Going shopping? Before you hit the mall think about this: The average American generates 11.8 million tons of textile waste—10 pounds for every person—every year. That’s four million tons of solid waste every year, or four percent of the content of our landfills, just from the materials that we throw out!
But don’t despair; there are eco-friendly solutions for an ecoista shopaholic. Think vintage, environmentally-friendly fabrics and—the newest trend to hit the eco-fashion scene—swapping.
But let’s back up a minute: Aside from not trashing your clothes and adding to the landfill, why is shopping sustainably important?
First off, most clothing is made of cotton, which is one of the most heavily sprayed crops in the world, accounting for 25 percent of the world’s insecticides and 10 percent of its pesticides. To put this in perspective, toss a pound of flour in a measuring cup: It takes an astounding one-third of a pound of pesticide to make one t-shirt and two-thirds to make a pair of jeans.
Far worse are the synthetic options made from petrochemicals like nylon and polyester: Nylon manufacture creates nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 310 times more potent than carbon dioxide, while polyester demands large amounts of water for cooling, along with lubricants, which can become a source of contamination. And both processes are energy-hungry, leaving ecoistas to label them unsustainable on more than one count.
We need to change the way we think about buying clothes. Just say no to disposable fashion made from cheap and unsustainable fabrics, and think about creating a long-term relationship with your closet! Avoid hook-ups and one-night-stands—Think about clothing purchases as things that you want to live with for a long, long time. That doesn’t mean wearing things that are out of style. It simply means being more conscious of what we buy—and working with what we’ve got.