Eco-Friendly Clothing

Beaufort, SC

While people typically think of things like water, energy and transportation as major environmental factors, clothing is usually not at the top of the list. The truth is, most of the garments we wear have been saturated with a variety of chemicals, from fertilizers and pesticides on the raw fibers, to the bleaches and dyes that color them, and finally to the finishes that make fabrics stain- and wrinkle-repellant. Ready-made children's clothes are also treated with flame-retardant compounds.

Cotton is one of the most widely used fibers for clothing, but it comes from one of the most heavily sprayed crops. Fortunately, organic cotton and other alternative fibers are becoming more popular among fashion designers and clothing manufacturers. Organic fibers are spun from all-natural materials that have not been treated with synthetic or chemical compounds. All organic fabrics such as wool, silk, hemp, cotton and linen are required to meet regulations set forth by the Organic Trade Association. Organic and alternative fibers have made great strides since the 1970's and now come in a variety of colors and textures for a wide range of fashion styles that will appeal to many different people.

Sustainable clothing is another environmentally responsible approach to fashion. "Sustainable" refers to the reuse or recycling of materials during the production process. Some sustainable fabrics are made from a synthetic fiber called "POP" that is produced from recycled plastic soda bottles. The high fashion industry has begun to embrace these innovative materials and couture clothing produced from recycled products can frequently be found on some of the world's most influential runways.

A popular way to be fashionably resourceful is to hit the local vintage stores. While there's no guarantee that these products are organic, there is something to be said for purchasing used clothing. Styles may come and go but trends are cyclical. Consignment shops, vintage boutiques and thrift stores can offer significant savings over brand new store-bought products that revive the designs of the past.

With all of this in mind, the greenest garments are those already in your closet. These clothes require no additional resources to manufacture, no additional materials extraction, and eliminate the costly residual environmental impact of shipping and retailing. Best of all, it is money you've already invested! Consider reviving some of the clothing in your wardrobe to give it new life. It's amazing what can be accomplished with a pair of scissors and some sewing skills, to bring an old garment up to date with current fashion trends. It's also a sure-fire way to guarantee you don't see your fashion twin on every street corner.

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