There are many ways to celebrate Earth Day this week, April 22. Of course BILLSHARK appreciates the way Earth Day helps everyone focus on the importance of taking care of the environment we live in. But if you can save yourself some money in the process, so much the better. One way to achieve both these worthy goals is to consider buying sustainable clothes.
Unfortunately, the fashion industry’s main purpose is to make sure we keep upgrading our wardrobe. They do this by serving up an endless supply of fast fashion.
What’s wrong with ‘fast fashion’
According to Forbes, “fast fashion” is clothing made cheaply to meet demands for the hottest new styles. Fortunately, more and more professional women are learning about ways their clothing impacts the environment and making sustainable choices as a result.
“We all love those quick-drying polyester tanks and tees because they are cheap, wrinkle-free, and readily available. . . . What you don’t realize is that it can take up to 200 years for that garment to decompose,” said Amanda Cotler, Director of Operations for Accel Lifestyle, and an Ellevate contributor to ForbesWomen.
“Microplastics are a huge concern for not only the environment, but also our health,” Megan Eddings, Founder and CEO of Accel Lifestyle, told Cotler. “These synthetic fibers are forms of plastic, and every time you wash fabrics made from these fibers, microplastics are breaking off, and many eventually end up in the oceans, ocean life, and our mouths.
“Sustainable fashion takes into account the entire supply chain and lifecycle of a garment, from where and how it is made to where it ends up in our landfills,” she added.
Cotler warns that any clothing manufacturer can slap a “sustainable” hang tag on their clothes. But—like the word “organic” on food—it probably means little. So it’s up to us to fight the battle on our own.
There are three main ways to go about this: Buy less, buy used, buy sustainable.
Retail therapy can be good for the psyche, but ultimately bad for our wallets, not to mention the earth. There’s no denying the lift we get from buying an item we know we’ll look good in, that feels comfortable, and expresses our personality.
But let’s be honest: How long does it take for that shopping “high” to wear off? The first time you wear it and discover it’s great, but it’s a bit too tight in the middle or that the fabric is prone to static cling? When you realize it doesn’t really go as well with those shoes as you’d thought it would? The first time you have to wash it and learn it requires special handling?
And if you buy everything online, you have to spend time trying on pieces and repackaging and returning those you don’t like. Or worse, you never get around to returning them, and end up paying for items you never wear.
The solution: Take the time to organize your closets and drawers, find out what you need, and shop only from that list.
Much like buying a new car that begins depreciating the minute you drive it off the showroom floor, why would you pay full price for a classic, well-made piece of clothing when you can buy it used?
This doesn’t necessarily apply to fast fashion, of course, but quality items that you can wear for years are available both online and in brick-and-mortar stores. From Poshmark and thredUP to thrift stores and high-end consignment shops, you can find a wide array of fashionable styles at reasonable prices. Not to mention that you’re helping to keep it out of a landfill.
Buy sustainable clothes
As Good Housekeeping (GH) reminds us, “While there’s no such thing as ‘eco-friendly’ clothing—i.e., all garments have at least some negative impact on the environment—there are brands working diligently to help make a difference.”
What is sometimes referred to as “slow fashion” takes into account the full lifecycle of the product, according to GH, including its impact on water usage, whether hazardous chemicals are used in the product, the fabric’s impact on agricultural workers and wildlife, and whether the goods are durable and can be worn for years.
Another important component of sustainable clothing falls under the heading of fair trade, a global movement that aims to create a healthy, ethical working environment for workers in the clothing industry.
So how do you verify that your purchase is sustainable? One good app to start with is Good On You, which rates companies on environmental impact, labor rights, and animal welfare. GH has a useful list of sustainable fashion brands you can trust.
Another good way is to buy used exclusively. And save a lot of money in the process.
Speaking of saving money, BILLSHARK can help you do that. It’s the reason we exist. Just send us your bills to review for free.