods and even make entirely new products by recycling fibers and old fabric. Some of these may be more expensive than say buying a cheaply made shirt from somewhere like Forever21. Would you rather have an item that was sustainably made and better quality, meaning that it will last longer, or a chepaly made item that will fall apart easier making pollution as it does? Another thing is to consider do you really need a brand new article of clothing or would a re-used item that’s new to you work just as well?
It is best to reuse clothes whether its buying a restyled, used article of clothing or just mending an article of clothing that you already have. Just mending and repairing an old article of clothing can make it last longer and usable. If you are tired of an old shirt or pair of jeans that needs to be mended you can also add details to the areas that need mending by adding cute, personal stitches or patches. There are many DIY tutorials out there that can help with mending clothing and adding interesting stitches and patterns. Old clothes can also be turned into rags, scarves, crop tops, shorts, you can make anything you want with old clothes.
How To Sew A Button By Hand
How To Repair A Tear In Jeans By Hand
How To Make An Invisible Stitch
Stitch Hacks & Mends, Turn A Hole Into A Cute Detail
How To Darn A Sock
How To Duplicate A Stitch With Yarn
(For Faded Fabric Not Torn)
Simple Embroidery Styles To Repair Holes
SUSTAINABLE CLOTHING STORES (ONLINE)
(Just a few, there are tons more out there)
More expensive but uses plastics and other wastes to create their fabrics
All of us prefer our living quarters to be clean, right? We use dish soap, laundry detergent and a multitude of sprays and disinfectants around our homes to clean germs or stains and other debris (crumbs, dirt, etc.) Most of the name brand cleaners we’d grab at regular grocery stores are harsh and not environmentally friendly. Unless they are a more widely known sustainable company like Mrs. Meyers. For instance you can find Mrs. Meyers cleaning products at most grocery stores now, their cleaners and detergents are non-toxic and safer to use but not all of them use sustainable packaging. Just like the manufacturing of clothes, the manufacturing of cleaning products can also be harmful and polluting to the environment, and if they are toxic for the environment they are also toxic for us.
You never want to ingest household cleaners even if they are non-toxic but they are safer for households with children and pets, and are safer to be used around food. There are many affordable companies that create sustainable and ethically made household products but they tend to sell their products online but it’s fine because they tend to use recyclable or biodegradable packaging for shipping. There are multiple online companies that also use tablets that just need to be added to water to create a sustainable cleaning solution, that way you don’t need to buy a new bottle or container each time you need more of a product.
If you aren’t able to buy products directly from a sustainable company, it is good to keep your eye out for products at wholesale stores that claim to be sustainable or eco-friendly. You should still double-check that these products are what they say they are because there are no strict guidelines on saying what is eco-friendly. For instance there are sunscreen products that claim to be eco-friendly and non-toxic but they only use one or a few ingredients that actually are and the rest can still be toxic.
SUSTAINABLE HOUSEHOLD PRODUCTS STORES (ONLINE)
(sells and notifies about products and deals from sustainable brands)
Just like clothing and household products you’ll want to use sustainable and ethically sourced food. There are a few shops online that sell healthy, ethically sourced, sustainable food but its best to buy your food locally so it’s fresh. The best options would be to buy food from local co-ops and farmers markets. Co-ops have amazing deals for bulk items, their bulk items tend to have no packaging so you need reusable bags or containers. You can also find sustainable household products at co-ops. If you live in an area that doesn’t have nearby co-ops or farmers markets then you can most likely find sustainable food with eco-friendly packaging at grocery stores like Trader Joe’s. If you can’t find a grocery store that focuses on sustainability and less waste then shop at the usual grocery stores like Fred Meyers, Safeway, etc. but use reusable shopping bags and produce bags.
Most stores will have organic sections which will most likely have more sustainable food products. It is more popular now to use reusable shopping bags, now that most people know it’s bad to use single use items and bags, so you can find a reusable shopping bag at most stores. However, it might be more difficult to find reusable produce bags and bags for bulk items like seeds, grains and spices. Most of these bags are made of light-weight, fine mesh or canvas so when weighed they don’t add more to the price of the product. Reusable, plastic-free produce bags and reusable bulk item bags can be found easily online at affordable prices. They can be found at some of the stores mentioned above in the cleaning section as well as the online sustainable grocery options I will mention below.
SUSTAINABLE GROCERY STORES (ONLINE)
Ethically sourced coffee
Zero Waste Packaging, reusable bags & Other
There are many other things that you can do to live sustainably besides reusing clothes, bags and buying eco-friendly cleaning products and ethically sourced food. You can cut down on how many resources you are using such as driving less (unless you have a hybrid or electric vehicles). In place of driving you could walk, bike or take public transportation or even carpool. Even public transportation and carpooling cut down on carbon and fuel emissions by having less vehicles in use.
Another great thing to do is to cut down on how much water you use whether it's using less when you’re showering, cleaning dishes, using washing machines less frequently and using found water to water plants instead. Many people use rain water that they collect to use for watering plants and other things. There are also things you can do to make your home more sustainable and use less energy by sealing in areas around the doors and windows so you don’t waste the heat or A/C and just keep it maintained in general.
Another thing would be to create less food waste by storing food properly and using a compost bin. Some places sell mini at home compost bins and containers or you can just use a bucket or bin that you have lying around. This way there’s less waste being sent to landfills. Speaking of less waste it is also good to use reusable menstrual products like cloth sanitary napkins and menstrual cups instead of single use pads and tampons which end up making a lot of garbage. Another item that is good to replace with a reusable cloth version would be diapers. Cloth diapers and reusable diapers can be found online and in some sustainably friendly stores. This site only has a few general ideas of what can be done to live more sustainably but it can give you a start on what to do and a general idea of how to be more sustainable in your life. If you have any questions or suggestions of what can be added/shared feel free to send a message below.